2012 Oscar Preview
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Review by: Larry Thomas
Tonight is the one time of year when cinephiles all around the globe are glued to the tube. The 84th annual Academy Awards are being handed out, and every year, the producers of the show promise it will be better. Every year, the audience hopes it will be better. And maybe one of these days, it will be better. Will tonight be that night? We won’t know until it’s over. In the never-ending search for the perfect host, the academy is returning Billy Crystal to active duty. I’m thinking it can only be an improvement over last year’s snooze fest of a program.
No doubt you have your list of nominees at hand, ready to mark your choices. Here’s how it may shape up tonight.
Best Documentary Feature – The nominees are Hell And Back Again, If A Tree Falls : A Story Of The Earth Liberation Fight, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Pina, and Undefeated. You could make a case for the merits of each of these worthy nominees, but I’ll ring the bell for Pina, a documentary shot in 3-D about the career of German choreographer Pina Bausch.
Best Foreign Language Feature – The nominees are Bullhead, Footnote, In Darkness, Monsieur Lazhar, and A Separation. All the theorists seem to agree that Iran’s entry, A Separation, should be a shoo-in. But in this hardest-to-predict category, anything can happen.
Best Animated Feature – The nominees are A Cat In Paris, Chico & Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss In Boots, and Rango. My head tells me that the winner will be Rango, which was fun for young and old alike, and was a commercial success. However, my heart is rooting for the underdog Chico & Rita, an adult animated film with a heartbreaking love story and great jazz at the soul of the story.
Best Original Score – The nominees are The Adventures Of Tin Tin by John Williams; The Artist by Ludovic Bource; Hugo by Howard Shore; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by Alberto Iglesias; and War Horse by John Williams. In this category I have to go with Hugo hands down. It’s Howard Shore’s best work, and the music fits the film to a T.
Best Director – The nominees are Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist; Alexander Payne for The Defendants; Martin Scorsese for Hugo; Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris; and Terrence Malick for The Tree Of Life. It’s possible to make a case for a four-way tie here, but again, I think Hugo will triumph for being such a terrific film and an obvious career labor of love for Martin Scorsese, not to mention his stunning use of the 3-D process in making Hugo a career high for this genius filmmaker.
Best Supporting Actress – The nominees are Berenice Bejo in The Artist; Jessica Chastain in The Help; Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids; Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs; and Octavia Spencer in The Help. Based on previous acting awards handed out this season, it seems as if Octavia Spencer will take the prize.
Best Supporting Actor – The nominees are Kenneth Branagh in My Week With Marilyn; Jonah Hill in Moneyball; Nick Nolte in Warrior; Christopher Plummer in Beginners; and Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. If there is one sure thing on the roster tonight, it has to be Christopher Plummer. After a long and respected career, it seems the right thing to do.
Best Actress – The nominees are Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs; Viola Davis in The Help; Rooney Mara in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady; and Michelle Williams in My Week With Marilyn. Since the Academy has a continuing fondness for all things British, and because it’s been twenty-nine years since her last win, I’ll go with Meryl Streep.
Best Actor – The nominees are Demian Bichir in A Better Life; George Clooney in The Descendants; Jean Dujardin in The Artist; Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; and Brad Pitt in Moneyball. Common sense says the statue will be George Clooney’s for his career-best, so far, performance.
Best Picture – There are nine films nominated for best film this year: The Artist; The Descendants; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close; The Help; Hugo; Midnight In Paris; Moneyball; The Tree Of Life; and War Horse. I’ll go with The Artist, a charming film that demonstrates to modern audiences that being the best film has nothing to do with giant exploding toys, or millions of dollars worth of CGI special effects.
There you have it. Keep your list and check it against the winners as we all watch the 84th Annual Academy Awards tonight at 8 pm on ABC-TV. Oh… and for whatever it’s worth, last year at this time, in the same ten categories, I picked seven of the winners. Place your bets accordingly!