"The Artist" Thomas Langmann, Producer
"The Descendants" Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" Scott Rudin, Producer
"The Help" Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
"Hugo" Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
"Midnight in Paris" Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
"Moneyball" Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
"The Tree of Life" Nominees to be determined
"War Horse" Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
It’s a great year for France and... Brad Pitt. Three of the movies nominated for Best Picture are either based in Paris (“Hugo” and “Midnight in Paris”) or led by a French cast, directed and produced by two French gentlemen (“The Artist”). The other two ("Tree of Life" and "Moneyball") are simply associated with Brad Pitt. Epic movies like “War Horse” or “Hugo” are visual stunners and they cost hundreds of millions to make but I doubt if they will stay in our memories in the years to come. The critics’ favorite, “The Descendants” is a delightful family drama but that’s all there is. It’s neither ground-breaking nor can we call it a cinematic triumph? Honestly, I’m quite surprised with all the hoopla that surrounds it. Maybe it’s because of George Clooney?
Critics will always say when a well-known book is made into a movie, that it does not live up to the greatness of the book or how it fails to convey the spirit of the book. For example “The Help”. Despite being a very popular movie that the viewing public actually like, it was certainly not critics’ darling. Personally, I love “The Help” because it is hugely entertaining. It has the best ensemble cast performance in recent memory and it is cleverly made. I would not mind if it wins. I saw it again recently on DVD and it still gets my laughs and tears even the second time around. However, it looks like “The Artist” will win. The light-hearted storyline, dazzling performances by its stars paying homage to the silent films of the past, Hollywood would totally fall for it, of course.
Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"
George Clooney in "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"
Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Brad Pitt in "Moneyball"
This category is fairly weak this year especially when compared to the solid group of female contenders on the other side. They are all good performances but nothing grandiose or tremendous, I must say. Clooney, obviously talented and smart, but he plays himself too often in the movies that I find him rather boring and one dimensional. However, his role “The Descendants” is a pleasant surprise; he is in fact the character and not Clooney for a change. With that being said, the dashingly handsome Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”) is unbeatable here, way too charming and most importantly foreign (which usually plays a great advantage in winning Oscar: Roberto Benigni, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Christoph Waltz, just to name a few). Plus Clooney won his Oscar a few years ago. Dujardin is safe!
|Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"|
Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in "My Week with Marilyn"
Jonah Hill in "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte in "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"
Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
Christopher Plummer’s role as an elderly man who came out as gay after his wife’s death in what should have been one of the best film nominees of the year, “Beginners”, is quietly brilliant unlike Branagh’s energetic and loud portrayal of Sir Lawrence Olivier in “My Week With Marilyn”. Both are deserving nominees and long overdue to win Oscar but I think the voters will award Plummer. Instead of giving the old man, now at age 82, a life time achievement Oscar at some later time, it is best he gets his award this year. Better late than never! Such a marvelously long career he has had. (He plays the hunky Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound Of Music). Bet ya money on Plummer! Nick Nolte and Max Von Sydow? Interesting choices. Hey, they need at least five nominees in a catagory, right? And… Jonah Hill. Well, he will now get offers to play some serious roles. Good for him.
|Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"|
Actress in a Leading Role
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"
Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn"
Avery tight race as usual in this category with five praiseworthy actresses competing. Rooney Mara gets recognized for her work in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” which will hopefully lead her to some exciting roles in the future. That’s pretty much about it. Michelle Williams as Marilyn is truly marvelous but she is no “Black Swan” this year unfortunately. When Viola Davis mesmerized us, with her mere 8-minute plus performance in “Doubt” (2008) (her first Oscar nomination), we all knew we would see her again at the future Oscars. There she is this year breaking our hearts with her powerful performance as a middle-aged black maid in the Civil Rights era movie “The Help”. She could win Oscar this year and I would not mind but I’ll give Viola a few more years. She will eventually win one for she is just too good. Just not this year. So, that leaves the two veteran actresses with whopping 23 Oscar nominations between them (Glenn Close with her 6th and Meryl Streep, 17th) I was rooting for Meryl in “The Iron Lady” even before I saw the movie because it just pains me to see every year, she goes home empty-handed from the Oscar ceremony. The last time she won Oscar was in 1982 for “Sophie’s choice”. And Meryl as Maggie Thatcher, is "The Performance of the year". Hands down! If this performance doesn’t win her the third Oscar, we’ll need to bring Judge Judy. We need justice! Arrrmm.. Sorry, Glenn!
|Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady"|
Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain in "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs"
Octavia Spencer in "The Help"
Usually no surprises happen in this category therefore making it an easy category to predict the winner. Melissa Leo (“Fighter”), Monique (“Precious”) and Penelope Cruz (“Vicky Christina Barcelona”), all three recent winners, were expected to take home the gold statue from the start and they did. So who do we have this year? Bejo, with her megawatt smile and oh-so- refreshing face is undeniably a driving force in “The Artist”. And…Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”? Welcome back! It’s been a while since we last saw you! But I don’t see them both winning. Both Chastain and Spencer manage to gain laughs with their electrifying performances in “The Help” but Spencer is a sure bet considering all the awards she has swept up so far. It would be a crime if she does not win. McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”) will just enjoy her first nomination and the glitz and glamour it brings. Hey, getting a nomination for shitting in the sink. Not too bad eh?
|Octavia Spencer in "The Help"|
"The Artist" Michel Hazanavicius
"The Descendants" Alexander Payne
"Hugo" Martin Scorsese
"Midnight in Paris" Woody Allen
"The Tree of Life" Terrence Malick
If it were up to me, I would give this award to Woody Allen. His “Midnight in Paris” is the reason why we go to the movies; to appreciate and celebrate the beauty, magic, fantasy, laughter and romance that the cinema brings while at the same time, being inspired and intellectually stimulated. With “Midnight in Paris”, you have it all there. As usual, in true Woody Allen fashion, every single frame is given thoughts, carefully composed, backed with stunning music score and set in gorgeous locations. Not to mention the stellar cast featuring Katy Bates, Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams, the signature witty dialogues, imaginative narratives, and all those little usual delights. But I bet Woody’s Oscar is in writing this year (Best Original Screen Play) which clears the way for Michel Hazanavicius of “The Artist”. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Artist” as well for its ingenuity and freshness. I like it that it is not too ambitious yet innovative and intelligent while not going overboard. “The Artist” is in fact a sweet nostalgic homage to the silent movies and the stars of that era. For a new comer like, Hazanavicius, I am sure being nominated in the same category with “Woody Allen”, “Alexander Payne” and “Martin Scorsese” itself is a treat and… to eventually win. I mean, C’mon!
Animated Feature Film
"A Cat in Paris" Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
"Chico & Rita" Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
"Kung Fu Panda 2" Jennifer Yuh Nelson
"Puss in Boots" Chris Miller
"Rango" Gore Verbinski
Strangely enough, Spiellberg’s highly-anticipated and critically-hailed “The Adventures of Tin Tin” did not get the nomination. And… that means only one thing: “RANGO”
"The Artist" Guillaume Schiffman
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Jeff Cronenweth
"Hugo" Robert Richardson
"The Tree of Life" Emmanuel Lubezki
"War Horse" Janusz Kaminski
No other movies this year could beat Spielberg’s visual extravaganza: “War Horse”. Breathtaking scenery of England’s countryside, gorgeous farm houses, beautiful horses and incredible battle scenes: Need I say more?