Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Oscars 2012

The height of the Awards season is almost upon us, but I'm not really excited about the Oscars this year. While 2011 was a lot better as a movie year than 2010 was, the nominees this year hardly represent the finest cinema had to offer. In fact, I've only seen 5 of the 9 Best Picture nominees, because no matter how hard I try, I can't work up any interest to go see The Help, nor can I be bothered to get up at the crack of noon to go see War Horse at a press screening. And the gala doesn't do much favors by getting old reliable Billy Crystal to host. He used to be great, but I'd want to see something completely different by now. It's not the 90's any more (I'll say!). One should remember that Crystal's 2004 hosting gig wasn't among his finest, either. And the less said about the ceremonies in the last two years, the better (They were boring and awful!). So I'm probably thinking of missing out on the festivities this year. There doesn't seem to be anything on offer now that would be worth it for this European liberal to lose his precious beauty sleep.

But, y'know, talking about Oscars brings page hits (and maybe, just maybe, precious comments), so I guess I can do a small rundown on some of Oscar favorites I have seen, and take a guess on which films will win. I'm not going to put the nominees down, as I am sure that most movie-loving people have already checked them out. As a reminder, they can be seen here. My system is based on smileys.

Signals a film or a person that I think is going to win.
 Signals something I'd thing would be cool to see win, even if unrealistic.

Signals something good the Academy voters promptly ignored when making their ridiculous Oscar picks.

Best Non-English Language Film:
A Separation: Nader & Simin is a shoe-in to win. And would definately be one of the best films to win an award on sunday as well.
Bullhead is criminally underseen, but tough as nails. This would give it a boost and probably make a lot of countries to have a premiere for it.
The Kid With A Bike, Tropa de Elite 2, She Monkeys, Play, Le Havre, The Skin I Live In and a billion others...

Animated Feature Film:
Rango; For the first time in the history of this award, I haven't seen a single one of the films nominated for this award. The smart money seems to be on Gore Verbinski's Rango, which has some of the most unappealing character models I've ever seen. But still should watch it.
A Cat in Paris; It would be cool if some of these European animations would win, though. I'm waiting eagerly to see A Cat in Paris. One of the several Paris-loving films this year.
Adventures of Tintin: the Secret of the Unicorn; It's weird that the Golden Globe-winning Tintin isn't even nominated. The Academy seems to hate motion capture work by principle. Nice going, Andy Serkis-fans. The campaign to get him a supporting actor nom only worked counterwise. But even stranger omission is the wonderful, leisurely and detail-rich Studio Ghibli's Arrietty. Is it even out in the US yet?

Documentary Feature Film:
Pina; I'm guessing that because this is a work by a recognized maestro and about a recognized maestro in a recognized high-brow art, that it will take the gong. Plus, the Academy do like 3D movies now and then.
The Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Also Senna seems to be quite a popular one, too, but I've still to see it.

Best Supporting Actress:
Bérénice BejoThe Artist; Cute enough to melt the Academy's hearts and to throw in the top of the pile of The Artist's massive sweep.
Melissa McCarthyBridesmaids; Would take a big dump on both the sinks of the Conservative portrayal of women in Hollywood movies, and the Oscars as an institution too.
Leila Hatami, A Separation. Let's face it, Simin has quite a little screen time in the film. But that doesn't mean that she doesn't leave an unforgettable impression.

Best Supporting Actor:
Christopher PlummerBeginners; Haven't seen the film, but it seems a legendary actor is on top of all the voters' picks.
Albert BrooksDrive

Writing (Adapted):
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, The Descendants; The Descendants will be one of the bigger losers of the race, so I think it would be fine to see it have at least a writing award for its trouble. It's the second-best written film nominated.
Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan, Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy. It is stunning work, even though it's hard to keep up. Every single scene and even the most insignificant-seeming things turn out to be hugely important. I'm reading the book the film is based on now.
Hossein Amini, Drive; Yasmine Reza, Michael Katims, Roman Polanski, Carnage

Writing (Original): 
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

John Michael McDonagh, The Guard

Best Actress:
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs; Everyone will be putting their money on Meryl Streep for her portrayal of The Great Satan (in a film which I absolutely refuse to watch). That probably should go down well with a Conservative Academy. However, since Streep already has plenty of awards, and Oscars are a place of redeeming past missteps, I think I'll run against the stream. The awards should have a moment of true surprise, and it could be when it's given to the six-time nominee, five-time loser Glenn Close. It's hard to say whether she actually plays her role better, but at least her character actually has a penis and doesn't just act as if she has one. Which is something the Academy voters like.
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. No chance in hell, but still would be nice to see.

Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia. She is really robbed. Just because her film's director used the wrong word. Also Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet from Carnage, altough it's impossible to tell which one is the lead.

Best Actor:
Gary Oldman, Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy; One of the only awards I have even the faintest shred of care. It's because I have a huge man-crush for Gary Oldman, one of the very greatest actors living today. Like all real artists, Oldman himself doesn't care that much whether he wins or not. But it still should be the time to honor the great man, and with his knockout underkey performance in Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy, it's as good a time as any. Though George Clooney is pretty damn good in The Descendants as well.
Brendan Gleeson, The Guard; Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life; Ryan Gosling, Drive; Christoph Waltz, Carnage

Best Director:
Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist; I've ran out of things to say. trust me on this.

Alexander Payne, The Descendants 

Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive; Thomas Alfredson, Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy; Lars von Trier, Melancholia; Paddy Considine, Tyrannosaur, Asghar Fargadi, A Separation, Roman Polanski, Carnage

Best Film:
The Artist; If Brett Easton Ellis says so, it must be true. It's heartfelt, old-school and manipulative enough that the Academy will lap it up. But it's no matter. A lot worse films have won in the past.

It would be about equally cool to see Hugo, The Descendants or The Tree of Life win, too. But it's really no matter as it's far from a fair competeition. A lot of the year's very best were omitted from the final list. Just as long as films that are probably sheer calculated award-dreck such as The Help or War Horse doesn't win, I'll be somewhat indifferent.
Drive, Tyrannosaur, Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy, Melancholia, Carnage

So I'd love to hear what you think will win and what was outrageously left out. Just put those angry comments in this comment section or send me feedback. But what do I actually think about those nominated films, actually, you ask? Well, no fear! I'll do another post, less bitter and cynical, I hope, tomorrow.

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