Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Big Day

There was an important event that had Americans glued to their sets yesterday.  I'm talking about the Oscar nominations, of course. Let's go over the big ones:

BEST PICTURE
"The Artist"
"The Descendants"
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
"The Help"
"Hugo"
"Midnight in Paris"
"Moneyball"
"The Tree of Life"
"War Horse"

Only nine.  They could have had ten. Some are suggesting the last Harry Potter might have fit.  What's with Extremely Loud?  The critics hated it and it's not a hit. Most of the others were not unexpected, though at present I'd say there's no clear frontrunner. I guess it's most likely between The Artist, The Descendants and The Help, even though Hugo got the most nominations overall, which is generally the best single predictor.

LEAD ACTOR
Demián Bichir, "A Better Life"
George Clooney, "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy "
Brad Pitt, "Moneyball"

A couple major surpriseds here. No one saw the Bichir film, and Oldman, not doing much in an incomprehensible film, is a shock.  Experts were expecting names like Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling or Leonardo DiCaprio. Could be an interesting three-way battle between old friends Clooney and Pitt and newcomer (to the Oscars) Dujardin.

LEAD ACTRESS
Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis, "The Help"
Rooney Mara, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn"

Some surprises here, though maybe it's due to lack of competition.  I avoided Nobbs because the reviews were bad, but Oscar favorite Close still got the nod.  Then there's Streep, doing a decent job in an uninspired movie, getting her annual nomination.  I didn't think Mara was that good, but I guess it was memorable. (Apparently more memorable that Tilda Swinton this year.) Viola Davis was expected (she's a new Academy favorite), even if her role could arguably be called supporting. I think Michelle Williams (another new Academy favorite) has the best shot.

BEST DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"
Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"
Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"

Good to see Malick here.  Tree is certainly a director's film, though with no acting or writing nods, I don't see him taking it.  Hollywood hater Allen gets another notch in his belt--is this the Academy's battered wife syndrome? Scorsese did a lively job with Hugo, though I suspect the battle is between Hazanavicius and Payne (both with overrated movies).

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"
Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte, "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
Max von Sydow, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

Generally the best category, this year features a highly unimpressive group.  The only one that really rises above would be Jonah Hill (in his "before" days).  Too bad Christopher Plummer will probably win.  Some were surprised there's no Albert Brooks, but not me.  The Academy wanted nothing to do with Drive. A few people expected Patton Oswalt to sneak in here, but there was no love anywhere for Young Adult.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Bérénice Bejo, "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain, "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"
Octavia Spencer, "The Help"

This is the category of the year.  It's great to see Chastain, even though her best work was in Tree Of Life.  Bejo didn't do much (and wasn't she the lead?), but they love The Artist.  McCarthy almost stole the film in the kind of role that defines this category.  McTeer apparently stole Nobbs from Close (playing another woman as a man--maybe she's more convincing).  I expect the winner will be Octavia Spencer since her role was the most memorable in The Help.  The question is will Chastain siphon off votes. I think the most disappointed person in Hollywood yesterday was Shailene Woodley of The Descendants.

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
"The Descendants," Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
"Hugo," John Logan
"The Ides of March," George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
"Moneyball," Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan

Usually adapted screenplay is the better screenplay category, but what a motley collection.  From lame (Ides Of March) to dull (Descendants) to impossible to understand (Tinker Tailor) to not so much a story as a visual feast (Hugo).

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
"The Artist," Michel Hazanavicius
"Bridesmaids," Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
"Margin Call," J.C. Chandor
"Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen
"A Separation," Asghar Farhadi

I'm sure Chandor, Farhadi, Mumolo and Wiig are all surprised and pleased.  And interesting to see a screenplay with no dialogue get in.  Then there's the tiresome choice of Woody Allen.

PS Here's Hitler's reaction:

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were a lot of snubs in the best actress category, not just Tilda Swinton. There was also Kirsten Dunst, Elizabeth Olsen, Charlize Theron and Emma Stone.

1:58 AM, January 25, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would write in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the animated monkey as best actor. I twas that kind of year

6:32 AM, January 25, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woody hasn't been nominated for Director in 17 years, and this is only his second screenplay nomination in 15 years... I think tiresome choices or battered wife syndrome is going a little far, even if you hated these movies.

3:50 PM, January 25, 2012  
Blogger LAGuy said...

He may not be a guaranteed nominee since his scandal with Mia, but still, in the last twenty years, he's received six nominations for screenwriting alone. Whenever he does anything halfway decent he usually gets nominated. They can't vote for him every year, though, as long as he's turning out titles like You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, Scoop, Cassandra's Dream, The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion and Celebrity.

5:46 PM, January 25, 2012  
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