With the Oscars appearing on maybe half a dozen Sky HD TVs this weekend, two of our writers look at the prospects for this weekend’s 84th Academy Awards. Warning: contains a spoiler for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy:
The weeks between the Oscar nominations and the awards have always been the highlight of my cinema year. Each year (with a small-child-inflicted gap) I do my best to see as many of the main nominees as possible before the big day. In the past this would involve a final dogged trip to London on the last weekend to sweep up the last 2 (or one year, 3) films which hadn’t come to the sticks but which were always available at the Odeon Panton Street.
Some years this was great, others, well, watching House of Sand and Fog, Mystic River and 21 Grams in a single day doesn’t make for a cheery coach ride back to Oxford. The actual night is usually a complete letdown, hours of frocks, excruciating musical numbers, plodding delivery of bland jokes* and the wrong winner in most categories. And last year’s inexplicable juggernaut shut-out by The King’s Speech made the actual telecast pretty tedious. But I’ve never before had a year where I just can’t be bothered to see so very many of the nominated films. Looking through the lists again is a weary, weary prospect, but here’s my view on the big four:
The Artist – which will win – is of course a lovely way to spend a couple of hours but to make it the landslide favourite to win best picture requires you to squint really hard, if only to avoid noticing that Melancholia is the obvious winner. Of the other films I’ve seen, I’d rank the solidly upholstered Descendants second, followed by the half of Tree of Life I didn’t sleep through, (ed, can anyone think of a new way to compare Midnight in Paris to Goodnight Sweetheart?) and the unwatchably tedious Moneyball. Which leads me to the films that I just can’t face: Hugo looks like the most gloriously expensive Childrens Film Foundation production to date, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is clearly some form of elaborate joke, while War Horse and The Help look for all the world like fake trailers from a romcom about a wealthy director of middlebrow Hollywood films (can we get Colin Firth?) who, scouting for locations on a remote Scottish Island, finds his creative and romantic spirit reawakened by the rebellious daughter (that girl from Chalet Girl is hot right now) of the local laird (fuck it, let’s shoot for Connery) and ends up making guerrilla films about the Occupy movement…
Sorry, where was I?
See above, more or less, except to say that there’s a version of the Cocksucker Johnny gag to be told about von Trier – you give one press conference claiming to be a Nazi…
Like everyone, I want Gary Oldman to win an Oscar so much that I’m prepared to overlook the fact that he’s essentially a waxwork throughout Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But on the basis that the Academy doesn’t succumb to nostalgia for Prick up your Ears, Sid & Nancy, and that bit in Leon where he shouts “Everyone!” I guess it’s Clooney’s year. As Colin Firth is always some variation on Darcy (Gay Darcy, Stuttering Darcy, Traitor Darcy**), Clooney is always more or less Doug Ross. But that’s not a bad thing; Bruce Willis was better before he stopped always playing David Addison in everything. The only other contender is Jean Dujardin who is great, but once you get past two major Oscars for your novelty silent French film it starts to look greedy.
Yeah, I haven’t seen any of them. It’s hard to see which is less appealing; glossy Fincher torture-porn or Thatch – the musical!
I’ll still watch the ceremony if there’s any way to do so, and I’ll be back waiting for the nomination next year with a spreadsheet open and ready. But here’s hoping to a slightly more enticing OscarFest™ in 2013.
* not this year, though – Billy Crystal’s home!
**Oh come on, he’s the one with the Oscar – did you think they’d let Ciaran fucking Hinds be the mole?
I love the Oscars, yet this year I can’t raise any enthusiasm for the show. From Brett Ratner’s resignation as the show’s producer to some awful nominated films, to the decision not to allow The Muppets to perform on stage, it seems like a year that nobody is even a little excited about.
It doesn’t help that they largely ignored a lot of eligible films that would have had a groundswell of support such as Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Bridesmaids or the last Harry Potter film. It doesn’t help that nobody knows how many Best Picture nominees there will be in any given year and it certainly doesn’t help that there is almost no suspense over The Artist’s undoubted dominance. These are my predictions for the major awards:
Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Best Actor: George Clooney (The Descendants)
Best Actress: Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Best Original Screenplay: The Artist
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
It may be that Jean Dujardin repeats his BAFTA™ win, and that Viola Davis usurps La Streep to win, what would be a richly deserved first Academy Award. There may be some love for Bridesmaids and Moneyball in the Writing categories, and every time Martin Scorsese is nominated, now, there has to be at least a small chance that he wins, but I’d be happy to stake £10 on those eight awards.
Here, though, is how I would vote, if I was handed the Oscar™ ballot…
Best Adapted Screenplay – Moneyball. Taking a non-fiction book about a sports team’s general manager who has never actually won, and turning it into an inspiring and (almost) conventional sports narrative is a nifty job. None of the other nominated films was worth much consideration, though, to be honest.
Best Original Screenplay – A Separation. The best film nominated in any category, it’s a real shame that Asghar Farhadi’s brilliant, harrowing drama couldn’t have been the tenth nominee for Best Picture. The screenplay is beautifully, beautifully paced. Either The Artist or Bridesmaids would be a fun winner, but anything that beats A Separation simply doesn’t deserve to.
Best Supporting Actor – Christopher Plummer (Beginners). With Jonah Hill the only other deserving nominee for his terrific work in Moneyball, this is probably the safest bet here. Plummer is a legend, giving a tremendous performance in an underappreciated film. I’m still staggered that there was no nomination for Albert Brooks in Drive.
Best Supporting Actress – Jessica Chastain (The Help). This is the first of these awards that caused me much deliberation. Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy provide the humour in two of the biggest films of the year, but it boiled down to a straight decision between Chastain and Berenice Bejo. While Bejo is charming and luminous, Chastain’s performance was the crowning glory of a superb year, in which she should have received at least one other nomination for The Tree of Life.
Best Actor – Jean Dujardin (The Artist). I must admit to having been surprised not to see Ryan Gosling nominated, and surely everybody had to double check when they read Damian Bichir had been shortlisted? His performance is superb, but the nomination is his reward. There are solid performances from three screen icons, and while I’d like to see any of them win, I would vote for Dujardin’s splendid, playful, joyous turn in The Artist.
Best Actress – Viola Davis (The Help). Only Michelle Williams could finally get the recognition she deserves, for her worst performance in ages (and still have it be the best thing in the film, and a strong contender here). She’s the best actress of her generation, but the best, richest performances of the year came from Rooney Mara in The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo and, my choice, Viola Davis. Davis lends The Help its moments of dignity and class, and should be rewarded with the Oscar™.
Best Director – Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life). There are two superb films nominated for both Best Picture and Best Director, with a third (Hugo) representing a sentimental choice. I’ve decided to split the two awards this way. Malick is always my most anticipated filmmaker, and The Tree of Life is arguably his richest, most compelling, most nakedly emotional film to date, and it all hangs together because of him. Auteur is an overused word for filmmakers, but it fits Malick, perfectly.
Best Picture – The Artist. There is now no doubt that The Artist is this year’s Oscar™ juggernaut, but amazingly, for once, there’s no shame in that. This is a charming and lovely film, and one which celebrates cinema itself. In a largely underwhelming year, it truly deserves its moment in the spotlight.
And, good news! Maybe there is the slightest hope for the show, after all…
On Sunday Mostly Film will have an all woman team, lead by Josephine Grahl, live blogging the Red Carpet and the ceremony through the night.