Every few years, the Oscars have a clear favorite that sweeps through the entire award season. It happened a few years ago with “Slumdog Millionaire” and it appears that this year belongs to “The Artist.” It may not be the highest grossing film of the nominees, but it seems to have struck a nerve with critics and I suspect Academy members. That doesn’t mean this Oscar year is completely done, though. There are plenty of other races in play to keep things interesting.
Nominees: “War Horse,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “The Tree of Life,” “Moneyball,” “Hugo,” “The Descendants,” “Midnight in Paris,” “The Help,” and “The Artist.”
The Academy this year decided to keep its format of having more than five nominees. They’ve mandated that a film had to get five percent of the first place votes to get nominated. This process resulted in nine nominees for Best Picture. However, like in past years, it’s easy to see which films have no chance of actually being crowned a winner. “War Horse,” “EL&IC,” and “The Tree of Life,” were probably the lowest vote-getters over other fair that I actually preferred including “Bridesmaids,” “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy,” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”
In the end, it’s not much of a race. “The Artist” has won everything this season (with the exception of the SAG best ensemble prize, which rightfully went to “The Help”) and there is no reason to believe that it shouldn’t continue its reign on Oscar night. Yes, “Hugo” got one more nomination. However, most of the love for “Hugo” came in technical categories. Therefore, “The Artist” will become a worthy (although low grossing) Best Picture. Also, expect “The Artist” to take directing and four or five other statues.
Should Win: “Moneyball” or “The Help”
Will Win: “The Artist”
Nominees: Glenn Close “Albert Nobbs,” Meryl Streep “The Iron Lady,” Michelle Williams “My Week with Marilyn,” Rooney Mara “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” and Viola Davis “The Help.”
Close and Mara are probably on the bottom of a very talented pack here. Williams won the Golden Globe in the Comedy/Musical category and is probably a distant third place vote-getter. This truly comes down to Streep and Davis. Streep won the Golden Globe (they love her) and the British Academy Award (she is playing Margaret Thatcher). Davis, however, pretty much won everything else including the Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors Guild.
Davis probably had the hardest role of any of the bunch. She is a passive observer with a squashed voice in “The Help.” The two-time Tony winner shines in the year’s best performance…and I hope that the Academy finally recognizes her on her second nomination. Streep was wonderful in a fair film, but Davis shined above all the rest. If she wins, Davis would become only the second African-American to win Best Actress.
Should Win: Viola Davis
Will Win: Viola Davis (In a squeaker)
Nominees: George Clooney “The Descendants,” Demian Bachir “A Better Life,” Gary Oldman “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy,” Jean DuJardin “The Artist,” and Brad Pitt “Moneyball.”
I have never been a big Brad Pitt fan. However, in a perfect world he would win this year for one of the best performances of the year, and his finest at that. Momentum started strong for Pitt, but never seemed to materialize. George Clooney (a past winner for “Syriana”) started winning everything and looked to have this thing sewed up. Then at the SAGS and British Academy Awards, Jean DuJardin beat Clooney and made this a real race.
Should Win: Brad Pitt
Will Win: Jean DuJardin (barely over Clooney)
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Melissa McCarthy “Bridesmaids,” Janet McTeer “Albert Nobbs,” Jessica Chastain “The Help,” Octavia Spencer “The Help,” and Berenice Bejo “The Artist.”
There is a chance that if “The Artist” sweeps, Bejo could prevail. There is also a chance that Academy members could buck the trend and decide to reward McCarthy for her raunchy work in “Bridesmaids.” The best performance of the bunch, though, has also won the share of awards this season. Therefore, expect to see another charming and eloquent speech from Spencer.
Should Win: Octavia Spencer
Will Win: Octavia Spencer
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Jonah Hill “Moneyball,” Christopher Plummer “Beginners,” Max Von Sydow “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” Kenneth Branagh “My Week with Marilyn,” and Nick Nolte “Warrior.”
Jonah Hill surprised me with his restrained and wonderful work this year, but Christopher Plummer is finally getting all the acclaim after a long career. He has gone undefeated this year on the circuit, and should claim this easily. The only person who could take him down would be Sydow who is also a veteran actor, and appears in a surprise Best Picture nominee. In the end, it’s hard to see anyone other than Plummer winning
Should Win: Christopher Plummer
Will Win: Christopher Plummer
However you decide to watch the Oscars, pay special attention to all of the ways the Academy tries to young-up the show this year. Between online features and tweeting, the Academy is always trying to reach a different demographic. With the much needed return of Billy Crystal as host, though, maybe the Academy has finally decided (hopefully) to just be what they are; the finest show that truly has the prestige and clout within the industry. I hope the telecast doesn’t try to pander to a new demographic, but instead truly succeeds in reminding us why we actually go to the movies in this age where less of us are actually packing the multiplexes.
Wayne Bell is a freelance contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. He moved to Fayetteville in 2003 for his Master’s Degree and you can almost always catch him at Little Bread Co. or Hammontree’s. For more of Wayne’s contributions, visit his author page.