Is it just me, or was 2011 a crap year for movies? I know I sure didn’t get to the theater very much. I actually had to look at a list of films released last year, just to remind myself of what came out. That review only confirmed how profoundly uninterested I was in most of what Hollywood proffered–endless sequels, pointless remakes, paint-by-numbers superhero fare . . . yawn.
So it is that I come to Oscar night having seen a bare handful of the nominated films. But I never let a little thing like total ignorance stop me from making my picks, so here we go:
All the momentum is with The Artist. It won the DGA and the PGA, and looks to be a shoo-in for the Oscar, too. Is it the best movie of the year? In my humble estimation, not by a long shot. It’s a fun homage to the silent film era, but it’s little more than a feel-good confection. Others have commented that Singin’ in the Rain covered this ground 60 years ago, and did a better job of it, too. I’m hard pressed to disagree. If I had a vote among the nominated films, I would have picked Hugo. But I don’t, and even if I did, my vote wouldn’t prevent The Artist from taking home the big prize.
Michel Hazanavicius will take this one, for The Artist. The DGA win clinched it. And I suppose you have to give some props to a guy with the cojones to even conceive of making a throwback silent film. Much as I would love to see Martin Scorsese get his second Oscar, it’s just not happening this year.
Jean Dujardin, for The Artist. Naturally. He won the SAG award in the same category. As I remind everyone at this time of year, actors make up the largest voting bloc in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Disregard SAG at your own peril.
Viola Davis, for The Help. As with Dujardin, Davis won the SAG award. There’s some talk that Meryl Streep could be a spoiler here, but I don’t buy it. People assume that she has a whole shelf full of Oscars, when in fact she only has two, for work early in her career–Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie’s Choice. You can pretty much count on her getting nominated every year . . . and getting snubbed.
Best Supporting Actor
The SAG went to Christopher Plummer, for Beginners, and that’s good enough for me. And hey, it’s Christopher Plummer. Dude rocks.
Best Supporting Actress
The Help picks up another Oscar here, as SAG award winner Octavia Spencer takes home the prize.
Best Original Screenplay
Love Woody Allen or hate him, but you have to consider him the favorite after winning the WGA award for Midnight in Paris. And will someone please explain to me how The Artist got a nomination in this category? I mean, the film had its charms, sure, but the cliche-riddled script was not one of them.
Best Adapted Screenplay
I’m picking Omaha native Alexander Payne, along with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, to get the statuette for their work on The Descendants. It’s not my favorite Payne film, but it is affecting, and it did with the WGA award. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Moneyball win in this category, though.
Best Animated Feature
In the absence of a Pixar film in the category (somehow Cars 2 just didn’t make the cut), I have to go with Rango. It was a fun film, and gorgeously animated.
Chalk up another win for The Artist, which won an American Cinema Editors award (the Eddie, natch). Best Picture winners often snap up the Editing Oscar, too.
As you can tell from the preceding, I look to the various guild awards for clues as to how the Academy will vote. Using this logic, I should pick The Tree of Life, which won the ASC award. But while the creation sequence in that film was impeccable, I’m leaning toward the absolutely gorgeous 3D work in Hugo. It may well be the best 3D I’ve ever seen, even better than Avatar. And you know, Hugo did garner more nominations than any other film in 2011, with eleven. I have to figure it’s going to, you know, actually win a few. Of course, I thought the same thing about True Grit last year, which went 0-for-10 at the Oscars. But even so, I’m going with Hugo. You can laugh at me later.
Best Art Direction
Hugo won a well deserved Art Directors Guild award, and I think Dante Ferretti will get an Oscar, too.
Best Costume Design
Of the nominated films, only W.E. won a Costume Designers Guild award–but this category favors Victorian period pieces. Jane Eyre fits the bill, so I’m going that way.
The Iron Lady. Gotta go with the obvious. Turning Meryl Streep into Margaret Thatcher is exactly the kind of work the Academy loves to recognize.
Best Original Score
The Artist gets another win here. In a silent film, the score is the only sound you hear. OK, so The Artist isn’t completely silent. So what? You know what I mean. Don’t be a pain in the ass.
Best Original Song
Only two nominees in this category this year–and even so, you won’t hear either one performed at this year’s ceremony. Weird, but whatever. “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets is favored here, so that’s my pick.
Best Sound Mixing
The awards for sound often go to the Best Picture winner–but that’s obviously not an option this year. The Cinema Audio Society honored Hugo, so I’m picking it to win. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go to a louder film.
Best Sound Editing
I’ll go with Hugo here, too. See above.
Best Visual Effects
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I think. Some truly magnificent work on Caesar.
Best Foreign Language Film
I have to say this every year: this is a notoriously unpredictable category. The favorite is Iran’s A Separation, which also garnered an Oscar nomination for its script. You know what that means: absolutely nothing. I’ll go with A Separation, but you could just as well throw a dart and make your pick here.
I’m seeing a lot of buzz for Undefeated, but for whatever reason, I’m thinking the 3D work in Pina will carry the day.
Best Documentary Short
Saving Face. What the hell. Smile Pinki, about doctors performing free cleft palate surgery on poor children in India, won this category in 2008. So why not a documentary about a plastic surgeon who helps Pakistani women scarred by acid attacks?
Best Live Action Short Film
I made a point of seeing all the nominated live action and animated short films from 2010. Didn’t help me at all. I missed on both categories last year. So this year, in blissful ignorance, I’ll go with The Shore. Best guess.
Best Animated Short Film
Pixar has a nominee in this category–La Luna–but does not do particularly well on Oscar night with short films. I’m going with The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.
OK, I think that’s everything. Here’s hoping 2012 is a better year for movies. A guy can dream, right?
Enjoy the show. Billy Crystal’s hosting, so that’s something.