The Academy Awards are chosen by the approximately 6,000 members of the Academy, namely, other folks in the industry.
The membership is broken into branches by occupation: the directors’ branch, the cinematographers’ branch, etc. Directors vote for directors, actors vote for actors, everyone votes for Best Picture. This is why Oscars matter to most of those in the industry. It’s not the politics, the marketing, the return on any investment, it is the recognition of your peers for work well done.
Yet this year, it seems we are met by some rather strange nominees. Take, for example, the fact that there are only two nominees for Best Original Song. Consider a film such as Bridesmaids is even uttered in the same breath as Oscar. There’s no reason to bash the film, it’s perfectly fine for what it is. What it isn’t, is Academy material. (If Bridesmaids wins an Oscar for anything, Taylor will eat his beard.)
With this in mind, Reel Reviews presents, not predictions, but rather, who we’ll be rooting for Sunday night and why.
Best Picture: Nine nominees.
–– The Artist, a tale of star-struck love at the end of the silent-film era.
–– Hugo is a 12-year-old Parisian orphan in the 1930s, searching for clues about his father.
–– The Help details the anonymous stories of African-American housemaids in 1960s Mississippi.
–– The Descendants. His wife in a coma, a land baron tries to reconnect with his daughters.
–– Moneyball is coined when the Oakland A’s use statistical analysis to change baseball forever.
–– Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close follows a boy searching for a lock to a key, left by his late father, killed Sept. 11, 2001.
–– Midnight in Paris magically transports a would-be novelist to meet his idols in the 1920s.
–– War Horse follows the exploits of a tenacious horse, surviving the First World War.
–– The Tree of Life is an impressionist examination of all life, by way of examining one life.
TAYLOR: All of these are good films, some of them are great. Arguably, some of these films don’t deserve to be on this list. I found Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris to be vapid in its pretentious dialogue and repetitive theme. Moneyball, while a fascinating and exciting story, was merely executed adequately. The Artist and Hugo are favoured to win Best Picture and I could see this as a deserving outcome. Both films are more dynamic and unique than the others. However, I’m rooting for The Help, because I’m a sucker for a great film with a social message and the performances moved me.
HOWE: I’m going for The Artist, the reason why: the roaring ‘20s, the dancing and the music give this movie a fantastic feel.
Best Director : Five nominees.
–– Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist.
–– Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris.
–– Martin Scorsese for Hugo.
–– Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life.
–– Alexander Payne for The Descendants.
TAYLOR: The buzz is that Hazanavicius will win for his silent treatment of The Artist. This makes sense to me, the undertaking itself is bold and consuming. I’m not ruling out Martin Scorsese because his stylized, magical Hugo in 3D is quite the departure from his usual, gritty, realistic fare.
HOWE: That’s rather coy, Mr. Taylor, two guesses. I’m rooting for Mr. Scorsese.
Best Actor: Five nominees.
–– Demian Bichir for A Better Life. (An undocumented Mexican gardener fights for a better life.)
–– George Clooney for The Descendants.
–– Jean Dujardin for The Artist.
–– Gary Oldman for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. (A British spy comes out of retirement to find a counter-agent.)
–– Brad Pitt for Moneyball.
TAYLOR: Although there is a lot of speculation that Pitt will win, I don’t buy it. Pitt can act, he just doesn’t in this film. (He’s better in The Tree of Life.) Give the award to Gary Oldman. He is the greatest actor alive and has never even been nominated, which is to say, he has always been snubbed. Admittedly, this is a poor reason to give an Oscar, but it would make me happy.
HOWE: Can I make my pick for similar reasons?
TAYLOR: Of course.
HOWE: Clooney, underrated, full stop.
Best Actress: Five nominees.
–– Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs. (Woman posing as male butler.)
–– Rooney Mara who is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (Do we really need to tell you?)
–– Meryl Streep as the Iron Lady (former Brit PM Margaret Thatcher.)
–– Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn (as Marilyn Monroe.)
–– Viola Davis, The Help.
HOWE: Streep as Thatcher, need I say more? OK, go England!
TAYLOR: This nepotism must end. Davis, for her brave performance as the main character in The Help. It’s a lock. Wait a minute, these aren’t supposed to be predictions…
Best Supporting Actor: Five nominees.
–– Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn.
–– Nick Nolte for Warrior. (A recovering alcoholic trains his resentful son for a mixed martial arts competition.)
–– Christopher Plummer for Beginners. (An elderly gay man comes to terms with open sexuality.)
–– Max Von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
–– Jonah Hill for Moneyball.
HOWE: Christopher Plummer for taking on a challenging role.
TAYLOR: Anybody but Jonah Hill.
Best Supporting Actress: Five nominees.
–– Bérénice Bejo for The Artist.
–– Jessica Chastain for The Help.
–– Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids. (Really? Has everyone gone insane?)
–– Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs.
–– Octavia Spencer for The Help.
TAYLOR: This one is a no-brainer, give it to Spencer for her near scene stealing performance as the feisty best friend in The Help.
HOWE: Melissa McCarthy, for the bathroom scene alone.
HOWE: I just want to watch you eat your beard.
The 84th annual Academy Awards air Sunday.
–– Don’t forget to enter our Oscar contest on Reel Reviews’ Facebook page, you could win a free movie and guest reviewer spot. Two more sleeps…