Well it’s that time of year again. The annual rite of pre-Spring in which every film critic, professional and amateur, bitches about how they are smarter than the Academy is here. This year is no different. For a reason I cannot explain I have given the Academy the benefit of the doubt for the greater majority of my life. While I did ban the Oscars for two years^, I came back and slipped back into my old ways.
^ I have been hinting at this for as long as I’ve had a blog, and I assure, at some point I will have an entire post detailing this ban. Possibly after this year’s horrific show concludes.
This year may be one of the worst in a long, long time. The level of mediocrity and predictability the Academy has displayed is truly at its peak. It was an incredibly weak year for films, but that doesn’t excuse the Academy for selecting some of the weakest to be recognized.
Last year I was proud to have seen all 10 films nominated for Best Picture. This year, I am missing one of them but don’t really feel bad. ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ is another notch on the belt of ‘Oscar campaigning magic.’ What it comes down to is the Academy consists of roughly 4,000 members, not all of which see all the films. Enough people can be persuaded to give a film like EL&IC a chance, so they are and it gets a nod. It’s sad, but it’s the way of the world.
What follows are my reactions to the nominations:
Best Picture: "The Artist," ''The Descendants," ''Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," ''The Help," ''Hugo," ''Midnight in Paris," ''Moneyball," ''The Tree of Life," ''War Horse."
Reaction: Well this is the weakest pool in a long time. This race is between ‘The Artist’ and ‘The Descendents.’ All other films were just thrown a bone here for various reasons. Some of them have big themes (The Help), big actors (Moneyball), big directors (Hugo, The Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris, War Horse), and others just have good people pushing for noms (the aforementioned Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close).
What is so frustrating about this category is how many good films that were out there and not recognized. Films like ‘Margin Call,’ ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene,’ ‘Beginners,’ just to name a few all were well made and original. It was a poor year overall for movies, but that’s not an excuse to ignore what was good and just vote for who gave you the biggest fruit basket.
Who will win: The Artist
Who Should Win: The Descendents
Who Got Snubbed: There's really too many to list here, but for starters: Beginners, Margin Call, Martha Marcy May Marlene, 50/50, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Reaction: There is good and bad here. The good is my obvious choices George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and the first ever nomination for Gary Oldman. Jean Dujardin was good but I can take or leave ‘The Artist’ which I feel is more about novelty than true greatness. I haven’t even heard of ‘A Better Life’ so I can’t speak to this nomination. Dujardin and Clooney will most likely duke it out with Dujardin probably winning for two reasons. One being that Clooney has already won, which shouldn’t matter but does to the Academy. The second reason is that by giving ‘The Artist’ a victory the Academy will feel hip, even though they have proven time and again they are not.
Who Will Win: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Who Should Win: George Clooney (The Descendents)
Who Got Snubbed: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50), Michael Fassbender (Shame), Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)
Best 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."
Reaction: Might have been the most predictable category. Michelle Williams is on her way to being a new Academy darling with her second straight nomination, Glenn Close has been nominated multiple times before, Meryl Streep has her yearly nom so everyone knows how “great” she is, and Rooney Mara and Viola Davis actually deserve it. With such few great roles for actresses, this category becomes the easiest to predict year over year.
Who Will Win: Viola Davis (The Help)
Who Should Win: Elizabeth Olson (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Who Got Snubbed: Elizabeth Olson (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Reaction: The supporting categories are always the hardest to predict. What the academy even considers “supporting” often is unclear. Regardless, it’s out there and I can’t say I’m surprised or disappointed by any of these nominations. Jonah Hill is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser, but that’s as far as it goes.
Who Will Win: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Who Should Win: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Who Got Snubbed: John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene)
Reaction: This category usually yields a few surprises and often because the solid role in this category are sparse. Melissa McCarthy fulfills that role completely. Bejo, Chastain, and Spencer are all deserving. Spencer will most likely take the win as her role had the depth and humor the winner of this category usually requires. However, if the Oscars truly wants to be “hip” then McCarthy could sneak in there.
Who Will Win: Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Who Should Win: Melanie Laurent (Beginners)
Who Got Snubbed: Melanie Laurent (Beginners), Kate Winslet (Contagion)
Reaction: This year more than others is a legacy category. Scorcese, Allen and Malick all get nominations in years in which they didn’t truly deserve it. Hazanavicius gets his mostly for the novelty making Alexander Payne truly the only one deserving. The Academy missed yet another chance to honor those that truly deserved it, even on their first time out (Sean Durkin – Martha Marcy May Marlene, J.C. Chandor – Margin Call).
Who Will Win: Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Who Should Win: Alexander Payne (The Descendents)
Who Got Snubbed: Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene), J.C. Chandor (Margin Call), David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
Reaction: Another predictable category and is what you would expect. Not much to say here.
Who Will Win: The Descendents
Who Should Win: Moneyball
Who Got Snubbed: N/A
Reaction: Probably another predictable category, so there’s not much analysis here. Rarely does something surprise in here, the writing categories they usually get right more often than not.
Who Will Win: Midnight in Paris
Who Should Win: Margin Call
Who Got Snubbed: Martha Marcy May Marlene