My Oscar Picks or How to look Foolish every Year
I always lose in Oscar sweepstakes. Why? Aren’t I a veteran film critic, programmer, writer and editor?
Well, yes, but…
Let’s take a look at this year’s nominees for Best Picture. It’s a long, sad list, with such obvious turkeys as Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and War Horse thrown in to get the numbers up to nine. The real contenders are: The Artist, The Descendants, The Help, Hugo and Tree of Life. Ok. Eliminate Tree of Life; it’s too arty and, anyway, the Academy can (and I suspect, will) give Oscars to director Terrence Malick and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Despite rumours to the contrary, I suspect The Artist will be dismissed as being too slight and quirky and, well, foreign. That leaves us with Hugo, a good but not great film—and Scorsese has already won his long-awaited Oscar. Now, we’re down to The Help, a bad film with great acting, which might win in a sentimental gesture towards a liberal homily against old fashioned racism in the American South. Great—but the film is genuinely bad. Which leaves us with The Descendants, a well written, beautiful crafted Hollywood film about love, loss and family. I can’t believe it won’t win but, hey, there’s no buzz around it. The smart money is going for Hugo or The Help. So, here I am, knowing that, and choosing The Descendants!
Not too canny, right? That’s my problem. I’m not cold hearted enough to vote for the winners unless I’m absolutely sure that the best choice is going to fail. (Which is the case with Best Supporting Actress this year, where an unsurprisingly fine but safe performance by Octavia Spencer is going to beat out the brave and funny choices made by 2011 “Indie it girl” Jessica Chastain as the drunken housewife in The Help and Janet McTeer’s remarkable interpretation of a “male” house painter in Albert Nobbs ). And that leaves me with quixotic choices that tend to lose to more mainstream fare.
Where am I being canny? George Clooney looks like a lock for Best Actor in a poor year; Best Supporting Actor Christopher Plummer might lose out to Max von Sydow in the battle of the 82-year-olds but his film Beginners is miles ahead of von Sydow’s Extremely Loud (although he’s the only who keeps quiet); Meryl Streep should beat a deserving Michelle Williams in the battle of impersonators; and A Separation should garner a well deserved Oscar.
What other choices do I recommend to listeners attending Oscar parties? Alexander Payne and his colleagues should win Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants; Woody Allen’s witty script for Midnight in Paris should be voted Best Original Screenplay; Rango should win Best Animated feature and Hugo will pick up lots of technical awards.
Will I be right? Check in on Monday, when I’ll likely be eating crow on air—never an easy thing to do.
MG Picks: The Descendants