The best film I saw last year was Of Gods and Men. It was released in 2010, but only hit my area early 2011. It won the Golden Succubus or Hecuba or whatever the top Cannes award is, and was France’s official nominee for Best Foreign Language Film of 2010. IT DIDN’T EVEN MAKE THE SHORT LIST OF FINAL NOMINEES LAST YEAR. It’s not eligible, of course, for anything this year. But I thought I’d mention it in case you haven’t seen it yet.
Alas, The Artist, the slightest of slight amusements that should have been a fun short before the real feature started, will win almost everything (expect at least one surprise). And this is because THE ACADEMY IS MADE UP OF CRETINS. Streep will win Best Actress—OK, in this case deservedly so. Either Clooney or Dujardin for Best Actor. Dujardin was charming, as I noted in my review, and while I didn’t see The Descendants, because I really don’t like Payne’s stuff and in any event felt like I had already seen that film, I’m sure Clooney was aces. He’s both a real movie star and a fine actor.
Expect Christopher Plummer to win Best Supporting Actor. I didn’t see Beginners, so I can’t judge whether he is worthy, but for the Academy it’s the right actor in the right part in terms of isn’t it his time? I wouldn’t rule out a counterintuitive pick, like Nick Nolte, who shouldn’t even have been nominated. It was the cliche-ridden recovering-alcoholic-dad-who-now-wants-back-in-the-life-of-his-family performance No. 6B. Or Max Von Sydow, because many of the Academy members think he’s the guy who played Obi Wan Kenobi.
Best Supporting Actress: While I didn’t see The Help, I have heard nothing but good things about the performances from people who did. But the two nominated actresses—Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain—may cancel themselves out, which leaves Bérénice Bejo. Did anyone see Albert Nobbs? I was tempted, because I like those period pieces, and Glenn Close hasn’t had a decent film role in ages. But, no. Neither Close nor Janet McTeer are going home with anything this year. You couldn’t pay me to see Bridesmaids.
If Dante Ferretti doesn’t win for Art Direction, I will punch an Academy member in the pancreas. But the guys who did War Horse will probably take it. They may deserve it. I couldn’t bring myself to sit through a seven-hour epic about WWI that revolves around a young soldier’s infatuation with his horsey. I have no doubt there were set pieces of awe-provoking brilliance (this is Spielberg), but I just. didn’t. care. (Actually, the Best Art Direction for 2011 was for a film NO ONE SAW: The Mill and the Cross. (OK, maybe Victor Morton saw it; but he sees films that haven’t even been shot yet.) Stanislaw Porczyk is the real winner of that category. Absolutely stunning work.
Best Cinematography: All are probably deserving, but again, they may decide to give War Horse another nibble of Oscar glory or just go the straight Artist run.
Best Original Screenplay: Don’t rule out Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris. He doesn’t deserve it, as it was a mediocre effort, a rehash of so many old themes and tropes I do not understand why audiences, and critics (of course), went all Lady Ga Ga over this thing. Again, some giggles, the usual sucker-punch jokes aimed at the Right. Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali probably deserved a Best Supporting Actor nod if they were going to press for recognition of this, Allen’s most financially successful effort.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Either the Descendants guys, because they have to give it something, or the Sorkin/Zaillian Moneyball dream team.
Have no strong opinions on Best Costume or Documentary. I usually catch up with the documentaries years after they’ve debuted, usually on Netflix. I’ve seen at least 30 in the last three years via streaming.
Music, makeup, editing, who cares who cares who cares.
Best Mixing categories — what is this, bartending night school?
Best Animated Feature: They all sound so stupid, I hope the lights go out during the presentation and they cut straight to a commercial.
Best Foreign Language Film: The Separation is my bet. It may very well deserve it, and because the Academy has to take a stand on not bombing Iran.
Finally, Best Director: It should be Scorsese, Scorsese, Scorsese, but will probably be Michael Hazanavicius for The Artist, although I wouldn’t rule out a split ticket, with The Artist Best Picture and Alexander Payne or even Scorsese for Best Director.
Best Picture, as noted before: The Artist. It should be Hugo, or even Malick’s Tree of Life for all its excesses. At least it reached for the stars…