Monday, February 20, 2012

Best picture? Who knows

The Oscar telecast  airs Sunday, Feb. 26.
Billy Crystal to host
Like the Super Bowl, it's hard to remember who won Best Picture last year.

Afterall, there were 10 nominees, so it's easy to forget.

Amazingly, I've seen many, but far from all, of the nominees this year.

It seems that "The Artist," and "Hugo," are the leaders for Best Picture. Coincidentally, they are both about the early days of filmmaking. I give the edge to "Hugo." Same in the Best Directing category.

"Hugo," about the nascent days of cinema in France, is directed by an American, Martin Scorsese. "The Artist," about the end of silent film era in Hollywood, is directed by a Frenchman.

Of the two, "Hugo" is far more cinematic and should be seen on the big screen. "The Artist," largely a silent film, shows better than "Hugo" that movies convey far more information through visuals than dialog.

They're both good movies, but they don't have the emotional depth that other Best Pictures have displayed over the years.

Now, I remember what won last year: "The King's Speech." It was great movie about class that transcended class. Superb acting, as well.

I'm a little surprised that "The Tree of Life," got nominated for Best Picture and Director, since it is a film a few years ahead of its time and made little money at the box office. It's also hard to follow and loaded with symbolism that simply confounds the casual viewer. Still, I'm glad it was allowed to be made. It shows the esteem most insiders have for writer/director Terrence Malick.

I see George Clooney winning Best Actor for "The Descendants." He shows incredible range in a movie that feels organic instead of contrived.

Jean Dujardin, the lead in "The Artist," also has a good shot at winning Best Actor. It was funny to read that, while making the film, Dujardin spoke French and John Goodman spoke English in their scenes together. It worked great.

As for Best Actress, known as the Meryl Streep Award, it should go to Streep, even though I've only seen brief scenes of "The Iron Lady" on TV. She should always win, but rarely does.

I'm sure Streep would love to see Viola Davis win for "The Help," and I think Davis will win. Everyone knows that Streep doesn't need another Oscar to prove that she's the greatest actress that ever lived. But, it would do wonders for Davis if she won.

In the supporting acting roles, I see Christopher Plummer winning for "Beginners," about a gay older man, and a film I haven't seen.

Best Supporting Actress is tough since "The Help" has two nominated in the category, which usually means both will lose. In this scenario, Melissa McCarthy could win for "Bridesmaids," another crude, lewd comedy, that is surprisingly dull at times. Jessica Chastain, in "The Help" and five other films released last year, had the most productive year for any actress in any year.

As for writing, the category with the least respect, I see Woody Allen winning for "Midnight in Paris" for Best Original work and "Moneyball" winning for Best Adapted Screenplay since Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian worked on it.

Didn't see "Moneyball," but "Midnight in Paris" was fun in the classic Allen way. The original screenplay for "Margin Call" could pull an upset, though. Also, "Bridesmaids" might win, but really shouldn't since it's in the same category as "The Artist," a far more worthwhile film.

I didn't see many of the animated features nominated, by I did enjoy "Rango."

It was an acceptable year for films, but not really memorable. It was like pro football, entertaining at times, but, in the end, forgettable.

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