By Claire Brown
As always, Oscar nominations put a spring in my step and a song in my heart. It’s like my Super Bowl. When the nominations come out, chances are I’ll spend the entire morning looking up analyses online, watching videos on gossip websites to see who got snubbed (and who will get snubbed), who’s hot, who’s not, and which celebrities Billy Crystal will dress up as so we can all continue the illusion that he doesn’t host the show every single year. This year is no different (except for the fact that Billy Crystal will be hosting dressed as himself, and that a movie with a horse as its main character is nominated for Best Picture). Here are my picks and predictions for the Oscars:
- The Artist
- The Descendants
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
- The Help
- Midnight in Paris
- The Tree of Life
- War Horse
WHAT WILL WIN: War Horse. I’m horrible at predictions; stuff like this always takes me by surprise. So for Best Picture, I’ll predict War Horse, since it has the most ridiculous concept, performed and produced without even a hint of irony. I didn’t even think people were serious when they told me about the new Spielberg horse movie. Spielberg? Horse movie? We’re talking about the same guy, right? The one responsible for E.T and Schindler’s List? Apparently, massive carnage, destruction, heartbreak, and war told through the eyes of a horse really pack an emotional punch, at least enough to be nominated both for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. If this wins, I will laugh. And cry. Maybe both at the same time.
WHAT SHOULD WIN: Midnight in Paris. Sometimes, Woody Allen really gets on my nerves. Watching someone with that many neuroses can take a toll on my own happiness. But with Owen Wilson stepping into the archetypal Allen protagonist role, as a Hollywood hack writer who encounters Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, and more when he walks the streets of Paris late at night, Allen produced a story charming enough to be watched over and over, with some choice cringe-worthy moments for the old-school Allen fans.
- Demian Bichir- A Better Life
- George Clooney- The Descendants
- Jean Dujardin- The Artist
- Brad Pitt- Moneyball
- Gary Oldman-Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
WHO WILL WIN: Jean Dujardin. Dujardin may be the first Oscar winner in more than six decades to win without having to utter a word. The Artist takes us back to 1927, silent-film era Hollywood, where, in the words of Gloria Swanson, actors “didn’t need dialogue. We had faces.” It’s staggeringly difficult to carry a film with no dialogue, but Dujardin’s face was more than equal to the task. Communicating humor, wit, charm, self-absorption, and even madness, Dujardin’s George Valentin grapples with the very real fear of being bypassed by talking pictures, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Jean Dujardin. In this case, my expectations will most likely align with my reality. Dujardin already has a Golden Globe and a SAG award to show for his performance. Picking up that last gold statuette should be a walk in the park.
- 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
WHO WILL WIN: Viola Davis. The Academy has this pesky habit of awarding “consolation Oscars” to actors who produce stunning performances in a previous year, but did not win for those roles. Instead, they win one or two years later for roles with more hype. I think this is the case with Viola Davis. Don’t get me wrong, she was remarkable as Aibileen in The Help, even though the film itself has some very problematic configurations of racism and civil rights advocacy. But did anyone see her in Doubt? Any Oscar-nominated actress worth her salt can cry on cue, and Viola is no exception (that scene in the park with Meryl? UGH. I’m getting teary just thinking about it.) She should have won for Doubt, but now she will win for The Help.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Viola Davis. As with Dujardin, I think Davis deserves this Oscar. I hate to betray my girl Meryl (who has been nominated for more years than we’ve been alive), but after winning the SAG award a few weeks ago, Davis has this coming to her.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Kenneth Branagh- My Week With Marilyn
- Jonah Hill-Moneyball
- Nick Nolte-Warrior
- Christopher Plummer-Beginners
- Max von Sydow-Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
WHO WILL WIN: Christopher Plummer. As an old widower finally exploring his homosexuality, with the support of his quirky, endearing son (played by Ewan McGregor), Christopher Plummer may finally be able to get a hold of that Oscar he’s waited so long for. It always strikes me as odd when some of the most distinguished actors working today have never won an Oscar. Even Peter O’Toole is still holding on (although, bathing in massive amounts of liquor seems to have assuaged his pain, and no, an Honorary Oscar doesn’t count). For Beginners, Plummer deserves to win.
WHO SHOULD WIN: ALBERT BROOKS. So what if he’s not nominated? Brooks and his suitcase full of knives from Drive got robbed, I tell you, ROBBED.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Jessica Chastain-The Help
- Octavia Spencer-The Help
- Melissa McCarthy-Bridesmaids
- Janet McTeer-Albert Nobbs
- Berenice Bejo-The Artist
WHO WILL WIN: Octavia Spencer. For playing Minny, the housemaid with a twisted appetite for revenge (I’ll never look at chocolate pie the same way again), Spencer won both a Golden Globe and a SAG award. Like Davis, Spencer made the absolute best of a problematic film, and her performance endowed a very harmful and damaging problem with humor and grace.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Melissa McCarthy. Color me surprised, I was shocked that McCarthy, a brilliant comedienne, even got nominated! Oscar noms are usually for stodgy, dark, or “deep” roles, but as Megan, the vulgar bridesmaid with a penchant for Air Marshals and female fight clubs, McCarthy managed to make even the Academy itself laugh. Kudos, girl!
- Woody Allen- Midnight in Paris
- Terence Malick- The Tree of Life
- Martin Scorsese- Hugo
- Alexander Payne-The Descendants
- Michel Hazanavicius-The Artist
WHO WILL WIN: Alexander Payne. I don’t have any real proof that this will happen, just a hunch. For me, Alexander Payne is the director whose films I view with suspicion or scorn, and then I see them. And then they make me cry. And then I’m alone in my apartment, sobbing my eyes out to About Schmidt. It’s a cruel joke. Regardless, Payne’s Descendants very well could have veered off into weepy melodrama, or heartwarming bildungsroman, but it never did. He was able to treat delicate subject matter (the death of a parent and wife) skillfully, without over-treating it.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Woody Allen. It’s hard for me to decide between Allen and Scorsese, my two favorite short New Yorkers. Midnight in Paris is likely Allen’s most whimsical film, but not lacking in laughs or cleverness. It was a joy to watch, because although Allen didn’t appear in it, he’s present in every frame.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
- Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo- Bridesmaids
- Woody Allen- Midnight in Paris
- Michel Hazanvicius-The Artist
- JC Chandor-Margin Call
- Asghar Farhadi- A Separation
WHO WILL WIN: Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. Both Wiig and Mumolo worked on the script for Bridesmaids over the course of five years, and their meticulousness paid off. Very rarely in Hollywood can you find a script written for a strong female cast that refuses to fall into rom-com tropes or simpering humor. The script is filthy, hilarious, and at times, emotionally truthful. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. See above.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
- Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash-The Descendants
- John Logan-Hugo
- George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon-The Ides of March
- Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin- Moneyball
- Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
WHO WILL WIN: Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. You just can’t beat Aaron Sorkin for snappy, whip-smart dialogue (sorry Steve, I’ve never heard of you before! I only have eyes for Aaron.) Zaillian and Sorkin managed to make baseball interesting and dramatic for me. That is quite a feat.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Zaillian and Sorkin. See above.
Every year when nominations come out, I always get angry about the actors who so sorely deserved a nom, but were forgotten. And this year is no exception. Michael Shannon (of Revolutionary Road and Boardwalk Empire) turned in a quiet and blisteringly truthful performance in Take Shelter, as an honest working man who believes he can foresee the apocalypse. Kate Winslet, consistently brilliant, was no less so this year as the buttoned-up but enraged Nancy Cowan in Roman Polanski’s Carnage (as much as I loathe Polanski on a personal level, he should have gotten recognition for Carnage as well.) While I’m glad Jessica Chastain received a nom for The Help, her performance in The Tree of Life stunned me; I hadn’t even known who she was before I saw the film, and now she’s one of my favorite actresses. Hopefully, she’ll continue to produce stellar work, so I won’t be disappointed again next year.
WHY THE OSCARS SUCK:
Because I don’t run them.
Honestly? The ceremony is always too long, but never fails to rudely cut someone off in the middle of a speech (that fucking orchestra.) The host’s banter and presenter’s chatter is consistently wooden or strained (I love Billy Crystal, but after seeing him in roughly 18347 different ceremonies, I think I can safely say I’m tired of his Oscar schtick.) And to return to my complaint about “consolation Oscars,” the Academy can always be counted on to award Oscars to those who they think we’d be surprised by, and not to those who deserve them the most.