Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscars - The Day After

You can't blame James Franco and Anne Hathaway anymore for the boredom that has become the Oscars. Other than Chris Rock and Will Ferrell/Zack Galifianakis, this show was insufferable. Bonus points to Emma Stone and Robert Downey, Jr. for at least trying to make things interesting.

Billy Crystal played like a greatest hits record. Kicking off the show with categories that no one cares about (no offense to that branch of the Academy) was a mistake. What was Sheila E doing in the balcony? Cirque de Soleil must be great live, but not when you're watching on TV at home. The Muppets weren't allowed to sing to give more time for...what? I know this year's batch of films wasn't the best, but there was plenty of talent around to work with. Eddie Murphy, you made the right move.

One other note - we know how talented the nominees are for Best Actor and Best Actress, so there's no need for last year's winners to pretend that they know them personally and detail all their performances.

As for my picks, I went 16 for 24, and 5 for 6 in the majors (I missed Meryl). Clearly I underestimated the power of Hugo in the minor categories.

Here are your Oscar winners (the ones in BOLD were my correct picks).

Best Cinematography: Robert Richardson, "Hugo"
Best Art Direction: Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schavo, "Hugo"
Best Costume Design: Mark Bridges, "The Artist"
Best Makeup: Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, "The Iron Lady"
Best Foreign Language Film: "A Separation"
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
Best Editing: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
Best Sound Editing: Phillip Stockton and Eugene Gearty, "Hugo"
Best Sound Mixing: Tom Fleischman and John Midgley, "Hugo"
Best Documentary: "Undefeated"
Best Animated Feature: "Rango"
Best Visual Effects: "Hugo"
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
Best Original Score: Ludovic Bource, "The Artist"
Best Original Song: Bret McKenzie, "Man or Muppet"
Best Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, "The Descendants"
Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"
Best Live Action Short: "The Shore"
Best Documentary Short: "Saving Face"
Best Animated Short: "The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore"
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady"
Best Picture: "The Artist"

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Oscar Picks

I wish I was more excited for the Oscars. I really do. I fondly recall participating in degenerate Oscar betting pools that were often decided by Best Short Subject.  Those days are over, but that won't stop me from making my picks.

2011 was not a banner year for movies, and this year's Oscar nominations reflect that. Still, you gotta pick a winner, so let's get started with the lesser known categories and work our way up.

Best Sound Mixing

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse
I'm going with Dragon Tattoo.  Hollywood has to give it SOMETHING. Sound has got to be it, right?
Best Sound Editing
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse
There is no way a Spielberg film is going home without an Oscar for sound.

Best Original Score

The Adventures of Tintin
The Artist
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse
First of many for The Artist. Bankable.

Best Original Song

“Man or Muppet” The Muppets
“Real in Rio” Rio
Tremendously disappointing category. Remember the controversy of Phil Collins not being allowed to sing Against All Odds? The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack? Blame Canada? Now we only get TWO nominees. Man or Muppet will win, and they SHOULD be performing it live Sunday night.

Best Art Direction

The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Midnight in Paris
War Horse
All deserving nominees, but Hugo will win because it's a Scorsese flick.

Best Costume Design

The Artist
Jane Eyre
The costumes are in black and white, but that won't stop The Artist from taking Ralph Cirella's favorite category. 

Best Cinematography

The Artist
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
War Horse
It seems like every critic loves The Tree of Life.  Not this one.  I hated it.  Couldn't follow it, but I felt I was missing whatever it was that these film experts were catching. This will be the only Oscar that The Tree of Life takes home, and it's one more than it deserves.

Best Makeup

Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The Iron Lady
Where is Rise of the Planet of the Apes? The Iron Lady takes this one.

Best Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I think Rise of the Planet of the Apes should be nominated for Best Picture, and it should also win this award. Sadly, it won't. 

Best Editing

The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Editing = Scorcese = Schoonmaker = another Hugo win.

Best Foreign Language Film

Bullhead (Belgium)
Footnote (Israel)
In Darkness (Poland)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)
A Separation (Iran)
It's the only one I've heard of. Potential for an interesting acceptance speech that will definitely be cut short.

Best Documentary

Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
I saw Paradise Lost 3, but it won't win. It already received its notoriety and accolades plus a Natalie Maines endorsement. I'm going with Hell and Back Again, which aptly describes how I feel trying to pick these categories.

Best Documentary Short

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God Is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Always go with the shortest title when it comes to Documentary Short.

Best Animated Short

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life
I'm betting on Pixar. Usually a safe bet. 

Best Short 

The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic
Crap shoot. I'm going with the shortest title theory once again.

Best Animated Feature

A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Pixar typically owns this category, and none of these films are particularly impressive. The Depp factor leads me to Rango.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants
The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
I've been a baseball stats geek since birth, so Moneyball was beyond being up my alley. I don't think Hollywood can let Moneyball leave empty handed, and frankly, neither can I.

Best Original Screenplay

The Artist
Margin Call
Midnight in Paris
A Separation
Hollywood will not be able to resist giving Woody Allen an Oscar at this stage of the game, especially since he used all those literary references used in Midnight in Paris. Best bet of the night is that he won't be there to accept his award.

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
Year after year, this is the easiest category to pick. Aging + gay character + notable but never won an Oscar + swept every other award show = slam dunk win for Christopher Plummer (sorry, Max Von Sydow).

Best Supporting Actress 

Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Now this is a tough one. Chastain is out because Spencer's performance was better in the same film. Bejo and McTeer were great but will be lost in the shuffle. I wish Melissa McCarthy had enough of the Marisa Tomei factor to carry it, but I believe Octavia Spencer will take home the Oscar.  My vote is for McCarthy, but my vote doesn't count.

Best Actor

Demi├ín Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Now this is a fun one.  Oldman and Bichir...thanks for playing. Brad Pitt gives arguably his best acting performance as Billy Beane, but he can't compete with Clooney and Dujardin this year. Viewers want Clooney to win, but old Oscar voters won't resist the silent French guy. 

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
Michelle Williams and Glenn Close are wonderful actresses who gave excellent performances...thanks for playing.  Rooney Mara transformed herself into Lisbeth, but it's been done before overseas (and arguably better). Meryl vs. Viola...Meryl has been here many times before and is the best actress on the planet. But for this one night, that title falls to her pal, Viola.

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist 
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Forget The Tree of Life. Scorcese...Allen...Payne...all brilliant.  It's not their year. It's the year of The Artist and a director whose name I can't spell or pronounce.

Best Picture

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse
Look at this list. How many really qualify as a worthy Best Picture nominee? I'm not saying these aren't good films, but when it comes to Best Picture, its gotta be great.  The Help could have been that. Hugo might be from a technical aspect. War Horse is ambitious but comes up short. Ultimately only one film here is worthy of a Best Picture nomination...and that's your black and white silent winner, The Artist. Don't forget, Harvey Weinstein is behind this picture.
And that's how I see this year's field breaking down. I'm not saying the above winners DESERVE these awards. I just think that's how the Oscar voters will vote.
See you Sunday night!