My Oscar Picks, some by reasoning, some by sentiment:
I think The Artist will win, because the momentum is all theirs now. There was a time when The Descendants had the steam, and before that The Help. Hugo is mounting a last-minute attempt to grab the spotlight, but I think that’s too late.
The other Best Picture nominees (9 in all) are:
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (reviews are either very good or very critical); Midnight in Paris (a personal favorite of mine, but no buzz); Moneyball (also a very good film, but it just lacks that “Wow” factor; War Horse (a fine movie with no acting nominations…it is the kind of sweeping movie that may have won 30 years ago); and The Tree of Life (which I did not see, and apparently neither did anyone else, and is reported to be a touch too arty).
I would really like for The Help to win (it really sticks with you and it has a story both poignant and heroic), but I won’t quibble if (and when) The Artist does. I liked The Descendants from our very own Alexander Payne, but don’t think it has the heft to win. The Help will get their love with acting statues (and deservedly so). The Descendants will earn Payne another writing award, and probably a Best Actor acting award for Clooney. I say probably, for this race is too close to call really. Jean Duiardin did a great job in a difficult role, having to convey everything with his face and body language, and pulling it off. Gary Oldman was also terrific in the underrated Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But I think Clooney has the love (his only “con” is that he has an acting Oscar).
The Best Actress race is equally hard to pick. Merle Streep has her incredible body of work leading up to a performance that critics have lauded (I haven’t seen it yet, but knowing Streep, she’s great). Viola Davis has turned in some terrific performances in the past few years, including a nomination for Doubt (her co-star? Merle Steep!). This one is too close to bet any money on, but I’m going with Davis because I just thought she was magnificent.
Supporting Actress is easy: Octavia Spencer (The Help) all the way. I’m in love with Minnie. Loved her in the book; loved her in the movie. She is the movie’s mojo. The other actresses are good, but Spencer just blew everyone away. Bet on this one if you must bet.
Supporting actor will apparently go to longtime superb actor who has yet to earn an Oscar, Christopher Plumber. It will probably help the film get some viewers; I doubt if anyone watching tonight has seen Beginners!
I have one quibble: that Rooney Mara from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo didn’t get a more serious look. I thought she was amazing. I walked out of the (fabulous) movie knowing she would get a nomination. Talk about transformation! I guess she would be up there with Glenn Close if that were the criteria (didn’t see her movie, yet, but of course she’s wonderful).I loved Mara and can’t wait to see the two sequels. I can’t get her portrayal out of my head. She absolutely broke my heart.
In my picks in other categories, I gave some love to Mara’s movie (which may not win, but I thought it should) and even a couple nods to Harry Potter, because I never did think it got enough attention from the Academy (old white men). I hope someday they give it an honorary Oscar. After all, it was a record-shattering success from start to finish and it was a stupendous undertaking done well all along the way, by several directors. The series will stand the test of time to be sure.
Oh, since the Best Director prize usually goes to the director of the Best Movie, I’m assuming that Michel Hazanavicius (maybe we’ll find out how to pronounce it tonight!) will win. If on the other hand The Help wins, then maybe Payne or Scorsese will win, since inexplicably, The Help’s director was not nominated (I guess they didn’t need him to so lovingly bring the best-selling book to the screen).
I guess you can hear my little nitpicks, so I’d better wrap up by saying that Octavia Spencer will be dressed exquisitely, and Merle Streep will not. But then there Sasha Baron Cohen…
And now, it’s OFF TO THE OSCARS!