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I'd Like to Thank the Academy - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
I'd Like to Thank the Academy

The nominations are in! And my favorite movie of the year, Hugo, leads the pack with 11 nominations (including Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, which I don't discuss here, because, well, that's boring). Trailing close behind, though, is The Artist, with 10 nominations. And neither of those are for Sound Editing or Sound Mixing, so one could argue that The Artist is nominated in the most categories that really mean anything. In any case, those are the two with the most riding on Oscar Night.

But now let's run through them all with my own notes and commentary, shall we?

Actor in a Leading Role

Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: I think one's actually kind of tight. I'm inclined to think George Clooney will win, although the Academy may back off voting for him because he just won Best Supporting Actor for Syriana in 2006. Okay, maybe not "just" -- that was six years ago -- but people's chances of winning definitely go down if they've already won before. But if it's not him, then I do think it will be Brad Pitt -- who has never won an Oscar.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: It's hard to be fair here, because I have not seen A Better Life. Among the other nominees, though, I suppose even I would go for George Clooney.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: It feels backward to say this, because I have long felt Gary Oldman is a stellar actor, and it's truly shocking that he's never been nominated before this. But for him to win, for this movie? That would just be dumb.

Actress in a Leading Role

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 I THINK WILL WIN: Almost certainly Viola Davis. She's been around a while and, amazingly, this is her first starring role -- but there's a widespread feeling of this just being her year.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Until I actually saw The Iron Lady, I was convinced I was going to want Meryl Streep to win. She may have two Oscars but they are both over 30 years old; she's way past due another one. But now that I have a chance to re-evaluate -- and even though I haven't even had a chance to see Albert Nobbs (thank you, second-tier movie market) -- I'm inclined to say Michelle Williams actually deserves this one. She was in the best movie represented by this category, and she did a stellar job.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I never thought I'd say this, but I really don't think Meryl Streep should win this one. Don't get me wrong, she does give an incredible performance, but the quality of the movie overall does make a difference. And there's a reason the only other nomination this movie got was for makeup: nothing else about it was all that impressive. And between the two who portrayed historical figures, Michelle Williams leaves the longer-lasting impression.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Christopher Plummer, hands down -- and even though this is the only nomination Beginners got (though it absolutely deserved to get more). The Academy can't resist a great performance by an actor who could be dead soon.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: This is very unusual: there are not one, but two movies in this category I have not yet seen. But given Beginners was my #2 movie of 2011, largely thanks to Christopher Plummer, naturally he's the one I'm rooting for.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Jonah Hill? Seriously? Don't get me wrong; he does a good job in Moneyball. But Oscar-caliber? Not hardly.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Everyone seems to think Octavia Spencer is the front-runner in this category, but I just didn't see her performance as anything more than serviceable. But I'm not the Academy, of course; she probably still has the best chance. But I still think Melissa McCarthy has a better chance than many think. I can't imagine a lot of people will vote for Jessica Chastain, but there's still the potential for the two nominees from The Help to split the vote and give McCarthy the edge.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I actually think Bridesmaids is slightly overrated, as much as I did enjoy it (I gave it a B+ and I stand by it), but Melissa McCarthy was easily the best thing about it.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I'm going to go with Bérénice Bejo here. The Artist is truly impressive in virtually every technical aspect, and as a result the actors are rendered secondary. Just about any impression left by the actors in that movie can really be ascribed to the direction, the lighting, the cinematography, and even the score. More than in any other movie, I would argue that the actors in The Artist are largely just props (albeit excellent ones).

Animated Feature Film

A Cat in Paris, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
Chico & Rita, Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
Kung Fu Panda 2, Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Puss in Boots, Chris Miller
Rango, Gore Verbinski

WWHO I THINK WILL WIN: I'm just going to be honest here and tell you I have no clue.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Even this one is hard to answer. Amazingly, not only have I seen only one of the above five films, but two of them (the first two) I had never even heard of before the nominees were announced! That said, I can tell you that I saw the original Kung Fu Panda, which was far from Oscar-worthy, and I can't see its sequel being any better. The fact that Puss in Boots is both a spin-off and the fifth of five movies from the world of Shrek is not to its advantage. So, based on my limited knowledge of the five films all together, I'm going with Rango, which was kind of delightfully demented.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Kung Fu Panda 2. I don't care that I haven't even seen it. Fuck that movie!

Art Direction

The Artist, Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Hugo, Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
Midnight in Paris, Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
War Horse, Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This is one of many production-oriented awards I think The Artist will win, as it does such a stellar job of recreating the Silent Film Era with painstaking detail.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: My vote goes to Hugo, because, well, I just love everything about that movie. I never said I was rational. But, hey! Even objectively, that film has unsurpassed art direction. Okay, maybe some of the other films come close or even match it. Whatever!
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I enjoyed War Horse, but of these five movies, it's by far the most schmaltzy -- and I don't think schmaltz should be rewarded.


The Artist, Guillaume Schiffman
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jeff Cronenweth
Hugo, Robert Richardson
The Tree of Life, Emmanuel Lubezki
War Horse, Janusz Kaminski

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This is maybe the toughest race to call this year, all the movies have such excellent cinematography. I suspect The Artist will get it; it won't win any acting awards, so the Academy will show their love -- which, for this movie, is vast -- with awards like this one.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Hugo, naturally. It should be acknowledged that this is the first movie ever to make 3D actually feel worthwhile. Every single shot is an almost tangible visual feast.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: War Horse is mostly beautifully shot, but it's also got a couple of really awkward visual transitions that just don't make a lot of sense. Distracting does not translate to award-worthy in my book.

Costume Design

Anonymous, Lisy Christl
The Artist, Mark Bridges
Hugo, Sandy Powell
Jane Eyre, Michael O'Connor
W/E, Arianne Phillips

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Say it with me: The Artist. I think the authenticity in this love letter to cinema will prove irresistible.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Say it with me: Hugo. The literal colorfulness of the characters proves irresistible to me. I keep thinking of Sacha Baron Cohen in his Station Inspector's outfit.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Anonymous. No, I haven't seen it, but so what? Should any film directed by Roland Emmerich get an Oscar? I don't think so.


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

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: The Artist, duh.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Martin Scorsese, hands down. Both Hugo and The Artist may look back on cinematic history, but in contrast to The Artist, which meticulously re-creates the past, Hugo offers a completely new viewing experience.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Who did Terrence Malick fuck to get on this list? I mean, seriously? If there's any director who truly does not deserve to be nominated for Best Director, its Terrence Malick, whose runaway self-indulgence really needs to be reigned in.

Documentary (Feature)

Hell and Back Again, Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
Pina, Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
Undefeated, TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: There is little question that Pina will win. I haven't seen a single one of these films (thanks again, second-tier market!), but only Pina made it on a whole bunch of year-end top ten lists. Like Hugo, it's said to have made unprecedented use -- as in, usefulness -- of 3D, proving that 3D can be worthwhile only if in capable hands.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Didn't I already tell you I haven't seen any of these?

Film Editing

The Artist, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants, Kevin Tent
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
Hugo, Thelma Schoonmaker
Moneyball, Christopher Tellefsen

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: All together now! The Artist.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: The Arist and Hugo -- and even The Descendants, actually -- all had equally excellent editing. I gave a solid A to the editing for all three movies. That leaves me to choose my favorite of the three. And which would that be? All together now! Hugo.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was very good in a lot of ways. The least of them, however, was the editing. That movie could have stood a few more edits.


Albert Nobbs, Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin
The Iron Lady, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Tough call. I think this could be the one place where the Academy throws Harry Potter a bone.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Actually, Harry Potter is the only one of these three movies without just one character being used as a makeup showpiece, and with a story that is both served by and transcends the makeup. So it actually gets my vote here.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: That said, really any of these movies are deserving. I don't wish failure on any of them. (At least based on the trailers for Albert Nobbs, which are all I've had a chance to see with that one -- for all I know, Glenn Close's nose could fall off at some point. But probably not.)

Music (Original Score)

The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
The Artist, Ludovic Bource
Hugo, Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
War Horse, John Williams

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Given that The Artist is a silent film and is filled almost entirely with Ludovic Bource's score, which is expertly tailored to the story at hand, I tend to think this award is by far the most likely to go to that movie.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: This is perhaps the one category in which I'd actually vote for The Artist over Hugo myself.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: John Williams already has five Oscars, and has two nominations in this category alone. He needs to stop being greedy!

Music (Original Song)

"Man or Muppet," from The Muppets, Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
"Real in Rio," from Rio, Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Probably "Real in Rio." It's more showy and less satirical than "Man or Muppet," and I think that's what Academy voters will prefer. I'm a little baffled that only two songs were nominated.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I'd go for "Man or Muppet," but only because . . .
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: . . . Let's face it: Rio kind of sucked.

Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
Hugo, Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
Real Steel, Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: This is another category in which I've only seen three of the films. But so what? I'd rather scrub my eyeballs with broken glass than watch another Transformers movie. As to who the Academy will vote for, I think Hugo has the egde, if only for the reason that it leads in the number of nominations, indicating pretty widespread love for it in Hollywood.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: And I'm telling you, that love for Hugo is totally deserved!
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN:. Please, God, don't let Transformers: Dark of the Moon get released on DVD with packaging that screams WINNER OF AN ACADEMY AWARD! That might make me lose my faith in humanity.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Descendants, Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Hugo, Screenplay by John Logan
The Ides of March, Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Moneyball has the snappiest script among these nominees, if not necessarily the best -- but that likely gives it the edge.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: I fell completely in love with Hugo because everything about it was wonderful. But none of the rest would have mattered if not for the thoroughly charming story.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: I found Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy kind of hard to follow. I don't get why it even got nominated in this category.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Artist, Written by Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids, Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
Margin Call, Written by J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris, Written by Woody Allen
A Separation, Screenplay by Asghar Farhadi

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: If Midnight in Paris has a chance in any category, it's this one.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: Among these nominees, I'm going to have to go for Margin Call, just because its excellence was the biggest surprise.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Bridesmaids was well written, I'll grant, and I also think the Academy ignores comedies too often. In spite of that, Bridesmaids should really consider the nomination the award.

Best motion picture of the year

The Artist, Thomas Langmann, Producer
The Descendants, Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Scott Rudin, Producers
The Help, Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
Hugo, Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
Midnight in Paris, Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
Moneyball, Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
The Tree of Life, Nominees to be determined
War Horse, Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

WHO I THINK WILL WIN: If this year's Academy Awards prove predictable -- and we can only hope they don't -- then it will be The Artist.
WHO I THINK SHOULD WIN: If this year's Academy Awards prove to do the right thing -- and history would suggest they probably won't -- then it will be Hugo.
WHO I THINK SHOULD NOT WIN: Again: what the hell is The Tree of Life even doing on this list?

(Nominations for foreign language film, documentary short, animated short, live action short, sound editing, and sound mixing were also announced, but I don't know enough about them to make any worthwhile observations.)

The 84th Academy Awards telecast will air on ABC Sunday, February 26 at 4 p.m. Pacific Time.


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