I know the following isn't answering the topic question. But the piece IS about movies! I wrote it for my local paper. Since we're movie lovers on this thread I thought you might like to see my predictions. Moderators, forgive me, but I didn't know where else to put it.
MY ANNUAL OSCAR PREDICTIONS
Believe it or not after the glut of awards given for movies in the last two months, there still is the chance for surprises at this year’s Academy Awards on Sunday, February 26. There are several foregone conclusions, including wins for Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) in the supporting acting categories, some forced banter among presenters, tedious exposition about “the magic of movies” (we KNOW they’re magic, already!), some tacky fashions, and grating shtick from host Billy Crystal and presenter Miss Piggy. (Was anyone begging for return appearances from these two? Not me, brother.)
But the show might be bearable if we have a few unexpected outcomes. Here are some places to look for them:
“Hugo” vs. “The Artist.” This year we have two nomination hogs, “Hugo” with 11, and “The Artist” with
10. Both are paeans to cinema history, the former a talkie in 3-D and color, the latter a silent in glossy black-and-white. That “The Artist” is a silent and so different from the other nominees gives it the edge. The films are pitted against each other in seven categories so unless voters get lazy and throw everything one film’s way it might be like a tennis match, toting up the wins for each film.
Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”) vs. Viola Davis (“The Help”). This one has been a tennis match, with both actresses being almost equally showered with prior awards for their nominated performances. Since “The Help” was such a huge success and “The Iron Lady” isn’t—it’s only notable for Streep’s sterling portrayal of Margaret Thatcher--it would seem that Davis has the edge. Or does she? Or will both lose to a possible dark horse, Glenn Close, for “Albert Nobbs”?
George Clooney (“The Descendants”) vs. Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”). Another close race in which both front-runners could lose to a dark horse nominee, in this case Brad Pitt for “Moneyball.” My choice is Clooney, who was wonderful in “The Descendants,” my favorite film of 2011, but the heretofore unknown but gaining more recognition daily Dujardin can’t be underestimated.
Animated Feature: Most agree that “Rango” is unbeatable but if enough voters found the film’s look a tad creepy (as did I) they may go for the jazzy “Chico & Rita.”
Director: Woody Allen and Alexander Payne will be compensated by victories for their screenplays, Allen, original for “Midnight in Paris,” and Payne, adapted for “The Descendants.” This leaves the race between, once again, “Hugo” (Martin Scorsese) and “The Artist” (Michel Hazanavicius). I think the voters will go with Scorsese, unless Hazanavicius loses his two other nominations (original screenplay and editing) or “The Artist” is an awards hog.
Documentary Short: It would be great if the Academy honored “God is the Bigger Elvis,” about the pretty and talented actress, Dolores Hart, who left Hollywood in 1963 to become a nun, but in this category the graver the subject matter, the better chance the film will win, so Mother Dolores’ happy life in the convent probably won’t result in a victory for “her” film. I hope it does.
MY OFFICIAL PREDICTIONS ON WHOM/WHAT I THINK WILL WIN, PLUS WHAT I THINK WILL WIN IF MY FIRST INSTINCTS ARE WRONG:
PICTURE: The Artist (Hugo)
ACTOR: George Clooney (Brad Pitt)
ACTRESS: Viola Davis (Meryl Streep)
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christopher Plummer (nobody; Plummer is a shoo-in)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Octavia Spencer (nobody; Spencer is also unbeatable)
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese (Michel Hazanavicius)
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Midnight in Paris (The Artist)
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Descendants (Hugo)
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Tree of Life (The Artist)
ART DIRECTION: Hugo (The Artist)
MAKEUP: The Iron Lady (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2)
VISUAL EFFECTS: Hugo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)
COSTUME DESIGN: The Artist (Jane Eyre)
FILM EDITING: Hugo (The Descendants)
SOUND MIXING: Hugo (War Horse)
SOUND EDITING: Hugo (Drive)
ORIGINAL SCORE: The Artist (Hugo)
ORIGINAL SONG: Real in Rio (Man or Muppet)
ANIMATED FEATURE: Rango (Chico & Rita)
ANIMATED SHORT FILM: La Luna (The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore)
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: Tuba Atlantic (The Shore)
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Monsieur Lazhar (A Separation)
DOCUMENTARY SHORT: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (Saving Face)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Pina (Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory)