The Granddaddy of Them All: My Oscar Picks

The day has finally arrived for a bunch of rich, old, white guys to tell us what movies from the previous year really inspired them.

Despite some obvious errors and omissions over the years, it really is an awards show like no other. (If nothing else, at least it isn’t the MTV Movie Awards where “Twilight” wins every category.)

Some of the movies I’m about to pick certainly weren’t my favorites, but this is the Oscars. For the movies I enjoyed most this year, check out my previous post.

And here are my last picks of the 2011-2012 awards season….

Best Documentary – “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory” (Although I wouldn’t mind “Undefeated”)

Best Cinematography – “Tree of Life” (Probably won’t, but totally deserves it. “The Artist” or “Hugo” for the win.)

Best Original Score – “The Artist” (I would have preferred “War Horse.”)

Best Original Song – “The Muppets” (“Rio” didn’t even deserve a nomination IMO)

Best Costume Design – “W.E.” (Ugh. Yes, the Madonna movie. Maybe “The Artist” can swoop in and save the Academy the embarrassment.)

Best Adapted Screenplay – “The Descendants” (Alexander Payne > Aaron Sorkin)

Best Original Screenplay – “Midnight in Paris” (Woody Allen by a mile IMO)

Best Foreign Film – “A Separation” (The Iranian film is the only holdover from Golden Globes, which it won.)

Best Animated Feature FIlm – “Rango” (Pixar needs to step up next time with “Brave.”)

Best Supporting Actress – Octavia Spencer from “The Help” (Melissa McCarthy would be a pleasant surprise though.)

Best Supporting Actor – Christopher Plummer from “Beginners” (Would make Plummer the oldest Oscar winner in history)

Best Actress – Viola Davis from “The Help” (would tie Glenn Close for being one of the unluckiest Oscar nominees in history)

Best Actor – George Clooney from “The Descendants” (But will probably go to Jean Dujardin for being just too darn charming in “The Artist.”)

Best Director – Martin Scorsese for “Hugo” (If the Academy had guts, it would be Terrence Malick for “Tree of Life.” If they are gullible, it will be “The Artist.” I decided to split the difference.)

Best Picture – “The Artist” (If you’re still awake at this point in the show, I commend you for finding the dull, obvious choices enjoyable.)

Well, that does it for my little preview. During the show, follow along on Twitter at @VC_Reviews or follow my friend Ian at @IanMenard. Share any opinions on my choices in the comments below.

Happy viewing.



The 84th Academy Awards Nominations – My Take

Here we are at last. The mother of all award shows released its list of 2011’s best this morning in what many will consider to be the highest honor in film.

So let’s look at some of the major categories and see what were some highlights and other areas where the Academy dropped the ball.

Best Foreign Language Film:

“A Separation” (Iran), “In Darkness” (Poland), “Bullhead” (Belgium), “Footnote” (Israel), “Monsieur Lazhar” (Canada)

There are so many foreign films to look at this year so it isn’t that crazy, but if one were to pay attention to which imports had been nominated at the Golden Globes 9 days ago, they’d notice that only the winner (“A Separation”) from that ballot is seen here.

It is also interesting to note that “A Separation” received a nomination for Best Original Screenplay, which is pretty rare for a foreign film.

Best Original Song:

“Real in Rio” from “Rio,” “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”

Most likely due to the Academy’s ever-tightening qualifications for what can be nominated, this year’s category only has two nominees. While fans of Jim Henson’s creations will be happy for its nomination, I hate to see “Rio” of all movies on this list. “Real in Rio” is probably tenth in line in my eyes for deserving songs this year.

Best Original Score:

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

John Williams and Howard Shore are two great composers and Bource won the Golden Globe for Original Score, so their nominations were on lock. However, between Williams second nomination and the appearance of Alberto Iglesias’ work in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (an original score that wasn’t bad, but hasn’t been recognized by other award shows aside from the BAFTA’s), Trent Reznor’s score for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” fell by the wayside.

Best Cinematography:

“War Horse,” “The Tree of Life,” “The Artist,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Hugo”

This is one of those categories where everything makes sense. “War Horse” won this nomination based on the trailer alone. “The Tree of Life” rests solely on its directing and cinematography and does both very well, so no surprise there. “Hugo,” “The Artist” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” all deserve to be on this list as well.

Best Supporting Actress:

Berenice Bejo “The Artist,” Janet McTeer “Albert Nobbs,” Jessica Chastain “The Help,” Melissa McCarthy “Bridesmaids” and Octavia Spencer “The Help”

While I picked Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”) to win this category at the Golden Globes, it makes sense that Melissa McCarthy would steal her spot for this show. McCarthy made “Bridesmaids” the movie it was. “The Help” hangs onto its acting trifecta with Spencer and Chastain getting bids here as well as Viola Davis getting a Best Actress nomination.

Best Actress:

Glenn Close “Albert Nobbs,” Meryl Streep “The Iron Lady,” Rooney Mara “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Michelle Williams “My Week with Marilyn” and Viola Davis “The Help”

There were other great performances this year from actresses like Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”) and Charlize Theron (“Young Adult”), but honestly, who can you take off of this final ballot? It’s just one of those years where there are more than 5 worthy ladies.

Best Supporting Actor:

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

Jonah Hill. Really? I will never shy away from my dislike for the actor but I’m especially upset that he gets a nomination and Albert Brooks (“Drive”) is left out in the cold. If that switch were made, I’d think this was a fantastic category. Still, between Plummer, Nolte and Branagh, this is a strong ballot.

Best Actor:

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

A lot of people will be upset that Michael Fassbender (“Shame”) didn’t make the cut (and they have a right to be), but the inclusion of Bichir and Oldman amongst this year’s big names is a good thing. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” really didn’t get enough credit for its fine acting outside of the BAFTA Film Awards and Bichir is this year’s Javier Bardem, pointing audiences toward a smaller film that should be seen.

Best Picture:

“Hugo,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “The Descendants,” “The Artist,” “Moneyball,” “War Horse,” “The Tree of Life,” “The Help,” “Midnight in Paris”

Since the Oscars starting nominating more than the usual 5 films for Best Picture, I have been pretty hesitant to like the idea. This year there is a lot of diversity, which is good for the show I guess, but I still feel like a film or two got the shaft. Without exceeding the nomination ceiling of 10, I would’ve liked to have seen “Extremely Loud” taken off the ballot and 2 of 3 films added: “The Ides of March,” “50/50” and/or “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

Looking at this year’s nominees, I am shocked to see that “Hugo” has more nominations than “The Artist” (11 to 10, respectively). Aside from that and the few complaints expressed above, I think the Academy did a rather good job of picking nominees this year. This time next month, however, I may have something new to whine about when the winners are revealed.

Between now and then, visit Velvet Curtain Reviews for my takes on “The Artist,” “War Horse” and other films as well as my picks once we get closer to February 26.

Happy viewing.