Sunday, 26 February 2012

It's everyone's favourite time of year again, when a group of out-of-touch old white men get together to decide which films are officially the best, and after my inspired prediction last year that The King's Speech would take home the big Best Picture statuette (let's not mention the David Fincher incident*), let me once again offer my advice to the punters hoping to win big from betting on tonight's Academy Awards ceremony:

Best Picture: First of all, I'd like to point out that I'm not at all happy with the nominations list. Since watching it last summer, I was convinced that Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was a likely contender (and a likely winner, until I saw a particular silent film), but it doesn't even grace the Academy's top nine. Another notable omission from my favourite films of the past year is the stylish and gripping thriller Drive, and, while it's (arguably) far from highbrow, I recently saw The Muppets; a delightfully entertaining and surprisingly touching film that can easily appeal to anyone and is so much more memorable and worthy of being on any Best Pictures list than the likes of the overly long mess that was The Tree of Life. With that out of the way, The Artist is going to win, and deservedly so. It's a loving homage to silent cinema and a beautiful film in its own right, full of romance,  laughter, sadness, spectacle, and the best dog in all of cinema.

Best Actor: Gary Oldman should win. He really, really should. But he won't. His George Smiley, while extraordinary, is too understated to appeal to the Academy, which is why I expected him to win the BAFTA; us Brits like understatement. Yet The Artist's Jean Dujardin took that BAFTA home to France, along with the equivalent SAG award, and so is a fine contender for tonight. My money, however, is still on George Clooney - OK, so I found The Descendants so-so and overly sentimental, but, by George, doesn't Clooney give a fine performance? He's the kind of guy who you'd expect to actually have a Best Actor in the bag by now, so this year could easily be his year.

Best Actress: Another incident of 'good performance in a film I didn't like' is nominated here - in fact, an even stronger incident - while The Iron Lady is awfully lacking in both depth and enjoyability, Meryl Streep's excellent portrayal of Margaret Thatcher both as an ambitious politician and as a fragile old lady makes her a strong favourite to win. Viola Davis could also win though for The Help. I can't decide.

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. Some people are saying it'll be Scorsese, but, as charming as Hugo is, "After making Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese's only Best Director awards were for Hugo and The Departed." is a slightly more depressing sentence than "After making Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese's only Best Director award was for The Departed." That, and Hazanavicius did a really good job.**

Best Documentary: Of course it's going to be Senna. How could it not be? Right? There's no point even looking at the other nominees. Fine, I'll have a quick read at what else is... oh.

Cinematography: Hmmmm... Hugo.

Art direction: Hmmmm... Hugo.

Music: I'm hoping for The Artist and think it will be. You know, the silent film. For music. It's been a strange year.

Song: It has to be The Muppets. "Man or Muppet" is such a feel-good song.

Adapted Screenplay: Maybe Tinker, Tailor has a chance here?

Original Screenplay: May have to let The Artist have this one too. Well, it's definitely not going to be beaten by the inexplicable Bridesmaids nomination.

Any awards I've skipped: That's either because I've not seen enough of the nominated films (or because I don't care).

*It can be swept under the carpet and join the event organisers' surreal James Franco incident.
**It has its detractors, but I do really like The Departed, by the way, though concede that it's not the peak of Scorsese's ouevre.


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