Who should win the Oscars and whyBy Walker Donaldson | 02/22/2012 11:10pm
Best Picture: “The Artist”
The move from five to as many as 10 nominees for Best Picture has created a conundrum for the nominating committee. Critics panned films like “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” but they have made the nominee list because of a need to fill as many of the spots as possible. This year the category could essentially come down to three films: “The Artist,” “Moneyball” and “The Descendants.”
All three were highly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, “Moneyball” being the closest to a blockbuster film, and “The Artist” and “The Descendants” coming from less well-known directors. “The Artist” should take home the little gold man at the end of the night. A black and white film that is almost completely silent, it brilliantly depicts the arrival of “the talkie” and the death of the silent film in the 1920s.
Best Actor in a Leading Role: George Clooney (“The Descendants”)
Often in sports movies, individual character development is sacrificed for the story of a team, but in “Moneyball,” Brad Pitt makes no sacrifices. Pitt uses the script to craft a narrative of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane that is brilliant, witty and most of all, believable.
That being said, George Clooney’s portrayal of a father struggling to hold his family together in “The Descendants” is as close to perfect as acting comes. Both men deserve recognition for their roles, but Clooney’s performance is once in a lifetime, giving him the edge over Pitt.
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”)
Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” is perhaps the only saving grace of the film. Streep is a perennial Oscar candidate whose seventeen nominations are the most ever by an actress or actor. This year’s nomination comes as no surprise, and it seems likely that she will win. Viola Davis, star of “The Help,” also has a chance to win, but Streep is an “iron lady” to the Academy, and that makes her the frontrunner and likely winner.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Jonah Hill (“Moneyball”)
Jonah Hill’s performance in “Moneyball” almost steals the spotlight from Brad Pitt. Usually known for his off-color humor in films like “Superbad,” Hill instead plays the quirky, statistic-obsessed Peter Brand, assistant general manager of the Oakland A’s. To describe Hill as a supporting actor almost does a disservice to his talent. His portrayal of Brand is complex and fascinating.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”)
It is not often that a character in a comedy is nominated for an Oscar, but Melissa McCarthy of “Bridesmaids” breaks tradition. McCarthy stars as Megan, the black sheep bridesmaid whose aggressive and crude mannerisms are hilarious. McCarthy’s role could easily be just an outlet for vulgar jokes, and it is at many points throughout the film, but as the film progresses, she transcends the off-color jokes and becomes a complex character full of sage advice who never loses her comedic edge. Her performance is Oscar-worthy, even if it is a long shot for her to win against women in more serious roles.
Best Director: Michael Hazanavicius (“The Artist”)
Woody Allen and Martin Scorcese are two of Hollywood’s most revered directors. Both men have received seven nominations for Best Director, and both men have won the award once. This year, Allen is nominated for his film “Midnight in Paris” and Scorcese is nominated for his film “Hugo.” Both films were hugely successful at the box office, and both are nominated for multiple Oscars. This year, however, the Academy will stray from the consistent heavyweights.
“The Artist,” a silent film directed by Michael Hazanavicius, will take the award for its originality and stylistic choices. Nothing like “The Artist” has seen wide theatrical distribution in almost eighty years, and it seems unlikely that a film of its caliber and uniqueness will be in theaters in the near future.
Best Original Screenplay: “Midnight in Paris”
“Midnight in Paris” is the story of an American writer in 21st-century Paris who is transported back in time to Roaring-Twenties Paris when he sits on a certain staircase at midnight. The film is an incredible combination of the fine arts. A genius plot weaves one man’s idea of the doldrums of modernity with the excitement and seemingly romantic Paris of the 1920s. Combining references to art, literature, film and the American expatriates who flooded Paris in the 1920s, “Midnight in Paris” is a brilliant depiction of one man’s perception of history.
Best Adapted Screenplay: “Moneyball”
Adapted screenplays have flooded theaters lately. Many of the screenplays that grace the screen were first comic books or novels, but never has a book about sports’ economics been turned into a film success. Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book “Moneyball,” aided by Bennett Miller’s direction, has redefined the idea of literature that can be adapted into film. Bristling with sharp dialogue and brilliant acting, “Moneyball” has the power to convert even the most ardent anti-sports moviegoer into someone appreciative of the more distinct subtleties of America’s pastime.