Monday, 27 February 2012

Academy Awards 2012 - Winners, Losers and My Opinions


Ah, so, it's all over. I don't even know what to say. The Oscars are pretty much the same every year - the ceremony underwhelms (due to over-hyping more than anything else), some wins are predictable, others slightly less so. Nothing huge ever happens. Nevertheless, I always have fun, and this year is no exception. Because I am lazy and exhausted from waking up at 3am, I have decided to cut & paste my final Oscar predictions from the other day and to add some commentary in this red colour right here. Winners are highlighted in this delightful yellow colour.


Best Picture

Anything but The Artist would be a major upset. See more here.
  • "The Artist" Thomas Langmann, Producer
  • "The Descendants" Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  • "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" Scott Rudin, Producer
  • "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 
So, The Artist did win. No surprises there, but it is nice to see something different winning for a change. It's funny that, in 1928 The Jazz Singer was deemed ineligible for a Best Picture nomination because it was the first movie with sound, and allowing it in would be an unfair advantage. It won an honourary Oscar instead (I've held that very statuette in my own hands - just sayin'). Anyway, so 84 years later, a silent movie wins the Best Picture Oscar for the first time again. I sympathise with those who see it as a gimmick, but somehow it makes me feel good. Well done.

    Actor in a Leading Role

    At first I thought it was Clooney's for the taking, but having seen Dujardin in The Artist, and considering the huge momentum behind that film, I would say it's now his for the taking. I would like to see it go to Brad Pitt though, or even Gary Oldman, but that ain't gonna happen.
    • Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"
    • George Clooney in "The Descendants"
    • Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"
    • Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
    • Brad Pitt in "Moneyball" 
    Indeed, Dujardin was the man who took it. Great acceptance speech, and well-deserved (even though they were all worthy).

      Actor in a Supporting Role

      The only one I am yet to see here is Max von Sydow's performance in Extremely Loud, and he is the only real challenger to Plummer. I think Plummer will take it regardless. Jeez, I only noticed now, it really is Jonah Hill and all the old buggers this year!
      • Kenneth Branagh in "My Week with Marilyn"
      • Jonah Hill in "Moneyball"
      • Nick Nolte in "Warrior"
      • Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"
      • Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" 
      As predicted by almost everyone, Christopher Plummer is now the oldest recipient of an acting Oscar. I axe you this: why the hell did people keep saying it would be his third Oscar? It's his first, and his second nomination (he was nominated for The Last Station in 2010).

        Actress in a Leading Role

        One of the tightest categories, will it be Streep, Davis or Williams? I have seen all the performances except Albert Nobbs, and even though I absolutely loved Rooney Mara's, I think the Oscar should go to Viola Davis. Yes, Meryl Streep was great, and Michelle Williams was better, but Davis was best. Who will be the chose one though? I decided to do a little exercise of my own. Davis is in The Help, a movie with a lot of Oscar love this year, whereas Streep is in a movie which is pretty much only about her performance. There seems to be one of these situations almost every year. Movies that come to mind include Blue Valentine (Michelle Williams), Julie & Julia (Meryl Streep), Away From Her (Julie Christie), Mrs Henderson Presents (Judi Dench), Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) and Iris (Dench again). How many won? Zero. In fact, in the last 11 years, 8 Best Actress winners came from a Best Picture nominee. The other three were either controversial (Halle Berry for Monster's Ball at the Blackademy Awards), or appeared in years when the Best Picture nominees didn't offer a serious female contender at all (Charlize Theron in Monster and Marion Cotillard for LaVie En Rose). So, that means... Viola Davis!
        • Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs"
        • Viola Davis in "The Help"
        • Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
        • Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady"
        • Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn" 
        Oi vey, I botched this one nicely with my fancy theories above! Egg on face. Although I think Meryl was perhaps the fourth most deserving on the list, a number of positives can be taken from this win: (1) the poor woman has been nominated 17 times. This is her third Oscar, but the first since 1982. Imagine how she must have felt by now; (2) we can relax for the next 20 years or so without the constant concern that Meryl may win an Oscar any minute just because it's been so long; and (3) hopefully the Academy has now satisfied their appetite for showering awards on British characters. Nothing wrong with it, I'm just starting to worry that maybe the Government is behind it all.

          Actress in a Supporting Role

          More strong contenders here, but since the beginning it has really only been about Octavia Spencer in The Help. That movie alone has turned the actress categories this year into a nightmare - such powerful performances all round. It could even have received a few more... Bryce Dallas Howard, hello?
          • Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist"
          • Jessica Chastain in "The Help"
          • Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids"
          • Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs"
          • Octavia Spencer in "The Help"
          One of the easiest predictions of the night. Well deserved.

          Animated Feature Film

          The only one I have seen is Rango, so Rango it is. I might add that it was really good, and I would never want anything to go to a poes in boots.
          • "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
          I was a little worried about this one, but it seems I saw the correct film!

          Art Direction

          This is where we start getting well into guessing territory. Not quite thumb sucking, but not informed either. It's easy to just check websites to see all the favourites, but (1) there are always upsets and (2) it would not be fun. As a point of departure, a fair share of awards must be split between Hugo and The Artist. That's how the Academy operates... if a film has buzz, it will pick up all sorts of awards. The question is really one of how to split them? For this category, I choose Hugo. The team on that movie created a richly detailed and beautiful world for Bob Richardson's camera to explore, including the recreation of Georges Méliès' beautiful glass studio. It certainly deserves a win.
          • "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
          See my reasoning above: very happy with this one.

          Cinematography

          My favourite category, but always a tricky one. This year I will go against the trend and say it's going to Robert Richardson for Hugo. I would also love it to go to Jess Cronenweth for his stunning work on Dragon Tattoo, or even Emmanuel Lubezki for the crazy but beautiful stuff he did on The Tree of Life. Ultimately though, the best work of the year was on Hugo. I mean, the opening shot was the best 3D shot ever, everything was impossibly beautiful, and the camera went places I never knew possible. I vote with my heart this time. If The Artist wins for its quaint black and white images, I will not be impressed.
          • "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
          Without a doubt my best call of the evening (and almost my favourite moment). I voted with my heart, and look, my namesake has been rewarded. That's Oscar number 3 for Bob Richardson. Next year he's going to make it number 4: Django Unchained!

          Costume Design

          I have no clue. The Artist, even though W.E. just won the Costume Designers' Guild Award. Screw it, I won't vote for a Madonna movie. Besides, Berenice Bejo looked great!
          • "Anonymous" Lisy Christl
          • "The Artist" Mark Bridges
          • "Hugo" Sandy Powell
          • "Jane Eyre" Michael O'Connor
          • "W.E." Arianne Phillips
          Berenice Bejo did look great. So great in fact, that Mark Bridges won an Oscar for it!

          Directing

          Easy. Rarely is there a split between picture and director. I went for it last year, and bumped my head. Not this year again. Hazanavicius will take it for The Artist.
          • "The Artist" Michel Hazanavicius
          • "The Descendants" Alexander Payne
          • "Hugo" Martin Scorsese
          • "Midnight in Paris" Woody Allen
          • "The Tree of Life" Terrence Malick
          Correct. Well deserved. I did not want to see Scorsese win for Hugo when he didn't win for movies like Raging Bull and Goodfellas, and Woody Allen and Terrence Malick weren't even there.

          Documentary (Feature)

          Uhm, I haven't even seen any of these yet. Pina looks awesome, but I have no idea. What I did was do my little IMDB-RT-Metacritic exercise with these, and the winner is... Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. By quite a margin actually.
          • "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" Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
          • "Pina" Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
          • "Undefeated" TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas
          Shit. Balls. My mathematical method may have worked for The Artist, but not for this one. In fact, the worst overall rating took the win. I have no further comments.

          Documentary (Short Subject)

          This is some proper thumbsucking. I like the sound of The Tsunami and The Cherry Blossom, so let it be that.
          • "The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement" Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
          • "God Is the Bigger Elvis" Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
          • "Incident in New Baghdad"James Spione
          • "Saving Face" Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
          • "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen
          Not such a good guesser I am - it seems that a pretty face is better than a pretty title.

          Film Editing

          Editing is widely seen as the biggest of the technical categories, and one that also rarely splits from best picture. I will give it to The Artist again for that reason, but my true hope is that Dragon Tattoo will win. It was one of the few movies where I really noticed the good 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
          This is the best I have ever felt after getting a prediction wrong. Awesome work by these two guys who are on top of the editing world right now. Yes, they have won the Oscar two years in a row. They were also so surprised by this win that they never prepared anything. It was the best speech I've seen - they laughed and mumbled one or two words of disbelief, and then said "let's get outta here".


          Foreign Language Film

          I've seen Bullhead, and recently got A Separation from Amazon which I will see soon. The latter is hands down the favourite, being one of the best reviewed films of 2011. The upset may come from In Darkness, but I will stick with the safe choice. Bullhead was absolutely awesome by the way.
          • "Bullhead" Belgium
          • "Footnote" Israel
          • "In Darkness" Poland
          • "Monsieur Lazhar" Canada
          • "A Separation" Iran
          Not surprising at all. I have also since seen the film, and it was damn brilliant I tell you. A review will (hopefully) be posted soonish.

          Makeup

          This category appears to have, uh, aged. I will vote The Iron Lady, despite Meryl's horrible neck.
          • "Albert Nobbs" Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
          • "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
          • "The Iron Lady" Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
          Uh, correct. Boring.

          Music (Original Score)

          You have to vote The Artist here. I mean, the whole film was about the music playing in the background! I'm bummed we don't see Reznor and Ross again this year, but you can't have it all.
          • "The Adventures of Tintin" John Williams
          • "The Artist" Ludovic Bource
          • "Hugo" Howard Shore
          • "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Alberto Iglesias
          • "War Horse" John Williams
          See above. Am I running out of steam? Yes, but that's not applicable. I wouldn't have had much to say anyway. Except maybe that they kept using the Moneyball score in the ceremony itself, even though it wasn't nominated.

          Music (Original Song)

          Man or Muppet for sure. That shit was crazy!
          • "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
          "I reflect on my reflection
          and I ask myself the question
          what's the right direction to go
          I don't know
          am I a man or am I a muppet?
          if I'm a muppet then I'm a very manly muppet
          am I a muppet or am I a man?
          if I'm a man that makes me a muppet of a man
          "

          Short Film (Animated)

          La Luna, since it is a Pixar short...
          • "Dimanche/Sunday" Patrick Doyon
          • "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
          • "La Luna" Enrico Casarosa
          • "A Morning Stroll" Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
          • "Wild Life" Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
          Bugger! Damn these categories!

          Short Film (Live Action)

          I have no clue... thumbsuck. I like the sound of Time Freak, so there you have it!
          • "Pentecost" Peter McDonald and Eimear O'Kane
          • "Raju" Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
          • "The Shore" Terry George and Oorlagh George
          • "Time Freak" Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
          • "Tuba Atlantic" Hallvar Witzø
          See above, but here I am to blame. I knew The Shore was the favourite since it had established names attached (like Terry George and Ciaran Hinds), but Time Freak sounded so awesome...

          Sound Editing

          Haha, do you even know the difference? I have to remind myself constantly, and that doesn't mean I can tell the difference. Sound Editing used to be called Sound Effects, and indeed, it refers to the creation of sounds for the movie. Sound Mixing refers to the mixing of those created sounds into the film as a whole together with all the other sounds and music. This is a gross oversimplication, but should be the essence of it.

          Hugo seems to be the favourite for both this year. I will go for it on Sound Editing, even though Drive sounded pretty cool as well. I think Transformers has already won, and the sounds are still similar to the first movie.
          • "Drive" Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
          • "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Ren Klyce
          • "Hugo" Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
          • "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
          • "War Horse" Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom
          Here, I was right (because I listened to the experts). Then I decided to stop listening...

          Sound Mixing

          With this one, I will go with my heart again and choose the best sounding movie of 2011 by far... The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. They got it so right, the film even sounded cold.
          • "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
          • "Hugo" Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
          • "Moneyball" Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
          • "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
          • "War Horse" Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson
          ... and got it wrong. I'm a visuals guy, not a sound guy. Which means VFX should be an easy pick right? Wroooong...

          Visual Effects

          Hell, T3 had awesome effects as always, but the true legend of 2011 was ROTPOTA. WETA shall strike yet again!
          • "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
          What the hell? Yes, Hugo had good VFX, but come on! Apes will rise.

          Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

          The Descendants. The success of this film, regardless of the good performances, is due to the awesome writing.
          • "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
          Yebo yes.

          Writing (Original Screenplay)

          Since The Artist is a silent film, it will be a joke it if wins. Midnight in Paris is the favourite and has the best screenplay. Full stop.
          • "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" Written by Asghar Farhadi 
          Ibid.

          And that's that. General impression? Not bad at all. The ceremony was good, Billy Crystal was his usual self and Cirque du Soleil was magnificent as always. The nominees themselves weren't always that great, but I've bitched enough about that. Until next year then, when hopefully we will see grand duels (pun intended) between the likes of Django Unchained, The Master and perhaps even a superhero Best Picture winner! Stay tuned, because speculation will follow.

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