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So, the 85th Oscars and no British films likely to win big this time around, traditional Hollywood nostalgia set to dominate tonight, The Help and The Artist on the front of the grid. During the week we learnt that the main reason why films like the Kings Speech do so well is that most of the Academy voters were around at the time of King George and no doubt went to the famed masked balls, 62 the average age of the people who decide what film wins the coveted golden statues in 2012. With 95% of them white and 75% of them male then The Help, about the racial lines of the Deep South in the bad old days, better start praying if it is to win. But The Help and The Artist, a silent movie about the glory years of Tinsel Town and the arrival of sound, fit that voter age demographic need for nostalgia, the only difference from their hayday in the movies that films are now talkies and the Mexicans and not Black Americans are their maids and gardeners in their dusty Hollywood Hills mansions. It could be close between these two for actor wards.
Another angle to who may win is lobbying, Harvey Weinstein the king, why the Kings Speech did so well. Harvey began to perfect his art around the time of the dreadfully tedious English Patient and won for Shakespeare in Love after learning those lobbying lessons from that drab movie. He has been nominated for 8 Oscars for himself in various roles since 1997, as well as 2 of his movies as producer. What seems to happen now is the film studios decide which of their films to throw money at and lobby away during the awards season; The Golden Globes the ceremony the Academy voters look at to take their cue on who to vote for. The Academy voters are 'not obliged' to watch all the films on the short list and so freebies and parties to attend from film studio invites tends to push them into sheep like voting patterns. Weinstein has been plugging The Artist for along time now and even released trailers for it six months before it was finished.
The populist move to have ten movies up for Best Picture is purely commercial to boost sales by including more mainstream titles, and as usual I haven't seen many of them due to late release to build the hype. The surprise absentees were 'Shame' and 'We Need to Talk about Kevin'. When Brad Pitt is in two of the top ten films you know they have 'dumbed' down the show yet again to pull an audience, genres like comedy and action movies included more this way, but the rather obscure French and joyous movie The Artist still the clear favorite. When a silent movie gets nominated for 'Best Sound' you know its going to clean up.
Scorcese's Hugo, another nostalgic film about the movies, has one more nomination than The Artist with 11 but you just feel the rather silly Oscar for the Departed for Marty won't be repeated this time. Big hitter Stephen Spielberg is also on the list with the popcorn action film War Horse and Terrance Malik alongside for the pretentious Tree of Life and so an impressive front row of penguin suits for Sunday night.
-Oscar nomination film tally-
Hugo - 11
The Artist - 10
The Help - 6
Moneyball - 6
War Horse - 6
The Descendants - 5
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - 4
Midnight in Paris - 4
----BEST PICTURE NOMS---
The Tree of Life
Midnight in Paris
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
It would be nice if the film that took the most money at the box-office won but you suspect it will be the bookies favorite. I haven't seen it but I'm not going to disagree and so The Artist it is! The sentimental and critics splitter Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close looks the most out of place on the list, the Tom Hanks magic still clinging on in there.
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Alexander Payne - The Descendants
Martin Scorsese - Hugo
Woody Allen - Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick - The Tree of Life
Another vicarious Oscar for Scorcese for the one he didn't get for Goodfellas would be nice to get his stats up to go with the one he didn't get for Raging Bull he got for The Departed, Hugo his 8th nomination. Best Picture generally wins the Best director award though so again it's Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. The brilliant and subtitled Slumdog Millionaire swept the board so why not The Artist to clean up? Woody Allen famously doesn't show up for the Oscars and so expect a reciprocal snub. Midnight in Paris his best film for twenty years, so they say and a dam site better than the tedious Vicky, Christina Barcelona, we hope. The Descendants in the mix seems to be about getting Clooney his honoree Oscar.
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Demian Bichir - A Better Life
Brad Pitt - Moneyball
George Clooney - The Descendants
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Jean Dujardin for The Artist is a tighter favorite here and there is money for Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor, his first nomination after 29 years in the business, a dusty old British spy thriller the vehicle. To add glamour to proceedings a Brad Pitt or Clooney Oscar would be awards for previous works but the old farts in The Academy will go for the true thespians here.
Glenn Close - Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis - The Help
Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams - My Week With Marilyn
Everyone is still going with 17 times nominee and three times winner in the prestigious Meryl Streep for her impression of Mrs Thatcher. One-in-five Oscar winners for Best Actor have been playing real people. But Viola Davies is coming up fast on the rails for The Help and a more politically correct Hollywood could steel the chance for a black winner, if just to get one more black voter in the Academy, the demographic currently 2%. With Obama in the Whitehouse in election year and Hollywood Democrats to a man and always on the begging bowl for funding then why not Viola? The bookies do make her favorite in the last few days. Michelle Williams, also parodying a huge name in my Week with Marilyn, won't win. I know nothing of Glen Close in Albert Nopps.
---BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR---
Kenneth Branagh - My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill - Moneyball
Nick Nolte - Warrior
Christopher Plummer - Beginners
Max von Sydow - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Chris Plummer and Max Von Sydow are octogenarians and so representative of the voters. I'm sure a record will be broken if they win. Jessica Tandy was the oldest ever winner at 80 for Driving Miss Daisy. A Nick Nolte Oscar would be as shocking as Nick cage winning one! Johan Hill for the much liked Money Ball would be sweet. He has certainly lost a lot of weight to squeeze into his DJ. Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn won't win as he is more of a director these days. Tricky to choose this one so I will go for the oldies.
---BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS---
Berenice Bejo - The Artist
Jessica Chastain - The Help
Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer - The Help
The Help's Octavia Spencer\ Jessica Chastain or The Artist's Octavia Spencer will win here with Melissa McCarthy chick flick turn in The Bridesmaid a commercial pick. British actress Janet Mcteer makes up the numbers, her first Oscar nod since Tumbleweed. Interestingly, single parents or prostitute rolls have a 1-in-4 chance of winning the two female actor categories. It has to The Help and Octavia. The book is a lovely read and America needs to apologize for its past by recognizing the struggle in the movies.
---BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM--
Bullhead - Belgium
Footnote - Israel
In Darkness - Poland
Monsieur Lazhar - Canada
A Separation - Iran
An eclectic mix here folks. Only one winner of Israel V Iran in Hollywood? Not for me.
---BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY---
The Artist - Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids - Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
Margin Call - JC Chandor
Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen
A Separation - Asghar Farhadi
A Fourth Oscar for Woody Allen from his 19 nominations so far? I hope so! Nice to see a foreign movie in the mainstream categories so A Separation could win two Oscars tonight.
A Cat in Paris
Chico and Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Obviously an animal has won most of these Oscars, the most idiotic category at the Oscars.
---BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY---
The Descendants - Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Hugo - John Logan
The Ides of March - George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball - Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin.
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy - Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan
Could the Brits get on the board with Tinker Taylor? Na! The Descendants is clear favorite.
---BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE---
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
No Senna, which raised a lot of eyebrows, nor Closer to the Edge, the brilliant film about the TT Races, my eyebrow raised. Not seen any of the above but looking forward to as you can beat a good doco.
And yes, Madonna's dreadful film did get nominated, the appropriately named 'WE' up for Best Make Up....