Here we are again! It’s the time of year when the film world goes a little bonkers. It’s time to watch A-listers congratulate themselves on, well, themselves, and watch B-listers and unknowns crawl out of the woodwork to give the shimmering egos of Hollywood a run for their money. It’s time for the 84th Annual Academy Awards.
Did anyone else notice how many films there are about film and filmmaking this year? Hugo, The Artist, and My Week With Marilyn are movies about movies; we’re dipping into film history to create more film history. Movies about race relations always do well at the Oscars (can you see my eyeroll from here?), and Spielberg’s name is hard for anyone to ignore. Alexander Payne’s latest offering about middle-aged white dudes in crisis is here, and the Academy took a drastic step by including a real live “art film” in the form of Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life.
Naturally, where there are little gold statues, there’s the Fourth Wall Oscar Wager. I, Julia Rhodes, am your reigning champ. My cunning and agility (realistically, my resigned/frustrated sense of the Academy’s likely choices) has allowed me to take the title two years running. Last year, I cleaned up against Dan Fields, and in 2010 I beat our awesome former blogger William Bibbiani. This year I’m putting my money on the dark horse running and rolling with wishful thinking in a few categories. Academy burnout, I suppose.
We’ve chosen to make educated guesses at the major categories this year, and the terms are slightly different from years past…this year’s super-secret wager terms will be announced following the ceremony! Finally, this year the Fourth Wall welcomes two new contenders to the ring: Matt Newlin and Brett Davinger will offer Dan and me (wizened veterans that we are) formidable competition. As the four of us crack our necks and punch the air in our respective corners, our stinging side-eyes zinging past each other across the country, here are our respective bets!
We’ve color coded choices according to who chose what. We’re all in agreement on a number of things, and those will be in purple. Otherwise, the coding will change slightly from category to category. See you on Sunday!
The Artist (Brett, Matt)
The Descendants (Dan)
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
Julia: This year frustrated me. I saw a lot of movies. I often walked out shrugging my shoulders – “Eh. That was okay.” In my efforts to catch up for the purposes of this wager, I fell asleep during more than one of the above films. (I have been particularly tired lately, but even so.) Hugo is one of the only films that I came out of feeling better for it. Scorsese’s gorgeous love letter to Méliès is nostalgic and breathtaking from start to finish; the director’s outspoken role in film preservation and his adoration for those who pioneered the movies are evident throughout. The use of 3D, casting, and story combine to make a masterpiece. Directly behind Hugo sits The Artist, but I’m playing the Academy Old Boys Club card here: Scorsese is a good bet any year.
Matt: Of the ten nominees, only The Artist can be said to truly deserve the title of Best Picture. The Academy left out some of 2011’s best films and the resulting list is filled with mediocre films at best (The Descendants) and pathetic Oscar bait at worst (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). As I mentioned in regards to Hanazavicius, The Artist is a beautifully crafted film which is both a love letter to old Hollywood and a challenge to contemporary filmmakers to quit hiding behind extravagant budgets and just make an honest movie already.
Brett: Of the best picture nominations, my favorite two were The Tree of Life and Hugo. Between those two (and, therefore, the nine), I would prefer Hugo to win Best Picture. However, of the nine, I think The Artist is the film most likely to get the award.
The Artist is a fun, sprightly, energetic film that is about the love of movies. While cinephilia was definitely a major component of Hugo, The Artist presented this adoration with a sense of whimsy more than a sense of awe. Although Best Picture isn’t generally reserved for fluffy pieces like The Artist, without a real stand-out film this year, it’s easy to imagine the Oscars favoring a more lighthearted movie, a crowd pleaser. I don’t think that’s happened since 2003 and Chicago‘s win for Best Picture. Moreover, it seems to have maintained its buzz since its release, though I don’t know how much of that is real and how much of that comes from the Weinstein Propaganda Machine.
This isn’t to say that The Artist is a bad film, because it’s not, though it’s not a great one either. Nevertheless, it’s an unconventional choice for Best Picture. But if nothing else on the list strikes one’s fancy, why not select probably the most joyful of the films?
Dan: Like a reckless roulette player, I have a tendency to over-spread my betting. But The Descendants is still what the inner voices are saying. Since We Need To Talk About Kevin is the best film of 2011 anyway, it’s all been rather bland to think about.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants (Julia, Matt, Dan)
Jean Dujardin, The Artist (Brett)
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Julia: OK, seriously. Gary Oldman has never been nominated for an Oscar before. How does that even happen? Streep’s on 17 nominations, and Oldman has never even had one?! Anyway. Oldman is unlikely to win this one. My guess is Clooney. He is all over this Oscar season, both in front of and behind the camera. His performance as Matt King was pretty good. But unfortunately Clooney has a really hard time not being Clooney. I hope against hope that Jean Dujardin pulls this one off; he was brilliant.
Matt: I hope that Jean Dujardin wins the Best Actor Oscar, but I have a strong feeling that George Clooney will walk away with the trophy. Clooney is a movie star and Hollywood darling, so it’s likely the Academy will reward him. I didn’t particularly care for The Descendants (I didn’t dislike it either) and Clooney did a decent job, but that’s what he always does. Dujardin, on the other hand, gave a performance that no other actor on the planet could have given. That is the type of work that should be recognized.
Brett: See my above thoughts on The Artist.
Additionally, he might win by default. Clooney and Pitt will probably split the New Hollywood Royalty vote since neither gave a particularly outstanding performance (though Pitt did in The Tree of Life). Gary Oldman never seemed beloved by Hollywood, and his role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was filled with complex subtleties that might not appeal to voters who tend to favor showier performances. And Demián Bichir will not get it.
Dan: Jeff Bridges!! No wait, George Clooney. It seems to be written in the sky, and after all these years you still can’t knock Clooney’s reliable charisma. Even though it should be Gary Oldman. Biased as I am in its favor, I’ll admit that’s the only Oscar Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy undoubtedly deserves.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help (Matt)
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn (Julia, Brett, Dan)
Julia: I’m going throw a curveball and say Michelle Williams has this one. She not only played Marilyn Monroe; she was Marilyn Monroe. Her delicate movements, her vulnerable eyes, her breathy voice. Glenn Close did a bang-up job, and has been dreaming of this Oscar for decades. Unfortunately I don’t think her role as Albert Nobbs will cut it this year.
Matt: In what will be one of the worst decisions the Academy has ever made, Viola Davis will win this year for The Help. I think Davis is extremely talented and she did a fine job in the movie, but the Academy will be rewarding The Help not Davis with this award. In my opinion, Michelle Williams deserves to win for her heartbreaking depiction of Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn. Williams has been overlooked by the Academy twice already and she is poised to have it happen again.
Brett: Of the five nominations for best lead actress, I’ve only seen Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She was terrific, but she’s too new and unproven to get the win, especially for a role many might find discomforting. So with Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia and Tilda Swinton for We Need to Talk about Kevin not nominated, I have to give the edge to Michelle Williams.
Between her roles in Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain, Wendy and Lucy, and other films, Michelle Williams has proven herself as one of the best actresses in her generation. The Oscars are apt to give wins on past work, and her filmography is definitely deserving. But this year, she upped her chances by doing the biopic, and The Academy loves biopics. You throw in the Weinstein Machine, the classy British setting, and that it has the second highest Rotten Tomatoes score of all five movies (Tattoo is number 1 by a percent), and it’s her time. And, while the less popular The Iron Lady was also a historic-based British biopic, a) the Oscars love nominating Streep but not giving her the win and b) they seem to prefer awarding younger performers this trophy.
Dan: She’s got the buzz, the sympathy vote, the Hollywood nostalgia vote, and she’s about a billion times better than that sorry actress who played Marilyn in The Kennedys.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball (Dan)
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners (Julia, Matt, Brett)
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Julia: Christopher Plummer. End of story. He was magnificent in the role of the Ewan McGregor’s dying, newly out-of-the-closet father in Beginners. Branagh is always good, and always full of himself. He played Olivier well, but he was still Branagh. Jonah Hill? I bet that guy’s on the sidelines trying to get his jaw off his chest, still going, “WHAT?”
Matt: I saw Beginners when it was released last summer and was blown away by Christopher Plummer. You just love that character so much and feel so awful for the situation in which he finds himself. Plummer plays his character with the utmost honesty and authenticity and deserves this Oscar on his mantle.
Brett: This is a difficult one. While I’ve probably read the most good things about Warrior and Nick Nolte’s performance in it, if I had to narrow it down, it would be between Christopher Plummer and Max von Sydow. It might be rude to say it’s because they’re both older gentlemen, but that’s not a factor that should be discounted.
Plummer’s been in the Hollywood game for nearly six decades. He starred in The Sound of Music, and he only received his first Oscar nomination in 2009 for The Last Station. Von Sydow’s cinematic history goes back even further than Plummer’s. His collaborations with Ingmar Bergman are some of the legendary director’s greatest works, and he was Father Merrin in The Exorcist.
But with his Golden Globe win, Christopher Plummer has the lead. Beginners is a less hated film than Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Plummer might be the more beloved actor of the two. And he plays a homosexual character, and we know how the Oscars love to act socially relevant. Moreover, Plummer won numerous other awards for his portrayal of Hal in Beginners, while the best von Sydow has gotten for his role as The Renter is 2nd Place from the Boston Society of Film Critics Awards.
Dan: I don’t think Jonah Hill has earned an award for anything to date, but I’m in the minority, as signified by this cowardly vote.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist (Dan)
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help (Julia, Brett, Matt)
Julia: I’m having a really hard time detaching myself from the Academy’s inevitably poor choices this year. Who do I think will win? Octavia Spencer. Who do I wish would win? Janet McTeer. She was truly fantastic in Albert Nobbs. But damn everything, the Academy gets all touchy-feely on films about race relations. I mean, remember Crash? (I wish I didn’t.) Or how about The Blind Side? They can’t give The Help Best Picture this year (please God no), so they’ll give Spencer this one as a consolation prize.
Matt: Though it was the most insulting performance of the year, Octavia Spencer will walk away with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. The Help was racist and offensive and it is beyond my comprehension as to why Hollywood has been fawning over it for eight months. The only way Spencer’s performance could have been more offensive is if a white actress had appeared in blackface to play the part of Minny. Congratulations to Melissa McCarthy and Jessica Chastain for being nominated, though.
Brett: Although I haven’t seen The Help, I think the Oscars will want to honor that film in some way due to its massive popularity. (Its box office total is more than double that of its nearest competitor, War Horse.) Also, like I mentioned with Beginners, they might think that such a win would show their social conscience, regardless of the controversy behind The Help.
Dan: The Help missed the mark in almost every measurable way. Granted, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain did rather good work considering what they had to work with. Now that credit’s been given, Bérénice Bejo blew this category out of the water.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Julia: Rango! I laughed, I recognized the brilliance in the animation, I understood the Hunter S. Thompson references, and I love that there was a Mariachi band of burrowing owls. No, seriously, I haven’t actually seen the other flicks because I didn’t care. Rango was one of my favorite films of the year, period.
Matt: My vote and guess is for Rango, but for full disclosure it is also the only one of the nominees I’ve seen. I absolutely loved Rango, from Johnny Depp’s performance to the absurd humor to the brilliant animation. Rango all the way!
Brett: Obviously I’m putting personal judgments into this, but I legitimately thought that Rango was in many ways equal to, if not superior than, the virtually untouchable Pixar collection. (I also thought The Fantastic Mr. Fox should have won over Up in 2009.)
While Rango didn’t reach the emotional heights of the best of the Cars II studio’s movies, it succeeded in different ways. After over a decade of animated films inundated with lame Movie Movie-style parodies, it was refreshing to see an animated film that genuinely paid homage to a genre. Rango didn’t make fun of classic scenes from Westerns but replicated the tone, pacing, sound, and style in a way that only people who genuinely appreciate the genre could. When it came to humor, Rango didn’t succumb to the annoying “95% infantile jokes + a couple of double entendres for the adults” formula many animated films seem to follow; its comedy was more character-based.
But Rango’s biggest strength was its look, and it’s one of the best looking animated films I’ve seen in many, many years. The character designs and scenery were amazingly intricate, and many scenes looked like painstakingly well-crafted action figure set-ups rather than an animated universe.
While I haven’t seen A Cat in Paris or Chico & Rito, it’s hard to see Rango losing to Puss in Boots or Kung Fu Panda 2. And it’s very likely that the Two Movies Nobody Ever Heard Of will split the vote between the people who enjoy voting for movies nobody has ever heard of.
Dan: Rango is the Drive of animated features — visually stunning, pervasively disturbing, and ruthlessly original. The difference? It’s actually up for the award. Rango, Rango, Rango!
The Artist – Guillaume Schiffman
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Jeff Cronenweth
Hugo – Robert Richardson
The Tree of Life – Emmanuel Lubezki (ALL)
War Horse – Janusz Kaminski
Julia: Overprivileged American audiences got all whiny at The Tree of Life, and that rankles me. (A Connecticut theater made national news when it posted a sign claiming the movie is “a uniquely visionary and deeply philosophical film from an auteur director,” and no, they would not be granting refunds.) When I watched the movie, I marveled not at the “confusing” aspects of the movie, not at its “non-narrative structure,” but at the exquisite cinematography. When Emmanuel Lubezki’s name popped up in the credits, I nodded. Oh, yes. Lubezki has a track record of doing brilliant things behind the camera, and his contributions to Malick’s and Alfonso Cuaron’s movies elevate them. He deserves this win.
Matt: If Emmanuel Lubezki doesn’t win for Tree of Life, the Academy will definitely prove that they are both outdated and unnecessary. The cinematography in Terrence Malick’s opus is breathtakingly beautiful. Watching Tree of Life was like watching a moving painting; every shot was a masterfully created composition. Some of Lubezki’s images will be poured over for years to come, just because they are so magnificent to look at.
Brett: If ever a movie deserved to be shown in IMAX, it was The Tree of Life. Malick’s visual sense has never been keener, and every frame looked like a work of art. As I have said in several other articles, it might be the only film this year that I would consider an “experience,” and the poignant, dream-like world presented in this film never lets up. Any film that can replicate the feel of fading memories deserves some recognition.
Dan: I’ve just got a bad feeling that this is the kind of stunt the Academy would pull to pee on everyone’s parade. But would War Horse be any better? Girl With Tattoo looks good, but probably not good enough.
The Artist – Laurence Bennett (Production Design); Robert Gould (Set Decoration)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Stuart Craig (Production Design); Stephenie McMillan (Set Decoration) (Julia)
Hugo – Dante Ferretti (Production Design); Hélène Dubreuil (Set Decoration) (Brett and Dan)
Midnight in Paris – Anne Seibel (Production Design); Francesca Lo Schiavo (Set Decoration)
War Horse – Rick Carter (Production Design); Lee Sandales (Set Decoration) (Matt)
Julia: I’m not 100% convinced of any movie on this category. When trying to decide, I analyze which of these films truly took the audience there, allowed us to enter the world of the film without stepping out to notice “oh, that’s beautiful set direction!” In this case, I’m going to roll with Harry Potter. That world is so important to so many hearts the world round, and Craig and McMillan brought it to teeming life. Not once did I step back and think, “Oh man, they’re angling for an Oscar.”
Matt: War Horse was produced just to win this award. Based solely on the trailers (I haven’t seen the film), the epic scale and stunning vistas reek of faux emotion.
Brett: The universe created by Scorsese and his designers is an intricate, extravagant, and colorful world that highlights the emptiness of entirely CGI environments. The station becomes a land of labyrinths, mazes, and traps that contributes as much to the film’s theme of the wonder of invention as any character or silent film in it. Even beyond the station, each setting has its own personality, whether it be inside or outside Georges Méliès apartment, the streets of the city, or the library. And the re-creation of how they made silent movies just further impresses upon you how much work and care goes into creating films. The richly crafted and detailed Hugo deserves this award.
Dan: Tough call, but Hugo seems a safe bet. The Artist stands a good chance, but yea, go I with mine own gut.
Anonymous – Lisy Christl
The Artist – Mark Bridges (Julia)
Hugo – Sandy Powell (Brett)
Jane Eyre – Michaell O’Connor (Matt and Dan)
W.E. – Arianne Phillips
Julia: This one could go to either Jane Eyre or The Artist. In one of the opening scenes of The Artist, I was stunned by the realism of the costuming, the importance of clothing to characters’ social status, and the way that, particularly, Bejo’s clothing swung on her body; it was brilliantly done, and I think Mark Bridges deserves this one. Who knows which way the Academy will swing?
Matt: I know the Academy loves period pieces when it comes to costumes and Jane Eyre looked pretty authentic. This is one of those wild card categories, though, because the winner is usually a bit of a surprise.
Brett: The Oscars rarely acknowledge the most creative costume- I still believe Watchmen deserved at least a nomination- but this year, I feel that Hugo will get it. The wardrobe suited the era but with an extra bit of uniqueness that made it fit into the remarkable world developed by Scorsese and crew. The incredible look of the film’s outfits does not just extend to what people wore in the “every day” scenes, but also the “slapped-together” costumes for the silent sequences. I can’t imagine Hugo winning any of the “major” awards, but I think it should receive many of the technical ones, this one included.
Dan: No questions, no excuses. This should have been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay AND Best Art Direction, and wasn’t. For heaven’s sake give Jane Eyre a break — just once! She’s the second most mistreated woman in literature, after Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Lisbeth Salander and Precious don’t count.
Albert Nobbs – Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston, and Matthew W. Mungle (Julia)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight, and Lisa Tomblin (Dan and Brett)
The Iron Lady – Mark Coulier, J. Roy Helland
Julia: Albert Nobbs. People complained that Glenn Close didn’t ever really look like a man in Albert Nobbs, but um, that was the point, guys. Albert was a woman, playing a man. And the makeup is perfect for that role. Not that there are many choices, but to make Meryl Streep look 90 is no small feat, so props to The Iron Lady as well.
Matt: No clue. Abstain.
Brett: The epic fantasy Harry Potter concludes with a giant battle featuring magical creatures, elves, and racist bankers. It’s competing against Glenn Close looking like a fretful Glenn Close and Meryl Streep aging.
Dan: Why not? This would be an appropriate and well-deserved honor for the departing franchise. Of course we know that Ralph Fiennes got some CG help (on his nose, for example), but great makeup played its part. Plus, didn’t Warwick Davis play, like, six different goblins in the film?
The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius (ALL)
The Descendants – Alexander Payne
Hugo – Martin Scorsese
Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen
The Tree of Life – Terrence Malick
Julia: Look at all these big names. The only one that stands out, the newbie in this group of masterful directors, is Michel Hazanavicius. And I think he’ll be proclaimed best director here. The Artist is a gorgeous film about film, about the history of the craft and the transformation from silents to talkies. Hugo is too. I’m guessing the Academy will give Best Picture to Hugo and Best Director to The Artist.
Matt: Personally, I thought the Best Director of 2011 was Nicholas Winding Refn for his flawless work on Drive, but somehow the Academy overlooked a film that will surely be studied long after most of this year’s nominees are forgotten. That being said, Michel Hanazavicius pulled off the nearly impossible this year with The Artist. Not only is the film a spot on recreation of the silent films of the 1920s, but it is both hilarious and touching, never once going off the rails into simple imitation or spoof. What people forget about The Artist is how perfectly it demonstrates that a film doesn’t necessarily need big stars, elaborate set pieces or expensive special effects in order to be entertaining. M.H. gave us a film that reminds us what we love about cinema.
Brett: Most of my overall theory plays off of why I think The Artist will win Best Picture, so I won’t repeat myself, but I will add some additional comments.
The Artist is a very good looking film, and Michel Hazanavicius perfectly mimicked the look of the era and got his actors to nail the over-the-top performances required for a film like this while still giving them heart. You cannot like The Artist without liking what Hazanavicius created, and I think Oscar voters will respond to that. Additionally, Allen and Scorsese both have Oscars, Payne’s direction was good but not extraordinary, and The Tree of Life (combined with the rest of Malick’s filmography) might be too divisive for voters to give him a long-deserved award.
Dan: Hanazavicius has the popular vote with The Artist. Close call, stacked up against Alexander Payne’s proven track record. But novelty is a friend to the up-and-coming Oscar contender. Nicolas Winding Refn and Lynne Ramsay should have had a rooster each in this fight, even with all the high-profile contenders. The brilliant arbiters of popular taste thought otherwise.
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
The Descendants – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (ALL)
Hugo – John Logan
The Ides of March – George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon
Moneyball – Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin (story by Stan Chervin)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Bridget O’Connor, Peter Straughan
Julia: Well, it’s a choice between one Clooney vehicle and the other Clooney vehicle. I hope The Ides of March gets this one. I fear The Descendants will. Don’t get me wrong – the narration in The Descendants is great. It’s well written. But The Ides of March felt as natural, as true, as a documentary to me, and that’s what makes it terrifying and brilliant.
Matt: It’s been cleaning up at all the other awards ceremonies so I’m sure The Descendants will win at the Oscars as well. Personally, I thought The Ides of March was a brilliant script that unfolded like a chess game between two grand masters, but its chances are pretty slim.
Brett: Of the five, I thought Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had the best and most complex screenplay. Unfortunately, like with Oldman’s performance, its subtleties might detract voters. I thought Hugo was the best film of the five, but not the best written of the five. So that leaves me with The Descendants, Moneyball, and The Ides of March- all of which were good films, but to lesser degrees.
I believe The Descendants will get it, because I think the Academy wants to honor a Clooney movie but not enough to give him the award for best screenplay. At least I hope they don’t, because, and I cannot repeat this enough, The Ides of March was a great movie starring Tomei/Giamatti/Hoffman/Gosling wrapped in a far inferior one starring everyone else, especially Clooney, and that lesser film dragged everything else down with it.
Dan: There should be no shame in backing a favorite when you don’t know how else to call it. See previous indignation re: We Need To Talk About Kevin.
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids – Annie Mumulo, Kristen Wiig (Julia)
Margin Call – J.C. Chandor
Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen (Matt, Brett, Dan)
A Separation – Asghar Farhadi
Julia: OK, if the Academy lets Bridesmaids go without an award I’m going to get stabby. Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig wrote a script that was alternately hilarious and heartrending, and dammit, they deserve some recognition.
Matt: Everyone knows Woody Allen is going to win this one. I thought Midnight in Paris was cute and had funny moments, but any first year MFA student could have written it with little effort. I was sad to see Warrior overlooked in this category, but not exactly surprised.
Brett: For starters, Midnight in Paris is the best screenplay on the list. It had the spark that defines the best of Woody Allen’s lighter fare. It’s his neurosis without being overbearing. It’s charming, witty, and flat out enjoyable. There’s a genuine pleasantness to it that most people no longer identify with Allen, and audiences took to it considering it’s his all-time highest grossing film (before inflation). Allen is a legend, it’s been awhile since he’s been honored, and I think Midnight in Paris will get the icon another well-deserved Oscar.
Dan: Woody Allen’s script for Midnight In Paris would be in good standing to win even in a stiffer competition. Thank goodness the Coen brothers are taking a year off.
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
The Adventures of Tintin – John Williams
The Artist – Ludovic Bource (Julia and Dan)
Hugo – Howard Shore (Matt)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Alberto Iglesias
War Horse – John Williams (Brett)
Julia: The Artist should get this. When’s the last time you saw a two-and-a-half-hour silent movie that kept you riveted start to finish? It wasn’t just the performances from Dujardin and Bejo; it was the score. I can’t even imagine what goes into designing a score that doesn’t allow for dialogue, a score that weaves characters’ actions and silent words into one piece of music that’s 2.5 hours long. Ludovic Bource deserves this statue. Also: alright already! We understand that John Williams is a great conductor. Two nominations, though? Jeez.
Matt: I honestly have no clue about how this category will play out, but perhaps John Williams will split the votes leaving Howard Shore a chance to win for Hugo. Honestly, no idea though.
Brett: War Horse because…War Horse? I have no rationale behind my decision.
Dan: This score is just too infectious and lovable not to win. Cause it just ain’t happening for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets – Music & Lyric by Bret McKenzie (ALL)
“Real in Rio” from Rio – Music by Sergio Medes and Carlinhos Brown; Lyric by Siedah Garrett
Julia: Sadly, I have seen neither of these. I’ll vote for “Man or Muppet” because I love Bret McKenzie. How’s that?
Matt: The entire “Man or Muppet” sequence in The Muppets had me laughing hysterically and I hope it wins. I think the lyrics are terrific and the music is wonderful.
Brett: Better song, and he’s a Conchord.
Dan: “Man Or Muppet” perfectly represnts how fresh and mercifully clever The Muppets turned out to be. “Real In Rio” is by-the-book and nothing special. As a major anti-Lion King Philistine, I still prefer “The Circle Of Life” as a better example of the same idea. Better yet, dig the opening title music from Lilo & Stitch. Who remembers?
The Artist – Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius (Julia, Brett, Dan)
The Descendants – Kevin Tent
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall (Matt)
Hugo – Thelma Schoonmaker
Moneyball – Christopher Tellefsen
Julia: Baxter and Wall won for last year’s The Social Network, and I think they should win again. Will they? Probably not. But The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a visually stunning movie, and they ought to be recognized once again. I think The Artist will scoop this one. The movie was a train straight back to silent movies of yore, and the editing is perfect for that genre, that style of film. Well done, sir and madam.
Matt: This category should be simple this year. Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter did a tremendous job with David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The film never loses its forward momentum and covers a great number of details in a relatively short amount of time. The early scene in which Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) is explaining Harriet’s disappearance to Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is some of the best editing ever done.
Brett: I think this one comes down to The Artist and Hugo, but I choose The Artist because of how the period-style editing was essential in giving The Artist its unique feel.
Dan: Style points, style points! Make a new silent movie look like an old silent movie successfully, and why not? This category is never as exciting as it probably should be.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – Time Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler, and John Richardson (Dan)
Hugo – Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman, and Alex Henning
Real Steel – Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor, and Swen Gilberg
Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White, and Daniel Barrett (Julia, Brett, Matt)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler, and John Frazier
Julia: Rise of the Planet of the Apes was not a great movie by any means. It wasn’t terrible, either. However, I have a serious gripe: where is Andy Serkis’s nomination, dammit?! The man is brilliant; he and Doug Jones are severely underrated talents. Grumble. Anyway. The apes in this movie are breathtaking (far more interesting and better actors than their human counterparts, which I guess is sort of the point), and a number of scenes are straight up fantastic visual work. I’ll go for it.
Matt: Since the Academy overlooked Andy Serkis’ groundbreaking work in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, they should at least acknowledge the brilliant crew that made the visual effects in the film almost invisible. From Serkis’ seamless transformation into Caesar to the multitudes of apes, monkeys and orangatans that take over San Francisco, Rise of the Planet of the Apes had the best effects of the year.
Brett: Captain America: The First Avenger. Oh. That’s not nominated.
Then ROTPOTA. The motion capture on Caesar was probably the most innovative of the visual effects this year, and the Oscars have a tendency to honor WETA. Though I wouldn’t be disappointed if Hugo gets it and wouldn’t be surprised if Harry Potter does.
Dan: All it takes is one truly excellent dragon to put Harry Potter, Part The Last, over the top. A lot of this movie looks really good, but the dragon’s what bakes the cake.
Share your picks with us! Remember that the Academy’s website has a printable ballot if you’d like to play along. Stay tuned on Monday for news on the winners – and the Fourth Wall’s winner too.
(All photos copyright their original owners.)