I both love and hate the Academy Awards.
I tend to argue that they often get it wrong on the Best Picture winners, but even when they mess up, I find myself drawn to the allure of the award. Movies remain America’s grandest form of popular entertainment, making the Oscars, good or bad, a major draw.
This year, all signs point to a big night for The Artist, the silent, black-and-white throwback to the olden days. The Artist, like Hugo, is pretty much a giant love letter to motion pictures, and the Academy appears to be supporting it, perhaps if only to say “look at how cultured we are for supporting a silent, black-and-white film!”
I’ll say this about The Artist: the dancing is fantastic.
Look, The Artist was a fine piece of filmmaking, but it just didn’t have that “Best Picture” feel to it. I like my winners to elicit emotions from me, to challenge me, to move me, to make me walk out of the theatre processing everything I’ve just seen. The Artist made me happy, but it wasn’t anything I’ll carry with me.
This year, the only picture that spurred that type of reaction was Tree of Life, a movie that I definitely didn’t fully understand but nevertheless appreciated and respected. While I think it remains deserving of the title “Best Picture,” it stands no shot, mainly because nobody else understood it either.
Of the remaining films, I’m rooting for Hugo, in which Martin Scorsese showed how to use 3-D to enhance a story rather than just be a cheap gimmick, and War Horse, a film that got unfairly tagged as “bad things happen to a horse.” (Using the horse theme, War Horse has no shot at a win, place or show, as it barely got out of the gate).
In the end, the night will belong to The Artist, and I think its popularity might extend into the Best Actor race, with Jean Dujardin defeating George Clooney. While Dujardin was certainly electrifying in his performance, I was more impressed with Clooney’s low-wattage performance as a man holding his family together in The Descendants.
So, with all that said, here are my picks for the winners in the major categories Sunday night. I correctly picked four of six in 2009 and 2011, and I got five of six right in 2010. I’m hoping for a sweep this year, although I’m thinking I’ll be wrong on Best Actor and, maybe, Best Director.
Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michael Hazanvicius
Best Actor: George Clooney
Best Actress: Viola Davis
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer