I tried to have some guidelines to follow going into this. Mainly, I had to see the entire movie, in one sitting. I attempted to keep in mind the category the movie was being nominated for. And I attempted to give the movie my undivided attention, no fiddling on the computer or playing games on my Kindle while watching. I mostly succeeded, but I will admit to playing games on the cell phone during Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon. You guys. That movie was Bru. Tal. I also may have gotten up to pee a few more times than absolutely necessary during The Tree of Life, but other than that, I followed the rules.
Here we go!
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Tree of Life
Midnight in Paris
Who will win: The Artist
Who should win: Hugo
I want to go on record saying that I really hate the 10 possible nominations for best picture. That's how we get crap like "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" nominated, when everyone knows it doesn't have a chance in hell at winning. What is the point? Anyway. Aside from EL&IC I don't hate any of the nominees. I liked them all, they're all very 'safe' choices, so thanks for keeping us pure and virtuous, Academy, I guess. (Sorry, I am still bitter about "Shame" being completely overlooked.) Everything I've heard has "The Artist" taking this one and I'm fine with that, even though I think "Hugo" is the slightly better, more layered and nuanced film.
George Clooney (The Descendants)
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Demian Bechir (A Better Life)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
Who will win: Jean Dujardin
Who should win: Gary Oldman
I don't love this category this year. If we're being honest, Clooney and Bechir don't really belong on this list and Pitt...just barely does. Don't get me wrong, they all gave solid, strong performances, but...best of the best? No. Again, Oscar buzz is currently touting Dujardin as the winner and I can definitely live with that. But Gary Oldman gave a fantastic performance that was more reserved than he's probably ever been and I liked him better for it.
Viola Davis (The Help)
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)
Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)
Who will win: Viola Davis
Who should win: Viola Davis
I'm irritated by this category. Meryl Streep gave a brilliant portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. It was a technical acting masterpiece. Too bad the movie sucked. Michelle Williams wiggled and giggled and sad-eyed her way beautifully through "My Week With Marilyn." Too bad it was such a weak vehicle for her strong performance. Rooney Mara is great as the now iconic "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Too bad the movie is clunky and too long. Really, it's not the performances that irritate me, it's the movies they're in. All three of those women deserved better movies. Too bad. Maybe next year. That leaves Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs" a movie that no one saw (but you should, it's good) and Viola Davis in "The Help" which everyone saw...gee, I wonder who will win? Well, I'd still give it to Davis but it's close. The problem is Close's character portrayal is very narrow. Deliberately so and wonderfully done, but the character has a very limited range of emotions and while I imagine that can be difficult to play in its own way, it doesn't quite stand up to Davis's full range in "The Help."
Best Supporting Actor
Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Nick Nolte (Warrior)
Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
Kennth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn)
Who will win: Christopher Plummer
Who should win: Chistopher Plummer
There's no question in my mind that Albert Brooks belongs on this list. Kick Jonah Hill off. But, dealing with what we have.... Branagh gives a good performance in a less than good movie (are you seeing a pattern here?), Von Sydow is the traditional wise old man (but the gimmick is, he doesn't talk!) in a flat out crappy film, Nick Nolte is great, but that's because he's been perfecting this role for the past 30 years, it's basically just himself. And Jonah Hill....has no shot at this. Christopher Plummer is wonderful in "Beginners" as a elderly man coming out as gay and living his life as fully as possible. Give him the statue.
Best Supporting Actress
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Jessica Chastain (The Help)
Berenice Bejo (The Artist)
Who will win: Octavia Spencer
Who should win: Janet McTeer
This might be my favorite category! Though I quibble about the Chastain nomination (wrong movie!) I love every performance listed here. And I love how it spans from raunchy comedy to art house tragedy to mainstream blockbuster. I wouldn't be unhappy to see any of these women win. Word on the street has Spencer taking it. I'm ok with that, but given my druthers, I'd give it to McTeer who gives an outstanding performance in "Albert Nobbs." I'm not exaggerating when I say that she makes the movie.
Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
Who will win: Michael Hazanavicius
Who should win: Martin Scorsese
I'm prepared to be wrong about this, and I hope I am if it means Scorsese wins. Malick's movie was too abstract and not enough people connected to it for him to have a shot. Allen's "Midnight in Paris" is charming and enchanting but it's pretty light, if he wins something it'll be in the screenplay realm. I know a lot of people are talking up Payne but honestly, he doesn't deserve it and current buzz has "The Artist" winning. There could be some Artist backlash and that's where Payne could take it, but if there's backlash, I hope it goes Scorsese's way. He deserves it.
Those are the six big ones. I'll spare you my thoughts about who should win Best Sound Editing. Mainly because I don't have too many. I'm not sure how you judge sound editing. As long as it's not "Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon," I'll be a happy girl.