Since the film I like the least (“The Artist”) seems to be the front runner for most awards, I’m not going to make predictions. Instead, here are my Oscar hopes ranging from incredibly likely to fanciful dreams.
Martin Scorsese Wins Best Director
Why: Besides the fact I love Scorsese completely and think everything he does is wonderful, I do believe “Hugo” is a great film and uses 3D in a way that enhances the storytelling and never feels gimmicky.
How Likely: Actually, pretty darn likely. The Academy loves Martin Scorsese and may choose to split Best Picture and Director between “The Artist” and “Hugo.”
Stuart Craig Wins Best Art Direction
Why: For eight films Craig and his team of movie magicians took the vibrantly imagined world of JK Rowling and brought it to the screen. Much of the fanciful sights in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” are filmed in camera, with digital effects added in later. Craig is responsible for much of what makes HP real and wonderful for fans.
How Likely: 50/50. Stuart Craig has won twice for “Gandhi” and “Dangerous Liaisons” so is no stranger to the Academy. But voters may not be as discerning in the bottom categories and forget Craig’s great work.
Gary Oldman Wins Best Actor
Why: More than awarding the best acting achievement of the year, I feel Oscars should recognize a particular actor’s best career achievement. It’s shocking that “Tinker Tailor Solder Spy” is Gary Oldman’s first acting nomination after a lifetime of bold, scene-stealing, and fantastic performances. Yet, Oldman really is his best as George Smiley and loved playing the part.
How Likely: Unfortunately, not bloody likely. Even the Brits gave Dujardin best actor. Where’s the love? Where’s the national loyalty?
Woody Allen wins and shows up to collect Best Original Screenplay
Why: "Midnight In Paris" is my favorite movie of the year and I wish it had more momentum in the leading categories. The script for "Midnight" is wonderful and each time I see the film, I find something else about it to laugh at or cherish.
How Likely: Pretty likely for the win. Not likely at all for the showing up part.
Meryl Streep Wins Best Actress
Why: Meryl Streep has not won an Oscar in almost 30 years and she gives a towering performance in “The Iron Lady.” It’s Meryl time, period.
How Likely: Somewhat Likely. Streep won at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, which are good signs. Though, Viola Davis took the SAG Awards, so I’m not declaring victory on this one yet.
Prominent Star Wars references when James Earl Jones wins the Thalberg Award
Why: James Earl Jones is an iconic actor with many wonderful film performances, yet I hold his voice work as Darth Vader so close to my soul that I need many Star Wars references. And I don’t care what the LA Times thinks, this is Jones’ EGOT!
How Likely: Pretty likely, Billy Crystal is hosting after all.
Uggie the Dog
Why: Because America loves Uggie and it was a great year for Jack Russell Terriors in cinema.
How Likely: Almost Assured. I can’t say much about “The Artist” in the way of priase, but I will admit Uggie is pretty awesome. What would be better than to have the best acting talent in the film share the stage with Billy Crystal?
Daniel Radcliffe or Michael Fassbender present awards
Why: I think when it comes to promoting films, Radcliffe and Fassbender win the MVP. There isn’t anyone or any venue where they won’t give an interview. What better time to show up than Hollywood’s biggest night.
How Likely: Since I make it my business to know all things Radcliffe or Fassbender and haven’t heard anything about presenting, I’ll just hope to be surprised.
Meryl Streep Kissing Random People
Why: If you present an award to Meryl Streep, you are going to get a kiss. If you are Ralph Fiennes or Colin Firth, Meryl Streep is going to make out with you on stage. That’s her thing and I can’t wait.
How Likely: 100% likely since Firth is presenting. And if she doesn’t win, I’d bet money she’ll grab Viola Davis and kiss her anyway.
The Muppets Perform Anyway
Why: The Muppets should be hosting the show in the first place and were robbed of their chance to preform a variety of songs by the lackluster best Song Category and further ridiculousness of cutting the performances. Miss Piggy hosted the BAFTA Red Carpet like a champ. Bring on the Muppets!
How Likely: Pretty Likely. I bet Billy Crystal includes The Muppets in his act.
In a shaky present with an uncertain future, the Oscars choose to cast it’s sights to the past, remembering the pleasures of sweeter and simpler times. The impulse to remember an era long gone was most embodied by Best Picture winner “The Artist,” yet most of the nominees had at least one eye facing the past.
Best Original Screenplay winner “Midnight in Paris” was Woody Allen’s love letter to Paris in the 1920’s and a reminder that loving the past can be wonderful as long as we don’t surrender to it. ”Moneyball,” a great film that unfortunately received no honors, recalls a major shift in baseball thinking and managing, engineered by Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics. “The Help” probes racial prejudices of not so long ago and the friendships that were forged in overcoming hate.
"The Descendants," winner for Best Adapted Screenplay, takes place in the present, but is most concerned with the past mistakes of George Clooney’s Matt King in his relationships with his wife and daughters. Steven Spielberg’s "War Horse" not only takes us back to the battlefields of World War 1, but recalls a majestic style of film making. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" reminds us of the sorrow we could never have imagined before September 11th.
"Hugo," which won 5 Academy Awards, is Martin Scorsese’s masterful love letter to film and personal declaration of how films can change people’s lives and hearts. Adapted by John Logan from the popular children’s novel, "Hugo" appeals to all ages and reminded me why Scorsese is my favorite director. "The Tree Of Life" goes farthest into the past, to the beginning of time in fact, to try and make sense of the despair from losing a loved one.
Each of these films beautifully re-creates its period and presents characters we can relate to, even in 2012. Yet, it was “The Artist” that took top prizes for Best Picture and Director. Out of all the backward glancing films, “The Artist” takes the premise to the extreme by going silent and black & white.
With the anxiety building around video streaming keeping film goers at home and dominance of blockbusters with guarenteed fans; maybe the Academy needed to remind itself that what worked in the past can still be good. Further proof of that was handing the Oscar hosting duties back to Billy Crystal for his 9th time as Master of Ceremonies. On that score, I believe Oscar made the right call. Crystal calibrated his jokes for each crowd, making a Flomax crack on one end and an incisive Tyler Perry joke on the other.
Through it all, my Oscar guests and I were charmed by the ceremony and pleased with many (not all) the winners. Despite worries about the future of film and the multiplex; the Oscars are alright and the movies are still my greatest love.
Writer, director, and humorist Nora Ephron passed away last night. It was such a shock both because of the effect her movies have had on me and knowing that she’s been writing and producing plays, including “Lucky Guy” which will star Tom Hanks next year. I love her films, especially “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally.” I find her films and her, through interviews, candid, hilarious, witty, and whip-smart.
Here’s what Nora Ephron taught us.
Men and Women can be friends or fall in love or BOTH
This is a classic scene, in a classic movie, written by a classy woman. Probably the greatest modern romantic comedy. [click for video]
Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally Albright: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail ‘em too.
Sally Albright: What if THEY don’t want to have sex with YOU?
Harry Burns: Doesn’t matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally Albright: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.
Harry Burns: I guess not.
Sally Albright: That’s too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.
Men Cry At Movies Too!
I love this scene with Victor Garber and Tom Hanks from “Sleepless” when they gab at Rita Wilson’s emotional rendering of “An Affair to Remember” with their own love for “The Dirty Dozen” [click for video]
I haven’t seen “Heartburn,” but Meryl Streep is GLORIOUS in “Julie and Julia.” Sometimes I wish it was just “Julia” but I appreciate Amy Adams’ contribution. Streep never imitates the iconic chef, but imbues the role and the film with her passion for food, her humor, and the love she had for her husband.
Movies can make you do crazy, but awesome things
Annie in “Sleepless in Seattle” is a romantic, inspired by the classics like “An Affair to Remember.” I like that the film doesn’t slight her for it. Maybe it’s improbable, but hey if you love movies, you have to believe. [click for video]
Nice Guys Abound
In Ephron films, our heroine isn’t running after the bad boy or leaving a bad relationship for a better one. Usually there are two nice and decent guys in play. Take “Sleepless in Seattle” where Annie is engaged to Walter. Maybe he’s a little dull, but he’s a great guy. His only “flaw” isn’t even his fault: extreme allergies. The same can be said for Greg Kinnear in “You’ve Got Mail”. He’s a little obsessive, but a good catch. Tom Hanks is the ultimate nice guy, not bland or perfect. Hanks’ characters are genuine, friendly, and caring. He has a bit more edge in “You’ve Got Mail,” but he’s still a decent guy. Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina, and Bruno Kirby all fit this refreshing mold.
Was there anything better than Meg Ryan in the 80’s and early 90’s. No!!! She’s luminous in Ephron’s films and that energy infuses other movies like “French Kiss” and “I.Q.” that had no connection Ephron. You fell for her and rooted for her.
In celebration of Women who cook and EAT
I love the scene when Paul and Julia Child discuss what she might do in Paris:
Paul Child: What is it you REALLY like to do?
Julia Child: Eat!
Paul: And you’re so good at it.
Julia: I Know! I’m improving in front of you!
"Julie and Julia" is a visual feast where Ephron shows her love for food and affection for cooking. It’s a sumptuous film that inspires you to get back in the kitchen and make everyday a lively eating experience.
Live Your Passion
Whether it’s food, small book stores, or film, it’s important to indulge in what you love and share it with others.
Thank you for this and so much more.
Rest in Peace, Nora Ephron.