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.
I was really surprised and disappointed not to see “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” in the Best Costume Design category this year. More than any other film, the clothes on display are integral in telling the story. The film, based on the novel by John le Carré and multi-part miniseries, condenses a large amount of exposition to elevate the tensions and betrayals between characters.
The costumes fill in the personalities and histories of characters. For instance, Control (John Hurt) often insults Toby Esterhase’s background, giving him the code name “Poor Man” because Rich Man would be “inappropriate.” Yet, Esterhase is the most stylishly dressed of the Circus high command with his tailored three piece suits, bow ties, and accompanying pipe. The costumes convey Esterhase’s need for acceptance and his tendency to over compensate for his humble beginnings, a weakness that is exploited by the mole.
In other ways costumes quietly, but importantly add urgency to scenes. Without noticing, every scene with Gary Oldman’s masterful George Smiley feels like an interrogation where time is quickly running out for the other character. Oldman’s stillness and intensity raise the stakes, but so do the costumes. Smiley almost never takes off his signature trench coat. An odd suit of armor, Smiley’s trench coat make me attuned to his movements because at any point in the conversation, he could get up and leave. He’s never settled, never truly comfortable, always on the lookout, always ready to act. It also makes him more of an outsider and detached; exactly the kind of person able to catch the unsuspecting mole.
Next there’s Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), a medium level intelligence gatherer and loyal soldier to Smiley. Guillam breaks with much of the Circus style conventions, opting for slimming fits and bright colors. Guillam takes Colin Firth’s Bill Haydon proper British gentleman style and adds a bit more flair. What could the costumes be insinuating? Perhaps his style clues us into Peter’s personal life. Or its curious that Guillam dresses like he would fit in well with Haydon and Esterhase, but is remarkably dedicated to Smiley.
Last and my favorite is Tom Hardy as Ricky Tarr. From the first moment you see Ricky, clad in a bomber jacket, jeans, and multi-patterned shirt you think he is the farthest from Special Intelligence officer. And he is incredibly incompetent, but well meaning. Tarr’s casualness sets a strong contrast to Peter and makes us wary of his implied recklessness. All this tells us more about Smiley, setting him as the one person in the Circus who sees beyond appearances and facades to the truth. The costumes in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” are wonderfully precise, rooted in character, and beautiful to behold.
Oscar nominations were announced today and I’ve received several condolences for the absence of Michael “Greatest Actor of the Year” Fassbender. Fassbender’s performance in “Shame” was the most moving, complex, and challenging role by an actor this year. Alas, I understood the snub as soon as I looked at the list of Best Picture Nominees. With a list like “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “The Help,” “War Horse,” “Hugo,” “Midnight in Paris,” “The Tree of Life,” “Moneyball,” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” the dark and broken world of “Shame” seems completely out of place. This slate of nominees is pretty harmonious to me. Two comedies, two children’s book adaptations, and two Brad Pitt movies. I thought “Tinker Tailor” or “Dragon Tattoo” might sneak in there (I am elated to see these films in acting and technical categories though), but overall I’m pretty satisfied with the list.
Of the few surprises, I think all of them are positive. Here’s my take on Oscar chatter:
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" in Best Picture
All morning people have been dogging this Stephen Daldry film. The film received mixed reviews and was just released wide last weekend. I am sort of glad to see it there. It’s superbly made with an elegant score by Alexandre Desplat (who was curiously snubbed). “Extremely Loud” is well acted and is a beautiful film about finding your story in the lives of others. Of course there are dozens of films that deserve recognition over it, but I could say the same thing about “War Horse” or “The Artist” by the simple fact those films didn’t move me. “Extremely Loud” did move me and I think people should see the film for themselves.
Gary Oldman and Rooney Mara in Best Acting Categories.
Last night, I tried to think of one long shot nomination that would make me happiest and that was Gary Oldman as George Smiley in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Oldman is one of my favorite actors because of his versatility and willingness to take on villains. Oldman veers drastically from his diverse list of characters to play Smiley and make him as exciting and disarming as his previous roles. He’s long overdue for Oscar recognition and I’m relieved his time has come with Smiley. Mara was also a long shot. The award means we will surely see her take on the next to Millennium books. Also, she’s brilliant in the role. Despite being dangerous and aloof, Mara draws you in and earns your trust. I really admire her work in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and cheer her nomination.
Who is Demian Bichir?
I have no idea. I skipped “A Better Life” and now I need to watch it. I was sad not to see Fassbender or DiCaprio in that spot, but if the guy is good and the film is worth seeing I’m happy to support it.
"Drive" in Sound Editing
I know most people stop reading nominations by the time things like Sound Mixing and Editing come up, but this nod for “Drive” brought a huge smile to my face. After I saw the film I said it was the best use of sound I had ever experienced in a film. I said then:
Winding Refn uses his brilliant composition of sound and visuals to abruptly wrest you out of the reverie established by the first half of the film. Gosling agrees to do a job that goes wrong and a character is surprisingly murdered before his eyes. The shot rang so loud through me I felt as if I had been stabbed in the chest.
No “Bill Cunningham New York” in Documentary Feature
The Academy was already in error for not putting “The Interrupters” on the short list for this year’s Oscars. I thought for sure that Richard Press’ wonderful documentary about Cunningham would make it into the final cut. It’s well made and the most inspiring story of the year. It also would have made for a great Oscar moment.
John Williams vs. John Williams
Williams got two nods for “Tintin” and “War Horse” scores. Neither are that extraordinary, though I like “Tintin” a bit better. “War Horse” score is beautiful, but a bit jaunty for a war film. I thought the score was some analog to the stage play music since it was so up-tempo. I was sad not to see last year’s winner Trent Reznor in there for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” or Alexandre Desplat for any of the great scores he did this year (Harry Potter 7 and “Extremely Loud” were obvious picks for me). I don’t understand giving two nods to Williams and leaving other great composers out.
1) Midnight in Paris
2) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
3) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
7) King of Devil’s Island (Kongen av Bastøy)
10) Jane Eyre
11) Martha Marcy May Marlene
12) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
13) Bill Cunningham New York
14) Fright Night
15) The Descendants
16) Win Win
17) A Dangerous Method
18) The Interrupters
19) We Need To Talk About Kevin
More on the best films of 2011 HERE
So the SAG Awards Nominations came out today and I am having a fit.
Not a single nomination for Michael Fassbender. Have they not seen “Shame” or any of the million other movies he made this year?
Speaking of “Shame,” no love for Carey Mulligan who is just as FANTASTIC in the film.
While we’re on things that are FANTASTIC. GARY OLDMAN in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” No Brainer. And how do you not nominate a film that stars Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cummberbach, John Hurt, and Toby Jones for Best Ensemble?
And finally, nothing for Alan Rickman! Congratulations on being totally irrelevant.