David Magazine’s Head-to-Head Coverage of the 84th Annual Academy Awards

Last year’s hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway were totally panned. This year’s Academy Awards saw its first host, Eddie Murphy, quit amid the gay-slur controversy surrounding his pal Brett Ratner and now we’re stuck with Billy Crystal (just hoping this doesn’t mean a 2012 release of City Slickers 3 . . . in 3-D). Whether you watch the Oscars or not you can count on David Magazine to be your unofficial (and snarky) host for the Red Carpet and Awards so be sure to follow David Magazine on Facebook.

And to start off the snark-fest, we offer you two of David Magazine‘s film buffs going head-to-head in their predictions for the winners, the losers who should be winners, and worthy Hollywood players missing from the nominations in the first place. Take it away, Joseph & Elijah!

Best Picture
The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Hugo 
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse 

Joseph:

(silence) Guess my prediction would be for The Artist but it’s really hard to select a film from this list because I don’t feel like any of them were truly great. Hollywood likes to toot its own horn but I think if The Artist had been made, say 30 years from now, it wouldn’t even be a contender. It’s like a 2-D Disney film winning Best Animated Feature in 2027. It’s all about nostalgia.

As for The Help, it should have been titled White People Make Everything Better . . . Again. Don’t get me wrong (I’m all about helping white people assuage their guilt), the movie was a good movie, it just wasn’t great.

I was severely disappointed in The Descendants. After the heart-warming, laugh-riot that was Sideways a few years ago, I had higher hopes for Alexander Payne’s tale of a father trying to keep his family together amidst tragedy.

Midnight in Paris was an interesting Woody Allenish concept but Owen Wilson annoys the hell out of me. If there had been a different lead actor, this might’ve made for a better film.

I’m sorry but throughout Moneyball I couldn’t help but think “Damn Brad Pitt looks more like a monkey as he gets older”.  This against-the-odds type film has been done so many ways, I just don’t think the subject matter was strong enough to warrant a feature length film.

Tree of WHAT-THE-HELL-IS-THIS-MOVIE-ABOUT??!!!!! Enough said.

At press time I’ve yet to see Hugo or War Horse but my personal favorite from the list was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Sure 9/11 is going to be the go-to American tragedy for years to come in film making but I guess I really relate to the confusion, anxiety and utter desperation protagonist Oskar goes through. Plus, who doesn’t love Sandra Bullock?

Will Win: The Artist

Should Win: None

Elijah:

First off, let’s observe just how boring the field is this year. There are some legitimately good nominees this year, as well as some head-scratchers—I’m looking at you, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—but nothing that really stands out as an exciting entry. A tenth nominee in the field might have helped, especially if the choice was, say, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or Drive.

That being said, it’s inevitable that The Artist will win this year. It’s won the bulk of the precursors. It’s unique in the category (black & white and silent!). And it has Harvey Weinstein pushing for a win. Unfortunately, it’s also a very slight film. If it were competing with the classics of the silent era, it wouldn’t stand a chance. This year, though, no other film really has a chance.

If there’s an upset, though, don’t be completely surprised if the award goes to The Help. It fits into Hollywood’s formula for dealing with racism (see: Crash), plus it’s the only box-office winner among this year’s crop of nominees.

Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: The Artist
Should Be Nominated: Drive

—–

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris 
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life 

Elijah:

Going again by the precursors, this year’s award should go to Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist. He won the Director’s Guild Award over bigger names like Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, and the DGA has a higher percentage of accuracy than any other precursor in any other category. Honestly, whatever qualms one may have about The Artist, it’s hard to argue against Hazanavicius’ work. Still, I wouldn’t rule out a win for Woody Allen – Midnight In Paris is the highest-grossing film of his career, and the Academy might want to reward him here. Personally, though, I would’ve loved to see a nomination for David Fincher’s work in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which was just as award-worthy as his work last year in The Social Network.

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Should Win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Should Be Nominated: David Fincher, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Joseph:

While I’m definitely not a director, I think Michel Hazanavicius had his work cut out for him directing a silent film. I’m pretty sure he could be the winner in this category but the dark horse could be Martin Scorsese. Hazanavicius won the Director’s Guild Award, while Scorsese won the Golden Globe- either way both films are about films and we know these are the kind of films Hollywood likes.

 

I agree David Fincher should be included here but not because I was a fan of The Social Network. I found the Facebook film to be utterly BORING but he did an amazing job directing the American adaptation of Dragon.

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Should Win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

—–

Best Actor
Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Joseph:

Congrats for the obscure inclusion of Demián Bichir in this category. For those who haven’t seen A Better Life, Bichir fights as an illegal immigrant to give his son more chances than he had. Personally, I’m still not sure how two Hollywood heavyweights managed to wrangle their way into this category but I’m not going to mention any names . . . cough, cough, Pitt and Clooney. First, I don’t think that Pitt’s performance resembled anything Oscar-worthy and that’s not because I’m one of those sports are icky gays… I actually like baseball. I just didn’t find Moneyball to be that affecting of a film. Gary Oldman, who scores his first Oscar nomination, deftly played Mr. Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but ultimately I think the award belongs to Jean Dujardin, who masterfully portrayed silent actor George Valentin in The Artist.

Michael Fassbender, who teamed up with Carey Mulligan in Shame, is a glaring snub in this category. While it’s quite possible that the NC-17 rating for Shame affected its chances, Academy members missed the boat on Fassbender’s arousing portrayal of a sex addict.

Will Win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Should Win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Should Be Nominated: Michael Fassbender, Shame

Elijah:

Let’s look at the nominees. No, seriously – let’s look at them. Swap out Gary Oldman for Ryan Gosling, and you’d have a full field of extremely attractive men.

As for the quality of the nominees, there’s no arguing that this is a solid field. All would deserve wins, though for Oldman and Demián Bichir, the nomination will be reward enough. That narrows it down to George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Jean Dujardin. Of the three, Clooney is the only one with an Oscar at home. That doesn’t disqualify him from another win here, but I’d prefer a win for Pitt in this category. His work on screen and behind the scenes in Moneyball is remarkable. Still, I think this is another category where The Artistwill dominate.

Will Win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Should Win: Gary Oldman, Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy
Should Be Nominated: Ryan Gosling, Drive or The Ides of March

—–

Best Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Elijah:

Did you know that it’s been nearly thirty years since Meryl Streep won an Oscar? She has 17 nominations in all, but the only two that she’s won were early in her career. It’s about time she wins a third Oscar…but not this time. Her work in The Iron Lady is good, but that’s what I’d say if Streep wanted to play Batman (hat tip to Modern Familyfor that idea). While I’d have no problem with Streep winning this time, I think the award will go to the (very deserving) Viola Davis, who easily managed to rise above the average-ness of The Help and provided another in a long line of standout performances. If I had one problem with the nomination, it’s that Davis’ performance feels more like a supporting performance in an ensemble piece than a lead. As for the rest of the also-rans, I do wish Glenn Close had a shot forAlbert Nobbs, though that’s more for Close’s body of work than for Nobbs specifically. And while it’s hard to argue with the field, I would’ve loved to see a nomination for Charlize Theron in Young Adult.

Will Win: Viola Davis, The Help
Should Win: Viola Davis, The Help
Should Be Nominated: Charlize Theron, Young Adult

Joseph:

I’m not on the Viola Davis bandwagon here. While she’s the heavy favorite to win, I thought Streep gave a much more affecting performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Ladyand I’m rooting for Streep. As for the rest of the nominees, Rooney Mara has no place being in this category. While I enjoyed the American version of Dragon, I thought that Noomi Rapace did a much better job in the Swedish films highlighting the emotionally contradicting title character. I thought Close’s performance in Nobbs was emotionally stunted but that is quite possibly because she’s had this character up her sleeve for over 30 years. Michelle Williams is my darling and every year I want to root for her (Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain) but I don’t think this is the role I’d like for her to win her first Academy Award for . . . though she definitely deserves one (next year, girl).

Will Win: Viola Davis, The Help

Should Win:  Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Give This Girl an Oscar: Michelle WilliamsFor ANYTHING

—–

Best Supporting Actor 
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Elijah:

Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill. Those are five words I never thought I’d see together. It’s just as well, though. Christopher Plummer has this award in the bag, and it’s a well-deserved win for him, too. A Hollywood veteran playing a man coming out of the closet late in life? Yeah, the role just begs for an Oscar, and if anyone upsets Plummer at this point, it’ll be Max von Sydow, if for no other reason than the long-standing tradition of giving Hollywood veterans without Oscars wins in this category.

Will Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Should Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Should Be Nominated: Albert Brooks, Drive

Joseph:

I’m sure people are scratching their heads sayingwait, that guy from Superbad is nominated for an Oscar? And I thought the same thing and it was only to see Hill play a serious role that brought me to Moneyball. Although he has promise, this is definitely not the role he’ll win for. Beginners, also starring Ewan McGregor, made a small splash at theaters but Plummer’s role made waves. I definitely think the award is his this year, though I cannot discount Max von Sydow’s turn as the mute renter in Loud. This is a tight race but ultimately Plummer will get the award.

Oh yeah . . . and Nick Nolte? Warrior? How many people even saw this film except to see Tom Hardy, shirtless?

Will Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Should Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

—–

Best Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help 

Joseph:

This is the year that taking a dump where you’re not supposed to scores you Oscar gold. There is no doubt in my mind that when the envelope is opened that Octavia Spencer’s name is going to be called, and if they hadn’t included Jessica Chastain in this category, I would probably be all for that but Chastain truly had the better character. Chastain, who shined in The Debt this year as the younger Helen Mirren and also starred in Terrance Malick’s Tree of Life, portrayed outcast Celia Foote with an affecting honesty. I didn’t even know it was her until after the film ended.  Big things to come for this young lady.

Also, I truly enjoyed Janet McTeer’s performance in Nobbs quite more than I enjoyed Glenn Close’s but in a tough year she ultimately loses out.

Will Win: Octavia Spencer, The Help

Should Win: Jessica Chastain, The Help

Should Be Nominated- Carey Mulligan, Shame

Elijah:

Do you want Octavia Spencer showing up on your doorstep with one of her special pies? I doubt Academy voters would want that, which is one reason she’s winning this award. All joking aside, Spencer’s inevitable win is worthy in a category that is historically more likely to give awards for offbeat performances; see Marisa Tomei’s win for My Cousin Vinny as the most prominent example in the category. If it were up to me, though, I’d give the win to Spencer’s costar, Jessica Chastain. Leaving out Chastain’s other remarkable performances this year (and God knows there were plenty of them), and you still have a standout performance here that’s worthy of the win. In fairness, though, Chastain has a shot right now at winning an Oscar (or several) for years to come, while Spencer’s win could quite possibly be her only shot ever.

Will Win: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Should Win: Jessica Chastain, The Help
Should Be Nominated: Carey Mulligan, Shame

_____

Published on February 22, 2012 in David Atlanta. Co-written with Joseph Brownell.

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