Ah, awards season.
The time when suddenly good films rushing to theaters, leaving us in wonder with whatever happen to the rest of the year.
The time when suddenly some good, serious actors grace cover of lifestyle magazines.
The time when we are forced to read and nod along in pretense whenever news about film X winning critics awards, or actor Y continues his/her winning streak.
Here’s the thing.
Chances are you read this note in your computer at home. That means most likely you reside outside US, or any countries that so far have had the Oscar nominated films released there.
Of course, you are deprived of the joy of knowing the films first hand, since all you can do is read about them.
Films? Read? They don’t go together. Hardly.
The other option is to rely on piracy.
Harsh truth, but everyone in many countries are exposed to this one way or another. Even then, not many films are already available in black market.
Sometimes the ones being sold are taken with crappy cameras, or having subtitles generated by Google Translate.
In other words, we are deprived of watching the films on big screen, as they are supposed to be seen.
(Hey, aren’t Oscar voters also watching films they have to vote from DVD screeners they get from studios? Hmmm …)
But thanks to the Internet, gone are the days when we were completely alien to the Academy Awards.
Oh, don’t you think I could forget when TVRI aired the time when Marlee Matlin forced herself to say “and the winner is” to Michael Douglas, Best Actor for Wall Street … only to realize the names and the film years later. Or when RCTI had Adolf Posuma in Los Angeles doing live reporting the time when, finally, Al Pacino won for Scent of a Woman.
We had no clue about the films then.
Now, with film bloggers and awards-specialist bloggers dominate and, like it or not, influence how and where the season goes, we become more familiar with each course of award seasons.
For film fans, we become expert as years go on.
For non film fans, you are likely to be overwhelmed … and that is why you need to read this note!
Nine films nominated for Best Picture, with some tenfold other pictures nominated in scattered categories can be puzzling.
But you need to catch up with your colleagues, peers, dates, flings come Oscar ceremony up to a week after; thus, I offer you a shortcut: sound bites.
What I am going to do is list several main categories (there are 24 categories in total!), and offer you one liners of information or trivia about the nominated works that will make other people go “wow! I didn’t know that you know that!” at you.
Then, as you are compelled to answer the often asked question of “so, who do you think it’s going to win?”, I offer you: safe bets.
This equals to “will win” field you see in many other prediction articles. Like the term suggests, the bets are accumulated from precursor accolades, namely other previous awards held this season, or simply guts gathered from critics.
And my personal pick, being the writer of the note. Don’t fret. Don’t be tempted.
Ready? Here goes:
1. Best Picture
“What a list, eh?! I wonder that the 10th slot would have been.”
“Wow! If The Artist wins, it’ll be the first second film to win Best Picture in Oscar’s history! The first one, Wings, won on first edition of Oscar 83 years ago!”
“Look at The Help! The only female-ensemble film here. Awesome!”
“Haven’t seen Woody Allen’s film being nominated for Best Picture since … forever! The guy’s been around for more than 40 years, wow!”
“Ew, what does Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close do here? It’s the lowest rated film among all. I checked on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s under 50%! It’s rotten!”
“I don’t understand The Tree of Life. But man, it looks good on my Full-HD 55-inch LED TV!”
The Artist. It may be made by French, but it was made in Hollywood lot and it tells about how an actor is forced to adapt to the change of technology in film industry. In shorter words, if there’s anything Hollywood approves is in rewarding itself.
The Artist. I was in awe with what the film offers: unabashed sweetness and pure, clear intention in being a full-fledged entertainment. No other films are like it, not even close.
2. Best Director
“French director is nominated? And this guy, Michel Hazanavicius, used to make James Bond parody movies? Cool!”
“This is the first time Martin Scorsese shoots a film in 3D format? Amazing!”
“Wow! Woody Allen is nominated again! The last time he was here was in 1995, with Bullets Over Broadway!”
“That Terrence Malick guy, he only makes 5 films in 39 years!”
“I can’t believe Alexander Payne was not nominated for Election. That’s my favorite Reese Witherspoon’s film!”
All eyes go to Michel Hazanavicius. He has won Directors Guild Award (a union of directors who also vote for Best Director in Academy Awards) among other precursor awards. Besides, making a black-and-white silent film is challenging enough to warrant an accolade.
Michel Hazanavicius, for creating a singular vision that makes him, all puns intended, The Artist.
3. Best Leading Actor
“I can’t believe it! Is this Gary Oldman’s first nomination after, what, 30 years of those amazing roles?”
“Who’s Demian Bichir? Wait. He’s the guy from Weeds series! A Mexican, eh?”
“This is like, what, Brad Pitt’s third nomination, and he hasn’t won one yet?”
“Wait a minute. In 6 years, George Clooney has had 8 nominations as leading actor, supporting actor, director, writer, and producer? What is he, a super hero?”
“When was the last time a French actor nominated as Best Actor? 1989, with Gerard Depardieu as Cyrano de Bergerac? Now some 22 years later, Jean Dujardin does it again with The Artist!”
Jean Dujardin. Not only he wins Screen Actor Guild award (the actor’s union that proves crucial in voting for winners in all categories), but he also proves that acting is all about expression, movement, and believability. Where else you can excel in that if not in silent film?
Jean Dujardin. He’s a class act on his own.
4. Best Leading Actress
“Rooney Mara is the girl who breaks Jesse Eisenberg’s heart in the beginning of Social Network! She’s so girlie there, and now she’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo?”
“This is Meryl Streep’s 17th nomination in 30 years. She won twice, never skips Oscar, that means she sits as loser for 15 times?!”
“Glenn Close has been nominated for six times and never won?”
“So Viola Davis stars with Meryl Streep in Doubt and now they’re competing. Interesting.”
“Hey, that girl from Dawson’s Creek can act as Marilyn Monroe!”
This is one of toughest categories to predict. Everyone either roots for Meryl Streep or Viola Davis. While Viola Davis is helped with the fact that her film is nominated for Best Picture (the only one in the category), but rewarding Meryl Streep her third Oscar after 15 losses is a nice payoff. After all, she does it with convincing performance as Margaret Thatcher, despite the film (The Iron Lady) stumbles.
Michelle Williams doesn’t look like Marilyn Monroe, but boy! How she graces the screen in My Week With Marilyn lingers longer than anyone nominated here. I wish we can give Marilyn an Oscar she never had.
5. Best Supporting Actor
“Isn’t Jonah Hill the stoned guy in Superbad? Now he’s an Oscar nominated actor? Bite me!”
“Kenneth Branagh was nominated for playing Sir Laurence Olivier, an Oscar winner himself.”
“Nominated as an alcoholic father? Does Nick Nolte play himself in Warrior?”
“Max von Sydow is the second oldest nominee ever for Best Supporting Actor. The first? Hal Holbrook. The difference? 50 days only!
“Oh no! Is Captain von Trapp from The Sound of Music is gay?”
No, Christopher Plummer, the actor playing Captain von Trapp from the much beloved The Sound of Music, is not gay. But his role in Beginners as a gay who comes out as he turns 74 is a darling, with continuous streams of accolades coming his way in anticipation to the Oscar.
Christopher Plummer. A likeable role in a sweet film, what’s not to reward?
6. Best Supporting Actress
“Janet McTeer! Haven’t heard the name again after she was nominated in 1999 for Tumbleweeds!”
“Berenice Bejo is nominated for playing an essentially leading role. Oh, Oscar and politics!”
“Jessica Chastain is everywhere! I know she’s at least in 5 films in 2011!”
“Melissa McCarthy is that bubbly girl from Gilmore Girls, right?”
“Octavia Spencer finally gets her due! I’ve seen her in small roles like in so many films!”
Octavia Spencer is all feisty, funny, and sincere in portraying rebellious maid Minny Jackson in The Help. Critics, voters admire such showy roles, and eventually, these kind of roles will win the Oscar.
Yeah, Octavia Spencer. Her persona is like Whoopi and Mo’nique combined. That speaks a lot!
7. Best Original Screenplay
Sound bites: “Can a silent film win this category? Man, if it wins, the script must be good!” (Answer: Yes to both.) / “Woody Allen has been nominated in this category for like, what, 28 times?” (Answer: Yes.) / “Wow! Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig are the only women in the entire screenplay category!”
Safe bet: To win the Best Picture award, the film has to win a Best Screenplay award. After all, The Artist has a deft, solid storytelling.
Personal pick: Can any other (nominated) film match the thrill and the comprehensive multi-plots of A Separation that leaves us breathless one scene after another? I doubt so.
8. Best Adapted Screenplay
Sound bites: “Oh look, George Clooney is nominated in this category again after Good Night, and Good Luck.! And he’s the only one on the list with acting nomination.” / “Wait. So there are 2 George Clooney films nominated here, in one category?” (Answer: Yes. Lucky bagel.)
Safe bet and personal pick: The Descendants make grown men cry.
9. Best Animated Feature
Sound bites: “Too bad Tintin is not nominated in this category. What is it with Academy and their reluctance with stop-motion animation?” (Answer: see their eligibility rules.) / “Kung Fu Panda 2 is directed by a female animator, and now she is the highest-grossing woman director in Hollywood!” / “I haven’t heard of A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita. Any good?” (Answer: Uh, remember to try to be cool? Don’t ask the questions here!)
Safe bet and personal pick: Rango, for its witty lines.
10. Film Editing
Sound bites: “Rule of thumb: usually Best Picture winners also win in this category, except when The Bourne Supremacy won last time.”
Safe bet: Weirdly enough, The Descendants won Editors Guild awards! Drama rarely wins in this category, so let’s make Hugo a safe bet here. A fantasy flick requires a lot of editing in the process.
Personal pick: The Artist. It takes a master to edit a silent film.
—– Alright, from this point onward, pretty much you are already familiar with the process of sound bites, right? The idea is trying to make yourself cool and knowledgeable without actually knowing. With more categories to finish, it’s best if we pretend we all have seen the film, and let’s just guess the winners. Shall we? —–
11. Best Foreign Language Film
Safe bet and personal pick: A Separation (Iran). Finally, a Middle Eastern film that does not revolve around a kid losing his belongings in the village!
12. Best Animated Short Film
Wild guess: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. What a title and the surname!
13. Best Documentary Feature
Wild guess: Pina! I’m dying to see Wim Wenders picking up his Oscar again! And it’s about dance in 3D!
14. Best Documentary Short
Wild guess: Saving Face. Even if all these guesses won’t.
15. Best Live Action Short Film
Wild guess: The Shore. No idea.
16. Best Cinematography
Safe bet and personal pick: The Tree of Life, for its jaw-dropping, otherworldly beauty that transports us to the realm of thoughts. It makes the most singular visual experience of the past year.
17. Best Art Direction
Safe bet: Hugo, for its intricate and detailed sets.
Personal pick: Harry Potter an the Deathly Hallows part 2. Let’s give the franchise its due.
18. Best Costume Design
Safe bet: The Artist. The Academy feels like reviving its long abolished black-and-white costume category.
Personal pick: Jane Eyre. The gorgeous costume stands out that it feels like playing a role on its own against Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender.
19. Best Make-Up
Safe bet and personal pick for there’s hardly a contest here: The Iron Lady. Meryl Streep must have endured a great deal of pain putting on those believable make-up.
20. Best Visual Effects
Safe bet and personal pick: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. We are not overwhelmed by the effects, for we are simply taken by the whole story. That is a testament of good visual effect.
21. Best Sound Mixing
22. Best Sound Editing
Safe bet and personal pick: Hugo.
23. Best Original Score
Safe bet and personal pick: The Artist, because a silent film depends on heavy use of music, and the film here simply delivers with at a top notch.
24. Best Original Song.
Seriously? Can’t you tell? Only two nominees, which puts The Academy to shame for not taking this category seriously. It’s The Muppets, which should have been nominated for Best Picture as well.
There you go. Have fun! 🙂