Let’s keep it honest. I’ve watched about three-quarters of the nominees, I’ve soaked in the buzz, I suppose. About a day to go and this is when I thought I’d get word out on my own. An urge, the thought of having had a say, of having said something before it doesn’t matter anymore. Everyone wants to talk about the Oscars, good or bad. I’ve had my opinions, and I took the month to validate them. Some changed, some diversified. Some things just got unclear, too personal to have a say.
I’m only going to be discussing those sections where I have enough to corroborate. As for the rest, I shall humbly recline from saying anything. In all, the nominations, in my opinion, have been fair enough. I mean, they could’ve been worse, so it’s typical Oscars. Could’ve been worse, but just about managed to keep its dignity intact. Still, no ‘Shame’, no ‘Drive’, no ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene.’ No ‘Melancholia’, for the depression buffs, even though for me it’s a good thing.
Without ado, let me get on with my opinions on the nominees as well as predictions on who I think would win, and who I want/wanted to. The pattern would be self-explanatory, I guess I wouldn’t have to walk you through it. Let me let you enjoy your walk by yourself.
I know ‘the Artist’ won everything else, but all roads point to ‘Hugo,’ I think. The sad part is I haven’t watched it to have a clear opinion. ‘the Help’ had won Screen Actors’ Guild, ‘the Descendants’ had a Golden Globe win too. ‘A Separation’ would have been a major threat and has conveniently been excluded. I really don’t have a preference for Best Film, but I hope they don’t go ahead and honour Artists for the Filmmaker category, that sounds strangely sacrilegious.
Alexander Payne. ‘the Descendants’ is not going to win anything else, it’s not half as loaded as his brilliantly-written ‘Sideways’ to win the Screenwriters’ prize. Besides, face it – this is the single most impressive film that’s almost entirely a director’s credit as the Actor supports. Payne is one of America’s finest filmmakers of this generation; he deserves it more than anyone else. It would have been a different story had Nicolas Winding Refn (of ‘Drive’) been nominated. I’d still vouch for Payne. For ‘the Descendants,’ to me, has been the single most delightful movie event of the year.
One of the most substantial set of nominees in any award category this year. Michael Fassbender (for ‘Shame’) replaces Brad Pitt’s formality, and I think it’d be THE perfect set. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (in ‘50/50’) played an important role as well. Anyway, I think it’s between Gary Oldman (for ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’) and George Clooney (for ‘the Descendants’). Clooney carried an entire film on his shoulders and well while Oldman played it simple and played it smart at that. Demian Bichir (for ‘A Better Life’) could be the buffer – the Surprise package. I vouch for Clooney but something tells me Oldman would bag it. He’s the virgin. Please no Dujardin. I need a break.
The Weinsteins make reservations – one for the money and one for the time – displacing two of the defining performances of the year. Elizabeth Olsen for ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’, who gets my personal Oscar, and Kirsten Dunst for ‘Melancholia’, which, easily, was a career-best. Rooney Mara is the wrong young girl and it doesn’t make sense to nominate Meryl Streep anymore. Glenn Close was refreshingly subtle in ‘Albert Nobbs,’ although I think it’s a toss-in between Viola Davis (for ‘the Help’) and Michelle Williams for nailing her version of Marilyn Monroe in ‘my Week with Marilyn.’ Intuition points at Ms. Davis while my heart goes out for Michelle. She should have won it last time. She should win it this time too. Or so I think.
I haven’t watched enough movies to take a stand.
Hailee Steinfeld (for ‘True Grit’) was shifted from ‘Best Actress’ to ‘Best Supporting Actress’ last time so that she’d stand a chance – something she didn’t have against Ms. Portman sweeping the floors everywhere. Berenice Bejo (for ‘the Artist’) looks like this year’s version. It's a Weinstein move. Anyway, Octavia Spencer (for ‘the Help’) seems a universal favourite in a Dreamworks sweep. No Carey Mulligan (for ‘Shame’ and ‘Drive’). No Charlotte Gainsbourg (for ‘Melancholia’). Jessica Chastain for the wrong movie. I was impressed with Janet McTeer’s performance in the offbeat ‘Albert Nobbs.’ She gets my personal vote. Chastain gets my heart. And I go with Ms. Spencer as most probable, safely said.
‘A Separation’ in its only big nomination (aside from ‘Foreign Language Feature’) in a bunch of the inconsequential and the lacklustre. ‘Midnight in Paris’ is second best. This ought to be the most unoriginal year in the history of the Oscars; the year of adaptations and second-takes. ‘Win Win,' the American feel-good film of the year, hasn't been counted in. Or ‘50/50,’ the autobiography of a cancer-survivor who still hasn’t lost it in life. Disappointing. I’m glad the Iranian sneaked in. Otherwise, we’d have nothing to show.
Why do I think ‘Moneyball’ doesn’t deserve a single place in the Oscars this time? Because I haven’t watched it, perhaps. Nevertheless, Aaron Sorkin, who wasn’t rewarded last time when he stretched a one-liner story to film’s length with ‘the Social Network’ needed mention, I suppose. ‘the Help,’ I thought, was tidy. Like ‘the Ides of March’ or ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ – Tidy. That’s about it. Both my ignorance and precedence points at John Logan and his ‘Hugo.’ Alexander Payne needs the bigger prize. Pals Nat Faxon and Jim Rash better excuse him for that.
A complete DreamWorks sweep, and I wonder why ‘the Adventures of Tintin’ hasn’t been counted in. Maybe a clause violation, I wouldn’t know. ‘Cars 2’ is the best. Any list without it doesn’t get my attention in any denomination. I think that’s enough said.
As for the rest, I think ‘A Separation’ deserves both the awards it has been nominated for, but that’s only because I think it deserves more. Ludovico Bource for ‘the Artist’ was succinct with his music score, but then Alexandre Desplat (for ‘A Better Life’, ‘my Week with Marilyn’ and on a darker note, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II’) has not been nominated. Or Michael Giacchino for ‘Cars 2’, two of the most important musicians of the decade. Too bad ‘Midnight in Paris’ can’t fall under Original Score. Or ‘the Descendants’, for that matter. There’s too little to decide between for ‘Best Original Song,’ there hasn’t been a worthy musical this year. I’d pick ‘Rio’ over ‘the Muppets,’ even though I love Jason Segel. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.
‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ gets multiple nominations for mixing and editing machine noises in a ‘Linkin Park’ soundtrack? Ridiculous. ‘Drive’ needs its consolation prize. So does the unnecessary effort behind ‘the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, I think. For the first time, we saw Hogwarts broken with so much fire, so convincing it touches your heart. The ‘Harry Potter’ franchise needs its recognition from the Muggle world. Nominations just don’t work anymore. ‘the Tree of Life’ can get the Photography prize, although I thought ‘A Better Life’ needed nomination. As well as Darius Khondji for ‘Midnight in Paris.’
Every critic has his Oscar dream – pre-nomination, post-nomination. Dreams, grievances; the little elation at seeing your horse win. I’ve taken my time to voice mine. Now I feel relieved. Relieved that I’ve shared, that I’ve spoken before it’s too late. And I hope you don’t sit with a clipboard and grade me on how much I’ve got it right. After all, I’m just another who waits for Wikipedia to tell me who has won.