By Vinny Abbatecola
Soon it will be time to invite a man named Oscar into your home and with his presence comes the celebration of this past year’s achievements in motion pictures. It’s the 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony – the night in Hollywood that everyone in show business eagerly anticipates, and said anticipation gets amped up as those in attendance wait to hear what names will be called from the envelopes.
Among the diverse collection of movies this year was an ode to the silent film era, a group of bridesmaids engaged in uproariously funny shenanigans, a young boy’s adventures through a Parisian train station, an experimental look at the meaning of life and magical midnights in the City of Lights.
Best Original Screenplay Nominees: The Artist, Bridesmaids, Margin Call, Midnight in Paris and A Separation
Should Win: Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen’s comedy follows an aspiring novelist, played by Owen Wilson, whose longing to live in 1920s Paris causes him to time travel every night at midnight, allowing him to meet many of his literary role models.
It’s a story about being influenced by past artistic achievements, while also learning to be inspired by and appreciate the beauty that your own era has to offer. The film successfully creates a festive and romantic view of a city that flourishes in its bountiful art.
Best Actress Nominees: Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, Viola Davis for The Help, Rooney Mara for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady and Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn
Should Win: Viola Davis (Doubt) for The Help – This could very well be Davis’ year after her convincing performance as a courageous and strong-minded maid in The Help. Davis was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 2009 after spending just 12 minutes on screen in Doubt. If Davis was able to grab a nomination after just one scene, then she has a genuine shot at coming out on top in one of this year’s closest races.
Best Actor Nominees: Demian Bichir for A Better Life, George Clooney for The Descendants, Jean Dujardin for The Artist, Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Brad Pitt for Moneyball
Should Win: Jean Dujardin (The Clink of Ice) for The Artist – Although Clooney seemed to be the frontrunner at first, Dujardin has started to catch up after winning Best Actor at the SAG Awards. He plays a silent film actor in 1920s Hollywood who refuses to work in talkies and ends up losing everything. He transports the audience into a lost world of filmmaking, giving the era a chance to live again after all these decades.
Best Director Nominees: Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris, Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life, Alexander Payne for The Descendants and Martin Scorsese for Hugo
Should Win: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist – Since The Artist is a silent film, Hazanavicius had to make sure that each member of the cast had their gestures and expressions down pat since the movie could not rely on dialogue. Hazanavicius does a magnificent job making that happen and has created a silent film that appeals to generations that have been without such films. That’s a movie miracle.
Best Picture Nominees: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse
Should Win: The Artist – This film was a risky project from the start: a silent, black-and-white film with unfamiliar stars. As of now it has earned close to $25 million domestically. While that’s not enough to make it a hit, it’s still a respectable amount, given that the movie was only released in approximately 900 theaters.
It was the most nominated film at the Golden Globes, winning three of the six awards it was up for. With 10 Oscar nominations, it’s the movie to beat. The Artist is a golden example of being able to say so much with so little.
Although many of the major categories have predictable winners, there is still a chance for a surprise here and there, like when The King’s Speech won Best Picture over The Social Network last year. The past year has produced numerous films that deserve recognition, but until Oscar night is over, no one knows for sure which ones will go home with awards.