Mark Metcalf
Moving Pictures

2012 Academy Awards

By - Feb 24th, 2012 04:00 am
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The Academy Awards. Ho hum … are they still doing that? At the first Academy Awards, no one was invited, they just announced the awards. Now, you hear about it for a month in advance. There are red carpets and low cut gowns everywhere, and no one is bitchy about other actors for at least a week.

The first Award for Best Picture went to arguably the last great silent film, Wings. This year’s Award for Best Picture will probably go to a silent film. So how far have we come, really? The Artist probably does deserve to win. It’s a genuine feel good film and it tells a very familiar story with wit, passion, charm, and great skill. I like that it’s a low budget film, made without studio interference, and is still finding its audience. In a blue sky universe, The Tree of Life would win because it takes the art of filmmaking to a new level and makes it accessible to everyone. It is profound, disturbing, beautiful, and it demands that you watch and listen closely. It does not spoon feed you thrills; you have to think. It uses an entirely new storytelling vocabulary and it succeeds, if you give it your time.

The Descendents and Moneyball shouldn’t even be around the Awards. They are both good pictures but there are several small pictures that are much better. They are both nominated for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and should be, but it’s a toss-up. I think Brad Pitt is a spectacular character actor and he does a good, but not Award-worthy job in Moneyball. The same is true of George Clooney in The Descendents. He does a pretty good job of hiding the fact that he is a movie star, but that flat-footed run down the street in docksiders isn’t enough to warrant an award. If he was a serious actor, he would have done something with his hair. It works every time for DeNiro.

Meryl Streep will win Best Actress for The Iron Lady. She has to win. She’s been nominated more times that anyone and hasn’t won since 1983. That’s almost thirty years ago. She has to win. Viola Davis will win someday, and she should. She’s extremely good every time out, and I hope she gets to play a full-out part someday soon. Michelle Williams is extraordinary as Marilyn Monroe in My Weekend with Marilyn, but the movie isn’t even as good as The Iron Lady (which it isn’t very good either). Rooney Mara is surprising in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so good that Daniel Craig steps aside and lets her have the movie. But the part is so well conceived, I have a feeling Suzanne Sommers could play Lisbeth Salander.

Martin Scorsese did a phenomenal job outside his comfort zone with Hugo, but the Academy tossed him a bone when they gave him the Best Director Award for The Departed, which was not his best work, so they may over look him for this year’s Award. Michel Hazanavicius may win for The Artist, and he deserves it in the same way the film deserves Best Picture. Woody Allen has been gone too long and Terence Malick is too far ahead of the curve, so neither of them will win. I guess it’s the guy with the accent.

I wish Gary Oldman would win Best Actor, but not many people have seen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. It’s a great performance and such a departure from the usual operatic indulgence that he does so well. Clooney may get it just because he’s got dignity, integrity, and he’s smart without being an intellectual, at least by Hollywood standards (or he looks like he is), and Hollywood is all about appearances. He seems to be capable of picking up the Movie Star Leading Man banner that no one has carried well since Clark Gable.

One last thing: I hope Melissa McCarthy wins Best Supporting Actress for her role in Bridesmaids because it is a surprising, outside the box, dagger in your eye performance in an otherwise mediocre film. But they will probably give it to Octavia Spencer, which will make me happy too because she has labored long and hard for many years. Max Von Sydow should win Best Supporting Actor for Incredibly Annoying and Ridiculously Cloying, or whatever it’s called (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close). He is by far the best thing in the film, except for the magnificent Zoe Caldwell who virtually disappears inside the Grandmother, and Von Sydow doesn’t say a word so it will work nicely with The Artist.

I hope it doesn’t go on all night.

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