That show felt really, really long, right? In actual running time it was average (around three and a half hours) but it felt like it took all year to watch. I’m putting it down to the horrible direction. That was a really, truly, terribly directed telecast. No sense of rhythm or pace and not nearly enough cutaways to the audience to make it worth our time. We watch for the cutaways as much for anything else. We want to see George Clooney’s face when someone makes a joke about his younger girlfriends. We want to see Joaquin Phoenix bitchfacing the host to death when he hopes Phoenix is “on his meds”. I, personally, wanted to see some cutaways to Academy bigwigs when Robert Downey, Jr., plainly annoyed, snapped, “Biggest movie of the year, but only got one Oscar nomination”.
Archive for Academy Awards
The last couple years I’ve actually done fairly well with my handicapping, but this year I am not at all confident in my picks. Too many races are too close, but there’s also a wide disparity between the movies that will win versus the ones that should win. I enjoyed Argo, I like Ben Affleck as a filmmaker and I think he’s developing into one of the most consistent and entertaining American directors, but Argo was not the best movie of 2012. It won’t even go down as the best movie of Affleck’s career. But the politics, they matter this year, even more than usual. With no clear masterpiece to lead the field and critical tastes too evenly spread over too many movies (primarily Argo, Lincoln and Life of Pi) and with Harvey Weinstein shoving Silver Linings Playbook down our throats like it’s something other than a rote, if well-acted, romantic comedy, the Oscar race turned into a dog fight. But it’s almost over. The Oscars are on Sunday, so it’s time for final predictions. Read more »
If you need a reminder at just how far Ben Affleck fell down the Hollywood ladder, look no further than his exclusion from the Best Director category at the Oscars. Sure, he’s on the Best Picture list as a producer, alongside George Clooney, but his solo effort was ignored in favor of a first-time director (Benh Zeitlin) whose movie I liked a great deal less than Argo. It’s gotta sting, Ben, but don’t worry. Your day will come. Just not yet. You’re not done paying for Bennifer or Reindeer Games yet (and you still owe me $10 for sitting through that shit pile). Read more »
I kept lamenting throughout the night that no one was cutting to Benedict Cumberbatch during the Oscars, but it turns out, he wasn’t there. He was at Elton John’s viewing party, which lets the telecast director off the hook—though not for also failing to keep a camera on Colin Firth as he walked out on stage—but then it leads me to wonder why a man who was in two nominated films, one of them a Best Picture candidate, and who is one of the hottest things happening in town right now, wasn’t there. Seating at the Kodak Theater is dicey—it’s not as big as a venue that hosts the Oscars should be and tickets are competitive even for nominated parties—but you would think someone could make room for Cumberbatch. Anywho.
The fashion was the most interesting aspect of the show, as Billy Crystal and his writing staff kept things pretty tame and the theme of the night was apparently “please go to the theater before they all close”. Between the unnecessarily nostalgic tone and the fact that the average viewer at home hadn’t seen two-thirds of the nominated movies, it made for a boring telecast. So let’s do what we do best and judge people we don’t know based solely on what they wore for one night out of their life.
I actually squealed out loud when I saw The Office and Bridesmaids star Ellie Kemper in this Armani Prive gown. The color is a dead match for her pale complexion and dark auburn hair, the gown is gorgeous, the fit is stellar, the styling is superb. Here’s how good she looks—I don’t hate her barrel-rolled bangs! This was the most flawless look of the night for me. I would not change one single thing about how she looks right here.
A close second is Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton. I’m not the biggest Williams fan—I’m always glad for a chance to mock her and her second virginity. But I loved this red/orange LV dress. I don’t even mind the peplum! I think I could do without it—if I could change one thing about this look I would abandon the peplum. But it doesn’t ruin the look for me. Besides, Michelle is much too precious to show us her bum in a fitted gown. Oh see, there you go. I can’t help myself.
It pains me to put Sandra Bullock on this list, but her Marchesa gown is awful. It doesn’t fit, the stitching around her hips is unflattering, and WTF was happening with her face. Either her ponytail was too tight (the classic Croydon facelift) or she’s hit the Botox recently. Also, her nose. What is going on with her nose. We speculated during the show that she’d had a (bad) nose job. We should NEVER be speculating that Sandra Bullock has had a nose job.
Also hurting me last night was Viola Davis in emerald green Vera Wang. I love the color her on her. Davis has such gorgeous skin and this dress makes her glow, and I’m down with her au natural hair, but I loathe the bodice on this dress. Davis has the distressing tendency to show us more of her boobs than I particularly care to see. They’re nice and everything, but I don’t need to see them. I think I could handle the skirt of this dress if the bodice was simpler. As it is, there’s too much going on and the level of exposure is distasteful.
Almost But Not Quite
I’ve got four of these this year, so let’s run them down quickly. First up, Gwyneth Paltrow in white Tom Ford. I love the gown in and of itself, I ADORE the cuff, and I’m indifferent to the cape. I like the cape in theory, and ten years ago, when G was still owning her “I’m a bitch and I’m better than you” thing, I would’ve loved this without question. But the G who writes cookbooks and blathers on about healthy living and mommyhood? She can’t quite carry off the cape.
Next up, Jessica Chastain in Alexander McQueen. I’m totally into her styling and the black/gold color combination. I’m into the cut of the dress. I’m not crazy about how much like Las Vegas brothel curtains it looks, or about how it’s fitting Chastain’s chest. The first thing I noticed when I saw this dress was how it was pinching Chastain’s underarms and gaping across her boobs. The poor tailoring is holding it back.
Which brings us to Rooney Mara in Givenchy. I am also down with her styling—especially the makeup which combines her now-trademark red lips with a softer overall effect—and I like the dress, in and of itself. Hate the fit. The top is too loose and even on flat-chested Mara it looks saggy and no one with Mara’s physique should ever look saggy.
And finally, we have Bridesmaids and Damages star Rose Byrne in Vivienne Westwood. The fit here is excellent, the back is particularly interesting, but SHE IS SO THIN IT HURTS ME. Everyone was going on about how skinny Angelina looked, but for my money, I’m more concerned about the rapidly vanishing Rose Byrne. Eat something!
The Funny Ladies – Good
Here’s how you do a peplum: Tina Fey’s custom Carolina Herrera navy trumpet gown with peplum. The architectural quality of the dress, the proportions, the way the flare of the peplum echoes the flare of the skirt—it all works. And Fey looks gorgeous, even if I don’t quite understand what’s happening with her hair.
Also rocking a good look is The Descendants’ Judy Greer in Monique Lhuillier. Greer looks sexy—the red hair is very flattering—and glamorous, and the black and silver gown is a perfect choice for someone in a nominated film, but who is not nominated herself. I love Greer. She can do no wrong.
The Funny Ladies – Bad
Ugh, Kristen Wiig, you’re killing me. In and of itself, I like Wiig’s J. Mendel gown. But Wiig has worn neutral/nude A LOT this award season, and her loose, beachy hairstyle feels out of date when the style has clearly moved toward more structured, finished looks. Wiig has been missing the mark consistently this year.
Maya Rudolph in Johanna Johnson is another miss. Rudolph, too, has been failing to impress this season, though this is one of the less offensive dresses she’s worn. However—BOOB SHELF. Anything that gives you a boob shelf is a bad idea.
Danger! Curves Ahead
Octavia Spencer’s sunburst Tadashi Shoji gown is how a curvy lady dresses. The pattern is flattering, the cut is excellent, the tailoring is superb. Spencer looks amazing. This is how you do if you’re working with more than a size two.
Melissa McCarthy in Marina Rinaldi, however, is how you don’t do. I like the color of the dress, and the shape, but I hate the neckline and the sleeves. Imagine this dress without the jeweled yoke collar and just a regular halter cut, and replace the sleeves with an embroidered bolero. See? Better, right? I will give McCarthy props for fabulous makeup and hair—she looked really pretty, but the dress did not do her justice.
Dressing Your Age – Grande Dames
Meryl Streep wore gold Lanvin and it was the exact same shade as the Oscar she won. This isn’t the greatest dress I’ve ever seen, but given that Streep is just as likely to show up in a men’s shirt and taffeta skirt as she is in a proper-styled gown, I’m down with her look. The color was particularly flattering, setting off her fantastic skin. I really need someone to ask her what she’s doing to keep her skin looking so amazing.
Another lady of a certain age who is likely to wear something totally bizarre is Glenn Close, who chose a deep teal Zac Posen number. I love it, but I bet a lot of you hate it. I love the detailing on the corset, and on the fishtail, and I LOVE that she wore a tuxedo jacket over it. I have an awesome tuxedo vest, but have been on the lookout for a good tuxedo jacket. I want Glenn Close’s.
Dressing Your Age – Little Women
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Shailene Woodley in a long-sleeved Valentino. Again, I love this but I bet a lot of you hate it. The thing is, Woodley is young and off-beat and genuinely doesn’t care to a degree that allows her to get away with wearing some of the more oddball fashions. And the styling is beautiful.
Not scoring as well but still getting points for trying is Emma Stone in Giambattista Valli. The central problem with this dress is that it is far too close to Nicole Kidman’s famous 2007 Balenciaga dress. But the secondary issue is that neck/shoulder bows are pretty much never a good idea. Kidman barely managed it herself and she’s a bona fide fashion icon. Stone is trying, she’s willing to push it, which I appreciate, but she—or her stylist—should have known this dress was ill-advised.
Leggiest Leg Award
Stop the presses—Angelina Jolie wore a black Versace gown. Surprising, I know. (Can you sense the sarcasm?) But still, she looked gorgeous, and the structured dress was a change from her usual sack. The lighter hair color suits her well, too. She looked really happy and fresh, if a bit too thin, and I was really into the bustle on the dress. But of course, it was Jim Rash (Community’s Dean Pelton) who made the night.
Princess Prisoner Bride
SOMEONE HELP HER TO BE FREE.
I called this the “worst Oscar roster in recent memory” when the nominations came out a month ago. I stand by that. In the time since then, I’ve come to realize that in almost every category, the best movie/person wasn’t nominated. In a lot of categories, there are 3+ movies/people that didn’t get nominated. We’re not picking the best of anything this year. We’re picking runners-up and honorable mentions. 2012 might as well be called “the year of the also-rans”. This is definitely a year that we’ll have to revisit with the Ethels in five years.
Which makes this a tough year for predicting winners. I think the major categories are pretty well set, but the minor ones are going to be a trap for those of us participating in betting pools this weekend. I’m not nearly as confident in my picks this year as I was last year. But, for what it’s worth, here are my “will wins” and “should wins” for the 2012 Oscars. Keeping in mind, of course, that the real “should wins” comprise an entirely different nominee roster for a ceremony taking place in an alternate universe, in which The Help received zero nominations and Drive got ten, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy got eight, Win Win got six, and Tyrannosaur and 50/50 got three apiece. Also in that alternate universe, Patton Oswalt is an Academy Award nominee. I WANT TO LIVE IN THAT WORLD.
Who will win: The Artist
Who should win: The Tree of Life
I wouldn’t have even kept Tree of Life on the ballot, but since it’s here and it’s better than everything else, I’ll give it the “should win”. I would also entertain defenses of The Descendants, though. But if you’re gambling, The Artist has this on lock-down.
Who will win: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Who should win: Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
For the same reasons as above. Would also hear cases for Alexander Payne (The Descendants).
Who should win: Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Well, the two best male performances of the year weren’t even nominated and the third best isn’t going to win. This is such a mess. How does this happen? I mean, I know how—The Fassbender’s movie was too sexy and The Gos’s too violent—but still, HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? You’re voting for the best acting performances, not passing moral judgment. Anyway, my theory that Oldman could sneak in an upset win because enough people would be reluctant to choose between Brad Pitt and George Clooney—because they have the same friends and supporters—is paying off, but not for Oldman. No, it’s that sexy French beast Dujardin who’s benefitting from the split vote.
Who will win: Viola Davis, The Help
Who should win: Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Again, we’re missing the top female performances—THREE of them—but for what we’ve got to work with, Williams is the most deserving winner. Davis was really good in White Guilt: The Movie, though, and I don’t begrudge her the win. I just wish this category was made up of the legitimately best performances, not “Aww, Glenn Close finally got that movie made” and “Meryl Streep because of being Meryl Streep”.
Best Supporting Actor
Who will win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Who should win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
I won’t argue with this one. Plummer is excellent in Beginners and he’s had this signed, sealed and delivered since last summer. I just wish Don Cheadle (The Guard), Benedict Cumberbatch (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Patton Oswalt (Young Adult) were nominated alongside him.
Who will win: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Who should win: Octavia Spencer, The Help
This is me just giving up. If Jessica Chastain was nominated for The Tree of Life, I’d say she should win this, but as this category stands, I couldn’t in good conscience vote for any of these people. I’m not even sure how this entire category happened. Had they been drinking?
Best Animated Feature
Who will win: Rango
Who should win: Rango
I’m okay with this category. Rango was solid and the animation was gorgeous. If you’re looking for an upset, though, it could come from A Cat in Paris.
Best Foreign Language Film
Who will win: A Separation (Iran)
Who should win: A Separation (Iran)
This is another one I’m okay with. I wish that Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In was nominated, but I wouldn’t have picked it over A Separation. Another slam-dunk for your betting pool.
Who will win: Undefeated
Who should win: Undefeated
This category is a travesty. The two best docs of 2011, Senna and Werner Herzog’s Into the Abyss were disqualified over stupid rules (that are probably changing anyway). This could be a close call with Paradise Lost 3, which has the benefit of being topical, as it’s about the West Memphis Three, but Undefeated is basically Friday Night Lights + The Blind Side but in real life. It’s heart warming and life affirming, so I think it wins.
Best Original Screenplay
Who will win: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Who should win: JC Chandor, Margin Call
Allen gets a late-in-career Oscar thanks to the box office success and critical popularity of Midnight in Paris, his most accessible/enjoyable movie in years. I am not a Woody Allen fan, and I didn’t hate Paris, so it was definitely a decent movie. But Chandor’s script for Margin Call is insanely good and had some of the best dialogue in 2011.
Who will win: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants
Who should win: Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughn, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
This should definitely be O’Connor and Straughn for their elegant condensation of a complex text, but I’m not going to complain about Dean Pelton winning an Oscar.
Who will win: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Who should win: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
I’m not 100% confident in this pick, but Lubezki seems to have the momentum going into Sunday, and though Tree of Life was divisive, the cinematography was widely admired. Could be a Guillaume Schiffman (The Artist) surprise, though.
Best Film Editing
Who will win: Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Who should win: Christopher Tellefsen, Moneyball
Yet another category that could be totally redone with five more deserving nominees. Working with what we’ve got, though, The Artist is the favorite but Moneyball is my personal pick. Should The Artist not come through on this early category, look for upsets in the Director and Picture races.
Best Art Direction
Who will win: Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo, Hugo
Who should win: Stuart Craig and Stephenie McMillan, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
Ferretti is a very well respected production designer and this would be his third Oscar. The odds are in his favor, but an HP upset would not surprise me.
Best Costume Design
Who will win: Sandy Powell, Hugo
Who should win: Michael O’Connor, Jane Eyre
The mid-Victorian fashions of Jane Eyre are not sexy—Jane is plainly dressed throughout the film and Rochester appears in varying staged of dishevelment. But O’Connor’s designs are spot-on and completely realistic. There’s no attempt to glamorize Jane, instead dressing her in the severe, unflattering colors and styles of a poor woman. Rochester’s suits are considerably more fashionable, but there’s a wear to them that speaks to a man unconcerned with fashion. But they are not flashy costumes and Hugo got to play in a fantastical version of Coco Chanel’s Paris, so it will win the Oscar.
Who will win: Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, The Iron Lady
Who should win: Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
I’m not sure which was worse old age makeup—old Margaret Thatcher or old Harry Potter. Still, HP 7-2 employed spot-on makeup work throughout the series, but especially in the final chapter, when Harry seemed to age twenty years in a day after the Battle of Hogwarts. Also, Voldemort’s non-nose should be enough to get this and the VFX Oscar. Should, not will.
Best Original Score
Who will win: Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Who should win: Alberto Iglesias, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Bource’s score does a lot of heavy lifting in The Artist, as it stands in for the dialogue, but Iglesias’s jazz-inspired score for Tinker Tailor evoked the dingier side of the 1970’s beautifully. It plays like a jazz recording, not a film score.
Best Original Song
Who should win: Same
There are only two nominees and one is from the Muppet movie and is written by one-half of Flight of the Conchords. The other is from Rio and sounds like a travel agency ad. McKenzie has his first Oscar well in hand.
Best Sound Editing
Who will win: Hugo
Who should win: Drive
If there’s an upset in this category, it will be for Drive.
Best Sound Mixing
Who will win: Hugo
Who should win: War Horse
I think Hugo has both sound categories pretty well locked down, but if you’re looking for an outside chance, War Horse is your best bet.
Best Visual Effects
Who will win: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
Who should win: HP 7-2
I’m predicting the Harry Potter upset here. The odds are on Rise of the Planet of the Apes but I’ve heard from enough disgruntled Academy voters that did not like the aggressive “Andy Serkis for Oscar” campaign that I think their annoyance will spill over into this category. Also, HP has been the biggest movie franchise for a decade and this is the last chance to give it some hardware.
Best Short Film – Animated
Who will win: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Who should win: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
I actually saw this one—it’s really good and it’s whimsical and artsy, which is right up the Academy’s alley.
Best Short Film – Live Action
Who will win: The Shore
Who should win: Oh my god who knows?
Best Documentary – Short Subject
Who will win: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Who should win: Um, this one?
2011 was divisive. We knew that. There’s been a lack of consensus about what was good and what was bad that’s so strongly marked many called 2011 a shit year for films. That’s not true, but it was a year that failed to produce a masterpiece (um, most years fail to produce masterpieces). 2011 had so many films that appealed to wildly different tastes that everyone knew the Oscar nominations were going to be a mess. The last couple of months have seen plenty of bitching about The Descendants—I loved it but many think it’s overrated—and The Artist—many love it but I think it’s overrated—and Hugo and War Horse come from venerable directors but neither are either’s best work (and neither will matter in five years). There was also an abundance of excellent acting in 2011, which guaranteed that each of the four acting categories would feature prominent snubs.
Where the Oscar nominations irk me this year is in their complete lack of imagination. The Academy has certain tastes that dictate a lot of the decision making, but given how split opinions were in 2011, this would have been a good year to step outside those zones and explore more options for nominees. For instance, the actors almost always nominate hand-wavy, attention-getting performances. This is how I knew Ryan Gosling, despite throwing down an amazing performance in Drive, wouldn’t get nominated—he barely said three words together throughout the film and his biggest moments were so violent you couldn’t cut them into a sizzle reel for prime time. Ditto for The Fassbender—I thought he’d get nominated simply because he turned in four wildly diverse performances in 2011, but I did worry that Shame, his best chance at a nomination, was too contained to appeal to the people who made Tropic Thunder’s “never go full retard” joke possible.
Here’s the complete list of nominees, below is the list with my corrections for the Year In Oscar That Should Have Been. (We’ll get to handicapping winners in a few weeks, closer to the ceremony.) While there are a lot of changes I’d make, there are some much deserved, surprising nominations that almost balance out the obvious idiocy of a few of these nods. Almost, but not quite.
The Artist – I didn’t love this movie but I’ll accept that I’m in the minority and let it stand.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Not in a million years. This one was bought and paid for, there’s no other explanation.
The Help – Also a big fat NO. White Guilt: The Movie is in no way one of the best pictures of the year. Best Picture of Cheaply Absolving Hundreds of Years of Racism, sure.
Hugo – Drive
Midnight in Paris – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Moneyball – Win Win
The Tree of Life – As much as I think The Tree of Life will age better than 99% of this list, I did not think it was one of the best pictures of the year. It’s cut in favor of getting down to just 5 nominees.
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo – Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris – I’ll give him the writing but Allen’s direction is not special.
It should be: Paddy Considine, Tyrannosaur
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life – See, here’s where I leave Tree. Best Picture and Best Director don’t HAVE to go hand-in-hand. There’s nothing wrong with saying a directorial effort can be better than the final product.
Best Adapted Screenplay
John Logan, Hugo – Coriolanus
George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, The Ides of March – Are you shitting me?
It should be: Hossein Amini, Drive
Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin, Moneyball – Discounted for that dumbass family subplot.
It should be: Lynne Ramsey and Rory Kinnear, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist – I can’t give it this. It’s too obviously a mash-up of Singin’ in the Rain and Sunset Boulevard.
It should be: Tom McCarthy, Win Win
Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids – Will Reiser, 50/50
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation – John Michael McDonagh, The Guard
Demian Bichir, A Better Life – A well deserved surprise.
George Clooney, The Descendants – He was good. He was really good. Better than he’s been in a while. But when push comes to shove…
It should be: Ryan Gosling, Drive
Jean Dujardin, The Artist – Look, I’ve let The Artist keep Best Picture/Director but really…
It should be: Peter Mullan, Tryannosaur
Brad Pitt, Moneyball – Bumping him down to Supporting because…
It should be: Michael Fassbender, Shame
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – HA!
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help – I’m going to let this ride because Davis was so good it was like she was acting in an entirely different, much more serious and sincere film.
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Just for never once telling us how ALOOF she is…
It should be: Charlize Theron, Young Adult
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady – We all love Meryl but please. This was not her best. This was a cartoon.
It should be: Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Best Supporting Actor
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – An understandably sentimental pick, but…
It should be: Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn – Once I saw this movie this nomination felt inevitable, but…
It should be: Alex Shaffer, Win Win
Jonah Hill, Moneyball – You know what? YES. Also, if I’m Sony marketing, I’m working on a new ad campaign for 21 Jump Street today.
Nick Nolte, Warrior – He was good. He was. The whole movie was better than advertised. But this is sentiment again.
It should be: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo, The Artist – Olivia Colman, Tyrannosaur
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids – If you’re okay going back in time to give Zach Galifianakis an Oscar nod for The Hangover, then fine. Otherwise…
It should be: Amy Ryan, Win Win
Jessica Chastain, The Help – The Tree of Life
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Guillame Schiffman, The Artist
Jeff Cronenweth, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Robert Richardson, Hugo
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life
Janusz Kaminski, War Horse – Spielberg & Co. will have Lincoln in 2012, and by all accounts, even mid-production it’s already better than War Horse.
It should be: Hoyte van Hoytema, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Film Editing
Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist – Matthew Newman, Drive
Kevin Tent, The Descendants – Here’s a prime example of Oscar groupthink. The Descendants is well made, yes, and one of the best of the year, yes, but it’s editing was not extraordinary. But because it gets the big noms, it gets the little ones by default, too.
It should be: Dino Jonsater, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Thelma Schoonmaker, Hugo – Mark Day, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
Christopher Tellefsen, Moneyball – GROUPTHINK. And yes, I’m going here, because this movie by rights should have been a mess but it was actually very well edited…
It should be: Paul Hirsch, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Best Art Direction
Laurence Bennett and Robert Gould, The Artist
Stuart Craig and Stephenie McMillan, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo, Hugo
Anne Seibel and Helene Dubreuil, Midnight in Paris – Rachael Ferrera, Like Crazy
Rick Carter and Lee Sandales, War Horse – Tom Brown and ZsuZsa Kismarty-Lechner, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Best Costume Design
Lisy Christl, Anonymous
Mark Bridges, The Artist
Sandy Powell, Hugo
Michael O’Connor, Jane Eyre
Arianne Phillips, W.E. – Madonna’s movie blows so bad not even costumes can save it. Plus, half the movie is contemporary and look at this list. Contemporary doesn’t cut it.
It should be: Anna B. Sheppard, Captain America: The First Avenger
Martial Cornville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew Mungle, Albert Nobbs
Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, The Iron Lady
Addition: Helen Barrett and Paul Boyce, Captain America: The First Avenger – Deserved for the Red Skull alone.
Best Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
Real Steel – Traditionally a category where you see bad movies, this is pushing it even by those standards. The robot boxing scenes were messy and headache-inducing.
It should be: Captain America: The First Avenger
Rise of the Planet of the Apes – And this is as close as you’re getting, Serkis.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon – An example of a bad movie with stellar effects. Don’t take out our Michael-Bay-rage on the below the line technicians, who did stellar work.
Best Original Score
John Williams, The Adventures of TinTin – 2011 was an off year for Williams, who usually churns out top score after top score.
It should be: Alexandre Desplat, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Howard Shore, Hugo – More Oscar groupthink.
It should be: The Chemical Brothers, Hanna
Alberto Iglesias, Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
John Williams, War Horse – Oh my god did I ever hate this score.
It should be: Cliff Martinez, Drive
Best Original Song
“Real in Rio” by Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett, Rio
Addition: “Life is a Happy Song” by Bret McKenzie, The Muppets
Addition: “The Star Spangled Man with a Plan” by Alan Menken and David Zippel, Captain America: The First Avenger – Poor Cap really suffered from Superhero Slight this year. It should’ve picked up a host of technical nominations and got snubbed across the board, but this is the worst one. This song is everything that Best Song is about—it’s a good piece of music that fits seamlessly into the film.
Best Sound Editing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Except for the fact that Sound Editing and Sound Mixing should be one category called Sound Design, I have no complaint with any of these nominees, except…
Best Sound Mixing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Moneyball – Captain America: The First Avenger
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Best Foreign Language Film
Bullhead (Belgium) — The Last Circus (Spain)
In Darkness (Poland)
Monsieur Lazhar (Canada) – French-Canadian isn’t a real language because Canada isn’t a real country.
It should be: The Skin I Live In (Spain)
A Separation (Iran)
Best Animated Feature Film
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fun Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Best Documentary (Feature)
Hell and Back Again – I have nothing against this movie but I’ve never heard of it and there was a major oversight in this category.
It should be: Buck
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Undefeated – Cave of Forgotten Dreams
This whole category is bullshit because three of the best docs of 2011 (Senna, The Interrupters, Into the Abyss) were disqualified through weird myopic Academy rules.
Best Documentary (Short Subject)
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Best Live Action Short
Best Animated Short
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
A Morning Stroll
If you say so.
Really, “fixing” the Academy Awards is very, very simple. But every year, the Academy turns this process into Mola Ram’s Temple of Doom ritual killing. When we say, “Make the Oscars entertaining” the Academy hears, “Make the Oscars an eleven-hour montage punctuated by moments of self-congratulation and banal banter while shoe-horning in bits meant to communicate hip youthfulness but really only show how un-hip and not-youthful the Academy actually is”.
This isn’t rocket science. Here’s an easy-peasy way to make the Oscars resemble something that might have once been semi-tolerable for five seconds, instead of something that is so unbearably unwatchable that the viewers-at-home are attempting to surgically remove their own eyeballs by hour three with sword-shaped toothpicks from the drinks table. (Note to Oscar party hosts: Never include sword-shaped toothpicks at your drinks table for this very reason.)
1) Hire an entertaining host. I don’t care if we’ve never heard of them and/or if they’re not super famous or easily recognizable to the general public. Just hire someone who is truly ENTERTAINING. Might I suggest Donald Glover and Danny Pudi from NBC’s Community? Both are comedians, both are funny and entertaining, and both are YOUNG and NOT WHITE which solves two huge problems you’ve been plagued with recently.
2) Be prepared to eat it. Sorry Academy, but it’s more fun for us at home to watch the host burn you. If you want to spend all night high-fiving each other for how awesome your lives are, great. But I don’t want to watch that. If you expect people at home to tune in, realize that we don’t like you. As individuals, we like some of you because you entertain us and we may feel that in some way you enrich us. But taken as a whole, we think you’re ridiculous. What you do is silly and yet you make fantastic sums of money doing it and you lead lives that in no way bear any resemblance to our own. OF COURSE we want to see you get taken down a peg. Get over it and just eat it. It’s more fun for us. And we’re the ones paying your bills.
3) Just say no. No musical numbers. No montages except for the In Memoriam. No bits. No banter. The show should be contained to one sheet that should look like this:
After the monologue, no more bits. If you’re hiring hosts who are genuinely entertaining, they’ll be able to patter about what’s just happened or who slipped up, etc, without it taking a lot of time or feeling forced. Truly entertaining people can JUST ENTERTAIN. Take Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law. They’re genuinely charming, funny guys—natural entertainers. They succeed as presenters because they can riff together. Presenter choices should be less to do with “presence” and more to do with “is this going to be pleasing to watch”. Stick to the rule of “natural entertainers” and say NO to everything else. You worry about the solemnity of the occasion, of cheapening what is the night that we gather to celebrate the best in film, but if you put the focus of the show on ACTUALLY CELEBRATING FILM and not pandering to your own sense of self-importance, that takes care of itself.
Three simple steps, Academy. Just three steps to producing a truly enjoyable Oscar broadcast. You’ve got to backseat your ego to get there but most of us have to backseat our egos EVERY DAY to do our jobs, so I think you can handle it for ONE NIGHT.
Here are some pictograms explaining how I felt about the fashion on Oscar Night 2011.