Oscar 2011: Best Director, Best Picture

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After the lead acting awards have been given, the suspense will be over tonight. The Best Picture and Best Director awards are dead solid locks.

The favorite for Best Director is Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist, a film that has steadily built momentum since it premiered at Cannes in May. This marks the second year in a row that a comparative unknown will win this award. Why am I so sure? Hazanavicius won the DGA award, which is one of the most certain indicators of an Oscar.

The rest of the nominees, an august group, don’t stand a chance. If, for some reason, I’m wrong, I’d be at a loss to name the winner. Perhaps Martin Scorsese for Hugo, but that he finally got the nonwinner monkey off his back five years ago there isn’t a swell of sentiment behind him. When the awards talk started, I thought that Alexander Payne might have been the winner for The Descendants, but that film has lost whatever steam it might have had.

The other two nominees won’t sweat losing, as they won’t even be there. Woody Allen, director of Midnight in Paris, and Terrence Malick, for The Tree of Life, are consistent no-shows at award shows. Allen will win for Best Original Screenplay (the first to win that award three times), while Malick is so camera-shy that there appears to be only one photo of him, used over and over again in magazines.

Will win: Michel Hazanavicius

Could win: No one else

Should win: Terrence Malick

Should have been nominated: Bennett Miller, Moneyball

To handicap the Best Picture race, one should eliminate any film that does not have a director nomination, which takes out Moneyball, The Help, War Horse, and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Since 1932, only one film, Driving Miss Daisy, has won a Best Picture Oscar without getting a Best Director nomination. Then, you can eliminate the films that don’t have a Screenplay nomination, which knocks out The Tree of Life. The last film to win an Oscar for Best Picture without a screenplay nomination was Titanic. Finally, you can knock out films that don’t have a Best Editing nomination, which knocks out Midnight in Paris. The last film to win in that instance was Ordinary People.

The films that are left are The Artist, Hugo, and The Descendants. Here, look to one of the more reliable matchups in Oscar history: whomever wins
Best Director, that film wins Best Picture, and I see no reason to see a
split this year. I will admit I’m puzzled by the enthusiasm for The Artist, which
is an amusing trifle, but apparently the audacity of making a black and white
silent film in this day and age has impressed a number of people. It was
a pleasant enough experience, but as the years go by it will be one of
those Best Pictures that people look back and say, “WTF?”

Hugo, despite a win for Scorsese at the Golden Globes, has never gained traction during awards season, and, as mentioned, The Descendants was set up to be the favorite, but didn’t catch on. If you came from the future and told me that The Artist didn’t win, I think the winner might be The Help, due to it being a favorite among actors (it won the SAG award for Best Ensemble). It would set Oscar ninnies back on their heels, though, since it would be the first Best Picture without a Director, Screenplay, or Editing nomination since Grand Hotel.

Will win: The Artist

Could win: The Help

Should win: Midnight in Paris

Should have been nominated: Take Shelter

Here is my complete slate of predictions:

Best Picture: The Artist

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Best Actor: Jean Dujardin

Best Actress: Viola Davis

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer

Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants

Best Foreign Language Film: In Darkness

Best Animated Film: Rango

Best Cinematography: The Artist

Best Editing: The Artist

Best Art Direction: Hugo

Best Costume Design: The Artist

Best Song: Real in Rio

Best Musical Score: The Artist

Best Documentary Feature: Paradise Lost 3

Best Documentary Short Subject: God is the Bigger Elvis

Best Makeup: The Iron Lady

Best Animated Short Subject: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Best Live Action Short Subject: The Shore

Best Sound Editing: Hugo

Best Sound Mixing: Hugo

Best Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

5 responses »

  1. The last couple years, I’ve written a “Who Should Win” column for the Oscars. But this year I care so little about any of the categories that it hardly seems worth the bother.

    So I’ll just say that I’d vote for Hugo and be done with it.

  2. Haven’t even seen half of the nominees this year.

    And not to be too negative about it, since I get the feeling there’s some kind of backlash building up against its win already, but I can honestly not even be bothered to watch The Artist.

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