Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Spherical Oscar Re-Preview

The Golden Globes awards last Sunday provide a good view into the Oscars. Not so much into the nominations, which will be announced soon and should be already fully baked, but the format of the Globes' top movie awards, though, with separate categories for Drama vs. for Comedy/Musical, helps identify the two top contenders for Best Picture, Actor and Actress. (Other categories like Director, the Musical ones, and Supporting Actor/Actress, strangely, are combined into one award; also Screenplay, which Oscar breaks into Original and Adapted).

So, it would seem that Best Picture will end up a showdown between The Artist and The Descendants, that Best Actor will be between Artist's Jean Dujardin and Descendants' George Clooney, and that Best Actress will end up being a battle between The Iron Lady's Meryl Streep and My Week With Marilyn's Michelle Williams. I would buy into each of those as a current state of play assessment.

While the movie-about-a-movie gambit in Artist plays well with Hollywood's movie industry population, I do not think its silent French accents will do quite as well as it did with its foreign press (the voters for the Golden Globes). I see it winning for Musical Score and Art Direction, but Clooney, Payne and Company winning the big awards. Director could be interesting: Marty Scorsese won for Hugo at the Globes and his chances should not be discounted, but he was (finally) recognized a couple of years ago for The Aviator, so he's not owed. Woody Allen would get some consideration--he should be nominated--but for his habit of dismissing award shows. I like Alexander Payne's chances, but I'd be thrilled if Terence Malick pulled off a surprise (for Tree of Life) and will be disappointed if he is not at least nominated.

The Globes showed that sentiment is running low for J.Edgar, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (was it too late to be considered for the Globes?) The Help would have been a serious contender for top honors except that it was released too soon. It's too soon for me to admit that my initial foray into the previews, before most of the movies were even released, missed the mark, but it doesn't look good for my advocacy of Gary Oldman in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

The award for Best Animated Film is usually a formality, but this year's contest could be a spirited one between the production starpower of Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson for The Adventures of Tintin, challenged by two critically-approved comedies, Puss 'N Boots and Rango. My kids' vote is for P'NB: that's who should decide the category (not my kids, specifically, but kids).

Finally, I think the Globes' Foreign Language film award for A Separation from Iran would be a likely indicator (though the Oscars' electorate is mostly American, and thus automatically anti-Iranian, the movie's director made a good move by choosing to make a political statement on behalf of his people--and implicitly against the regime). Wim Wenders' Pina was not nominated for the GG's but may have an outside chance in the Oscars.

Besides being a good indicator of final Oscar winners, the Golden Globes also tops off the television award season with a few select awards. The only one I want to comment on was the one given to Kelsey Grammer for Best Actor in a Series for his role in Boss. This searing drama--seen, I'd imagine, by few people on the Starz network--and Grammer's performance as a ruthless, corrupt Chicago mayor fighting off intrigues from his rivals and a hidden, debilitating illness is far from a reality show, much more dramatic than something like The Wire--almost Shakespearean in its archetypal situation and its high-stakes political battles. The show hooked me from the start and left me with my jaw dropped by the end of most of its eight episodes.

Ricky Gervais' hosting was deemed somewhat tame this year. I think it was mostly perception--the element of surprise was gone for those watching him; the talent was laying for him (and for Harvey Weinstein, who was getting abused mercilessly all night for his usual vote manipulative tactics). It seemed that the crowd of stars, starlets, and production folk were having a great time getting sloshed. More power!

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