Awards ceremonies are usually the dullest events on Earth, but for some reason, we flock to the TV as soon as the Oscars are on.
On Feb. 26, the 84th Annual Academy Awards on ABC will judge the best and brightest films of 2011, and film buffs of the world can rejoice or rage Oscar choices.
Billy Crystal hosts the show this year, taking up the job after Eddie Murphy dropped out.
Thankfully, he’s reliably hilarious and hopefully won’t fall short of the lofty expectations previous hosts have suffered from.
The slots for best picture nominees have been reduced from 10 to nine films this year, perhaps in an effort to be more selective in a year which, frankly, had few standout films.
Of the best picture nominees, Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” received the most nominations at 11. But most of the film’s nominations, aside from best picture and directing, fell in technical categories like costume design and sound mixing.
“The Artist” is close behind with 10 nominations, but it has its foot in some of the Big Five categories such as best actor and best supporting actress, as well as the goodwill from its sweep of all previous awards ceremonies.
As of now, “The Artist” is the most likely frontrunner for a best picture win, and it is well deserved. Despite the familiar plot, the novelty and joy of having a silent film in the Oscars for the first time since “Wings” in 1929 is a strong justification for the film to win.
The frontrunner for best actor is a bit less obvious, especially after George Clooney’s surprise (and unfair) win at the Golden Globes for “The Descendants.”
The strongest contenders look to be Jean Dujardin for “The Artist” and Gary Oldman for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” While Dujardin is earning a lot of love for “The Artist,” Oldman is long overdue for a win. It’s a sad fact that this is only his first nomination in his 30-year career. A win for Oldman would amend the fact that the Oscars have been snubbing him for years.
Best actress is also a bit of a close call, with dark horse Rooney Mara getting a slot over Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”) for her performance in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Also in the running is the dauntingly talented Meryl Streep for playing Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” and Michelle Williams for her near-perfect performance as Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn.” Despite Streep giving a transformative performance every year, Williams was simply divine as the iconic Monroe. It’s hard to pick a frontrunner.
Best supporting actor will most likely go to Christopher Plummer in “Beginners,” who gave a subtly moving performance that outshone all the other actors in the film.
Octavia Spencer is winning much acclaim for her performance in “The Help” and is the clear favorite for best supporting actress.
The last of the Big Five categories, best director, will most likely go to Michel Hazanavicius as a part of the flood of love for “The Artist.”
But “Hugo” is also a contender, as Scorsese’s nomination is the only other Big Five category in which the film scored.
As with best picture, it looks like the race will be between these two films.