February 26, 2012

Oscars '12: Who will, or should, be the winners

There are leading contenders, but that doesn't preclude an upset.

By JULIE HINDS / McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

20111230_ AlexLibby
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Alex Libby glances at a poster for "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," a nominee for Best Picture. Libby, of Freeport, was an assistant director on the film.

Press Herald file photo

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Asa Butterfield, left, and Jude Law, right, in a scene from Best Picture nominee "Hugo."

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures / GK Films

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WHEN: 7 p.m. today

WHERE: ABC. Locally, the ceremony will be broadcast on WMTW (Channel 8). 


WATCH trailers from the nine best picture contenders at www.pressherald.com/life/oscartrailers2012.html 


FOLLOW features editor Rod Harmon on Twitter as he tweets during the broadcast Sunday @RHarmonPPH



• Kenneth Branagh, "My Week with Marilyn"

• Jonah Hill, "Moneyball"

• Nick Nolte, "Warrior"

• Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"

• Max von Sydow, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"

WILL WIN: Christopher Plummer is on an award-season winning streak. The veteran actor is finally being acknowledged by Hollywood with a rush of appreciation for a lifetime of achievement, as well as his understated portrayal of a senior citizen who comes out as a gay man in order to live his final years with grace and honesty. All these years later, Capt. Von Trapp is still an imposing presence.

SHOULD WIN: Plummer is a fine choice, but if it's time to single out a legend who's never won, why not the venerable Max von Sydow, who is downright amazing as a man swaddled in a grief that's rendered him mute?

It would be an extreme, incredible upset by an actor in a flawed movie, but he deserves it. 


• Berenice Bejo, "The Artist"

• Jessica Chastain, "The Help"

• Melissa McCarthy, "Bridesmaids"

• Janet McTeer, "Albert Nobbs"

• Octavia Spencer, "The Help"

WILL WIN: Octavia Spencer, for her captivating blend of humor and suppressed fury as a maid with an unforgettable recipe for those who've wronged her. It's the sort of breakthrough performance that makes Oscar voters sit up and pay attention.

SHOULD WIN: Janet McTeer, who quietly steals her movie from star Glenn Close. As a woman impersonating a man in late 19th-century Ireland in order to earn a living wage, McTeer's immersion in male facial expressions and body movements is beyond impressive. Every time she's on screen, she brings to life a depressing character study. 


• Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris"

• Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"

• Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life"

• Alexander Payne, "The Descendants"

• Martin Scorsese, "Hugo"

WILL WIN: Michel Hazanavicius. By relying on the silent treatment, the French director created a visual treat and a splendid reminder of how movies seduced the world back in the days before sound, much less computers, ruled the industry. It's filmmaking stripped down to its essentials, and yet it's sprinkled with the flair of a cinematic maestro.

SHOULD WIN: Alexander Payne, who's become a bard of contemporary American life. No other director has populated so many movies with such a rich tapestry of characters and such respect for the earth-shaking dramas of ordinary lives. Payne has a Shakespearean appetite for the complicated nature of human behavior and an internal GPS for locating the truth of a situation. 


• "The Descendants," Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash

• "Hugo," John Logan

• "The Ides of March," George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon

• "Moneyball," Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, story by Stan Chervin

• "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan

WILL WIN: Somebody turned a saga of pro-sports financing into a meditation on mid-life ambition, stunted dreams and the pursuit of happiness? You just hit a grand slam, "Moneyball" guys.

SHOULD WIN: As much as we'd like to tout "The Ides of March," a movie with snappy dialogue and bold cynicism, "Moneyball" is the clear MVP. It's a throwback to the 1970s brand of filmmaking that took its time to tell a story and immersed itself in the language of real situations; in this instance, a Major League Baseball organization. 


• "The Artist," Michel Hazanavicius

• "Bridesmaids," Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig

• "Margin Call," J.C. Chandor

• "Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen

• "A Separation," Asghar Farhadi

WILL WIN: "Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen's humorous rumination on the intellectual implications of the grass always being greener in another era. Hollywood admires Allen's ability to dream up a minor masterpiece every 10 years or so, like this time-traveling truffle that allows the Allen substitute, Owen Wilson, to rub shoulders with Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

SHOULD WIN: "Bridesmaids." With deceptive ease, Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig created female characters who were believable and outrageous. They deftly illustrate why the best comedies are grounded in real-life responses to envy, insecurity, self-delusion, self-loathing and, eventually, acceptance – the five stages of hilarity.

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Additional Photos

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Viola Davis, left, and Octavia Spencer, right, are nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, for their roles in "The Help."

Image courtesy of Dreamworks Pictures

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George Clooney as Matt King and Shailene Woodley as Alex in "The Descendants." Clooney is up for Best Actor for this movie, and for Best Adapted Screenplay for "The Ides of March."

Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures


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