It's that red-carpet-and-celluloid time of year again -- the Academy Awards are set to honour films that were a cut above the rest. 2011 was an odd year for the film industry -- there were plenty of watchable movies, but very few great ones that will go down as timeless pieces of art. One of the more noticeable themes from movies this year was a return to the early years of filmmaking -- The Artist, Hugo and My Week with Marilyn headlined a multitude of films that paid homage to the past.
For those who will be experiencing the tears and thank-you speeches in sweatpants and slippers instead of haute-couture attire, the Gauntlet has compiled a few Oscar predictions -- with own award categories thrown in -- suitable for both amusement or bet-placing purposes. Whatever your goal, use them wisely.
Nominees: The Artist; The Descendants; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close; The Help; Hugo; Midnight in Paris; Moneyball; The Tree of Life; War Horse
Who should win: The Artist
Who will win: The Artist
The Academy is trying a new thing when it comes to the BP race -- this year, only movies that received first-place votes were included, and after a painstaking process only nine films made the cut. The race is really between three films, however. Golden Globe winners The Artist and The Descendants, and Martin Scorsese's Hugo (which leads with 11 nominations) all have a chance to take home the prized trophy at the end of the night. The Descendants is a clever dramedy with great acting and a smart story, but the decision will most likely come down to Hugo or The Artist, two movies that are reminiscent of the golden era of filmmaking.
Nominees: Woody Allen; Michel Hazanavicius; Terrence Malick; Alexander Payne; Martin Scorsese
Who should win: Terrence Malick
Who will win: Michel Hazanavicius
The function of a director is to envision what a screenplay could look like on-screen, and to execute that vision by getting the most out of their entire crew. Terrence Malick's work in The Tree of Life is a beautifully crafted theological masterpiece. Though often boring and sometimes scattered, it's hard to argue that The Tree of Life is not the most visually courageous piece of art this year. The comparisons to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey are on the money, and this could end up being one of the few timeless films that comes out of 2011.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominees: Demian Bichir; George Clooney; Jean Dujardin; Gary Oldman; Brad Pitt
Who should win: Demian Bichir
Who will win: Jean Dujardin
Of all the major categories, this one looks to be the most wide open. Clooney and Pitt have been here before and therefore look to be the frontrunners, but the other three nominees would all be worthy of the win. Dujardin shows an incredible range in his performance, Oldman could possibly gain sympathy votes because of his outstanding career as a character actor and Bichir delivers the most gripping performance of all the nominees. Anything is possible.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominees: Meryl Streep; Viola Davis; Michelle Williams; Rooney Mara; Glenn Close
Who should win: Rooney Mara
Who will win: Viola Davis
This category is nearly as unpredictable as the Best Actor race. Close's cross-gendered character is gimmicky. Rooney Mara's transformation is astounding. Michelle Williams's "Marilyn" is captivating. Viola Davis's heartbreak is gut-wrenching. Meryl Streep's bitchiness is masterful. Suffice to say that any of these women (excluding Close) has a chance to be victorious.
Biggest Oscar Surprises
While the two nominations for Bridesmaids were unexpected, they were met with resounding support from the public and critics alike. Rooney Mara's nod for Best Actress and Jonah Hill for Best Supporting Actor were on very few prognosticators' lists, but left a smile on many moviegoers' faces.
Biggest Oscar Snubs
For a film to be on everybody's top-10 list and not be nominated for Best Picture is, at the very least, a travesty. Drive was a meticulous violent arthouse thriller that didn't seem to strike a chord with Oscar voters. Both Albert Brooks's portrayal of L.A. mobster Bernie Rose and Ryan Gosling's performances should have won them Oscars. Unfortunately, the Academy didn't see it that way, and their snubs simply add to the shock of a near shut-out for the critically acclaimed Drive.
Best Overall Year
Ryan Gosling shines in The Ides of March, disturbs in Drive and charms in Crazy, Stupid, Love, showing why he is considered by most as the fastest rising stars of our generation.
Worst Movie of the Year
Lazy acting, uninspired humour and an absurdly frustrating storyline that rips off Indiana Jones 4 (and that's saying something), made Your Highness the worst movie of the year.
Best Scene of the Year
In most great movies, there's always a scene that leaves a lasting mark as you watch it. Out of context, this seemingly stationary scene in The Tree of Life might simply look like your standard screensaver. But along with its carefully orchestrated score, this 8-minute scene, chronicling the creation of the earth, is simply breathtaking.
When X-Men: First Class was first announced, the awaiting public might have been disappointed at the absence of Hugh Jackman. There were no plans to include Wolverine in the picture. But low and behold, that tight-lipped secret became one of the greatest cameos of all time. In a 24-second clip where Magneto and Professor X are recruiting X-Men, they stumble across Jackman at a bar. They simply walk in, and he acknowledges them with, "Go fuck yourself."
Best Indie Film of the Year
As low-budget films go, there is one that deserve recognition this year. Attack the Block is a British film that boasts Nick Frost as its biggest star, but it should have better marketed its greatest weapon -- a young gang of ruffians who defend their block against an alien invasion.