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Prepare for Oscar night with Paul Peterson’s picks

Read Paul Peterson's picks and rent what you can at Town & Country Video, then make your own selections with the ballot following Paul's blog. Click on the photo to visit the official Academy Awards website.

So, it’s Academy Awards time and this is the first year I’ve actually had to go to IMDB to look up what movies were playing and what they were about.
Billy Crystal hosts again – which is a bonus for the viewership. It’s the first year I really have no idea except for a few choice roles.
Let’s start there.

Best Picture nominees:
The Artist – Hollywood in a simpler time, when it made movies, even if they were French movies, that were glamour and glitz.
Hugo – Scorcese adapts the beloved children’s book and while it bombed at the box and alienated its audience it is Scorcese and some of Hollywood falls over itself to honor him.
Warhorse – Spielberg’s epic about a boy and his horse and the First World War.
Midnight In Paris – Woody Allen’s most successful commercial film to date, and Hollywood loves Woody Allen. This is a real chance.
The Help – I think this was one of the better films of 2011 and the book of course was huge and nothing sells better in La La Land than white guilt but this is a long shot.
The Tree of Life – is just too out there and eclectic and even though you almost needed a translator for Inception it makes that look simple.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – It’s the first sort of feel good movie coming out of 911 and doesn’t have Hanks or Sandra Bullock for very long but it’s a sweet film.
My guess is that The Artist takes it, but Midnight could sneak away with it. For reasons obvious, I find it hard to support either Woody Allen or Roman Polanski. Both abused roles of authority and took advantage of young women sexually. I’m just saying.

Best Actress
Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis – The Help
Rooney Mara – Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Michelle Williams – My Week With Marilyn
Meryl Streep – Iron Lady

It looks like a no-brainer. Despite a remarkable performance by all the women in this category, especially Viola Davis, Meryl Streep will collect yet another Oscar.
Her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher is incredible. She transforms herself into the woman and makes it her own. How she can go from Julia Child to Thatcher is a tribute to her range. It’s not enough to just take on the affectations. You also have to breathe life into the role. Honorable mention goes to My Week With Marilyn and Michelle Williams. While I think it’s more a case of the role rather than the performance, it’s still a good performance.

Best Actor
Demian Bieher – Better Life
George Clooney – The Descendants
Jean Dujardin – The Artist
Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt – Moneyball
I really think it’s possible that George Clooney could win the Oscar for this sprawling tale about a father trying to reconnect with his daughters after their mother has a terrible accident. It’s probably going to this Dujardin guy for The Artist but don’t rule Clooney out. He has very quietly built a body of work that is formidable. Oldman doesn’t have a shot with the remake and Moneyball lacks the gravitas required for an Oscar. Don’t know the other guy at all, or his movie.

Supporting Actor
I think this is one of the more interesting races.
Kenneth Branaugh – My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill – Moneyball
Nick Nolte – Warrior
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Max Von Sydow – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
I like Branaugh in everything and he’s also a great director. His performance in this little jewel of a picture is Oscar worthy.
Jonah Hill is graduating to more serious work than his turns in Superbad would suggest, but there’s no way Hollywood will take a comedic actor that young seriously. It’s always tough when you’re up against heavyweights like Max Von Sydow and Christopher Plummer and I think one of those two will win in truth, but Hollywood loves a train wreck and Nick Nolte could win just for being able to pronounce his name. I pick Plummer in Beginners but I’m a big fan so there’s that level of bias.

Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo – The Artist
Jessica Chastain – The Help
Melissa Mccarthy – Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer-The Help
This could be where The Artist gets another pat on the head for being so elitist and congratulatory but I think The Help is going to win a couple of awards so my guess is that Jessica Chastaine wins for the Help. For what it’s worth, Melissa McCarthy is hilarious in Bridesmaids but a comedy just isn’t going to win.

Best Director
Michael Hazavanicum – The Artist
Alexander Payne – The Descendents
Martin Scorcese – Hugo
Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
Terrance Malik – Tree of Life
I really think Woody Allen is going to win because somehow it makes the voters feel smarter. I hope not, but hoping doesn’t make it so. I saw Michael Hazavanicurn’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes and it was very loving and moving. He talked about continuing his father’s work, which is what the film is all about, but that’s hardly the reason to give him the award. The surprise dark horse – Scorcese for yet another movie no one saw.

Best animated
A Cat in Paris
Chico and Pita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss In Boots
I guess Tin Tin didn’t make the cut because Spielberg apparently, according to him, at least, can get the phone book made he has so much power.
I hope Rango wins. It was funny, clever and groundbreaking but I’m guessing A Cat In Paris wins just because it sounds like something tedious the academy would nominate.

I’m sure I’m going to be wrong on most of these but hey, it’s fun to keep track. Well, it is when I’m right, anyway.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul.

Here’s a ballot for you to make your own choices from the Academy Awards official website:

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