Academy Awards Preview

 It’s hard to put a general theme on this year’s Academy Award nominations. The big categories – Best Picture, Actor/Actress in a Leading Role, Actor/Actress in a Supporting Role, Directing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay – are split evenly down the middle between the average Oscar period pieces and political dramas, and the unusual and/or nouveau. 

            Judging from early February’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, the forerunners of the Best Picture race are The HelpThe Artist, and The Help again. The Descendents is heavily nominated – in both awards ceremonies – but lacks any sort of popularity outside of the circle of Hollywood elite. This shouldn’t surprise anyone; a story about privileged land baron’s family caught in a boating accident was bound to not garner much sympathy in the year of the 99%.

            Tree of LifeBridesmaids, and My Week with Marilyn are all acclaimed and popular films in their own right, but too polarizing, not-well-rounded, and completely expected, respectively. Tree of Life has a good shot at winning Cinematography, but doesn’t gain many points for its narrative structure.

On the flip side, Bridesmaids was notorious for its witty one-liners and introduction of raunchy, vulgar women to the mainstream movie-going audience, but was also filled with rookie mistakes in plot-holes, syncing audio and video, and other basic writing and editing mistakes. 

And My Week with Marilyn just fell on the predictable side. The facts that Marilyn Monroe’s suicide recently met its 50th anniversary and that the film was a period piece serve as enough reference as to why the film met less favorable box office reviews than its contemporaries, despite how, arguably, good of a movie it may be. It’s the kind of film that the general public acknowledges as “pretty good,” with actors who all-around “pretty good,” and with a plot that is “kind of interesting”; the kind of film you see once, nod in approval to, and never reflect upon again.

Courtesy of Flickr User cliff1066™
In short, The Artist and The Help are the most likely to rack up the most golden statuettes in the main categories, as they both have managed to garner both critical acclaim and wide popularity. While The Helpcan’t quite be considered as innovative and fresh as The Artist, the general female, middle-class public has been enamored by it for months. Also, its performance by Viola Davis was notable. Although The Artist may not have carried the same polished, fluffy political message as The Help, it was undeniably a clever, unusual film this year, and it would be a shame if it did not win Best Picture.