Onward State Picks the Oscars, 2012 Edition

The Academy Awards are tonight, but if you’re looking for last-minute advice in your Oscar pool, well, we’re not here to help you. That would be far too easy. But we here at Onward State have quite the assemblage of movie buffs, and we figured it would be far more interesting to go around the table for the second year in a row and pick who we think should win. No, our votes don’t count, but they probably should, at least most of them.

So whether you’re hoping that veteran host Billy Crystal can turn the Oscars into an enjoyable 4 hour affair or that Sacha Baron Cohen crashes the red carpet to make things interesting, we hope you’ll indulge us as we walk you through our favorites in film of the past year.

Best Picture:

Alex Federman: The Artist

Though The Artist does rely on referencing other movies (check out my review here), I think that’s part of its message about the power of movies to change lives.  All the technical elements of making a black and white silent film are extremely well done, and the actors’ enthusiasm and charm is infectious. A close second is Midnight in Paris, which covers similar themes of recognizing the past and moving on.  I really liked Tree of Life, but I don’t think the various elements came together in the end (more of an experience than a movie). (Note: haven’t seen: The Help, Extremely Loud…, or Moneyball)

Devon Edwards: The Artist

To say I struggled with this pick would be an understatement. Until I started typing the last sentence, I honestly wasn’t sure whether I’d pick The Artist or Midnight in Paris. The former was technically perfect, on just about every level–the margin for error in a silent film is basically zero, and Director Michel Hazanavicius knew that, but was still playful enough with many of the elements to add an extra layer of ingenuity. While Midnight in Paris was about the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a long time, it didn’t cover as much new ground as did The Artist, nor was it nearly as ambitious–but that’s not to discount Woody Allen’s strong message at the core of what was otherwise a fairly light comedy.

David Morar: The Artist

I haven’t seen any of the movies up for Best Picture – or for most of the other awards, this year, but The Artist seems to be getting a lot of traction. Also, it’s a French(ish) movie, and that would be amazing to see happen–a foreign film winning Best Picture. ( If The Oscars were a write-in friendly kind of ballot, I would’ve gone with Bridesmaids, because damn is it funny. And also because I actually saw that movie….)

Best Director:

Alex Federman: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

If you’ve seen Hazanavicius’ previous OSS 117 spy parodies with Jean Dujardin, you’ll see that his direction takes a large part in recreating the historical look of his films. The Artist takes audiences through a large range of emotions without sound. I think that David Fincher should have been nominated instead of Alexander Payne, but maybe I’m just more partial to Fincher’s attention to detail and telling a complicated story than Payne’s more naturalistic, somewhat clichéd style.

Devon Edwards: Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris:

Yes, it’s cheating to give The Artist the Best Picture nod–largely because of Hazanavicius’ directing–and then turn and give Woody Allen this one, but, damnit, I really liked Midnight in Paris, and that’s because of the outstanding job Allen did of allowing the words to really come off the page. I’ve been to Paris, but I honestly felt like I experienced it more just by watching the film. And there’s the wonderment of Gil Pender travelling back in time–he doesn’t even question the dynamics of it, so, why should we, as an audience? Indulging the whimsy in a film filled with emotions is what made Midnight in Paris so great, and that’s pure Woody Allen.

David Morar: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
First of all, it’s Scorsese (it’s pronounced Score-seh-see). Secondly, it’s about Victor Hugo, right? (I seriously haven’t seen any of these movies, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this.)

Best Actor:

Alex Federman : Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Starting to see a trend? I haven’t seen three of the nominated actors’ movies, and George Clooney pretty much plays himself in The Descendants. Jean Dujardin is just an awesome guy, and that smile could win over anyone. I think that Joseph Gordon-Levitt deserved to be nominated for 50/50.

Devon Edwards: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Pretty impressive American film debut, Jean Dujardin. For how well he played within the genre, you’d think he’d gone on a reverse Midnight in Paris–an actor from the 20s finding himself in the modern day. It’s not surprising that he has his background in comedy, because so many of those broad strokes of emoting came straight from slapstick. Side note: Ryan Gosling was snubbed twice in this category, for Drive and for Ides of March.

David Morar: Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Moneyball shouldn’t be nominated for any Oscars, but if it is, why not give them the award. Plus, Pitt deserves to win, he’s a talented actor that doesn’t get recognized as such because of his good looks. (Wait, was this the one with baseball or the one with the robots fighting?)

Best Actress

Alex Federman: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Ok, to be honest, I haven’t seen any of the other nominated actress’ movies. I’m sure Viola Davis and Meryl Streep had good performances, but Rooney Mara definitely deserves to be in the same league. She played a vulnerable, yet powerful character, and took many risks in physically adapting to Lisbeth’s personality.

Devon Edwards: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I’d seen the Swedish films, and read the books, and when I found out that Rooney Mara was playing Lisbeth Salander, I was more than a bit apprehensive. Salander is, of course, the ultimate badass, but the vulnerability of the character is what makes her so memorable–and Mara was able to tap into that perfectly, while stepping out of anyone’s comfort zone.

David Morar: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Seriously, the movie is called The Iron Lady, and the title character is played by Meryl Streep. Do you expect anything but an amazing performance? Also, I heard that the Thatcher effect doesn’t work on Meryl Streep. (Pretty sure at this point people just jump over my picks to read everybody else’s actual picks.)

Best Supporting Actor:

Alex Federman: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Almost the same justification for my last pick, but there’s no question that Plummer deserves to win this one.  His character, an older man with cancer trying to engage in a new lifestyle and connect with his son, was very original and charming.

Devon Edwards: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Jonah Hill just got nominated for an Oscar. I mean, I’m not picking him or anything, but, like, holy crap. Anyway, I usually look forward to this category, but there weren’t many memorable performances–I’d literally pick any of the 5 nominees last year before Plummer, and he gets the award by default.

David Morar: Jonah Hill, Moneyball

I met Jonah Hill a few years back, when he was still overweight, and he was kind of a jerk, in general, and not that funny, in particular. But as an actor, he’s a talented individual. (I don’t know if he was good in Moneyball, but at least I have to be consistent, right?)

Best Supporting Actress:

Alex Federman: Berenice Bejo, The Artist

For me, this came down to Berenice Bejo and Melissa McCarthy.  I wasn’t a big fan of Bridesmaids, but McCarthy did add strong comic relief.  However, Bejo blew me away as the ultimate Hollywood up-and-coming actress with a heart of gold.

Devon Edwards: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

This is me separating the actress from the film. I did not particularly like Bridesmaids, but McCarthy’s performance was pitch-perfect, and the only thing making the movie watchable. But if she had been nominated, I would’ve picked Evan Rachel Wood, from Ides of March.

David Morar: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

BRIDESMAIDS!!!!! ‘Nuff said! (I am so proud that I can actually have an informed pick on these. It would be hilarious if my fake picks win and the one that I actually care about and want to win, will lose to like one of the actresses from The Help)

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