Grit Blogs > The Open Book

Hollywood Spectacle Focuses on Oscars

By Jean Teller, Sr. Assoc. Editor

Tags: Oscars, Academy Awards, The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse, Albert Nobbs, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady, Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn, Michel Hazanavicius, Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Terrence Malick, Berenice Bejo, Jessica Chastain, Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids, Janet McTeer, Octavia Spencer, Demian Bichir, A Better Life, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Brad Pitt, Kenneth Branagh, Jonah Hill, Nick Nolte, Warrior, Christopher Plummer, Beginners, Max von Sydow, movies,

Jean TellerFebruary is Oscar Time, as Hollywood celebrates everything Hollywood, and the movie-goers have the chance to view the spectacle as it unfolds. Get your Oscar-watching parties planned as the 84th Academy Awards begin at 6 p.m. CT February 26 on ABC.

The 2011 nominees were announced January 24. Of course, there are a lot of categories, but most of us are only concerned with six: Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Achievement in Directing, and Best Motion Picture of the Year.

Now I enjoy hearing about the Oscars, although I usually don’t watch the entire broadcast. I often record it and then fast-forward through all the boring bits, and the overly embarrassing parts. I do like the opening numbers, the musical numbers, and hearing which film won Best Picture, and I enjoy fast-forwarding through the red carpet arrivals, just for the dresses.

So what’s all the hullabaloo?

  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close looks at events after 9/11, and the film is a Best Picture nominee for 2011. 

  The Help stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. 

  Hugo stars Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz and Christopher Lee. 

There are nine movies nominated for Best Picture: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse.

  Moneyball stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. 

 Midnight in Paris was written and directed by Woody Allen, who is nominated in both categories for the 2011 Academy Awards, and the film is a Best Picture nominee.  War Horse is a 2011 Best Picture nominee for an Academy Award. 

  Tree of Life is nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and director Terrence Malick and star Brad Pitt are also nominated. 

I’ve seen three of the nine. What about you? While I enjoyed The Descendants, I don’t think it’s Best Picture worthy; likewise with Midnight in Paris and Moneyball. A friend tells me The Help was very good, and I’ve heard good things about Extremely Loud and Hugo. The Artist is a new/old concept for Hollywood: a silent picture shot in black and white, so I’m not sure how that will fare in today’s world of more-is-better attitude. A movie about a horse in World War I seems to be out of the running even before it gets out of the gate, though with Steven Spielberg behind War Horse, it might have a shot, albeit that it’s a dark horse. That leaves The Tree of Life, which by all accounts is too long, more than a bit confusing and depressing. Sounds like a perfect Oscar match, doesn’t it?

Just kidding. I have absolutely no clue as to which film will win the golden statue.

As for Best Director, well, that’s up in the air too. Michel Hazanavicius was nominated for The Artist (he also wrote the original screenplay and is nominated for that as well); Alexander Payne is up for The Descendants; Martin Scorsese for Hugo; Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris (another nominee for original screenplay, as well); and Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life. It’s usually a case of Best Director matching Best Picture, but that’s not necessarily true. My guess, again, just a guess, is Terrence Malick – or maybe Martin Scorsese.

The acting awards are probably the public’s favorite categories. So who’s vying for an Oscar?

   The Iron Lady  stars Meryl Streep as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Jim Broadbent as Denis Thatcher. 


In the Best Actress category, Glenn Close was nominated for Albert Nobbs; Viola Davis for The Help; Rooney Mara for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady; and Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn.

  The cast of Bridesmaids includes Melissa McCarthy, far left, who is nominated for a 2011 Oscar. 

  Michelle Williams, star of My Week With Marilyn, is nominated for a 2011 Academy Award as Best Actress. 

For Best Supporting Actress, we have Berenice Bejo nominated for her role in The Artist; Jessica Chastain for The Help; Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids; Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs; and Octavia Spencer for The Help.

It would be great if one of the new nominees were to take the prize. I’m rooting for Viola Davis or Michelle Williams, and for Octavia Spencer.

For Best Actor, the nominees are Demian Bichir for A Better Life; George Clooney for The Descendants, Jean Dujardin for The Artist; Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; and Brad Pitt for Moneyball.

 A Better Life stars Demian Bichir who is nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award. 

  Tinker Tailor Solider Spy is a thriller set during the Cold War, and star Gary Oldman is nominated for a Best Actor Acdemy Award for the 2011 movie. 

For Best Supporting Actor, Kenneth Branagh was nominated for his role in My Week With Marilyn; Jonah Hill for Moneyball; Nick Nolte for Warrior, Christopher Plummer for Beginners; and Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

 Nick Nolte is nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for his best supporting role in Warrior. 

I’d vote for Gary Oldman and Christopher Plummer. I’ve seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and can attest that Oldman gives a top performance, and I have it on good authority that Plummer is excellent in Beginners.

Always of interest for me are the categories for Cinematography and Costume Design, and I enjoy the music selections too. And while there are five nominees for Original Score, only two Original Songs made the list: Man or Muppet from The Muppets, with music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie; and Real in Rio from Rio, music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown and lyrics by Siedah Garrett. It’ll be fun seeing these two numbers performed, although I’ll probably see them either in YouTube the next day or as I fast forward through the entire, probably too-long broadcast.

However you watch the 84th Academy Awards – whether it’s live or on the DVR or on the computer – remember to add a few new titles to your to-rent list, and enjoy the Hollywood spectacle.

See ya at the movies!