The Envelope's Gold Standard columnist Glenn Whipp is sweeping through all 24 Oscar categories this week, predicting the winners. Check previous posts for tips on marking your Oscar pool ballots for the music categories; short films; sound races; animation, documentary and foreign films; visual crafts; and the screenplay and editing races.
Here, a look at the final two categories -- picture and director -- which will likely bring some serious noise for “The Artist.”
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
“Midnight in Paris”
“The Tree of Life”
And the winner is … “The Artist.” It became ridiculously popular to compare this year’s best picture race to the Republican presidential primary, casting “The Artist” as the middling Mitt Romney-like candidate that nobody particularly loves but who will somehow end up winning, much to the consternation of True Believers across the land.
The problem with this analogy is that while you might be hard-pressed to find a passionate Romney enthusiast outside his own immediate family, quite a few people truly love “The Artist,” among them folks who aren’t easily won over by nostalgia or charming trifles. The New York Film Critics Circle gave it best picture, as did numerous other critics groups. Those Cannes snobs nominated it for the Palme d’Or and gave the dog, Uggie, a special prize. Yes, the movie’s box-office has been slight, unless you consider that it’s a silent movie imported from France! Given those peculiarities, it has practically put up “Harry Potter” numbers.
The Producers Guild win all but sealed the deal. Back-to-back best picture winners for Harvey Weinstein. And he has Paul Thomas Anderson, David O. Russell and Quentin Tarantino lined up this coming fall. Let the backlash begin!
Unless … The backlash swings into action early. Then maybe enough voters thought that the pitch-perfect, contemporary family dynamics at the heart of “The Descendants” merited a win. Hey, it is the only nominee not set in the past.
“The Artist,” Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants,” Alexander Payne
“Hugo,” Martin Scorsese
“Midnight in Paris,” Woody Allen
“The Tree of Life,” Terrence Malick
And the winner is … Since the Directors Guild winner has taken this Oscar 57 times in its 63-year history, relative newcomer Hazanavicius (he’s practically a toddler compared with most of the rest of this field) wins over the worthier likes of Scorsese and Malick. Too bad last year’s bridesmaid, David Fincher, won’t be at the bar to offer consolation.
Unless … Voters name “The Artist” best picture, but decide there’s room enough to honor that other nostalgic love letter to Hollywood’s past, "Hugo."
-- Glenn Whipp
Photo: Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo in "The Artist." Credit: Weinstein Co.