The 84th Academy Awards ceremony airs Sunday at 8:30 pm on ABC, following an hour and a half show titled Oscars Red Carpet Live (you'll have to fill me in on the red carpet goings-on, as I am committed to doing absolutely anything other than listening to insipid chatter and ogling evening gowns during that time frame).
Now about the actual awards show, let's hope somebody behaves outrageously enough to keep us alert during the slow-as-molasses technical awards section. A dig at another celebrity, a radical political or religious statement, an "accidental" swear word, obvious drunkenness, exposed genitals - I don't care, just give me something stimulating!
With that, let's take a gander at the major awards.
Forget Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (too manipulative and gloppy), Midnight in Paris (too insouciant), Hugo (too stiff) and War Horse (too many Disney-esque moments mixed with the harrowing war story). The Help will win acting awards, but the film's sitcommy sections and "white girl saves the day" premise put off a number of people. The Tree of Life won't win - Academy voters will be afraid that the vocal minority that hated the film would beat them up. Which brings us to Moneyball (very entertaining, but so many statistics!), The Descendants (excellent, but the morbid aspects may bum out some voters) and The Artist (charming and richly entertaining, but you have to read it!). I'm opting for The Artist, partly because it's won most every other major groups' awards, but mostly because it transcends the gimmick factor.
Should Win/Will Win: The Artist
BEST ACTORDemiam Bichir, A Better Life
Based on other recent major awards, this appears to be a race between George Clooney and Jean Dujardin (poor Brad Pitt - what does the man have to do to finally get a trophy for his substantial number of fine performances?). I favor Clooney, just barely, but there is a contingent that considers his suave nature to be smug, plus they're jealous because he's so good looking. Dujardin is a new face for Americans, but he won over viewers with his portrayal of a self-absorbed, but extremely likable silent film star.
Should Win: George Clooney
Will Win: Jean Dujardin
BEST ACTRESSGlenn Close, Albert Nobbs
At first, Meryl Streep was considered a shoo-in for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady: major historic figure + British accents + another knockout performance by the incredible Streep = big gold trophy. But the movie wasn't nearly as memorable as Streep and a lot of people can't stand Thatcher, which opens the door to Viola Davis, who has done exceptional work in television and film for years. Even better, a vote for Davis is a way to honor the maids and nannies celebrated in The Help without reinforcing its "whites to the rescue" premise.
Should Win/Will Win: Viola Davis