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Ed's Oscar picks

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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.

BEST PICTURE

The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Help

Hugo

Midnight in Paris

Moneyball

The Tree of Life

War Horse

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 ACTOR

Demiam Bichir,

A Better Life

George Clooney, The Descendants

Jean Dujardin, The

Artist

Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor,

Soldier, Spy

Brad Pitt, Moneyball

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 ACTRESS

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

Viola Davis, The Help

Rooney Mara, The Girl with the

Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

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

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with

Marilyn

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud and

Incredibly Close

Enjoy your nominations, Kenneth, Jonah, Nick and Max,

because Christopher Plummer is taking home the prize. A legendary actor and a

showy performance including a fatal illness - the man is a lock.

Should Win/Will Win: Christopher Plummer

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Berenice Bejo,

The Artist

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Octavia Spencer, The Help

Melissa McCarthy was wonderful in Bridesmaids and BereniceBejo was radiant in The Artist, but Octavia Spencer was so real, so distinct in The Help, it's hard to imagine her not

taking the trophy home.

Should Win: Berenice Bejo or Octavia Spencer

Will Win: Octavia Spencer

BEST DIRECTOR

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

After years of being annoyed by Terrence Malick's films, he

won me over completely with his ambitious, challenging, soul-searching The Tree of Life. A lot of people held

other opinions, though. The Descendants

was Alexander Payne's best work yet, and that's saying a lot. He could take the

prize, which would indicate a strong chance for an upset Best Picture win for his film. But much more likely is an Oscar for

The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius.

Should Win/Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Artist

Bridesmaids

Margin Call

Midnight in Paris

A Separation

Michel Hazanavicius will likely

win for The Artist, though J.C.

Chandler's Margin Call screenplay was

a doozy. Wouldn't it be a hoot, though, to see Annie Mumolo

and Kristen Wiig take the stage for Bridesmaids?

Should Win: Margin

Call

Will Win: The Artist

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Descendants

Hugo

The Ides of March

Moneyball

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Alexander Payne's screenplay for The Descendants was the

best, period.

Should Win/Will Win: The Descendants

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Haven't seen A Cat in

Paris or Chico and Rita, but how

surprising is it that Tin Tin and Pixar's Cars

2 were skipped? Of the three nominees I've seen, Rango will stomp all over Puss In Boots and Kung

Fu Panda 2

.

Wish I could comment on other categories, like Best

Documentary, but the studios did not see fit to share all the nominees with the

press. I can tell you this much - as regards the Best Foreign Language Film,

the omission of Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In is a crime. Pedro,

you were robbed!

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