The Oscars: All bets are off

- Ramon De Veyra -

MANILA, Philippines - Earlier this week the Los Angeles Times ran a piece about a survey it conducted recently that concluded that the majority of voters in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences  you know, the people who decide who get the Oscars every year  are male, white and old. This is not exactly news. The lack of diversity is something the Academy itself isn’t too happy about. They want younger members, more women, more minorities  anybody, really, who works in the industry and hasn’t applied yet  to do so and help adjust that demographic. The image of Oscar voters as old white dudes may explain why something like Forrest Gump could beat Pulp Fiction for Best Picture, for example. Or The King’s Speech edging out The Social Network just last year.

It’s also the reason that The Artist is likely going to take home the lion’s share of the major awards come Monday morning (which is when the live telecast of the Oscars airs locally). It’s difficult to weigh in on how deserving The Artist is. Philippine audiences haven’t seen the film because it hasn’t been released locally, and likely won’t be, even if it did win Best Picture. Local distributors aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to take a financial risk on a black and white, silent film that’s a throwback to the glory days of Hollywood most audiences weren’t even alive for, and starring no one the average moviegoer knows, to boot. All we have to go on is the acclaim and awards the film’s received from other bodies, like the Hollywood Foreign Press (the Golden Globes) and the Producers’ Guild, which basically means it’s going to win Best Picture.

Is it finally time to give George Clooney his Best Actor Oscar?

The Artist and another nominee for Best Picture, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, are the kinds of films the Academy loves to celebrate: movies about the love of movies. If ever The Artist doesn’t take it home, it’ll probably be Hugo that upsets it. The only other serious contenders are Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, both indie darlings.

Best Director will probably go the way of The Artist’s Michel Hazanavicius, as well, though Woody Allen has an underdog chance. Scorsese won it too recently with The Departed.

As anybody who bets on their office Oscar pool knows, the acting categories are where the real action is. This year’s are tricky; maybe only Best Supporting Actor is a lock.

Among the nominees for Supporting Actor are two veterans: Christopher Plummer (for Beginners) and Max Von Sydow (for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close). The Academy loves to give awards to their elder statesmen (especially since most of them belong to that category to begin with), so it’ll be down to these two. But c’mon, it’s Captain Von Trapp! Plummer’s got it in the bag.

In Supporting Actress, while I’d love to see Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy take it home, just to see an Oscar go to a comedy-related nominee, all signs point to The Help’s Octavia Spencer.

Can Woody Allen’s return to form Midnight In Paris snag more than just the Original Screenplay Oscar?

As they do towards Viola Davis in the Best Actress category, as well. Looks like that’s where The Help’ll do its damage. Still, don’t discount the prospect of Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady [not, sadly, part of the Iron Man series]) repeating her surprise Golden Globe win. While I’d love to see Rooney Mara’s wire-taut performance in The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo get a win, they just gave it to a young actress last year (Black Swan’s Natalie Portman), so that’s a long shot at best.

As for Best Actor, well, The Artist’s Jean Dujardin has a lot of momentum going for him. He carries practically the entire film, and without dialogue, at that. Still, the Academy loves them some George Clooney, and it feels like it’s his time. Plus, they know who he actually is, and did I mention how the Academy loves them some George Clooney? They do.

As for some of the other awards: Original Screenplay to Woody Allen, Adapted to The Descendants. Emmanuel Lubezki’s breathtaking work in The Tree of Life for Cinematogaphy. Good luck on your bets! Remember, when it comes to documentaries, always go for the one on the Holocaust.










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