hugo Winter 2012 and how to relieve winter doldrums, but see what 2011 Academy Award nominations are up for consideration.

2012---The 84th Academy Award Nominations Oscar Nominations and Forward We Go
By Marie Asner
Winter 2012 and how to relieve winter doldrums, but see what 2011 Academy Award nominations are up for consideration. As per last year, the country is still recovering from weather situations including tornados, earthquakes and floods. Are people still going to see movies? Of course. While the public is seeing movies for enjoyment, the Academy is viewing movies for voting, though in-home popcorn doesn't taste the same as theater-popcorn. The Awards ceremony this year is Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012 and since this is a Leap Year, will romance play into Academy choices? Actually, yes, but in unusual ways. Here are my Oscar Picks for the 84th Academy Awards in the twelve major categories.
Best Picture and it is the third year for 10 films in this category. We go from a black and white film (“The Artist”) to a national disaster (“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”) to a fantasy (“Hugo”) to sports (“Moneyball”) to somewhat incomprehensible (“The Tree of Life.”) Love? Oh, yes, “The Artist,” “Extremely Loud,” “Midnight in Paris” and the love for a horse “War Horse.” This is an interesting year for affection.
Making a silent movie about making a silent movie in “The Artist,” was creative to say the least. It embodies body language by actors, a dog who steals the film, music for every motion and mood, plus a story to match the transition time between silents and talkies. “The Descendants” is about family relations with profanity spoken by children (my objection) and Hawaii that is an actor in the film, itself. “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” came on the scene fairly late in the year and centers on the 9/11 disaster and a key, a boy and an old man to help. “Hugo” is a film that also centers on a key, a boy and an old man to help, but this child lives and works in a train station. “Midnight in Paris” is a love story about/and with Paris in two time periods with a soundtrack to dance to.” The Help” brings us a working situation in the mid-20th century South and has a large cast. “Moneyball” is for sports or finance fans who know that the highest paid player is not always the best one for the job. “War Horse” is really an anti-war film shown through the eyes of a young man and his horse. Man may have invented machines for war, but when it comes to mud, horses come in handy. “The Tree of Life” still has me baffled, though visually, it is well done.  What happened to "Melancholia" and the end of the world? Or robbery in “Drive” or high finance robbery in “Margin Call?” Not mentioned by the Academy. My choice for Best Film is “The Artist.”
Best Director has six nominees. Michel Hazanavicius directed a cast that had to use body language to portray their characters, plus working with a dog. He made it look easy. Woody Allen brings the transition of present-day Paris smoothly to an earlier Paris with literary characters in the path. Terrence Malick takes the Earth’s creation (is that what it was?) and mixes it with the trials of a family. Alexander Payne has the job of working with a star cast against the backdrop of a star state. Who, as an actor,  can compete with an Hawaiian beach? Martin Scorsese, in "Hugo,"  tells a children’s story with finesse and works the tightrope between a child actor and an adult actor in a train station. Steven Spielberg also works with an animal(s) in “War Horse,” and this has to be the best looking horse since the one who played “Secretariat.”  War is, indeed, hell on everyone, including families and animals.  What happened to Bennet Miller for “Moneyball,“ or David Fincher for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” or Tate Taylor for “The Help?“ My choice?  Michel Hazanavicius for directing “The Artist” and bringing black and white and silents into focus.
Best Actor has Brad Pitt in “Moneyball” as a manager who tries something new to revitalize his team. Gary Oldman takes on the spy world in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” one of the slowest movies out recently. George Clooney in “The Descendants” shows us a man conflicted between raising children and caring for a seriously injured wife. Jean Dujardin gives us a man trapped by himself in the silent film era, afraid to venture forth with a voice. A smaller film that came out earlier in the year, Demian Bichir in “A Better Life” gives us a different view on working conditions in another country when you don't always have a voice.  What happened to Ryan Gosling in “Ides of March” or “Drive,” Paul Giamatti in the early-in-the-year “Win Win,” or Kevin Spacey in “Margin Call?” My choice is Jean Dujardin in “The Artist.”
Best Actress and here comes the race, everyone, between two actresses who literally dissolved themselves into their roles. Glenn Close played a butler in “Albert Nobbs” and Meryl Streep did Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” Both films could be acting lessons for young actors. Also in this category is Viola Davis as the patient maid in “The Help.” Rooney Mara, who took on the Naomi Repace role in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” needn't worry, Repace did not win last year, either. Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn” tried to immerse herself in Marilyn Monroe, but it didn't always work. What happened to Kirsten Dunst in “Melancholia” or Kristen Wiig in “Bridesmaids?” My choice, and this is a tough decision, is Glenn Close for “Albert Nobbs.”
Best Supporting Actor has old favorites and new faces. Jonah Hill is a new nominee for his role as the financial whiz in “Moneyball.”  Nick Nolte is the father who tries to come back into the lives of his grown sons in “Warrior.” Kenneth Branagh in “My Week With Marilyn” was a stable influence. Christopher Plummer as an older may coming out as gay in “Beginners” was the highlight of the film. Max Von Sydow as a silent man with his own secrets in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” was expressively quiet and effective. What happened to Sir Ben Kingsley in “Hugo,“ or Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Ides of March?” Another tough decision here, but my choice is Christopher Plummer in “Beginners.”
Best Supporting Actress has Berenice Bejo as the rising starlet in the silent picture era who finds compassion. She acts through body language. Jessica Chastain had several good films out this year, including “The Tree of Life,” “Take Shelter” and “The Debt,” but she is nominated for what I think is her weakest role, “The Help.” Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids” brings what happens in planning a wedding to the forefront. Janet McTeer, who portrays a man as did Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs,” had me guessing who was the actor until about halfway through the movie. Octavia Spencer in “The Help” gives a detailed performance as a maid in trying times.  What happened to Helen Mirren in “The Debt” or Vanessa Redgrave in “Coriolanus?” My clear choice here is Janet McTeer for “Albert Nobbs.”
Best Animated Feature Film includes “Rango,” my least favorite film of the year. Marketing bug-eyed creatures to children?  “A Cat in Paris” and “Chico & Rita” did not play in my part of the country, so I’m familiar only with “Rango,” “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “Puss in Boots.” What happened to” The Adventures of Tintin” or Winnie the Pooh?“ Of the three nominees to have shown in my city, “Puss in Boots” was cleverly done with Antonio Banders voice-over. My choice so far is "Puss in Boots.".
Best Foreign Film category is being passed over here---again---as, only one film, “A Separation”  reached my part of the country.  What also came was “Incendies,“ “Point Blank” and “Of Gods And Men.“ Hey, Hollywood, the Midwest still has movie theaters.
Best Original Screenplay has a diversity of topics from time travel to Wall Street to divorce to the silents to planning a wedding.  Woody Allen created two worlds for Owen Wilson to explore, current Paris and 1920’s Paris and it flows. JC Chandor gives us, moment by moment, what happens when a disaster strikes Wall Street. Kevin Spacey’s speech is a highlight. Michel Hazanavicius for “The Artist” has silent movies with actors having personal fears and a little dog to act as a go-between. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo show those who recently have not planned a wedding, that nothing changes. It, like Wall Street, goes moment to moment. Asghar FarhadI offers divorce as a solution to a family problem in another culture. What happened to “50/50” or “Source Code?” My choice is Michel Hazanavicius’s “The Artist.”
Best Adapted Screenplay comes from previous material.  John Logan skillfully adapted “Hugo” from the book and brought the audience into a different world. Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian gave us a way to understand the financial world behind sports in “Moneyball.“  George Clooney, Grant Heslow and Beau Willimon went behind the scenes of a political campaign in “Ides of March” and showed there are secrets everywhere. Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton and Jim Rash in “The Descendants” emphasized the idea of family in tragedy. Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughn did a slow adaptation of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and I wonder if the script read “…go slowly.“  What happened to Tate Taylor’s “The Help” or Rodrigo Garcia’s “Albert Nobbs?“ My choice is John Logan for “Hugo.“
Best Documentary will have to be missed this year as with the Foreign Language category, none of the nominated films were shown in my city.  Once again, the Midwest was missed.
Last, but not least, is Original Score. John Williams with his distinctive style brought action to “The Adventures of Tintin.” Ludovic Bource shows that when accompanying a silent film, the music director reigns with “The Artist.” Howard Shore,” as with John Williams, brought life to their animated film, this time Shore had “Hugo.”  Alberto Iglieias was the only bright spot in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”  John Williams is competing against himself with “War Horse,” that combines home life with war.  What happened to “Puss in Boots” or “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” or “Coriolanus?” My choice is Ludovic Bource for “The Artist.”
Good-bye for this year and happy movie-going.