Ask any Academy follower and they will tell you that “The Artist” is a huge front-runner in this year’s Oscar race. Trailing only to “Hugo”, “The Artist” bagged 10 nominations and looks to be the film to beat in most categories. Personally, imagining a black-and-white silent film winning Best Picture in the year 2011-2012 sounds quite strange, but it definitely has the feel of a film the Academy would award. With reflection on the silent film era, great performances from both Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo, and a playful style towards the medium of the silent film, including a huge dance number, it’s hard to deny that this film could take it all.

By my ruminations in the different nomination of this film, I see it taking Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design. Strong cases can be made for Best Original Score and Best Cinematography, but I don’t hold much hope for “The Artist” being a strong acting award producer.

If “The Artist” weren’t to win, the award would most likely go to “The Descendants” or even “Hugo” (which many are discouraging for some reason). Though I will weigh in on this more when I have seen all the Best Pictures, for now “The Artist” will remain the front-runner.

When predicting the nominees for the Oscars, I was hard-pressed to even pick “The Artist” for Best Screenplay, as it is a silent film and therefore lacks a huge dialogue that all the other films in the category possess. There is dialogue, the audience just can’t hear it. This doesn’t mean that the screenplay for “The Artist” is lacking, as there is probably an abundance of description and direction to get the silent film across to the audience, but I still do not see “The Artist” nabbing this one, especially up again Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris” and even J.C. Chandor’s “Margin Call”.

So here’s the conundrum: if you pick “The Artist” to win Best Picture this year, then you might as well pick Michel to win Best Director, as almost always the Best Directing award goes to the director of the Best Picture. That being said, the Best Picture race narrows down from nine to five real quick, with “Hugo”, “The Descendants”, “Midnight In Paris”, and “The Tree of Life” being the opponents for “The Artist”. Since I believe “Hugo” and “The Descendants” will be the front-runners next to “The Artist”, Martin Scorsese and Alexander Payne are Michel Hazanavicius major competition.

It appears like it will be hard to beat George Clooney this year, as he’s basically taken every award that he possibly could have for his performance in “The Descendants”. This obviously does not discredit Jean Dujardin by any means, who delivers a solid silent performance in “The Artist”. However, there may be no beating Clooney this year, I will probably stick to that, though I also bet this will not be the last time we see Dujardin in this category.

Berenice Bejo delivers a righteous performance in “The Artist”, but with all the hype behind Octavia Spencer from “The Help”, this will be another hard-to-beat category. Just like the comedian Mo’Nique winning for her extremely dramatic performance in “Precious”, I believe Spencer will sneak the same award, leaving Bejo in the dust. Also, fellow “The Help” actress Jessica Chastain delivers a note-worthy performance that could see Bejo not getting the win.

How can you deny the Art Direction of “The Artist”? A silent film’s greatest counterpart is its visuals brought on by the art direction and “The Artist” is chalk full of it. The only problem lies in the stiff competition in this category including the striking visuals of “Hugo”, “War Horse” and its period piece decor, and the blast from the past art direction of “Midnight In Paris”. Not to mention the “Harry Potter” factor, which could look to make its presence felt in its few, but strong nominations.

No matter what, I place “The Artist” towards the top of the list for winning this award just because of its visual heavy nature as well as the “winner-takes-all” mentality that tends to follow the Oscars.

Two factors are at play in picking the winner of this category, with one favoring “The Artist”. The first factor (the one favoring this film) is the mentality that “winner-takes-all” when picking the Best Picture. Most years, when a film wins Best Picture it tends to take the smaller awards it was nominated for as well, which makes sense. If you think a film deserves Best Picture, than it probably deserves it for a reason, those reasons being it excels in most areas above other films. Therefore, if “The Artist” takes Best Picture, it makes a huge case for it winning Cinematography as well.

The second factor, however, is the polarizing reception of “The Tree Of Life” and whether it will be honored as it should. If this is the case, “The Tree Of Life” will take this category without a shadow of a doubt. Look at all the awards this film has won for Best Cinematography, and there is no denying its strength. However, the Academy Awards can be notorious for glazing over and snubbing films that are not fully embraced by their audiences. I hoping this second factor reigns victorious, but do not consider me completely surprised if “The Artist” were to take it.

There is a little less competition for “The Artist” in the category of Costume Design. Much like Best Art Direction, “The Artist” relies quite heavily on the use of costumes, being both a period piece and a silent film. I fully expect “The Artist” to take this award, if not Art Direction as well.

Best Film Editing is a tough egg to crack, especially with films like “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” which isn’t up for much and may take this one to find its way onto the map, or “Hugo”, which is another front-runner for most awards. Though I place “The Artist” in the top three for this category, I am not entirely sure it will pull off the win.

A film that relies almost entirely on its score like “The Artist” does probably has a better case for taking the Best Original Score category than any of its competitors. But then again, its competitors are Howard Shore (for “Hugo”) and John Williams (for both “War Horse” and “The Adventures of Tintin”). That being said, this will not be an easy battle for “The Artist” and though a strong case could be made for it already, I will wait to experience the other four scores (Lincoln joke) before making my pick.

1 Comment on “2012 Oscars Challenge: [4] The Artist & 10 Nominations

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