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Foreseeing a statue-rich evening for 'The Artist'

By Philip Martin

This article was published February 24, 2012 at 2:42 a.m.


Silent film star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) meets the vivacious Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) in The Artist, the movie considered the favorite for this year’s Best Picture Oscar.

— The 84th annual Academy Awards are Sunday night, to be hosted again by the ebullient Billy Crystal. As is our custom, we’ve assembled a panel of astute Oscar watchers (and one clueless movie critic) to guess what will win what. And while we encourage you to play along at home, we must remind you that gambling is prohibited and flash photography is dangerous to our performers.

This year’s panel comprises: Sam Blair (SB), retired Central High School college counselor, our resident armchair critic and a frequent contributor to our Blood, Dirt & Angels blog; Jennifer Boulden (JB), a self-described “Oscarblogaholic,” who posts the occasional online film review on BD&A; Danny-Joe Crofford (DJC), the marketing and events director of War Memorial Stadium; Travis Eddings (TE), Fayetteville-based contributor to Popcorn Alley; Karen Martin (KM), the editor of; myself (PM); our copy-desk chief and invaluable font of cinematic history, Joe Riddle (Joe); Movies in the Park founder and chief of staff to the attorney general of Arkansas, Blake Rutherford (BR); and director Jay (My Dog Skip, The Water Horse) Russell (JR), formerly of North Little Rock.

BEST PICTURE The nominees are:

The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse

The picks are:

The Artist (SB, JB, TE, KM, PM, Joe, BR, JR); The Help (DJC)


SB believes the Oscar ought to go to either The Artist or Tree of Life; JR thinks The Help could be a surprise winner.

BEST ACTOR The nominees are:

Demian Bichir, A Better Life; George Clooney, The Descendants; Jean Dujardin, The Artist; Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Brad Pitt, Moneyball.

The picks are:

Dujardin (SB, JB, KM, BR); Clooney (TE, Joe, JR); Pitt (DJC, PM)


SB thinks Oldman should win.


Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn; Jonah Hill, Moneyball; Nick Nolte, Warrior; Christopher Plummer, Beginners; Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

The picks are:

Plummer (SB, JB, DJC, TE, KM, Joe, BR, JR); Nolte (PM)


JR thinks Nolte deserves to win.

BEST ACTRESS The nominees are:

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.

The picks are:

Davis (SB, JB, DJC, PM, BR, JR); Streep (TE, KM, Joe)


SB says “our greatest living actress [Streep] hasn’t won an Oscar in 29 years; at least this time she’ll lose to a talent.” JR believes Streep could upset the front-runner Davis.


Berenice Bejo, The Artist; Jessica Chastain, The Help; Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids; Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs; Octavia Spencer, The Help.

The picks are:

Spencer (SB, JB, DJC, TE, Joe, BR, JR), McTeer (KM, PM)


My pick aside, it feels like Spencer is a lock even though Chastain was nominated for the same movie.

BEST ANIMATED FILM The nominees are:

A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss In Boots, Rango

The picks are:

Rango (SB, JB, DJC, KM, PM, TE, BR, JR), Puss in Boots (Joe)


SB thinks Chico & Rita should win; I haven’t seen that film but I have read the graphic novel upon which it was based. It’s OK but Rango probably deserved a Best Picture nomination.


Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life; Robert Richardson, Hugo; Janusz Kaminski, War Horse; Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist; Jeff Cronenweth, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

The picks are:

Lubezki (SB, JB, TE, KM, PM, BR, JR); Schiffman (DJC, Joe)


The most difficult category for me - all seem worthy. SB says Lubezki should win but after the Academy failed to honor nine-time nominee Roger Deakins’ for his work in True Grit last year nothing is certain.

BEST DIRECTOR The nominees are:

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris; Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life; Alexander Payne, The Descendants; Martin Scorsese, Hugo

The picks are:

Hazanavicius(SB, JB, DJC, KM, Joe, BR, JR); Scorsese (TE, PM)


JR believes Malick deserves to win. I concur, but I’ve got a feeling it will be Scorsese. SB correctly observes that it’s a very strong field.

BEST DOCUMENTARY The nominees are:

Hell and Back Again, If a Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Pina, Undefeated

The picks are:

Paradise Lost 3 (SB, DJC, Joe), Pina (JB, TE, BR) Undefeated (PM, JR)


KM abstained from voting in this (and the next) category on the grounds that she hadn’t seen any of the movies. That’s honorable, but it hurts her chances of winning. I’ve seen three of the five nominated films.


Bullhead (Belgium); Monsieur Lazhar (Canada); A Separation (Iran); Footnote (Israel); In Darkness (Poland)

The picks are:

A Separation (SB, JB, TE, Joe, PM, BR, JR), In Darkness (DJC)


If anyone on the panel saw more than one or two or these films they didn’t say so. A Separation is tremendous.


The nominees are: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and JimRash, The Descendants; John Logan, Hugo; George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, The Ides of March; Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, story by Stan Chervin, Moneyball; Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

The picks are:

The Descendants (SB, JB, DJC, TE, Joe, JR), Moneyball (KM, PM, BR)


JB - “The Descendants is the second-most celebrated film of the year and likely to lose to The Artist in all the other categories, so it probably won’t lose here to the better script, Moneyball. ” JR believes The Ides of March has a chance to upset The Descendants.


Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids; J.C. Chandor, Margin Call; Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris; Asghar Farhadi, A Separation.

The picks are:

Midnight in Paris (SB, JB, TE, PM, Joe, BR); The Artist (DJC, JR ), Bridesmaids (KM)


JR - “I think this is the toughest category.” JR thinks A Separation should win. SB thinks Margin Call should. I feel pretty strongly that Bridesmaids ought to win, but know it won’t.


MovieStyle, Pages 31 on 02/24/2012

Print Headline: Peering into Crystal’s BALL

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