Tonight are the Oscars awarded, in a big ceremony in the Kodak theatre in Los Angeles. So over the last week(s) many people have tried to predict who is going to win. But what do we need to consider? Three types of Oscar logic work kinda against each other this year:
Oscar logic number 1: there is almost always one big favourite. This year that favourite is Michel Hazanavicius’ almost-silent black-and-white film The Artist. Last year it was The King’s Speech. Crucially, this big favourite will win awards, in the wake of winning best picture, almost automatically. Best Director and Best Original (or adapted, depending on the film) Screenplay for instance. Or some technical awards that other films might be more deserving of. So there is a chance that The Artist, apart from winning Best Film, will also win Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Music, Best Art Direction, Best Costumes, Best Editing and best Cinematography. And of course Best Actor for Jean Dujardin and Best Supporting Actress for Berenice Bejo.
Oscar logic number 2: The industry has certain demands. You wouldn’t believe it, but Hollywood thinks it is in crisis. Because of the economical crisis everwhere else of course, and because of piracy. So box office success and industrial demands do influence the votes. If a film has hardly been seen by anyone, then kiss your chances goodbye. Sorry Glenn Close (nominated for Albert Nobbs), but that is the deal. As to industrial demands: In 2009-10, Avatar broke all kinds of box office records. So it won awards. Technical ones, mostly, but still. In a strange, counter-sentimental move against Avatar and 3D the important prizes of 2010 were won by the little-seen The Hurt Locker. But this year 3D must be proven a viable option for the future, now that legendary directors Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese have adopted the format. Since Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin was criminally neglected by the Academy, Scorsese’s Hugo may have a shot at some prizes, especially Editing and Cinematography.
Oscar logic number 3: On the wave of The Artist Dujardin and Bejo may win awards for their performances, but there are other factors to consider: Best Actor is a career prize. It usually goes to actors who have a long-standing reputation in Hollywood. To win, it has to be your time. Cue Jeff Bridges in 2010, Colin Firth in 2011 and now George Clooney in 2012. Or, very perhaps, Gary Oldman. In the supporting categories the Academy tends to reward eccentric, extravagant performances in socially ‘relevant’ films. So Mo’nique in 2010, for Precious, and Melissa Leo last year for The Fighter. And this year Octavia Spencer for The Help.
I do not know what will happen in Los Angeles tonight. But whatever the outcome, the three types of Oscar logic described above will play their parts.
Oscar logic number 4. Pixar wins Best Animated Film. Oh, wait, they are not nominated this year. ..