Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Really Important Race

New Hampshire was a foregone conclusion -- how about this year's Academy Award for Best Picture, as often predicted by the Director's Guild of America nominations? Announced today, this year's DGA nominees, per Sasha Stone:

Midnight in Paris
(Sony Pictures Classics)

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
(Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

The Artist
(The Weinstein Company)

The Descendants
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

(Paramount Pictures)

The semi-surprise here is Woody Allen and the big surprise is David Fincher, with the first in a pulpy trilogy, and not the first version either. The other surprise is that Steven Spielberg's work on The War Horse didn't score a nomination, even though (far afar, admittedly) it appears built to win awards.

Can The Artist really win Best Picture? Wonderfully clever and evocative, I feel like it's a bit too much of a novelty film. Midnight in Paris and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo would be surprises to me as well.

Unless The Help can sneak in (a safe and respectable compromise candidate) my gut tells me it comes down to The Descendants vs. Hugo. The Descendants does not play as well with older audiences (i.e., a disproportionate segment of the AMPAS membership), but it's the most straightforward of the potential winners. A coming of age for director Alexander Payne. But is it too indy? Is it Billy Wilder enough?

It hasn't been a horrible year for pictures. There's some really good, entertaining, interesting work. My pick would be The Tree of Life, but the DGA snub for Terrence Malick means it's too esoteric to win the crowning prize. But it's not a year that's produced a clear Best Picture to fight about.

I've been saying for awhile that Hugo is the stealth candidate to win. It's big and moving and about movies even closer to the beginning than The Artist, a much deeper, richer historical value. And it could, justifiably, be the first 3D movie to win.

Don't be surprised if Georges Méliès (1861-1938) comes out on top.

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