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Turning the Last Page on This Year’s Awards Season, Before the Oscars on Sunday

February 20, 2012

By John C.

At this point in time, what more can we say about the forthcoming Oscars that hasn’t already been said?  The simple truth is, there isn’t all that much commentary to add with the Academy Awards just under a week away and most predicting a clean sweep from the wonderful silent film, The Artist.  Voting members of the Academy have until tomorrow to submit their ballots.

We have already had our say about all nine of the Best Picture nominees, and I’ve written at length about the Best Acting and Best Director categories.  Disappointment has already been expressed about some of the Academy’s unfortunate omissions, and some of their choices have already been applauded.  But I would like to add a few of my final thoughts on this awards season as a whole, before we turn the last page on another chapter in cinematic history.

For me, it first felt like we were in the midst of awards season during the disorienting and quickly resolved “Oscargate” that happened back in November.  I hate dredging it back up for those who have forgotten, but it should be seen as an inciting incident to the season.  After producer Brett Ratner made an offensive comment and was forced to resign, Eddie Murphy gave up his hosting duties in an act of solidarity.  But everything fell perfectly into place when Billy Crystal was hired as his replacement, the ninth time the iconic comedian will be hosting the telecast.  Here’s hoping the writers can come up with a script that matches his sharp wit and excellent comic timing.

The list of presenters has kept on growing over the last few weeks, but there have been warring reports as to whether or not Uggie will actually be there to further lighten up the ceremony on behalf of The Artist.  The adorable little dog has been making the rounds, but there is a rumour that he didn’t even get an invite to the Kodak Theatre.  But at least we got a confirmation last week that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy will be presenting at the ceremony with the long list of human stars, and the two are guaranteed to provide a few memorable moments.  Hopefully next year the independent Muppet Oscars campaign will pay off in an even bigger way and they will actually be invited to host the entire show.

This year in particular, it seems like there has been another awards ceremony every couple of days.  Last night’s Writers Guild Awards was one of the final precursors before next Sunday.  The wonderful screenplays for Midnight in Paris and The Descendants predictably and deservingly dominated the awards, so here’s hoping that these will be the respective winners of Best Original and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars.  But with so many awards being handed out, it feels like there might not be enough room for surprises come February 26th.  Although this hope for something unpredictable has proven to be a mixed blessing throughout the season.  There were some surprises on nomination morning, some a lot more satisfying than others.

I remain disappointed that Shailene Woodley didn’t get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her excellent work alongside George Clooney in The Descendants, but the most ridiculous category is Best Original Song.  I love both “Man or Muppet” and “Real in Rio,” but there are other songs that also should have been there and two nominees is hardly a contest.  John Williams got a much deserved Best Score nomination for The Adventures of Tintin, but Steven Spielberg’s film was oddly absent from Best Animated due to a backlash against motion capture.  As for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close being a surprise nominee for Best Picture, the significance of that film being included all depends on who you ask.  Many critics hated the film, but it really is one of the best of last year and I applaud the Academy for including it in the line up.

But I think most can agree that the inclusion of The Tree of Life in three of the major categories was a wonderful surprise.  The last few months feel like they have been dominated by awards both big and small, but this year’s Oscar season goes even further back than that.  To add some much needed perspective, it’s genuinely hard to believe that it has been nearly a year since we first reviewed Rango, the brilliantly inventive frontrunner for Best Animated Feature.  The Oscars are just under a week away and then we can close the door on this year’s long running and often predictable awards season, but some of the forthcoming nominees could be just around the corner.

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