The Oscar nominations are announced bright and early tomorrow morning. As a movie lover who saw a ton of movies over Christmas break, I have lots of ideas about who should be nominated. I’m still waiting for Hollywood to ask for my opinion, but for now, here’s my take on who I’d like to see nominated (Note: these are not predictions – I realize some are long-shots or no-shots-at-all).
(Since the new rules dictate that there will be between five and ten Best Picture nominees, I decided to list movies until I was somewhere within that range and ran out of movies to list – and I wound up with nine I liked enough to include.)
- The Artist: Based on its reviews, I figured I’d think this was a good movie, but I had no idea how much I’d adore it. I can’t remember the last time a movie made me smile so much and just feel flat-out joy at watching it. Magical.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Harry Potter films have grown from faithful recreations of a beloved novel to legitimately outstanding movies in and of themselves. Please, please, please, Academy – finally recognize this fact.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: The more I think about this movie, the more I appreciate it. You could call it a mere thriller, but it’s so suspenseful and stylish that it’s elevated beyond that.
- The Help: One of the rare instances where Hollywood did not butcher a book I had loved. There are so many great performances in this film (Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, and on and on and on), and that’s what makes it really shine.
- War Horse: I wrote in my review that this was classic Oscar bait but that I didn’t care – and I still feel that way. Beautifully done.
- The Descendants: This feels like a “small” movie compared to some of the others on this list, but it’s also kinda brilliant in a quiet way.
- Bridesmaids: One of my tests of a movie’s greatness is how often I want to re-watch it, and this movie is one I can (and do) watch over and over again. Yeah, you know about all the hilarious scenes, but I love that it packs a nice emotional punch too (seriously, Kristen Wiig’s character is sad, y’all). Plus, it features Wiig and Maya Rudolph silly dancing to Wilson Phillips. Good times.
- Young Adult: I wish this movie had more buzz surrounding it, because I really liked it – from Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt’s performances to all the details of small-town suburbia, it gets everything right.
- Crazy Stupid Love: Yes, it’s a romantic comedy, and not the type of movie that ever gets nominated for Best Picture, but I still love this film – from the performance of Steve Carell to the humor to the depiction of modern relationships to the ultimate hopefulness about love.
- Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar): I cannot believe DiCaprio hasn’t won an Oscar yet. I don’t think he deserves the win this year (Jean Dujardin does), but what does he have to do to get some Oscar love? I was ambivalent about the movie as a whole, but DiCaprio is spot-on in his portrayal of J. Edgar Hoover.
- George Clooney (The Descendants): The Academy loves to recognize women who turn ugly for roles (see: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, etc.), so why not recognize George Clooney for becoming kinda schlubby? (Which, by the way, is not a word I ever imagined using to describe George Clooney). And if that’s not enough for you, he’s fantastic in this role as a beleaguered father trying to deal with the death of his wife, amongst other things.
- Jean Dujardin (The Artist): This is maybe the most charismatic performance I have ever seen – watching him put a gigantic smile on my face. I adore him, and would love to see him win it all come Oscar night. And then mime his acceptance speech.
- Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March): This movie doesn’t have much Oscar buzz, but I think Gosling’s great in it, starting out idealistic and principled and slowly descending into another ruthless player in the political game. And, of course, looking super tasty while doing so.
- Steve Carell (Crazy Stupid Love): This is one of those “not a chance in hell” picks I was talking about, but I just love Carell in this role. He’s known for comedy, but he nails this more serious part as well. He makes his character sad but incredibly lovable, and you can’t help but root for him to come out on top.
- Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo): From her physical transformation to the quiet ruthlessness she brought to the part, Mara was fantastic as Lisbeth Salander. If only the silly Academy would pay attention to the movie…
- Viola Davis (The Help): Please, please, for the love of all that is good, don’t let Meryl Streep beat Viola Davis at the Oscars. Meryl Streep is an acting genius, but I really think this is the best performance of 2011. Strong, dignified, and heartbreaking.
- Charlize Theron (Young Adult): I give Theron major props for fearlessly playing one of the most unlikeable protagonists in recent memory. Mavis is desperate, pathetic, and far past her prime, and Theron nails every single detail of it.
- Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids): Melissa McCarthy seems to be getting most of the Bridesmaids love (and that’s understandable), but Wiig is so great in this movie. From the funny stuff (the airplane scene) to the sad stuff (all her little emotional breakdowns), she nails a whole range of emotions. And her hair looks really pretty the entire time. Important, I know.
- Felicity Jones (Like Crazy): I was somewhat “meh” on the movie as a whole, but Jones was excellent, perfectly encapsulating the agony of experiencing a long-distance romance.
Best Supporting Actor
- Niels Arestrup (War Horse): Another for the “no way in hell” pile, but I adored Arestrup’s performance in War Horse. The segment of the movie on the French farm was my favorite, and it was largely because of his performance (as well as that of the girl who played his granddaughter). Quiet and powerful.
- Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady): It seems mildly slanderous to type this, but I actually enjoyed Broadbent’s performance far more than I did Streep’s in the Iron Lady. What can I say – he’s funny, lovable, and incredibly endearing.
- Armie Hammer (J. Edgar): As Broadbent is to Streep, so too Hammer almost is to DiCaprio – he turned in a great performance, and I may have just enjoyed his work even more than Leo’s. His portrayal made me completely feel for his character.
- Patton Oswalt (Young Adult): He and Theron complemented each other perfectly in this movie. I loved how his character was the comedic voice of reason, but Oswalt also conveyed what a sad, sad man he was underneath.
- Tom Hardy (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy): I’m almost certain Michael Fassbender is going to be nominated for Best Actor, and if Hardy were to get nominated for Supporting (he won’t), that would mean my two biggest Hollywood crushes would be in the same room. Too much to handle. What’s that you say? You don’t care about who my biggest Hollywood crushes are? Well, in that case, Hardy’s performance in this movie was also fantastic. I loved how, in a movie filled with stuffy British men in trench coats, he seemed to be the only one with a heart and soul.
Best Supporting Actress
- Shailene Woodley (The Descendants): Part of my amazement at her performance comes from the fact that she currently stars on (what I can only imagine is) a very cheesy show on ABC Family. I mean, going from that to this? Pretty amazing. But that fact notwithstanding, she’s great in this movie as a slightly out-of-control teenager struggling to cope with the impending loss of her mother.
- Jessica Chastain (The Help): Jessica Chastain was in approximately 75% of all films made in 2011, but not without good reason – she’s a fantastic actress. Celia was one of my favorite characters in the novel because she’s simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking – and Chastain gets both those aspects just right.
- Berenice Bejo (The Artist): A close second to her costar (the aforementioned Jean Dujardin) in the charisma department. I found Bejo’s performance delightful and fun. And she is unfairly beautiful.
- Judy Greer (The Descendants): I know this is a small part, and that it’s not a showy performance. But Greer’s wonderful, and it’s about damn time she got some recognition. She’s awesome in just about everything.
- Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids): If McCarthy’s name were read tomorrow morning, I’d get such a kick out of it. Her performance is utterly brilliant, and to have such over-the-top comedic gold recognized at the stuffy Oscars would be amazing.