By Adam Sandel
Oscar night is the gay Super Bowl. And whether you take in Hollywood’s biggest night at a black-tie party, or gathered around the flat screen at home with champagne, popcorn and friends, three things are certain:
1) It will be a welcome relief to have Billy Crystal back as Oscar host – with gay icon Bruce Vilanch penning his quips
2) None of the gowns will be as outrageous as one might hope (please invite Lady Gaga for once)
3) Some wise guy will guess all the winners
Here is my bid to be that wise guy.
Best Picture: “The Artist” will be the second (almost) silent film to win Best Picture, which it richly deserves. It combines the visual grace, panache, whimsy, heart, and pathos of the great silent films, while spinning an affectionate soufflé that’s equal parts “A Star is Born,” “Sunset Boulevard,” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” No other Best Picture nominee stands a chance.
Best Actress: In recent years, one had to be a comedic actress breaking into drama (Sandra Bullock, Reese Witherspoon) or go from swan to ugly duckling (Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron) to win this. At the very least a mental and/or emotional breakdown was required (Natalie Portman).
By this formula, Michelle Williams should win for her stunning turn as Monroe in “My Week With Marilyn,” but Viola Davis’ simmering strength, restraint and rage as a maid in “The Help” will break all the rules to win this year. Meryl Streep’s annual nomination (“The Iron Lady”) can’t stem the tide of admiration for Davis and “The Help.”
Best Actor: The mass enthusiasm for “The Artist” might have swept the brilliant Jean Dujardin to a win in past years, but he’s not likely to topple George Clooney, who swapped his suave for schlump in “The Descendants.” Oscar wins are also fueled by industry affection – and no one is more beloved in Hollywood than Clooney.
Best Supporting Actress: I called this one the moment I saw Octavia Spencer steal “The Help” from its outstanding ensemble cast as the proud, no-nonsense, if slightly vengeful, maid Minnie. No contest. No pie jokes. I promise.
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer’s delicious turn as a widower coming out very, very late in life in “Beginners” has had Best Supporting Actor written all over it since the film opened last summer. His six decades of fine performances are overdue for recognition and now is his time. (He was also in that thing with Julie Andrews, right?)
Best Director: “The Artist” was the sole vision of its writer/director Michel Hazanavicius and Academy members will most certainly bestow the gold upon him for the film’s irresistible blend of comedic charm, heart, and shimmery old school glamour.
Despite its ten nominations, Martin Scorcese’s “Hugo” struggled as a children’s adventure film, only to find its footing in the last reel when it became an homage to silent film pioneer Georges Melies. Yet the film’s lush 3-D visuals will make it the film to beat in the design and technical categories.
The Most Nominated Film to Go Home Empty-Handed: In a year awash with inventive period pieces, look for the photo-realistic baseball flick “Moneyball” to go 0 for 6.
The 84th Annual Academy Awards
Sunday, February 26 on ABC
Red Carpet: 4:00 p.m.
Oscar Telecast: 5:30-8:30 p.m.