Film’s biggest night, the Academy Awards, is here, and how fitting that the two most-nominated films are odes to the love of cinema. For most of us, if we get to the movies — and we never do — it’s usually for some fluff someone else dragged us to, or God help us, for whatever noisefest Channing Tatum is starring in. So when we tune in to the Oscars — which airs live from Hollywood at 7:30 p.m. today on ABC — aren’t most of us just rooting for whoever has the best outfit and might have the most entertaining (read: shortest) speech?
With that in mind, take a gander at Oscar picks from the Denton Record-Chronicle’s resident film critic Boo Allen, then check out those from features editor, noted Harry Potter enthusiast and snarkmaster general Lucinda Breeding. Make your own picks, follow along during the show and see how you fared.
Because if there’s one thing we know about Oscar-winning films, it’s that your guess is as good as ours.
— Rachel McReynolds
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
BOO ALLEN Should win: The Descendants, which is the richest, most complex film nominated. Will win: The Artist, lifted to the Oscar on what looks to be a rising tide. The Artist is a fun, fine film, but it is a lightweight pretender compared to The Descendants.
LUCINDA BREEDING Should win: The Tree of Life, because any film that can mix dinosaurs with Brad Pitt with an underbite has spunk for days. Will win: Moneyball, because Pitt sports that God-given jaw line to full effect.
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
ALLEN Should win: Any nominee in this quality-filled category would be deserving. A personal choice would be difficult among these five worthy candidates. Will win: Michel Hazanavicius won the Director’s Guild Award, usually a sure sign of who will take home the Oscar.
BREEDING Should win: Michel Hazanavicius, who has clearly been passed the why-we-love-the-movies torch by George Lucas. Will win: George Clooney, because he still looks like a star even in an unfortunate Hawaiian shirt.
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
ALLEN Should win: Hell and Back Again, an unsettling, even scary, film that brings to light a sensitive subject. Will win: The feel-good Undefeated — just a guess in this unpredictable category.
BREEDING Should win: Pina, because dancers embody more athleticism, more endurance, more flexibility and more pain tolerance than any football player ever could — and that’s without pads. Will win: Undefeated, because I hate football.
Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
ALLEN Should win: George Clooney actually speaks in his film, The Descendants, and turns in a moving performance. He should win but probably will not. Will win: Jean Dujardin (shown) will add to The Artist’s accolades and bring home the trophy for his energetic performance.
BREEDING Should win: Jean Dujardin, because he made us long for the days when dames wore hats and gentlemen wore white spats. Will win: Brad Pitt, because he let Terrence Malick ruin his lantern jaw for the sake of art. What? It worked for Charlize Theron in Monster.
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
ALLEN Should win: Impossible to say, since so many fine female performances were overlooked this year including Charlize Theron (Young Adult), Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia) and Kristin Scott Thomas (Love Crime). Will win: Viola Davis, for her turn as a feisty maid in The Help, a movie which one wag called the zip-a-dee-doo-dah take on race relations. Davis likely will nudge Meryl Streep’s Margaret Thatcher vaudevillian impersonation that passes for a performance.
BREEDING Should win: Viola Davis, because she was passed over for her brilliant work in Doubt. Will win: Meryl Streep, because after being a battleship in The Iron Lady, the lads in the academy are scared to snub her.
Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
ALLEN Should win and will win: Christopher Plummer, who’s probably the surest bet in the acting categories with his warm-hearted portrayal in the neglected jewel The Beginners. He’ll win not only for this performance but for a lifetime of quality work.
BREEDING Should win: Kenneth Branagh, on the grounds of chronic British splendidness. Will win: Christopher Plummer, on the grounds of his chronic ability to makes us believe he is whoever he plays in his films.
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help
ALLEN Should win: Janet McTeer, who faced and conquered a challenge — playing a transgender man living in 19th-century Ireland — in Albert Nobbs. Will win: Octavia Spencer, who will help sweep the female acting categories for The Help.
BREEDING Should win: Octavia Spencer, because she didn’t let the fat-shaming media derail her after the Screen Actors Guild awards. Will win: Melissa McCarthy, because she stole Bridesmaids while no one was looking.
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
ALLEN Should win: Woody Allen for his creative turn in Midnight in Paris, his best work in years. Will win: Michel Hazanavicius is the most likely contender, and a win would continue his streak for The Artist, but don’t be surprised if Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig sneak in to win for Bridesmaids.
BREEDING Should win: Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, because Bridesmaids was a sharp, fresh script about female friendship. Will win: Woody Allen, because the commenters at IMDB.com insist that women are fundamentally not funny, duh.
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
ALLEN Should win and will win: Rango, in a weak year for animation. It came out early in the year and nothing came after to dethrone it, including any of its big-budget followers.
BREEDING Should win: A Cat in Paris, because it weaves story, color and relationships together in a way that makes you vulnerable and breathless. Will win: Chico & Rita, because the academy is moved more by a hero rescuing his love than by a little girl who copes with life with the help of a cat.