Oscar Hour

The perennial Oscar Awards won’t arrive till the last week in February, but nominations for its various film award categories were announced a few days ago. A big deal during my youth, the Oscars have dwindled in importance, and some feel the old, grey men who choose the winners are out of touch.

But lots of us don’t mind if Golden Globe award-winning actor, George Clooney, walks to the podium again. He’s nominated for Best Actor for “The Descendants”, with Alexander Payne up for Best Director and Best Adapted Screen Play, and the movie for Best Motion Picture.

Silent, black and white film, and Best Picture nominee, “The Artist”, a tribute to Hollywoods’ nascent years, has 10 nominations, among them: actor Jean Dujardin for Best Actor, Michel Hazenavicius for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, and Berenice Bejo for Best Supporting Actress.

Director Scorsese’s 3-D family homage to film preservation, “Hugo” has a total of 11 nominations. Other multiply-nominated films are Woody Allen’s popular “Midnight in Paris” and Terrence Malick’s enigmatic “The Tree of Life”, both for Best Picture, Best Director.

My son, Ian, used to ask during a movie, “You see who that is, don’t you?”. Eventually, even though I didn’t recognize the actor, I would just answer, “Gary Oldman?” Inevitably that’s who it was. This stupendously versatile British actor has at last an Oscar nomination for his role in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”.  Small tribute to a guy who’s many a star’s mentor.

Actor Damien Bichir, who many of us know from Showtime’s “Weeds”, is a choice for Best Supporting Actor in the film “A Better Life”; Melissa McCarthy, a contender for Best Supporting Actress, “The Bridesmaids”. How many of us waited to catch this comedy on Netflix? Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumulo are prospects for Best Original Screenplay. 

I have declined an invite by my grandchildren to see “The Muppets” and just three days ago, to go to “Puss and Boots”. Would I have been more inclined to join them if I had known “Man or Muppet” was to be nominee for Best Original Song? Or  “Puss and Boots” would go up for “Best Animated Feature”?

A surprise choice, Iranian film, “A Separation” is a candidate for Best Original Screenplay. Heavily panned “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is up for Best Picture.

No surprise, Meryl Streep receives her 13th nomination, this time for Best Actress for her portrayal of so nasty Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady”. Among other Best Actress contenders are Viola Davis, for “The Help” and Rooney Mara for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. 

The Best Supporting Actor category includes a bunch of old favorites: Nick Nolte, “Warrior”; Max von Sydow, “Extremely Loud...”; Christopher Plummer, “Beginners”; and Kenneth Branagh, “My Week With Marilyn”.

Spielberg’s “War Horse”, “Rio”, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, “Drive” are all among the runners. The proof will be in February’s pudding.