Oscar Picks 2011

So I’m in the middle of writing the opening comments for my Oscar picks last year, and I’m giving my spiel about how people shouldn’t take it too seriously and get upset, and how they should just have fun, when it occurred to me that maybe for some people getting upset is the fun.  They don’t look like they’re having fun when they’re in the middle of it but they spend vast amounts of their time complaining so they must be getting something out of it.  After all, books have been written about the controversies and outrages of past Oscar ceremonies.  It could even be argued that these controversies have boosted the Oscars to their current popularity.

Which begs the question: does the Academy do this on purpose?  I looked on their official site and the closest thing I could find to official criteria for the awards is this statement:  “Academy Awards of Merit shall be given annually to honor outstanding achievements in theatrically released feature-length motion pictures…”  That’s a pretty broad and pretty vague statement.  It certainly does not not give any insight as to what constitutes “outstanding achievements.”  That makes sense of course.  The industry has undergone massive changes in acting styles, in technology, and screenwriting has become much more sophisticated.  So it could be that the Academy is more trying to accommodate the changing and subjective nature of aesthetics than stirring controversy and the fact that it does both is a happy accident.

In any case, when you are watching the awards one week from tonight have fun, even if that includes shouting, gnashing your teeth and throwing things at the TV.  Go for it!

Now on to my picks.  Keep in mind these are not predictions.  This is the way I would distribute the awards if it were up to me.  If you need help with your office pool, go to goldderby.com.  They take the opinions of a panel of Oscar handicappers and average them up, assigning odds for each category.


Animated Feature

My pick is Rango.  It is a visually interesting, well animated feature that uses the trick of putting well-developed characters in an engrossing plot to tell a good story, which is rare in this category.  OK, despite my just saying that I don’t do predictions, I am going to offer a tip here.  If you’re looking for a long shot, this may be your category.  Animated Feature is still a relatively new category and the only prediction formula that works consistently is that if there is a Pixar film among the nominations, it will win.  There is no Pixar film nominated this year.  Consider putting a few bucks on Chico and Rita at 16/1.  It’s a critical favorite that just opened in New York and Los Angeles two weeks ago before final ballots were due, plus it has already defied the odds just by getting the nomination.  Rango is the favorite but I would not be at all surprised to see an upset here.



Michel Hazanavicius deserves this because he had to reverse engineer the art of directing a silent film and he did it brilliantly.  The Artist is a charming film with performances that artfully mix old and new styles to present a compelling, if old-fashioned melodrama.  It’s nostalgic and cutting edge at the same time.


Supporting Actress

Acting was the main strength of The Help and Octavia Spencer was a large part of that.  In the role of Minnie she plays a smart verbally oriented maid who is almost able to contain her anger.  To me a large part of giving a great acting performance is the ability to portray contradicting character traits and make it work.  Spencer does that.


Supporting Actor

Christopher Plummer plays a man, who after decades of marriage is finally able to explore his sexuality.  He conveys the joy of that freedom along with the despairing acceptance of being diagnosed with a terminal disease.  It’s a great performance from an actor whose excellence has been ignored all too often.


Best Actress

Viola Davis usually gets parts where she plays women who are oppressed and have to take it without complaint.  In The Help, she fights back and the results are astounding.  I wouldn’t be upset if Meryl Streep won but Davis deserves it.


Best Actor

Using only his face Jean Dujardin takes his character through an arc that goes from riches to rags.  You can see he is a man of integrity and pride, stubborn enough not to accept help at first when he needs it, but smart enough to eventually take it.  Plus, you just like him.  I’d accept George Clooney too.


Best Picture

I have to admit that I really don’t have any strong favorite in the big category this year.  With the exception of The Tree of Life, I would be happy with any of the nominees.  But to my mind The Descendants was the best combination of acting, script, cinematography and other technical elements.  It was funny and touching, often at the same time, and had a unique setting about a class of Americans that I didn’t know about.  However, I won’t be sorry when The Artist wins (which it undoubtedly will) and I could also be happy with Hugo or The Help.


4 Responses to “Oscar Picks 2011”

  1. 1 Larry Tumblin February 19, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Always good to be able to keep up with your movie insights via the blog. Looking forward to the Oscars.

  2. 2 Lewis V. Morgan, Jr. February 26, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Last year (2010 Oscars) I beat you Roger and was promised a certificate of some sort saying that I beat Roger Ebert.
    Unfortunately, I had no response from those running the contest, which has soured me and kept me from trying to beat you again, which ain’t easy, Roger.

  3. 3 theotherebert February 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I’m not roger.

  4. 4 Lewis V. Morgan, Jr. July 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    In that case, perhaps I could have an I beat the Other Ebert certificate?…which still ain’t easy.

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