Dive in on the Oscars

Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris

The classic American in Paris plot is successfully redone (and not overdone) in Allen’s original screenplay of “Midnight in Paris,” a film that tells the story of uninspired author Gil (Owen Wilson) and his Parisian adventure. Overall, Allen’s latest film departs from his usual style and is easily one of his most accessible. Chock full of Parisian charm, the story Allen cleverly develops is a treat for all, and even more so for those who’ve experienced a thorough liberal arts education. From mingling with Buñuel and Dali to sharing literary secrets with Stein and Hemingway, Gil’s time travel is not only nostalgic and charming, but strikingly personal for the audience. Because whether it’s the wistful plot lines or beautiful descriptions of Paris in the rain, Allen knows how to hook us by our hearts and magically reel us in.
-Elizabeth Byrum

Best Animated Film: Puss in Boots and A Cat in Paris

This will be remembered as the year of the animated domestic feline in the Oscars zodiac. Although anthropomorphic furballs may frequently star in Oscar-nominated animations—who could forget Remy’s performance in 2007’s “Ratatouille” or Grommit’s in 2005’s playfully subtitled “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” — never before have two cats gone head-to-head for the prize. Thus to choose between the artsy, unnamed chat of a moonlit Paris and the brash, swashbuckling Puss would be to unnecessarily insult both brands of cartoon cuteness. After all, to loosely quote the Ying Yang Twins, err’body love dat pussy!
-Austin Cooper

Best Visual Effects: Hugo

It’s surprising that the best use of 3D effects I’ve ever seen, and one of the best employments of CGI this year, actually comes from “Hugo,” Martin Scorcese’s whimsical tribute to the beginning of cinema. Its visual effects breathe life into the 1930s French train station the story is set in, as well as convey the ground-breaking scenes of wonderment that early film brought to audiences. Unlike the other nominees in this category, “Hugo”’s effects do not rely heavily on brash spectacle, and they are all the more effective for it.
-Mark Niegelsky

Additional trailers: Hugo, Puss in Boots, Cat in Paris

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