DIVE Pick: “The Artist”
Nominees: “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “The Help,” “Hugo,” “Midnightin Paris,” “Moneyball,” “Tree of Life,” “War Horse”
Reason: The Best Picture frontrunner tramplesover its “talkie” competition by breathing life into along-forgotten genre. If “The Artist” does win Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, it will be the first silent-film winner since 1929. Set in 1929 Hollywood, “The Artist” remains faithful to the style of silent-era filmwith an effortless plot and magical acting by Frenchunknowns Jean Dujardin and the dazzling BéréniceBejo (as well as the film’s undisputed star, Uggiethe dog). Described as, “a love letter to cinema,” “The Artist” alludes to a century of classic films like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “A Star is Born” with stand-alone elegance.
DIVE Pick: Terrence Malick, “Tree of Life”
Nominees: Michel Hazanavicius, Alexander Payne,Martin Scorcese, Woody Allen, Terrence Malick
Reason: Imagine a biopic whose main protagonistis Life: Life’s life story. Now stop trying, and know that only a visionary like Terrence Malick could haveeven begun to do so. Instead of spanning one per-son’s life, he’s tackled 3.5 billion years of nature andgrace — tenderly focusing on the eternal struggle between the two. Mixing visual and aural sweepwith the handheld aesthetic of more quietist fare, Malick evokes polished naturalism perfectly suitedfor his infinite scope. Butterflies fleet like cosmoses, fathers pounce like dinosaurs. Malick coheres all hecan, beautifully and seemlessly. The only questionleft unexplored is, “Where is Malick’s Oscar?”
DIVE Pick: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”
Nominees: Demián Bichir, George Clooney, JeanDujardin, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt
Reason: Jean Dujardin is a clown, although in “The Artist,” you won’t find him climbing in and out of anytiny cars or taking pies to the face. Instead, I’m referring to the actor’s uncanny ability to vacillate fromemotion to emotion, a veritable human pendulum. In a movie where dialogue and sound are almost nonexistent, only an actor with a face like his could make you care so intrinsically — even illogically— about a downtrodden silent film star facing the advent of the talkies. Performances this winsomeare rare, and rarer still is Dujardin’s impressive abil-ity to mime and emote without even the smallest semblance of self-consciousness or blunder.
DIVE Pick: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady”
Nominees: Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara,Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams
Reason: Meryl Streep is a superstar. She’s undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s greatest and most prolific actresses, and some feel she should win an Oscar based on her body of work alone. She deserves tow in on Sunday night because in “The Iron Lady,” she outstrips her hype and quite simply becomes Margaret Thatcher. Streep and Thatcher have a lot in common. Both feminist icons have been heavily scrutinized by the camera’s lens. But by the end of “The Iron Lady” we forget we are watching a star,and instead see the British prime minister in hermany forms. Streep doesn’t just portray Thatcher,she embodies her, and that’s why she should win Best Actress.
DIVE Pick: “Tree of Life”
Nominees: “The Artist,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Hugo,” “Tree of Life,” “War Horse”
Reason: “Tree of Life” had a lot to accomplish in its portrayal of, well, everything. While the script was often vague and ripe for philosophy majors to ramble about, the same can’t be said for its cinematography. Emmanuel Lubezki’s visuals against orchestral classics and Malick’s blend of the grandness of nature make the metaphysical and ordinary human world a juggernaut in the realm of the surreal. Each shot uses the right lighting to give the image purityand full color. The film could not have engaged the mind as well without so artfully grounding itself inthe sensory world.
Best Original Score
DIVE Pick: “The Artist”
Nominees: “The Adventures of Tintin,” “The Artist,”“Hugo,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “War Horse”
Reason: Classic Hollywood has been immortal-ized with Ludovac Bource’s soaring score for “The Artist.” Constituting the voice of the characters inthis silent film, the score is expressive and charming, with melodies that can be simultaneously brightand darkly dramatic. The track “Pretty Peppy,” with its colorful notes, is a beautiful description of theconfident spunk that main character Peppy exudes.“My Suicide” paints a swelling melancholic picture of the pain her lover feels he cannot overcome. It’s all evidence of the masterful collection of emotion Bource has created.
- Elizabeth Byrum
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