The Oscars are fairly easy to predict, therefore if you know a little something about the film industry, it seems as so every year, there are no major surprises. The primary reason behind this is because I, like most people who follow the Oscars know who the average Oscar voter is- it is an elderly white male.
Therefore, with the 9 Oscar nominees this year, it was very easy to deduce it to only three films that stood a chance of winning. For example, although the Academy loves Martin Scorsese, and Hugo had a lot of similar themes to The Artist, the film centered around two kids, and the film was dismissed as a kids movie, and the Oscar voters would never want to give their prestigious Best Picture award to a kids film, and instead rewarded it heavily in the technical categories.
The Help, got strong reviews, had the best box office, and a lot of love from the Screen Actor’s Guild, receiving the ultimate prize at that award ceremony. But a film was primarily about women, most of them Africian American, and it seems the voters had a harder time relating to that film, then something similar to the Artist.
Besides, the inevitable silent film (marking the first win of a silent film for Best Picture since Wings at the very first Oscars), the other two films that stood a chance were the Descendants and War Horse. While on paper War Horse would seem like the ultimate winner, the reviews weren’t as strong, and there just wasn’t as much love for the film. While the Descendants, had a lot of support, however had nothing to distinguish it from any Alexander Payne, or even most George Clooney movies.
Besides the Best Picture Race, three of the four acting races seemed to go down as everyone predicted. The Help’s Octavia Spencer practically won every precursor to the Oscars, and her award came only to a surprise to her. Christopher Plummer, since his film came out in May was a favorite to win for his performance as a gay man with Terminal cancer in Beginners. At 82 years old, the Sound of Music Veteran became the oldest actor to win an acting Oscar.
George Clooney could never be counted out, but because of his 2005 win for Syriana, it was unlikely that the Academy was going to throw him a second award just a few years later, and ultimately the support for the Artist was just to overwhelming to NOT give Jean Dujardin the award.
Best Actress came as a surprise to a few since it seemed that Viola Davis from the Help was going to take the award over 17 time nominee (and two time winner Meryl Streep). While this might not have been Streep’s best performance recently, her award came as more of a career achievement. Considering she hadn’t won since 1982, the Academy felt it was time to give her another award.
Looking at these five awards did these people and ultimately the Artist deserve best picture?
For starters, both Christopher Plummer and Octavia Spencer did. The fact that neither had ever won (especially the former, only boosted their chances of winning). Also, the competition wasn’t particularly strong in the supporting categories this year, sorry Jonah Hill, it was the script and not you that warranted your nomination for Moneyball.
I personally believe that Dujardain rightly beat Clooney, as wearing a Hawaiin Shirt does not warrant good acting. Acting without speaking is much more difficult, and Dujardain was able to convey a great performance.
Streep did not deserve her Oscar for Iron Lady, as I believe it was more a really great impersonation as opposed to great acting. On the other hand Michelle Williams, played Marilyn Monroe wonderfully and deserved to take home the award. Viola Davis gave a great performance in The Help, but to give her best lead Actress, when she arguably is not the leading actress (Emma Stone) might have hurt her a little bit.
Finally, a lot of non-critics do not believe the Artist deserved Best Picture. I agree with most that it wasn’t the best movie of the year (although I think it was up there), but sometimes risks need to be rewarded. Sure, the story was unoriginal (its like a mash-up of Singin’ in the Rain and Sunset Boulevard), but the Academy likes to reward risks. When was the last silent movie to be released before the Artist? How many black and white films were released this century? Finally, the movie was about Hollywood, and that is the industry that the Academy voters obviously work in, and therefore there is a slight bias. Therefore, making the night one of very little surprises