Friday, February 10, 2012

Oscar Season 2012 Has Arrived!

By Chip Schrader

Staff Columnist

As spring approaches, film buffs and movie fans alike have an annual event to look forward to that rivals the Christmas season DVD releases in November. The Oscars are quickly arriving, and it’ll delight many to hear names like Scorsese and Clooney mentioned. Conversely, though, is the hoopla surrounding two relatively new and unknown movies. One of which is a modern, nearly 100 percent-silent film from Harvey and Bob Weinstein. The second film is the English-American adaptation of one of the most successful novels of the last two years.

Martin (Marty) Scorsese was featured on CBS Sunday Morning two weeks ago implying that fatherhood has perhaps has mellowed him over the last few years. His wife suggested that Marty make a film that their daughter could watch, which ultimately resulted in Scorsese’s first real foray into three-dimensional cinema—Hugo, a family-friendly film based upon the children’s book, “The Adventures of Hugo Cabaret.”

The book itself boasts amazing visual elements that undoubtedly helped to inspire and challenge Scorsese to transition the story into film. The test—come Oscar-time—will be whether the Academy prefers the angry Scorsese of The Departed or the kid-friendly Scorsese that’s emerged this past year. Scorsese has competition for the Director category, though, as he is just one director amongst a staggering eleven nominations for Best Direction.

The Oscars began in 1929, just one year after the true end of the silent film era in 1928. French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist is the first full-length feature silent film to enter the Oscar race in several decades. After winning big at the Screen Actors Guild Award, Hazanavicius could very well the one to beat come Sunday, February 26—though, it should be said that Scorsese received the award at this year’s Golden Globes. Regardless, though, of past awards this season, it seems pretty divisive between the two-time Oscar-winning director the relatively unseasoned Hazanavicius.

The Artist is an evocation of an era that audiences can probably identify as the Roaring Twenties—complete with a stock market crash. Taking place in the final years of the silent film industry, Artist focuses upon silent-film star George Valentin—who fears that he will vanish from the public eye as the motion picture industry abandons silent film in favor of sound. Conversely, the film also focuses upon an up-and-rising starlet named Peppy Miller. The dichotomy between the two provides a solid plot point through the duration of the film. Inspired by silent film legend Rudolph Valentino, known simply as “Valentino,” Hazanavicius’ film has arrived at quite the appropriate time—considering the influx of horribly produced 3D-films like Clash of The Titans.

The Help, adapted from Katherine Stockett’s tremendously successful novel of the same name, has come out of almost nowhere as one of the Oscar favorites. Detailing the story of southern housemaids during the 1950s and 60s, The Help highlights the plight of women who helped to raise generations of southern children. After the cast’s recent numerous honors at the Screen Actors Guild and the Golden Globes, the film is being touted as the one to beat—especially in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories. The Help stands to win a fairly large percentage of their nominations, with Viola Davis for Best Actress, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain both for Best Supporting Actress, and the film itself up for Best Picture.

With film nominations running the gamut of family-friendly 3D fare to one writer’s experience in 1920s Paris—but, only at midnight—it really is anyone’s guess on which way the Academy will lean. With a wide variety of actors and directors nominated for their work, it’s impossible to say who deserves the award more than their peers—though with seasoned actors and directors facing off with young ingĂ©nues, it’s sure to be an exciting race.

The 84th annual Academy Awards air Sunday, February 26, at seven o’clock on AB