The 84th Academy Awards: RVANews picks

The 84th edition of the Oscars are this Sunday, and we’ve done our best to give you the info you need to dominate your office Oscar pool.

By Susan Howson & Ross Catrow

The 84th edition of the Oscars are this Sunday, and we’ve done our best to give you the info you need to dominate your office Oscar pool. Well, that’s not completely true. Between the two of us, we some how managed to totally sleep on The Artist, which is probably going to sweep the whole shebang. So, other than that tiny oversight, read on and get excited for Sunday!

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(Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Adapted Screenplay)

My personal favorite! Look, you don’t have to be a baseball fan to be blown away by the writing, directing, and acting in this film. Every minute is fascinating in an unlikely way, and it’s the first Brad Pitt film I’ve seen in which I forgot I was watching Brad Pitt. I bet he’ll win Best Actor, but as it’s not nominated for Directing, it won’t win Best Picture (no matter how much I wish it). There’s a method to these things. –Susan Howson

It’s not a Sports Movie! I know, I know, it’s got ball right there in the title, what gives! I’ll tell you what gives: Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill turned out to be a fantastic onscreen duo. Who would have thought!? And even though Moneyball sounds like a boring true story about baseball (because it is–true, not boring) it’s still super compelling and worth a spot in your Netflix queue. –Ross Catrow

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The Help

(Best Picture, Actress in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role)

A good picture of race relations in the South never gets old. The book was decent and the movie was maybe even a little better, but I didn’t find anything brilliant about either. That said, it was solidly built and prettily shot, and the acting was first rate. I’d be surprised if Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer both won in their categories, but I’m almost positive at least one will. –SH

This is not the best movie made in 2011, but it is easily the movie with the best acting: a third of all the women nominated for acting are from The Help. It’s a good thing about the acting too, because the story dances around and over some of the uglier effects of racism in the South to leaving you with a feel-good ending. In my heart of hearts, I wish Jessica Chastain would win for her quirky roll, but “quirky” rarely beats “oppressed by racism,” as far as awards go. –RC

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Albert Nobbs

(Actress in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role)

Everyone was all a twitter about Glenn Close’s role in Albert Nobbs. She plays a woman who finds safety and security in passing as a man in a society none too friendly to women. The thing is, Janet McTeer outshines her in almost every scene. Actress in a Supporting Role is a real Sophie’s Choice for me, I want both McTeer and McCarthy to win! –RC

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(Original Screenplay, Actress in a Supporting Role)

Best movie of 2011. I am crossing my fingers that enough other people agreed and this comedy will win both of its awards. Melissa McCarthy forever! –SH

This really was the best movie of 2011. I tried to think of a film that I’ve seen since Black Swan that was truly fantastic, and the only one that stood out was Bridesmaids. I’m breaking out in a rashy fit of LOLs just thinking about it. –RC

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Midnight in Paris

(Directing, Best Picture, Original Screenplay)

Owen Wilson steps in where Woody Allen is (finally) too old to, which is such a genius casting choice that I’m not sure why ol’ Woodz didn’t think of it earlier. This adorable film is about nostalgia and letting it get the best of us, but it also is its own love letter to Paris. It’s Allen in his quirky, loving mood, which is a treat to watch but probably won’t take home many awards. –SH

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Set in Paris during the 1920s and featuring about a trillion cameos by famous people playing other famous people, this movie is charming and quirky. Just like Adrien Brody playing Salvador Dali (which was totally awesome)! Intellectuals and psuedo-intellectuals alike are going to love the pants off of this movie, but who knows why it’s nominated for best picture. –RC

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

(Actor in a Leading Role, Adapted Screenplay)

Did you ever wonder if a man could be nominated for Actor in a Leading Role yet say nary a word? Well turns out, yes! Gary Oldman, everyone’s favorite commissioner Gordon, really doesn’t say a lot in this film, but he sure acts a lot. –RC

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The Tree of Life

(Best Picture, Directing)

Overblown, pretentious BS. The fact that the screenplay and acting didn’t get any love is telling, I think. I’d be surprised if it won either of its categories, as it’s not accessible enough to make trillions of dollars in DVD sales. –SH

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A Better Life

(Actor in a Leading Role)

Immigration laws clearly blow, this film says, and it does a decent job of convincing you as much (applying a liberal dose of pity in the process). Demian Bichir’s Carlos, the illegal alien with a heart of gold, is endearing, and not just because he looks exactly like the Mexican version of Luke from Gilmore Girls. He won’t win, but his performance will most likely nail him a bunch of good roles in the future. –SH

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(Actor in a Supporting Role)

There’s nothing not to like about Beginners, except maybe that there’s nothing not to like. Everything is wonderful and touching and nothing conflicts with anything else. I’m OK with that once in awhile. Christopher Plummer is great, and I’d love to see him take home the Oscar. In fact, I think he could do just that. –SH

Christopher Plummer plays an aging, dying gay man who’s decided to come out of the closet and live life the way he always wanted. It’s charming, endearing, and lovely. Unfortunately he doesn’t turn purple, but he is gay. It’s an awards toss up. –RC

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Ides of March

(Adapted Screenplay)

I just made up a word, and that word is “Goslicious.” I was surprised that darling Ryan didn’t get a nomination for Ides of March, in which he plays a political campaigner whose faith in the system begins to crumble. The other nominees in the category are stronger, but I was happy to see it nominated. –SH

I just made up a word, and that word is “Cloontasm.” I wasn’t surprised at all that George Clooney was nominated in not one, but two categories this year. I mean, he wrote, directed, and costarred in this uberdepressing political tale. CLOONTASM. –RC

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

(Actress in a Leading Role)

An American remake of a perfectly fine Swedish movie? Sure, I guess? Rooney Mara does an admirable job, but is she playing the character in the books or the one defined by Swedish actress Noomi Rapace? Plus: Viola Davis. –RC

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Margin Call

(Original Screenplay)

Remember all the way back to 2007/8 when the economy tanked because of a bunch of jerks who probably would be played by Jeremy Irons if ever a movie were made of the situation? Well guess what? They did! And he/they was! If you want feel really terrible about “America” sit down and watch The Ides of March followed by Margin Call. A timely topic, but it’s got no chance against the other, stronger nominees in this category. –RC

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(Best Actor in a Supporting Role)

A tired old sports movie in knockoff designer clothing. Handheld cameras and jerky editing (as well as a really, really silly split screen montage) attempt to mask a soulless, manipulative script about two brothers in a mixed martial arts tournament. Every punch is predictable. Nick Nolte, nominated for his portrayal as their alcoholic father, gets really drunk in one scene. Zzzz. –SH

Nick Nolte is nominated not because he gets really drunk in one scene, but because he gets really drunk and turns purple. In the rest of his scenes he’s either a wise and recovering alcoholic, or a weeping pathetic coward–it’s kind of disorienting. Plus, to answer why a mediocre fighter can make it all the way to The Finals, we are repeatedly told “anything can happen in an MMA fight.” Sure. I mean guys, it’s a Sports Movie. Treat it as such. –RC

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The Picks


Best Picture

  • The Artist
  • The Descendants
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • The Help
  • Hugo
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Moneyball
  • The Tree of Life
  • War Horse

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Demian Bechir – A Better Life
  • George Clooney – The Descendants
  • Jean Dujardin – The Artist
  • Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • Brad Pitt – Moneyball

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs
  • Viola Davis – The Help
  • Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
  • Michelle Williams – My Week with Marilyn

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Kenneth Branagh – My Week with Marilyn
  • Jonah Hill – Moneyball
  • Nick Nolte – Warrior
  • Christopher Plummer – Beginners
  • Max von Sydow – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Berenice Bejo – The Artist
  • Jessica Chastain – The Help
  • Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
  • Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs
  • Octavia Spencer – The Help


  • Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
  • Alexander Payne- The Descendants
  • Martin Scorsese – Hugo
  • Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
  • Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • The Descendants
  • Hugo
  • The Ides of March
  • Moneyball
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • The Artist
  • Bridesmaids
  • Margin Call
  • Midnight in Paris
  • A Separation
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