This is going to be a tough year for the Academy Awards. Not only are several of the nominees downright undeserving (see, or better yet don't see, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," "War Horse" and "The Tree of Life," for starters), but it will also be the second Oscars since the passing of Hugh Mathis, a gay man beloved in the Chicago LGBT community, who knew how throw one heck of an Oscar party. Fear not, other Oscar parties abound, including the Center on Halsted's "On the Red Carpet" Oscar event on Feb. 26 at Park West, 322 W. Armitage, featuring Live Red Carpet Arrival, the Academy Awards Telecast, a silent auction and much more.
Ever since the Best Picture category was expanded to include up to 10 nominees, the category has been on a downhill trajectory. One of the few things that the Golden Globes gets right is the way that they divide the Best Motion Picture category into "Drama" and "Comedy or Musical" segments. At 84, Oscar is not too old to learn new tricks and this is one lesson to be taken to heart.
Of the nine Oscar-nominated movies in the Best Picture category – "The Artist," "The Descendants," "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," "The Help," "Hugo," "Midnight in Paris," "Moneyball," "The Tree of Life" and "War Horse" – the consensus is that "The Artist," a black and white silent film about Hollywood, is going to win. But, in terms of the true definition of a Best Picture, Martin Scorcese's film adaptation of "Hugo" (which also celebrates filmmaking of the past), really deserves to win.
When it comes to Best Actor, Academy voters did themselves (and moviegoers) a disservice by overlooking Ryan Gosling in "Drive." Gosling's triple play of "Crazy Stupid Love," "Drive" and "The Ides of March," made him one of the more ubiquitous actors of the year. Thankfully, he's not only a pleasure to look at but he can also act with the best of them. Because great minds think alike, perhaps that's why George Clooney, who should and will win for his moving performance in "The Descendants," cast Gosling in his political thriller "The Ides of March."
Let's be honest, the best actress of the year didn't even get nominated. Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of twins Mary-Kate and Ashley), in "Martha Marcy May Marlene," gave the kind of performance (as a young woman attempting regain control of her post-cult life) that stays with you long after the lights come on in the theater. Another young actress, Michelle Williams, gave a "should win" performance for her intuitive portrayal of damaged goddess Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn." However, the odds-on favorite looks like Viola Davis, the weakest link in "The Help."
Academy voters managed to get it right in one category with their nomination of Christopher Plummer for Supporting Actor in Mike Mills' marvelous gay-themed film "Beginners." Plummer, who plays a man who comes out as gay in his 70s, turned in the best performance of his career, one strong enough to make us forgive him for "The Sound of Music."
(Image: Academy Award® nominee Christopher Plummer (left) and Ewan McGregor (right) star as father and son in writer/director Mike Mills' Beginners, a Focus Features release.)
As with the Best Actress category, the same can be said for those nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Jennifer Aniston, the only thing not horrible about "Horrible Bosses," was wrongly overlooked for hysterical portrayal of an oversexed dentist. Who knew she could be that funny? Octavia Spencer, the best thing about the manipulative film "The Help," should and will win for her portrayal of Minnie, the downtrodden maid who got the last laugh.
Referring back to the Best Picture category, because "The Artist" will mostly likely take home the big prize of the evening, its director, Michel Hazanavicius is probably a safe bet for Best Director. But "Hugo" director Martin Scorcese, who gracefully stepped outside of his comfort zone and triumphed is equally deserving of an Academy Award.
Billy Crystal hosts the 84th Annual Academy Awards, Sunday, February 26 at 7 PM / 6 PM Central on ABC
Related: Walk the red carpet and chat with Precious Jewel and ChicagoPride.com's Stephen Young of StephenStyle.com, as they broadcast live in the Park West for the Center on Halsted's "On the Red Carpet" Oscar event on Feb. 26.