published Friday, January 27th, 2012

Movie fans react with excitement to Oscar nominees

Jennifer Lawrence, left, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak announce the Original Screenplay nominations for the 84th Annual Academy Awards on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The 84th Annual Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.
Jennifer Lawrence, left, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak announce the Original Screenplay nominations for the 84th Annual Academy Awards on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The 84th Annual Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.
(AP Photo by Matt Sayles)

Sarah Cox doesn’t care who is playing in that NFL championship game on Feb. 5, but she does care who wins trophies on Feb. 26.

“The Oscars are the Super Bowl to me,” said Cox, a self-described “major movie dork.”

Though she labeled the Academy Award nominations announced this week as “predictable,” Cox said she is still eagerly awaiting this year’s ceremony.

Richard Winham, a personality for WUTC radio, pointed out that the top nominees, “Hugo” and “The Artist,” have something in common: an expression of love for the art of film itself.

“It’s telling, I suppose, that ‘The Artist’ and ‘Hugo,’ both of which are sort of homages to Hollywood, have gotten the most votes,” he said. “There’s some measure of self-congratulation that’s kind of icky.”

Bo Wheeler, production manager at Fox 61, said he agreed about the predictability of the nominees, for the most part.

“It’s exactly what I expected,” he said. “Though I’m surprised ‘Moneyball’ got so much attention. It’s not as arty (as some of the others)”

Despite bemoaning the politics of the Oscars, these and other local film lovers spoke thoughtfully about the nominees for the 84th annual awards ceremony.

BEST ACTRESS

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”

According to Bo Wheeler, Glenn Close was a shoo-in to be nominated for “Albert Nobbs,” in which she plays a woman posing as a man in early 20th-century Ireland.

“If you play a different gender, if you play someone who’s playing a different gender, you obviously have to be nominated,” he said.

Winham thinks it “seems inevitable” that Streep will walk away with the prize for portraying Britain’s only female prime minister, and Wheeler agreed that playing such a “strong personality” will give Streep the edge.

Meanwhile, Winer and Cox go head-to-head again, with Winer favoring Michelle Williams in “My Week With Marilyn,” and Cox questioning the nomination.

“I don’t think (Williams) deserved the nomination,” she said. “I thought if it had to be between (Charlize Theron in “Young Adult” and Williams), I would have liked to see (Theron) be nominated over Michelle Williams.”

Cox favors Viola Davis. “She might be the dark horse that wins.”

Rooney Mara, she said, doesn’t stand a chance, but she was pleased to see her nominated.

BEST ACTOR

Demián Bichir “A Better Life”

George Clooney “The Descendants”

Jean Dujardin “The Artist”

Gary Oldman “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

Brad Pitt “Moneyball”

“Moneyball” got more of the love Wheeler was surprised to see here, with a Best Actor nomination going to Brad Pitt for his role as Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane.

“I’m tempted to say Brad Pitt (will win), because he was so good,” Winham said. “I’d like to see (fellow Brit) Gary Oldman get it, and that’s not just a native thing. I don’t think he’s really received his due.”

This is Oldman’s first nod, whereas Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep finds herself in the Oscar race for the 17th time.

Sanford Winer, who chairs the Chattanooga Jewish Film Festival, also favors Pitt, who was very good, he said, though he didn’t particularly care for the film as a whole, or “The Artist’s” Jean Dujardin.

Clooney, on the other hand, was “very average,” Winer said. “I was kind of disappointed in that movie, I guess.”

Kris Jones, a professor in the Chattanooga State Community College film and television program, expects “The Descendants” actor to walk away with it.

“Everyone is saying this is Clooney’s year,” he said.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Bérénice Bejo “The Artist”

Jessica Chastain “The Help”

Melissa McCarthy “Bridesmaids”

Janet McTeer “Albert Nobbs”

Octavia Spencer “The Help”

Despite the attention and accolades funny lady Melissa McCarthy has received for her role in “Bridesmaids,” the raunchy nature of the film has some dismissing it. In addition to McCarthy’s nomination, writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo also received recognition for screenplay.

“Just that ‘Bridesmaids’ was even being considered is huge,” Cox said. “It was so well-written, and there are so many comedies that are so well-written and they’re not even considered. Especially with it being an all-female cast.”

Cox hopes McCarthy or Octavia Spencer will walk away with the prize, but predicts the award will go to Bérénice Bejo.

Wheeler said he isn’t sure who will win but expressed skepticism about Jessica Chastain’s nomination.

“I didn’t know the performance was something they would nominate,” he said, adding that he would have nominated Emma Stone over Chastain. He also doubts McCarthy will take home the prize.

Her performance, he said, “is incredible, but an Oscar winner? I don’t know.”

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Kenneth Branagh “My Week With Marilyn”

Jonah Hill “Moneyball”

Nick Nolte “Warrior”

Christopher Plummer “Beginners”

Max von Sydow “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Jonah Hill, another performer best known for broad comedy, was a surprise, albeit a pleasant one, to some.

“I kind of like that Jonah Hill was nominated for ‘Moneyball,’ ” Cox said. “It’s nice that he’s taken a break from comedy to show he can be a serious actor.”

Winham agreed. “He’s an interesting character. He plays him really well. He’s a bit of a schlub, and yet he becomes the pivotal character in the film. I think Jonah took what is the quintessential buddy part.”

His money, however, is on Christopher Plummer. “Good actor, good reviews, in his 80s ... you know, Hollywood is nothing if not sentimental.”

“It’s so political,” agreed Cox.

Wheeler also favors Plummer, although he said the octogenarian actor’s performance qualified more as a leading role in his mind.

Cox said she thought Albert Brooks should have been nominated for “Drive.”

“You don’t like me. You really don’t like me,” Brooks tweeted Tuesday, in a send-up of Sally Field’s infamous 1985 Oscar speech.

BEST PICTURE

“The Artist”

“The Descendants”

“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

“The Help”

“Hugo”

“Midnight in Paris”

“Moneyball”

“The Tree of Life”

“War Horse”

Both Cox and Winer are rooting for “The Help.”

“I could relate to that movie very closely. I was born in 1940, so I was a teenager in the ’50s,” Winer said. “I went to segregated schools in Chattanooga. A lot of people knew that what was going on was wrong, but nobody really did much about it.”

The film appeals to both men and women, despite its female slant, Cox added.

“My dad watched it,” she said. “My dad doesn’t watch movies like that. And he said, ‘That was really good.’ ”

Cox said she thinks “The Artist” is the likely Best Picture winner however.

“I think ‘The Artist’ is going to sweep the whole Oscars,” she said.

Cox and Winer also agree on a film they would not like to see win: “The Tree of Life,” which both described as too incomprehensible.

Winer’s personal preference is “Midnight in Paris.” “I love everything Woody Allen does,” he said, “so that’s kind of my prejudice.”

Winham found Allen’s homage to Paris in the ’20s to be “kind of lame,” and dismissed “Tree of Life” as “too arty for the Oscars.”

DIRECTOR

Michel Hazanavicius

“The Artist”

Alexander Payne “The Descendants”

Martin Scorsese “Hugo”

Woody Allen “Midnight in Paris”

Terrence Malick “The Tree of Life”

While Jones said he thinks “The Artist” will go home with a number of awards — “it dared to do something very unique” — he thinks “people are looking for something different.” He expects Alexander Payne to take the prize for directing “The Descendants.”

As a fan of Martin Scorsese, however, Jones said his personal preference would be for “Hugo,” a film he thinks will win in technical categories. The legendary director’s first foray into 3-D received nominations for art direction, cinematography (“The Tree of Life” will take that award, Jones said), costume design and music, among others.

Wheeler also favors Scorsese and said it’s a toss-up between him and Hazanavicius, while Cox expressed a belief that “The Help” director Tate Taylor was snubbed in the directing category.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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