Film: Oscar night preview

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February 24th, 2012

Omaha, NE – On this Friday before the biggest night in movies – Oscar Sunday – we checked in with a local film buff to talk about the main event. (The Movieha review team is on hiatus this week)

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The 84th annual Academy Awards airs Sunday night at 7:30pm on ABC.

Just like last year, there are 10 films up for an Academy Award for Best Picture this year. The list includes a range of films, from abstract examinations of what it all means in The Tree of Life, to a story of friendship and courage in War Horse, an epic tale from director Steven Spielberg based on a children’s novel.

The Academy of Motion Picture Sciences has purposely expanded its nominations from the traditional five to include a broader set of films, ones that may be less obscure to the regular film-going crowd, said Mark Hoeger, president of Oberon Entertainment and an adjunct professor of film history at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

“One always has to remember that the primary purpose of the Academy Awards is to sell more tickets,” Hoeger said. “In some ways, getting an Academy Award nomination is just as valuable as the award itself and by expanding the nominees for Best Picture, you can spread that happiness around a little bit, and also you could nominate a broader number of films hopefully attract a wider audience.”

But while perhaps a little more popular, the nominated films this year also have something in common that Hoeger said is more a reflection of the times. “I think there’s been a tendency towards lighter, happier, less intense films and that’s probably a result of the reaction to the economic times we’re going through,” Hoeger said.

Light or heavy, what’s topping the list of many film buffs, including Hoeger, as the strongest contenders for Best Picture are: The Artist, a French-directed homage to American silent films and Hugo, an American-directed homage to a French film pioneer.

The Artist, directed by French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, is a silent film tribute to the beginnings of American movie making:

Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese, is a homage to French film pioneer Georges Méliès:

And of course, not to leave out a hometown favorite, and a third pick in Hoeger’s most likely contenders list: The Descendants directed by Omaha-born Alexander Payne and starring George Clooney as a father trying to keep his family together, while his wife lives her final days on life support.

Hoeger also said he’d give George Clooney the nod for Best Actor for what he calls some of his best work. He’ll be up against another critic’s favorite: Gary Oldman for his nuanced performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

In the Best Actress category, Meryl Streep may take home her umpteenth award for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. But she’ll have some stiff competition from Michelle Williams who portrayed Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn.

The 84th annual Academy Awards airs Sunday night at 7:30pm on ABC. For a complete list of nominees, click here.

2 Responses

  1. Jean L. says:

    …”far less weighty fare in War Horse, an adventure story”…??
    (WWI resulted in more than 15 million dead and 20 million wounded, among the deadliest wars in history!)
    This film was full of powerful, shocking images of the battlefield. If you saw it you couldn’t have missed its messages of love, loyalty and bravery in the midst of horrific conflicts. It was touching, thought-provoking and even educational. Soldiers shot, stabbed and gassed — realities that existed and were portrayed candidly in this film — “less weighty”??

    • admin says:

      Hi Jean, I appreciate your comments. I intended the description to refer more to its basis on a children’s novel, and the friendship of a man and his horse. But you have a good point. I’ve altered that description.
      Thanks for reading!
      -Robyn

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