Academy Awards may awaken new nominations

Signal film critic predicts ‘The Artist’ will win best picture and director, while ‘The Help’ will sweep other categories at this year’s Academy Awards. (AP Photo)

Well people, it that’s time of year again — Oscar Night. When I plunk down in front of the television and scold the Academy for rewarding pandering, crowd-pleasing schlock instead of challenging, innovative art (forgive my snobbery). But hey, even if I don’t always agree with the Academy, I’ve decided to grit my teeth and predict whom I think the Academy will reward at this year’s award show. I’ve played favorites, but hear out my reasoning.

Best Picture: The Artist

This film has got everything the Academy loves — it’s a feel-good, non-offensive movie, with a love story of sorts to boot. Underneath its charming surface, “The Artist” even contains some moments of tragedy — the travails of an actor as the film industry moves from silent films to “talkies.” This is a good film, with moments that transcend the silent film genre in with real ingenuity. It hasn’t exactly stuck with me, but something tells me it will stick with Academy voters.

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Hazanavicius is a comparatively new director compared to prolific heavyweights like Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, but the Academy likes rewarding new directors. Hazanavicius infused his film with just enough charm to warrant this award, not to mention that the past winners have also won Best Picture for their efforts.

Best Actor: Jean Dujardin

Dujardin has some competition from Oscar darling George Clooney, but remember — Clooney already has a Supporting Actor Oscar for Syriana. Consider also that Dujardin has been cleaning house in many of the other awards shows, with a performance that demands a mostly physical and facial performance. The Academy will award him properly.

Best Actress: Viola Davis

Another case of David against Goliath, with Davis up against acting titaness Meryl Streep. But even if “The Help” did stir up some controversy for its alleged sugar-coating of the Civil Rights movement, the praise for Davis was universal — she was strong and confident in the role. What’s more, “The Help” received much stronger critical and audience reaction than Streep’s “The Iron Lady.”

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer

Christopher Plummer has only been nominated once in his extensive film career — two years ago. Not only is he due, he took on a role that demanded him to step out of his comfort zone, playing an elderly man who comes out to his son. Academy like very much.

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer

Spencer has received just as much acclaim for her performance as Davis, in her role as a maid in 1960s Mississippi. Spencer played her role with chutzpah, and her stiffest competition comes from Melissa McCarthy. Something tells me the Academy will take spunk over toilet humor.