As the pre-Oscar season begins in earnest with the nominations from the Academy due Tuesday, Jan. 24, its time to pick some early Oscar favorites. All the award shows up to this point have merely been a mere bellwether of what the Academy Awards will bring on Feb. 26. Here are my early Oscar picks in 2012.
Best Movie: “Hugo” (2011)
Martin Scorsese’s magical movie is about the beginning of motion pictures with Ben Kinglsey in a stand-out role as Georges Melies, the man who sent a rocket into the moon’s eye in early film. Scorsese tells the story from the point of view of the artist, not the moguls, and that’s what makes this movie special. To my surprise, Sacha Baron Cohen was a real stand-out as the stationmaster after the boy who lives in a clock tower, played by Asa Butterfield, and Jude Law and Christopher Lee make memorable appearances too.
Runner-up: “The Artist” (2011)
Best Director: Martin Scorsese.
There shouldn’t be any question who should win this because Scorsese has not only offered up a perfect movie, he has taken the technology a step further than where it stood before. Suffice to say there were no cheap shots of fists or hats flying toward the camera and into the audience. This is the way 3D movies were meant to be made, and it’s wonderful to see papers flying and objects moving in a way that makes sense in a 3D movie. This is Scorsese at his best and it really doesn’t get any better than that.
Runner-up: Steven Spielberg “War Horse” (2011)
Best Actress: Tilda Swinton or Meryl Streep
I love horror movies, even if they’re harder to take when they seem to be about real people as in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” (2011). There is an eerie likeness between Swinton and her murderous son (played by three actors, Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell and Rocky Duer) in this movie that leaps off the screen and scares the bejeezus out of you.
Runner-up: Viola Davis for “The Help” (2011)
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio
If we are judging solely on the ability of an actor to inhabit the skin of the person they are portraying onscreen, Leonardo DiCaprio should win for his biography of the FBI director in “J. Edgar” (2011). I swear DiCaprio began to look exactly like Hoover in this role; how scary is that? Hands down one of the best actors on the screen today, DiCaprio deserves this.
Runner-up: Gary Oldman in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”