Oscar 2012 recap

This was a good year for gays at the Oscars — at least on screen. Of the 20 characters whose portrayers were nominated for acting Oscars, five — Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Rooney Mara, Kenneth Branagh (as bisexual Laurence Olivier) and Christopher Plummer — were members of the LGBT community. (I also have my suspicions about Jonah Hill’s character.) In the end, only one — Plummer — ended up in the winners’ circle, but it was a sweet victory nonetheless.

Onstage, Meryl Streep’s makeup artist seemed to be the only gay winner, though you can never tell about those sound mixers.

For those keeping track, I correctly picked seven of the top eight categories (missing only original screenplay), but the raft categories proved to be a crap-shoot: some very puzzling victories (for instance, Hugo for visual effects over the far superior achievements of Rise of the Planet of the Apes) muddled things.

Although both won five Oscars, in head-to-heads between The Artist and Hugo, The Artist came out ahead, beating Hugo for best picture, director, score and costumes. Hugo beat The Artist in direct competition for cinematography and art direction. Remarkably, neither of the frontrunners won for their screenplays, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the (happy) surprise winner for film editing.

See the list of last night’s winners after the jump:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The Oscar scorecard


Gay folks — both actors, characters and behind the scenes — are easier to find at the Tonys and Emmys than at the Oscars; it’s one of the reasons we get so excited about Brokeback Mountain and The Kids Are All Right.

But the Oscars do occasionally have their queer appeal — one of the frontrunners this year is an elderly man who comes out as gay to his adult son’s dismay.

Here’s a scorecard for those keeping track,
including who will win and who should … and who might sneak in. Let the office pool begin!

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Picture: Who will win: The Artist, pictured. Who should win: The Help. Spoiler:
The Descendants.

Director: Who will win: Michel Hazavanicius, The Artist. Who should win: Terrence Malick,
Tree of Life. Spoiler: Martin Scorsese, Hugo.

Actor: Who will/should win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist. Spoiler: George Clooney,
The Descendants.

Actress: Who will/should win: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady. Spoiler: Viola Davis, The Help.

Supporting Actor: Who will/should win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners. Spoiler: None.

Supporting Actress: Who will/should win:
Octavia Spencer, The Help. Spoiler: None.

Original Screenplay: Who will/should win: The Artist. Spoiler: Midnight in Paris.

Adapted Screenplay: Who will/should win: The Descendants. Spoiler: Tinker Tailor Solider Spy.

Cinematography: Who will win: The Artist. Who should win/spoiler: The Tree of Life.

Film Editing: Who will win: Hugo. Who should win:  Moneyball. Spoiler: Descendants.

Art Direction: Who will/should win: Hugo.

Costume Design: Who will/should win: Anonymous. Spoiler: Hugo.

Score: Who will/should win: The Artist.

Song: Who will/should win: The Muppets.

Sound Mixing: Who will win: Hugo.

Sound Editing: Who will win: War Horse.

Visual Effects: Who will/should win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Spoiler: Real Steel.

Makeup: Who will/should win: Albert Nobbs. Spoiler: The Iron Lady.

Foreign Language Film: Who will win: In Darkness. Spoiler: A Separation.

Animated Feature Film: Who will win:
Chico and Rita. Spoiler: Rango.

Documentary Feature Film: Who will win:
Undefeated. Who should win: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. Spoiler: Pina.

Live Action Short Subject: Who will/should win: Raju. Spoiler: Tuba Atlantic.

Animated Short Subject: Who will/should win: The Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Spoiler: La Luna.

Documentary Short Subject: Who will win:
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

The Oscar race!

Need a jump on the office pool? We handicap the year’s likely nominees


GAY FOR PLAY | Christopher Plummer (center), as a man who come out in his 70s, is a sure-bet for a best supporting actor Oscar nomination Tuesday.

The Academy Awards will announce their nominations on Tuesday morning … and I’ll be there. Yep, after years of writing about the Oscars, I’ll finally attend them (in part) while watching from the Academy auditorium as this year’s crop will be winnowed down to five (and for best picture, perhaps more) in each category.

And while some seem to be sure things, in some ways it’s a wide-open year. No one film, or even two or three, seem likely to dominate, the way last year’s The King’s Speech, The Social Network and True Grit did, or how Avatar and The Hurt Locker looked to dominate in 2009… and did.

Will The Help manage multiple acting nominees in addition to best picture and even director? Will the excellent Girl with the Dragon Tattoo surge near the end and get more than its lukewarm reception so far would indicate? Could Ghost Protocol actually surprise people? (The last seems unlikely, except in craft categories.)

There are some promising gay-interest nominees in addition to Tattoo: Shame, J. Edgar, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Beginners (Christopher Plummer seems a lock to win), even My Week with Marilyn.

Here then are my predictions in the major categories (listed roughly in their likelihood of being among the nominees).

And look on Instant Tea Tuesday or follow me on Twitter @ CriticalMassTX, where I’ll live tweet the experience at the Academy.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Picture (up to 10 nominees this year): The Artist; Hugo; The Descendants; The Help; Moneyball; Midnight in Paris; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Tree of Life; War Horse; Shame; Drive.

Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Martin Scorsese, Hugo; Alexander Payne, The Descendants; Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life; Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris; David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Steve McQueen, Shame; Steven Spielberg, War Horse.

Actor: George Clooney, The Descendants; Jean Dujardin, The Artist; Brad Pitt, Moneyball; Michael Fassbender, Shame; Leonard DiCaprio, J. Edgar; Michael Shannon, Take Shelter; Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady; Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs; Viola Davis, The Help; Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn; Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin; Charlize Theron, Young Adult.

Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners; Albert Brooks, Drive; Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn; Armie Hammer, J. Edgar; Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Jonah Hill, Moneyball; Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method; Patton Oswald, Young Adult; Jim Broadbent, The Iron Lady.

Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help; Berenice Bejo, The Artist; Carey Mulligan, Shame; Shailene Woodley, The Descendants; Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs; Judi Dench, My Week with Marilyn; Jessica Chastain, The Help; Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids.



Read Chris Azzopardi’s exclusive interview with likely Oscar nominee (and this week’s Golden Globe winner) Meryl Streep at DallasVoice.com/category/Screen, and read Instant Tea Tuesday morning as Arnold Wayne Jones live blogs about the nominations from Hollywood.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

2011 Year in Review: Movies


INSANE FOR HUSSEIN | Dominic Cooper delivered the year’s most overlooked performance: A riveting dual role as Saddam Hussein’s gangsta son Uday and the doppelganger who impersonates him in ‘The Devil’s Double.’

Life+Style Editor

It took awhile, but 2011 ended up being a decent year for movies, with Hollywood actually financing some edgy stuff and even giving some heft to their high-concept tentpole movies (four of the best entertainments — Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, X-Men: First Class and Mission Impossible 4 — superhero actioners).

10. Midnight in Paris. After years of middling (sometimes unwatchable) films, Woody Allen finally found his avatar in Owen Wilson with this, his best comedy since 1995’s Mighty Aphrodite.

9. Anonymous. A huge flop in the fall, audiences failed to connect with this thrilling (though highly fictionalized) riff on whether Shakespeare really wrote his plays. The premise was compellingly told, however, mixing action, a love of language, political savvy and romance in a satisfying way. Biggest surprise of all? Gay director Roland Emmerich of mindless action films like Godzilla and 10,000 B.C. was responsible. Maybe that’s what critics couldn’t get behind it.

8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Debate if you will the literary merits of Stieg Larsson’s rangy trilogy about a hacker and a journalist uniting to take down Fascists, but David Fincher’s thoughtful, well-paced thriller was faithful to the spirit of the book, while turning it into a cinematic mind-fuck of a movie, almost as bleak as his signature piece, Se7en.

7. Shame. British director Steve McQueen’s close-to-the-vest investigation of the modern male psyche was as unnerving to watch as it was captivating, delving into dark areas of sexuality with brilliant visual flourishes.



MAID TO ORDER | Octavia Spencer, right, made ‘The Help’ one of the funniest and most poignant films of 2011.

6. Weekend. Two queer Brits spend a night together, but explore something more about the nature of gay relationships of today in this frank, compelling and sexy drama.

5. The Devil’s Double. Poor Dominic Cooper seems to have been all but forgotten by most critics, but his dual role as Uday Hussein and his body double was exciting and frightening, but also finely detailed — how many people get to play both the protagonist and the villain in the same movie? Vivid and energetic, this is the Scorsese film Scorsese should have made instead of the twee kid’s fantasy Hugo: It’s Goodfellas in the desert.

4. The Skin I Live In. Pedro Almodovar returned to great Hitchcockian form with this masterful mystery about a beautiful woman held captive by a perverse surgeon (Antonio Banderas). Layers upon layers are revealed on the way to a breathless, fantastical explanation, aided incalculably by Alberto Iglesias’ fantastic score — one of the best ever written for the screen.

3. The Tree of Life. It may sound like a cop-out, but Terry Malick’s tone poem of a film defies critical analysis. You simply allow yourself to be washed away by his experimental filmic mood shifts, or you resist. Giving over resulted in one of the dreamiest experiences I’ve ever had at the movies.

2. Beginners. Christopher Plummer gave perhaps the performance of the year, if not his career, as a septuagenarian who comes out and enjoys his final years embracing life. Mike Mills’ quasi-autobiographical film was humorous, poignant and delightfully quirky.

1. The Help. Along with Dragon Tattoo, writer-director Tate Taylor showed how to adapt a popular novel to the screen while retaining its literary merits and adding cinematic flair. One of the best shot movies of 2011, it was also exceptionally well-acted by the entire cast, but especially Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas