Sorry to keep you waiting all week, but just like the Academy, TCP also decided to save the best awards for last. Chris Hanna, Radina Papukchieva, Sophia Loffreda, and Owen Nagels break down the nominees in the leading categories.

The nominees for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role are:

Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis for The Help
Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams  for My Week with Marilyn

“I’ve been screaming it at the top of my lungs even before I saw My Week with Marilyn. Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe was the best female performance in 2011 (sorry, Meryl). And this is the best category at the Oscars this year. It is Williams’ third nomination (after Brokeback Mountain and Blue Valentine), and three may just be her lucky number.  As Marilyn, she completely melted under the larger-than-life bombshell’s skin – it was a bone-deep performance. “I hope I’m nowhere to be seen,” Williams said about her performance, and she succeeded in mesmerizing us the same way Monroe did. Impersonating a woman who has been such a huge part of Hollywood and public fantasy is not cut out for everyone. However, Streep’s take on Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady and Viola Davis in The Help are strong contenders. Still, I have hope that the Academy is still capable of surprising us.”  – Radina Papukchieva

“If there were categories that weren’t locks at this year’s Oscars, they are the lead acting ones. While the favourites to win have been Michelle Williams (as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn) and Meryl Streep (as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady), Viola Davis (The Help) was able to sneak in there and snatch the Screen Actor’s Guild Award in the category. The way that voting is done by the Academy could lead Davis to take home the Oscar, too. Because The Help is nominated for Best Picture, voters who do not vote for the film will vote for the performances as “consolation.” Also, the actors are the largest voting block of the Academy, and the actors have already voted for Davis! Streep and Williams more or less carry the films they star in by themselves. It should also be noted that The Help did very well at the box office and has been more widely seen than the other two films. My vote here is for Viola Davis, whose Aibileen Clark’s “you is kind, you is smart, you is important” speech slightly thawed my ice cold heart.” – Chris Hanna 

“For crying out loud, will someone please give Meryl Streep a Best Actress Oscar? It seems like she’s nominated year after year but gets overshadowed by younger, less seasoned actors who were given the role they were born for. Well time after time, Meryl blows her performance out of the field, but just can’t seem to catch a break. For example, Streep portrayed Julia Child perfectly, and although Sandra Bullock is a good actress and her performance in The Blind Side was great, was it really Oscar-worthy? I think my own grandmother could have pulled that off. This year, we’ve got Oscar newcomer Rooney Mara, and  second-time nominee Viola Davis (she was nominated for Best Supporting for Doubt in 2008) and although I haven’t seen them in their nominated roles, I’m sure they were great. Michelle Williams was probably an absolute genius as Marylin Monroe and if she wins, I’ll be happy for her. And Glenn Close was fantastic as Albert Nobbs. Now I’m not gonna lie, I haven’t seen The Iron Lady. But just from the previews, I can say without a doubt that Meryl Streep deserves the Oscar this year. Make me happy, Oscar voters.” – Owen Nagels

“I have to agree with Owen here, I just want Meryl to take home a little golden man already! She’s undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s most talented and most under-recognized actresses. Now, personal preferences aside, does she deserve the award? I believe so. Her performance as Margaret Thatcher was the only good thing about The Iron Lady, and I think it’s one of her best career performances to date. The accent, the gestures, the attitude – I thought she was spot on and very three dimensional as Thatcher. However, does Michelle Williams also deserve the best actress award? Yes. Absolutely. For this reason, I’m incredibly torn between these two contenders! I desperately want Meryl to win something, but I don’t know if she deserves to win over Williams. My Week with Marilyn was just breathtaking. I love Williams to death, and I didn’t recognize her once during the movie. She WAS Marilyn. No one has done the Hollywood icon justice, until now, and I think her performance might trump Meryl’s. Marilyn isn’t an easy woman to portray and Williams successfully made us love her, abhor her for her bad habits/naivety, and had us spellbound by the talent, beauty, and confusion that was Miss Monroe. In other words, I want to say Meryl but my heart is saying Michelle. Although I won’t be the least bit upset if Meryl wins, I hope voters don’t just vote for her because of guilt or because of the fact that she might as many chances as Michelle to be nominated in the coming years.” – Sophia Loffreda

The nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role are:

Demian Bichir for A Better Life
George Clooney for The Descendants
Jean Dujardin  for The Artist
Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt  for Moneyball

Oh my, so many wrongs with this category, but I’ll restrain from going into a rant (*coughFassbendercough*). Some great performances, including an always amazing Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but the two favorites are Jean Dujardin as George Valentin in The Artist, an actor who has to accept that silent movies are on their way out, and George Clooney as a soon-to-be-widowed dad in The Descendants. The Artist has been winning big in the critics’ circles; it was last seen taking all the awards at BAFTA. I would go with Dujardin, because Clooney is like the male Meryl Streep – he is above the awards, and his status as Hollywood’s top man won’t suffer, nor will it benefit greatly, from a Leading Actor Oscar, because he already has that status.  Dujardin, on the other hand, may be on his way to do some great things in Hollywood and become the female Marion Cotillard (psst Cotillard was virtually unknown to North American audiences until she snatched the Oscar for her role as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose in 2007).” – Radina Papukchieva

“I would love for Dujardin to become the next Cotillard, that would be fabulous! I adore him and his little dog Uggie in The Artist. Yes, there were a few travesties in terms of male best actor nominations (*coughRyanGoslingcough*), but it will make me happy to see Dujardin pick up this award. I have no doubt that he will. Like Radina, I don’t believe Clooney will win it this year. Brad Pitt has a good chance though – his turn in Moneyball was pretty damn fantastic. Regardless, I’m still going to go with Dujardin on this one. What’s wonderful is that apart from the joy of seeing a very deserving actor win, his accepting the award will also come with three things I look forward to: 1) seeing Uggie on stage, probably wearing a bow tie or something equally adorable 2) seeing whatever dapper tux or suit the french star will be wearing to the Oscars and 3) hearing his perfect french accent and french humour when he speaks on stage (the star laughed on during his Golden Globes acceptance speech, saying “Sorry, I’m French”). Can’t wait!” – Sophia Loffreda

“I’d say this award is still up in the air, and it would be between Jean Dujardin for The Artist or George Clooney for The Descendants. An actor does more than recite lines. Acting is reacting, and that has to be what Dujardin (and his face and eyebrows) was doing in the silent film. Clooney, though, make it look effortless. He *was* Matt King. He *was* the husband whose wife was in a coma. An Oscar for Dujardin would create a star (although I really think he’ll be getting lots of roles regardless of tonight’s outcome), but an Oscar for Clooney would cement his place in Hollywood. There’s a reason he is one of the most sought working actors: he is damn good.” – Chris Hanna

The nominees for Best Achievement in Directing are:

Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius  for The Artist
Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne for The Descendants
Martin Scorsese for Hugo

“This is a really tough category. Terrence Malick won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Festival for his gorgeous The Tree of Life, but Martin Scorsese stunned everyone with Hugo. Meanwhile, The Artist has been the main attention-grabber this awards season, and an Oscar for Michel Hazanavicius is very likely. Traditionally, the gold goes to the director who made the Best Picture, but it would be nice if Scorsese and Hazavinicius made a tie – Scorsese for Best Director and The Artist for Best Picture. We’ll see. Of course I don’t have to tell you my actual favorite in this category.” – Radina Papukchieva

“If it’s not Hazanavicius, it will be Scorsese. I think The Tree of Life has a good chance of winning for cinematography (it is a masterful film in terms of visuals), but the Best Director category belongs to The Artist or Hugo. I personally think Martin Scorsese will take it home, the directing for Hugo was more challenging and more deserving of the Oscar in my eyes. Whether it was with the fast and furious sprints through a crowded Parisian train station, the organizing of an eclectic and lovable station family or the creation of an other worldly hidden house of clocks, Scorsese blew us all away (as usual) for two whole hours during Hugo.” – Sophia Loffreda

“Hazanavicius will take it: The Artist is a novelty and for a silent film to be made that well in 2011, the same year that the third part of the Transformers films was released, is a testament to his commitment. Of course, the Weinsteins should get their due, too: it’s not everyday a studio backs a silent, black and white film.” – Chris Hanna

The nominees for Best Motion Picture are:

The Artist Thomas Langmann
The Descendants : Jim BurkeAlexander PayneJim Taylor
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close : Scott Rudin
The Help : Brunson GreenChris ColumbusMichael Barnathan
Hugo : Graham KingMartin Scorsese
Midnight in Paris : Letty AronsonStephen Tenenbaum
Moneyball : Michael De LucaRachael HorovitzBrad Pitt
The Tree of Life : Sarah GreenBill PohladDede GardnerGrant Hill
War Horse : Steven SpielbergKathleen Kennedy

Midnight in Paris is my favorite from all of the nominees, and I’d be in seventh heaven if it won the gold. But I think the competition is between The Help and The Artist. The Academy just loves movies that make us cry our hearts out (a testament to that is the fact the two less than good War Horse and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close are nominated), and The Help, with its great cast and sentimental story, is a strong contender. However, I think The Artist will be the Best Picture. When old is mixed with new, when music emerges from silence, and when Jean Dujardin and Uggie the dog grace the silver screen, we got magic. It is the Academy’s chance to award a wholly original film that honors the history and importance of movies in our lives.” – Radina Papukchieva

“What Radina just said. I couldn’t agree more!  I too would like to see Midnight in Paris win something; it goes down in history as one of my favorite films of all time.  But, I think it will take home the award for Best Screenplay. The Artist should and will win for Best Picture.  The old is new again, and seeing the public as well as the Academy Awards embrace a classic throwback like The Artist gives me hope.” – Sophia Loffreda

“I loved Hugo. It was my favourite movie of the year. A movie about movies, for movie-lovers of all ages. It was an almost magical experience that was gripping, sweet and thoughtful. The Artist will take the best picture award: it was a fine film with the buzz behind it to win the Oscar. I don’t think it was the best film of last year, but it was very, very good. I think the Academy should go back to five nominees. The “up to 10” category, I think, cheapens the award a little bit: are we really saying that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is in the same league as Hugo or The Descendants? If there were five nominees this year, they would have been The Artist, Hugo, The Descendants, The Help and War Horse, for its epicness and the fact that it’s a Spielberg film. I think it was a strong year for film, and an especially strong year for acting. If there’s a commonality to the best picture nominees, it is that they are wonderfully cast. But yes, The Artist will take it.” – Chris Hanna


About The Cafe Phenomenon

"The Cafe Phenomenon" refers to a situation, specifically in a cafe, where you are sitting with a friend and engaging in conversation with them, but you suddenly find yourself unable to listen because the background noise of the cafe distracts you from what they are saying (the background noise could be any thing: the gossip at the next table for example). It happens that, from time to time, in certain contexts the background noise is stronger and more defined than our personal and private one on one conversations. Our blog, made up of a group of friends from Concordia's journalism program, can serve as the background noise penetrating the intimate discussions of our virtual cafe dwellers (hopefully adding insight, relevant coverage, and interesting ideas). Or it can be the friend with whom you are deep in conversation. This, our dear readers, we leave to you.

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