Film & TV, The Muse

‘The stuff that dreams are made of’ A night at the Oscars with The MUSE

By Michela Smith & MUSE Contributors

The Academy Awards hold a simultaneously alluring and frustrating mystique for film audiences. As America’s oldest entertainment award, the Oscars entice audiences with Hollywood couples, glittering dresses, and childish hope that our favorites may be chosen: it would mean we had been chosen too. We experience this same phenomenon when we watch movies. We give ourselves over to escapism: to perfect love stories, to princess dresses and childish hopes.

Yet, the Oscars, just as the movies, can frustrate. By the stroke of midnight, we’re back in our living rooms, in our pajamas, inadequate. It was only escapism.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the 83rd Academy Awards broadcast this Sunday, February 26th at 8pm ET. The cultured MUSE Film staff has compiled both our picks for Sunday’ winners and suggestions on how to inject class into your East coast celebration. Your roommate won’t be able to help but say, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

“You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender.”: MUSE Oscar Predictions

Best Actor in a Leading Role

By: Michela Smith

Ever since the arrival of savior Marquis de Lafayette to deliver American Revolutionaries from near-death, it’s always seemed like the French can do it better…

Oozing rapturous charisma, Jean Dujardin mesmerized audiences this winter in The Artist, the silent – and painstakingly accurate – ode to classic Hollywood. Dujardin unwaveringly embodied the verve crucial to play George Valentine, that grandiose vivacity that all silent stars needed in the dialogue-free era. Intense dance lessons, deep study of silent films, and hang-out sessions to befriend canine co-star Uggie speak for Dujardin’s mastery of method acting – and of a commitment to his role that sends fellow nominees Bichir, Clooney, Oldman, and Pitt to the frostbite of Valley Forge.

In a perfectly fitted suit, Jean Dujardin will both win – and should win—the “Best Actor” prize on Sunday.


Best Actress in a Leading Role
By: Marisa Benjamin

The nominees this year for Best Actress in a Leading Role have brought in the both fresh and seasoned faces of Glenn Close, Viola David, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams.

Who do I think will win? Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher. One can always count on Streep to go above and beyond in her acting abilities. Streep’s portrayal of the young, charismatic to the elderly Thatcher shows that she’s still got it. With two “Best Actress” Academy Awards under her belt, Streep is always a front-runner at the Oscars. She is definitely in the clear for her third because of this impeccable performance.

But who should win? Michelle Williams of My Week with Marilyn. Despite mixed reviews and minimal Oscar attention on the film, Michelle Williams delivered the performance of her career. Williams captured the essence of Marilyn Monroe’s persona on-screen, while accurately portraying her less glamorous side, one filled with drugs, alcohol and depression. Williams is able to balance these two extremes so well that I was often convinced that I was watching the real Marilyn Monroe. Although this year’s award will most likely be going to the Oscar favorite Streep, Williams’s acting talents will not disappoint.


Best Cinematography
By: Sydney Moyer

The Artist both will win, and should win, the little golden man this season for cinematography. While many film enthusiasts and Scorsese disciples are betting on Hugo to take home the prize, Guillaume Schiffman’s camera work in The Artist had to accomplish a task not often left to the cinematography department: to tell the story in lieu of dialogue, an impressive feat that deserves recognition from the Academy. While films like The Tree of Life and War Horse may have been pretty to look at, the camera in The Artist holds a weight with which no other film can compete.


Best Art Direction
By: Mel Papalcure

Art Direction is typically hard to predict, and usually falls in the realm of elaborate, bubbling over scenery in a type of period or fantasy film. The nominees are The Artist, which is predicted to sweep up several Oscars, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2Hugo, Midnight in Paris, and War Horse. 

While The Artist may be a tempting candidate for this category, with its cool, clean shots, brimming with movement and energy, Hugo seems to have the biggest nod for this one. The ornate, magical world created by Dante Ferretti (Production Design) and Francesca Lo Schiavo (Set Decoration) has already received praise at Art Director’s guild awards, besting The Artist in the period category. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 won in the Fantasy category. Potter is notoriously snubbed by the Academy, despite the extremely intricate, fantastical, idyllic settings Stuart Craig and Stephenie McMillan have brought to audiences for years. Woody Allen’s films have never been given a nod for the Art Direction category, but Midnight in Paris weaves through time with masterful mise-en-scene work. War Horse, Stephen Spielberg’s WWI movie, boasts epic sweeps across beautiful expanses of land in England, as well as intense and devastating footage of burning battlefield massacres.

I predict it goes to Hugo, although I do feel Harry Potter deserves recognition, but it could be a very close call between Hugo and The Artist.


Best Director
By: David Karikomi

In a field of well-known and accomplished directors, it could be the largely unknown Michel Hazanavicious who takes the Oscar for “Best Director.” Hazanavicious’s The Artist is an ambitious homage to the silent, black and white era of film—resembling Martin Scorses’s Hugo—but also resurrecting and employing an obsolete convention. While it may not be as aesthetically pleasing (at least by contemporary standards) as Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life or Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, Hazanavicious was able to bring to the screen, once again, the magic and mystique of such a prominent and influential era of film.


Best Picture
By: Bryan Sih

Silent underdog The Artist has all the buzz and most of the nominations behind it. Here are three reasons why The Artist will win Best Picture.

First, it’s risky. No one would expect a silent film to be successful, and whoever invested in such a project was taking a gamble. But The Artist proves that film is at its best when the storytelling is visual, not dependent on dialogue.

Secondly, it’s allegorical: Audiences view The Artist as simple story of love and redemption, but it is saying much more. At the end of the film, sound (Peppy Miller) and silent (George Valentin) are together. Shouldn’t films aspire to such a relationship? Visual and sound elements coming together, balanced even, for a complete filmic experience?

Lastly, it’s a tribute to classic cinema, with its gorgeous black and white cinematography (an art in itself), its orchestral score, title cards, and then a breaking of those same conventions at the end, when Valentin is finally allowed to speak. Sound is used with such skill and meaning, one wishes other directors took note and stopped using ambient soundscape music for everything. In a word, The Artist reminds us of the strengths of cinema as an art form, and the pitfalls it has fallen into recently.


 “Life is a banquet…and most poor suckers are starving to death.”: Celebrate the Oscars with Boston Happenings

By: Michela Smith

If you can’t make it to Hollywood, but are still hoping for a night on the town, check out what Boston is doing to celebrate the film industry’s biggest night.


As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again” Movie Marathon with AMC. 

AMC Boston Common is showing all nine “Best Picture” nominees this weekend for one inclusive price. Along with admission, you receive a $5 AMC Gift Card for concession snacks and a free theatre-sized commemorative poster with artwork for all nine nominees.

On Saturday, AMC Boston Common will screen: War Horse, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and The Descendants. One-day pass for all four films: $30

On Sunday, AMC Boston Common will screen: Hugo, The Help, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Artist, and Midnight in Paris. One-day pass for all five films: $40.


“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”: Oscar Party at the Brattle Theatre

Cambridge’s famous Brattle Theatre hosts its own Oscar Party this Sunday, complete with complimentary cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, gift bags, a silent auction, and a viewing of the awards on the big screen. The downside? Tickets require a minimum donation of $75 to the Brattle Film Foundation. Have fun, students with trust funds!


“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!”: Dorm-Room Oscar Party

If you’re like the MUSE staff, you’ll probably celebrate the Oscars in the claustrophobic comfort of your dorm room. Never fear! Academy bets and balloting can be combative. The suit in your closet has reached an asbestos culture as sharp as any Armani. Bring your own snacks, glamour, and friends. It will provide surprising escapism.

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