The biggest question heading into Oscar night is how well will “The Artist” do? Will it be a film that captures only the top awards of the evening, like “The King’s Speech” or “No Country For Old Men,” or will it sweep through most of the categories it’s nominated in, like “Return of the King” or “Slumdog Millionaire?” Knowing the answer to this question will be the key in effectively predicting this year’s Oscars.
Argubly, the last film to really “sweep” the Oscars was “Slumdog Millionaire.” It won 8 Academy Awards, including one for Best Sound, which came as almost a total surprise. Looking back on that year, people really loved that film. It captured people’s hearts and came at a time when people really wanted or need inspiration. “The Artist” has a strong emotional pull, but it’s not the kind of underdog love story that Slumdog was. It also doesn’t quite have the same commercial appeal. In fact, one of the biggest knocks on “The Artist” is that so few people have actually seen it.
Perhaps a better model for “The Artist” is “The Hurt Locker,” which won six Academy Awards. “The Hurt Locker” was not overwhelmingly beloved, but the critics were solidly behind it. The categories it won were categories it probably should have won, such as editing, sound, and sound editing. One thing that “The Hurt Locker” had going for it was that it was pitted against James Cameron’s “Avatar.” There seemed to be a bit of an “Avatar” backlash in the last few weeks leading up to the Oscars which may have helped Locker in the tech categories.
Ok, so let’s break it down. With its recent momentum and having won the major awards up to this point, “The Artist” should be in good shape to win the biggest awards of the night: Best Picture, Director, and Actor. Then there is score, which should be a near lock since it’s won every award for best score so far. That brings the total to four. Not a bad number, but not distinguishable from so many other forgettable Best Picture winners.
Its remaining nominations are in supporting actress, art direction, cinematography, costume design, editing, and original screenplay. Supporting actress and screenplay seem like longshots. Octavia Spencer has won everything to date and voters will likely want to award Best Picture nominee “Midnight in Paris” with something. Art direction may be tough too because the sets in “Hugo” were truly amazing. That leaves cinematography, costume design, and editing. With no clear frontrunner in those categories, there is a good chance voters will check off “The Artist.” Costume Design may be the closest since Sandy Powell (“Hugo”) is an Academy favorite. But all in all, you are looking at 6-7 total Oscars, which would be more than a respectable haul for any film.
Maybe once “The Artist” takes home six Oscars people will finally give the “black and white silent film” a chance and set aside an hour and a half of their time to a true cinematic masterpiece. That still might be too much to hope for. Weigh in with your thoughts…