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The Artist The De­scen­dants Ex­tremely Loud and In­cred­i­bly Close The Help Hugo Mid­night in Paris Money­ball The Tree of Life War Horse Put a line through ev­ery­thing bar ev­ery­one’s clear favourite ( The Artist ) and ev­ery­one’s sen­ti­men­tal choice ( The

De­scen­dants ). The Help has a faint chance of caus­ing a boil over, purely be­cause it’s the big­gest box- of­fice grosser in the field. All are wor­thy nom­i­nees ex­cept Ex­tremely

Loud, which re­port­edly made the cut by a hand­ful of votes.

De­serves to win, but won’t: The De­scen­dants and The Tree of Life rep­re­sent mod­ern Amer­i­can cinema at its most ap­peal­ing and most in­no­va­tive. Ei­ther would be an en­cour­ag­ing dis­play of great taste by the Academy in most other years. Strong ar­gu­ments can still be made in de­fence of

Money­ball and Hugo, but dis­closed form on the awards cir­cuit is against them.

And the win­ner is . . .

The Artist. In 2012, si­lence is golden at the Os­cars. So it’s made in France. So it’s in black and white. So it keeps com­ing at you like a play­ful puppy that won’t take no for an an­swer? So what? A best picture is worth a thou­sand words.

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