The Academy Award nominations were announced this week, and if you're into this sort of thing you've already quietly picked out who you think will win, who you wish would win but probably won't, and who you are so indifferent to that you wouldn't see their movie unless it was being shown on an airplane, you were straight-jacketed into your seat, and the dialog was blasting over the intercom system. (On a personal note, that's how I finally saw Seabiscuit. It's really hard to blow your nose without using your hands!)
I love only two awards shows, the Oscars and the Golden Globes. I can't really explain why I care so much about celebrities two days a year, but do you know how much fun I had live-Tweeting the Golden Globes this year? I am holding my arms far apart enough to hug a giant panda, THAT is how much fun I had. (Giant pandas are mean. I risked my life to Tweet about Madonna's neckline.)
So let's look at the best actor and actress nominees and see what we think!
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Demián Bichir in "A Better Life" -- Demián Bichir and his brothers are so popular in Mexico that the Mexican MTV Movie awards has a special category just for them: "Best Bichir in a Movie." He's the first Mexican actor to be nominated since Anthony Quinn. He has a regular role in Showtime's "Weeds." I don't think he'll win, but I think it's awesome that he'll be there. Mexico, represent!
George Clooney in "The Descendants" -- Clooney has publicly worried that the dorky Hawaiian shirts and khakis he had to wear in this film would be the end of masculinity. This is one of those films that's supposed to be both funny and serious, which means he probably nails it. George won best supporting actor for Syriana in 2005, and this year he's also nominated in the best director and best screenplay categories for Ides of March. Might be too much Clooney for Oscar to choose from.
Jean Dujardin in "The Artist" -- I think this guy's going to take it, and not just because of the heart-throbby headshot on his Wikipedia page, where he looks like Gary Cooper crossed with Yves Montand. No, the movie was good, too! France, représent!
Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" -- In the last decade or so, Oldman's remade himself into an amazing character actor, which means his technique has become so invisble that I don't think he's Movie Star enough to win a best actor Oscar. It makes me sad to say that, but watching someone like him work reminds me that awards are actually pretty meaningless. That being said, I would swoon if he showed up in his vampire costume from Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Brad Pitt in "Moneyball" -- Hmm, Brad's looking a little rugged these days. I don't know if they used makeup to make him look that wrinkled or if he's been up too many late nights Ferberizing the kids. Be that as it may, he was really good in this. The National Society of Film Critics and the New York Critics Circle both gave him best actor awards this year for his work in both Moneyball and Tree of Life. Pitt's got a chance! And if he wins we all get pancakes.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs" -- The makeup Glenn Close wore for this absolutely haunts me. Maybe it's the tragedy of living a double life, or maybe it's because she looks pretty convincing as a man. Either way, Glenn's got the weight to pull a surprise win out of Oscar this year, after being nominated five times previously. She already won an Obie for playing the Albert Nobbs on Broadway in 1982, which blows my mind. To win an Oscar 30 years later for a project that's clearly close to her heart would be a thrill, but despite all that I feel like she's a longshot.
Viola Davis in "The Help" -- This is Viola's second Oscar nomination (her first was for Doubt). Aibileen was an incredible part and she was perfect in it. (I'm also digging the fact that THREE of our actress nominees -- Close, Davis, and Streep -- are over 40.) When asked by CNN's Showbiz Tonight about her chances of beating Meryl Streep, Viola was delightfully candid, saying, "I can whoop Meryl Streep's behind in a good, old fashioned street fight. Now, as far as the Oscars, I'm not sure about that."
Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" -- Rooney Mara is a killer. This is a dark, sexy, virtuoso role that will win Rooney a lot of independent awards, but makes her too dangerous for Oscar. Unless Oscar has seen her headshot, in which case Oscar will want to know who shaved the head of that innocent little girl, and why is she so angry? Sometimes Oscar reminds me of my mom.
Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady" -- And if Oscar actually were my mom, Meryl would win best actress this year. After she won the Golden Globe for this last week, I felt like she could steamroll her way up every red carpet she sets foot on this year. Or maybe I'm just intimidated by her wig.
Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn" -- Michelle Williams is amazing and versatile and we all still feel terrible that Heath Ledger died, and did I say what a smart, wonderful actress she is? But if you're going head-to-head against Meryl Streep in an Impersonating Historic Figures contest, you're going to need more than a wig and a girdle. I'm not feeling it for Michelle this year, but what do I know, right?
Most of the fun happens on the red carpet before the show even starts anyway.
Oscar photo by Shavar Ross/Flickr