Doug O'Neill: It's the category everyone talks about. I'm banking on The Help (and lead actress Viola Davis is my pick for best actress). A close second on my list is War Horse. If the Spielberg machine kicks in big time in the lead-up to the Oscars then of course I'll place my 11th hour bets on the horse.
But in terms of emotional wallop and dealing with a real issue, The Help has it, hands down. That polite form of racism that fuelled this beautifully written script was rife not too long ago and, sadly, still percolates through much of the southern United States.
The Artist is, well, too arty. Those flicks never win. And Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -- I doubt it will get anything near incredibly close.
Donna Paris: Ha ha! It's the only category anybody really cares about -- that's why they wait till the end to announce it. If they announced it at the start, no one would bother watching the rest of the show.
Anyway, you're wrong about the winner. It's got to be Hugo, which has 11 nominations. I hope it wins in every category. I think it was marketed incorrectly as a kids' flick. It's not. It's Martin Scorsese's chef d'oeuvre -- a brilliant celebration of cinema which reaches back to Hollywood's earliest days and showcases the technological high that movies can achieve now in 3-D. It's magical. Especially the scene where it's snowing.
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Who should and will go home empty-handed?
Doug O'Neill: If Meryl Streep goes home empty-handed I'll never watch the Oscars again. She portrayed something real, something visceral -- a once powerful woman in the throes of aging and dementia. It's life, it's what happens. But it's not a sexy role. It's not a romantic role.
The Academy gets funny. I remember the year both Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon got shut out of the Oscar race for their gripping roles in The Departed. Was it just too gritty?
Melissa McCarthy, nominated for best supporting actress for Bridesmaids will go home empty-handed -- as will the film itself. I tried watching it twice. Forced laughter, anyone?
Donna Paris: I hate to agree with you, but I have to agree with you. Meryl Streep it is. She's so good, she is better than a Popsicle on a hot summer day. But ohhhhh, Rooney Mara in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was ahhhmazing.
And I'm torn. I want Brad Pitt and George Clooney to both win best actor. One will go home empty-handed and that will make me cry. They were both such incredibly strong performances in two very different roles.
As for Melissa McCarthy, are you kidding me? She was totally legit in Bridesmaids, in a role usually reserved for a guy. I couldn't stop laughing -- she made me pee my pants a little bit. But oh, two words: Octavia Spencer. She was incredible in The Help.
The closest race?
Doug O'Neill: I'm stumped to predict the winner for the makeup category. Whoever transformed Glenn Close into Albert Nobbs is on equal footing with whoever transformed Meryl Streep into an aging, haggard Margaret Thatcher. I can't call that one. You Donna?
Donna Paris: No problem calling this one. Glenn Close and Meryl Streep are both beauties in this category. But it's definitely Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Who can deny an Oscar to this team for gorgeous Emma, aging makeup, battling wizards, a weakened Lucius and Voldemort? Although, I often wake up with Bellatrix Lestrange's hair in the morning without any help at all.
Page 2 of 3 -- Find out what Doug and Donna will be munching on come Oscar night on page 3.
Most puzzling nomination?
Doug O'Neill: I seriously don't get Midnight in Paris as a contender for best picture. It was entertaining, but too contrived. Bringing back Ernest Hemingway from the dead makes it a great film?
Donna Paris: The Tree of Life for best picture? I'm sorry, but I did not get this one bit. I mean, it was good, and I do love Sean Penn (and Brad Pitt!) -- they have delivered some breathtaking performances (and Brad Pitt!) -- but this movie just tried too hard to fit so much in. It was overwhelming. And I fell asleep. Is it me? Am I the only one?
Best cinematic moment in this year's roundup of nominees?
Doug O'Neill: Christopher Plummer coming out to his adult son played by Ewan McGregor. The parent-child role reversals in that movie were the best.
Donna Paris: Hands down, George Clooney saying goodbye to his wife when she was on life support. He wants to hate her because she had the affair and she was going to leave him, but he can't. It's so raw, so human.
Favourite newcomer to root for on the big night?
Doug O'Neill: Viola Davis. When I saw her in Doubt opposite Meryl Streep, I just knew we'd be seeing more of her and in a big way.
Donna Paris: Who is Demian Bichir? He beat Michael Fassbender and Leo DiCaprio for a best actor nomination -- and no, he's not a 20-something. He's almost 50. And he's hot.
And Rooney Mara, she was good in The Social Network last year, but was unbelievably brilliant this year in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Also, is this a bad time to bring up the fact that I can't believe we can't root for my favourite director, David Fincher, because he wasn't even nominated?!
What are you serving for munchies on Oscar night?
Doug O'Neill: It never changes. I pass the hat around 6:30, and order Chinese in for about 10 people. Keeping it simple. You?
Donna Paris: You know what? We go crazy at my place for the Oscars. I usually invite my sisters and friends over -- last year, I dressed in a ball gown and served fun cocktails like Negronis.
I think I'll do martinis this year, and a lovely sit-down dinner. Lasagna, of course. Then we like to comment on what everyone's wearing. The more cocktails we consume, the funnier the comments.
So, are Doug and Donna on the mark as movie critics? Add your comments to the discussion below.
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