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Oscar predictions from an insider: Academy member Robb Royer shares his views

Delaney Royer, Photography Editor

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I interviewed Academy Award Winner and member of the Academy Robb Royer (coincidentally sharing my last name) who has seen all the nominated movies. For what it’s worth, here are his opinions.

“Tree of Life”:

“Terrence Malick, a somewhat hermetic recluse who emerges from complete obscurity once every fifteen or twenty years to make a film, directed ‘Tree of Life.’ Like all Malick movies, ‘Tree of Life’ was fantastic to look at, but difficult to follow. It tells a story of a demanding father and his two young boys and feels a need to go back to the beginning of the universe. The formation of stars and creatures crawling from the primordial ooze was all included. Then the movie jumps ahead to the boys’ adulthood and eventually one’s death. Anyone who is into photography or cinematography should watch this movie.”

“The Help”:

“’The Help’ is a story of the plight of black servants serving prejudiced white masters. Slavery has ended, but some of its trappings remain. There were excellent performances by many of the actors, especially the two black leads, yet in general it had bad directing and an uneven tone.”

“Midnight in Paris”:

“’Midnight in Paris’ is a charming fantasy about a writer escaping to the golden age in Paris during the 20s and meeting the luminaries of the time. The actual story is a little weak, and unfortunately all of the characters sound like Woody Allen; however, the fantasy sequence is so much fun that it is worth seeing.”

“The Artist”:

“’The Artist’ is an extremely well observed and detailed paean to the silent film era. It was obviously inspired by the story of Rudolph Valentino. Director Hazanavicius paid particular attention to the art form of the movie, and he proved it to be a labor of love.”

“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”:

“This movie was a tear-jerking and overwrought story about a boy who loses his father in the 9/11 attacks. The boy attempts to find some kind of closure through his discovery of a key. Apparently the symbolism of finding the lock to match the key is intended by the director to reflect finding the key to the boy’s emotional distress. Everything was too repetitious, and it didn’t work for me at all. By the time I was 3/4ths into the movie, I wanted to slap the boy for his incessant banter.”

“The Descendants”:

“’The Descendants’ was an entertaining if unspectacular movie about a man who, while his wife is in a coma, finds out she has been cheating on him. This crisis sets off a story of family rediscovery and bonding. It was elevated to serious Oscar discussion more by the weakness of the field than its own accomplishments.”

“Hugo”:

“’Hugo’ was a fabulous-looking film. Anyone interested in art, photography, cinematography, or mechanics should watch it for its unforgettable imagery. Unfortunately, the story is weak, extremely slow, and meandering. The director’s attempts to infuse comedy failed. This is a classic example of a movie that tries to play on too many levels.”

“Moneyball”:

“’Moneyball’ is a movie that is getting a lot of Oscar buzz this year, and I am not at all sure why. It’s the story of the general manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team who, dealing with a short budget, finds other means of evaluating baseball players. It was a successful book, and probably works as a book, but since the movie led absolutely nowhere, it was a very unsatisfying movie.”

“War Horse”:

“Spielberg’s strength and weaknesses as a film maker are well known. Over the years he has given us ‘Jaws,’ ‘E.T.,’ ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and the incredible ‘Schlindler’s List.’ At his best, he has a total command of the filmic medium, tremendous ability to engage you with his characters and the drama of the situations. At his worst, he is overly adorable, manipulative, melodramatic and his movies seem to end several times. ‘War Horse’ has elements of both his strengths and weaknesses, yet sadly, it tilts slightly toward the weaknesses. ‘War Horse’ is a variation of the off told ‘boy and his dog’ story, only with a larger mammal. It’s a story of a horse that is bought inexplicably at an auction, by a farmer who can’t afford it, pays several times what the horse is worth and it’s not the kind of horse he’s looking for anyway. Basically, it begins with a big ‘Huh?’ The farmer’s son falls in love with the horse, bonds with it, trains with it and works it. Unavoidably, they are separated, and most of the movie is about everything that happened between the time the boy loses his horse and the time they are reunited. There’s kind of a problem here because either the boy will find his horse or he won’t. If he does, it’s irritatingly predictable, and if he doesn’t, it’s a cause for complete rebellion. Second only to Spielberg’s self-penned movie, ‘A I,’ this movie holds the record for multiple Spielbergian endings.”

*On a side note: A movie has to be able to stand on its own, whether or not one has read the book that it is based on. This is true for “Moneyball,” “The Help,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” and “War Horse.” The previous reviews were based solely on the movie and its production.

Best Picture

Nominees: “The Descendants,” “The Help,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Hugo,” “The Tree of Life,” “The Artist,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “War Horse” and Moneyball

Predicted Win: “The Artist”

Best Actor

Nominees: George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman, Demian Bichir and Brad Pitt

Predicted Win: Jean Dujardin

Best Actress

Nominees: Glenn Close, Michelle Williams, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep and Viola Davis

Predicted Win: Viola Davis

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Jonah Hill, Nick Nolte, Christopher Plummer, Kenneth Branagh and Max von Sydow

Predicted Win: Can’t Even Venture a Guess

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Jessica Chastain, Janet McTeer, Octavia Spencer, Melissa McCarthy and Berenice Bejo

Predicted Win: Octavia Spencer

Best Director

Nominees: Michel Hazanavicius, Martin Scorsese, Terrence Malick, Alexander Payne and Woody Allen

Predicted Win: Michel Hazanavicius

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Oscar predictions from an insider: Academy member Robb Royer shares his views