Oscar madness: review of this year’s top Oscar nominees

Hollywood’s most glamorous night premieres Sunday at 7:30 p.m. With all the incredible performances given by new and old Hollywood actors and the unique but equally as triumphant nine best picture films, the race will be a close one. The Oscars are predicted to have many twists and turns, everything from competing pals, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, to the 17-time nominee Meryl Streep’s moment to walk away with another golden award. This year’s event should be anything but boring. This is good and bad. It’s good because everyone loves a good unexpected surprise, but bad because it’s difficult to accurately predict the winners. Will George beat Brad for Best Actor? Will Meryl walk away a winner or did Viola Davis’s performance in The Help trump the multi-nominated actress? I guess this Sunday we will all find out, but for now, let’s break it all down.

h2. Actress in a leading role

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*Viola Davis*

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*The Help*

_Front Runner_:Playing a southern maid in 1962, Davis is able to transfer all of her character’s heartache and mistreatment into strength and courage. The great thing about her performance is although the character doesn’t complain much, we still feel her internalized pain. Her performance stands out as the most moving performance this year.

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*Meryl Streep*

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*The Iron Lady*

_Close second_:Streep’s performances never cease to amaze; however, this is really an outstanding performance even for her and her flawless craft. Streep plays Margaret Thatcher throughout her career as the only female Prime Minister England has ever had all the way until her struggle with dementia and hallucinations in her elder years.

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*Michelle Williams*

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*My Week With Marilyn*

_And another flawless performance from_: Two years in a row, Michelle Williams gives another amazing performance, this time as Marilyn Monroe. It seems to me that Williams takes the time to study every detail of her character’s history, from her neediness to the movement of her hands. I sense she’ll be a front-runner soon.

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*Rooney Mara*

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*The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo*

_The one you want to win, but won’t_: After watching Noomi Rapace give an outstanding performance in the Swedish version of the film, I didn’t think anyone could do it any better. Although audiences can get turned off by the film’s graphic content, her performance as the hacker/tortured soul is really something to remember.

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*Glenn Close*

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*Albert Nobbs*

_You’re glad they got nominated, although you kind of wish it was someone else_: Close plays a cross dresser in 1860s Ireland and does so with a believability that I didn’t think was possible. The star has been nominated frequently but hasn’t won and sadly, I don’t think she will this year, either.

h2. Actor in a leading role

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*George Clooney*

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*The Descendants*

_Front-runner_: His performance as a grieving father in The Descendents really showed a vulnerability and a new side of the popular actor. He maintains that likability in his role as an absent and clueless father and even though the story is a tragedy, his presence is touching as well as humorous.

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*Jean Dujardin*

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*The Artist*

_Close second_: This French actor does a glorious job playing a silent film star struggling in Hollywood after the transition into sound. He uses the silence of this film to focus on body movement and expression and does it so magically and effortlessly. Already the winner of the SAG award, he is still a major contender.

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*Demian Bichir*

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*A Better Life*

_Surprise Nominee_: And the unexpected nomination goes to … Demian Bichir. The actor, who plays a Mexican illegal alien in the film A Better Life, said that, “making the list is the award.”

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*Brad Pitt*

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*Moneyball*

_The one you want to win but won’t_: Brad Pitt’s performance in the film inspired by the true story of the Oakland Athletics successful baseball season is really a turning point for the actor that many don’t take seriously enough. This performance is proof that Brad Pitt is a respectable actor.

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*Gary Oldman*

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*Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy*

_You’re glad they got nominated_: Oldman plays a quiet but sharp spy who along with the film’s twisting plot, got rave reviews from audiences and critics alike. New York Times critic Manohla Dargis said Oldman doesn’t so much command the screen, he dominates it.

_Illustrated by Danny Weilandt, The Daily Illini_