Cinema Studies lecturer handicaps the Oscars


Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Film buffs in office pools across America are eagerly selecting their picks for the 2012 Oscars, and among them are the scholars in Penn’s Cinema Studies Program.

Meta Mazaj, a lecturer in Cinema Studies, says she is particularly excited about this year’s Academy Awards—which will be broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 26—because she saw some of the nominated movies last spring at the Cannes Film Festival. Mazaj traveled to France as part of the Penn-in-Cannes study abroad program.

“This year is interesting,” she says. “There are a lot of good films.”

Mazaj predicts Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” or Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” will take home the golden statue for Best Picture, and Scorsese will earn his second Academy Award for Best Director.

“I’m cheering for Hugo,” she says. “It’s an incredible film and, for me, the first 3D film where the technique has an important function and is not just a gimmick.”

Mazaj forecasts George Clooney or Jean Dujardin will win Best Actor for “The Descendants” or “The Artist,” respectively.

But, she says, the Best Actress category is tougher to predict. She believes Viola Davis will take the prize for “The Help,” but if the past few years' trend of giving a nod to younger actresses continues, it might go to Michelle Williams for “My Week with Marilyn.” But in her opinion, Glenn Close should win for “Albert Nobbs.”

Rounding out the top honors, Mazaj expects Jonah Hill to be named Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Moneyball” due mainly to all the buzz surrounding his performance. But she thinks Christopher Plummer should win for “Beginners.”

Mazaj foresees Jessica Chastain winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in “The Help,” an award Mazaj believes the actress sincerely deserves.

Timothy Corrigan, professor of English and cinema studies, says he didn’t get to see many of this year’s nominated films because he was busy directing the Penn English Program in London last semester. But he is well versed in the business side of the film industry and is closely following the Oscar hoopla.

“Most experts would probably acknowledge that this is about economics, creating a buzz, creating new careers, rewarding old careers,” he says. “I think, in a way, the Academy Awards has become a big cultural event like the Super Bowl.”

Originally published on February 2, 2012