By Michela Smith, Muse Film/TV Editor

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: award season. We begin with the fabulous Golden Globes broadcast this Sunday, Jan. 15, at 8 p.m. While I’m one of many anxious to hear the debauchery the fabulously infamous host Ricky Gervais has planned, here are my thoughts and predictions on the evening’s categories:

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Should Win: The Descendants

Will Win: The Descendants

A simple story, brilliantly executed. Clooney, more organic than ever before, gives perhaps his best performance yet, aided by Alexander Payne’s directing and writing that treasures every on-screen moment to maximize potential for emotionality.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Should Win: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Will Win: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Meryl Streep is one of the best actresses of all time. While some criticize The Iron Lady’s screenplay, Streep’s performance is remarkable, encapsulating the simultaneous strength and vulnerability of Margaret Thatcher as well as Thatcher’s characteristic cleft-pallet cadence that ironically commanded the attention and respect of governments worldwide.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Should Win: George Clooney, The Descendants

Will Win: George Clooney, The Descendants

In contrast to his enormous popularity in Hollywood, George Clooney has received relatively few awards. That said, Clooney’s performance in The Descendants is his best to date, displaying his range and his ability to expertly translate emotion from screenplay to facial expressions to the very depths of an audience’s psyche.

That said, where is Gary Oldman’s nomination? His unbelievably stoic performance as George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is terrifying . . . and brilliant. Hopefully the Academy will pay their respects to Oldman this time around; shockingly, he’s never been nominated.

Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical

Should Win: The Artist

Will Win: The Artist

I spent nearly all of 2011 gloating about Woody Allen’s triumphant return to motion picture nobility with his glimmering Midnight in Paris. I had continually endorsed and supported Allen in his doldrums, and now he was back…with the best film of 2011.

If only The Artist had held off release until 2012…

Despite my unwavering adoration for Woody Allen films, and especially for Midnight in Paris, Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist is far superior film and more deserving of the award. The Artist has an indescribable charisma in its affection for the whole premise of filmmaking – to emotionally involve audiences in a story – a premise arguably most alive during the era of silent film when audiences were participants, rather than simply viewers. With The Artist, audience members become participants, developing that same affection.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical

Should Win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Will Win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

I haven’t seen an actor with the same charisma of Jean Dujardin in a very long time. If you haven’t seen The Artist, pronounce “charisma” in a French accent and you’ll understand what I mean. Not only is his smile enough to make any girl weak in the knees—in the context of the dialogue-free film— but Dujardin seems to calculate every movement and facial expression brilliantly, rendering every emotion palpable, often more potent than even the best dialogue.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Should Win: Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Will Win: Berenice Bejo, The Artist

While certainly outshone by her costar Dujardin, Bejo’s perfectly casted performance as Peppy Miller provided much-needed exuberance on this year’s rather stern silver screen.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Should Win: Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Will Win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

While My Week with Marilyn’s screenplay unfortunately clouded many of its great performances, Kenneth Branagh shone through, perfectly balancing Laurence Olivier’s simultaneous elegance and infantile temper tantrums, making Branagh deserving of a statuette.

Yet, the nominated Christopher Plummer, still beloved for his 1965 portrayal of Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, has yet to receive a Golden Globe or an Oscar. Nostalgia could very likely sway Hollywood Foreign Press to award Plummer for his performance as a recently gay, terminally sick senior in Beginners.

Best Director – Motion Picture

Should Win: Woody Allen

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius

While it is absolutely the superior film, much of the allure of the The Artist draws from the expert performances of Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo. The organized intricacies of Midnight in Paris, however, especially with the diversity of the enormous supporting cast, could only have originated with one man: Woody Allen.

However, the Hollywood Foreign Press, blinded by the sparkle of The Artist, will award Hazanavicius the “Best Director” prize.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Should Win: Woody Allen

Will Win: Woody Allen

Woody Allen has more screenwriting award nominations than any other screenwriter, ever. He must be pretty good, no?

Thoughts on Television:

To be entirely honest, I don’t watch enough television to issue informed tube theories. I should watch more television, not only because I am both the film and television editor for The Daily Free Press, but also because of the renaissance in comedy and drama programming that has emerged over the last five years from revolutionary networks like NBC, HBO, and AMC. Yet, the college schedule doesn’t allow for extensive joie de vivre and often prevents any orthodox commitment to a serial.

That said, it’s clear that 30 Rock, Downton Abbey, Modern Family and Breaking Bad will all do well. Each consistently receives both high critical reviews and coveted media attention.

But if I were to insert my own television thoughts, every comment for every television category would read:

Should Win: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Will Win: Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

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