Time Out Rio de Janeiro

Oscars 2012 picks

Our pick of the best of the winners and runners-up from Hollywood's glitzy annual ceremony.

The gushing speeches have been delivered, gowns have been poured over in the papers, and the Hollywood big cheeses have spoken for yet another year. For those who emerged from the Oscars triumphant, it is a lifetime's dream come true. For us mere mortals, this time of year is also a good one, since the cinemas are filled with the type of heavyweight Oscar contenders we wait for all year round.

In a year which saw lots of familiar old faces triumph, the big winner was also a return to the past. Not since 1929 has a silent movie taken the Best Picture prize, but this year The Artist swept the board, with Jean Dujardin chosen as Best Actor and Michael Hazanavicius bagging the Best Director statuette. Some may baulk at the idea of going to see a film where no one speaks - at all! - in 2012, but our reviewer was impressed with a nostalgic tale that nevertheless has much to say about Hollywood today.

Meryl Streep won Best Actress for the third time in her illustrious career, for her unforgettable turn as the lady who was not for turning, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The Iron Lady drew criticism from some quarters  - as it was bound to, covering such a contentious figure - but Streep's masterful performance is not in doubt.

Martin Scorsese's charmer Hugo gathered up a large number of technical gongs despite not bagging the Best Picture prize it was put forward for. Critics have been quick to praise its visual beauty and impressive use of 3D, though it is worth remembering that Taxi Driver, perhaps Scorsese's most acclaimed film, did not win a single Oscar at the time and was not even nominated for Best Picture.

It is a theme repeated in the win for Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris for Best Original Screenplay, also a Best Picture nominee. While an entertaining return-to-form-of-sorts for the veteran director, no one could claim it was up there with his best movies. Nevertheless, he's found a near-perfect alter-ego in Owen Wilson, and the time travel conceit made Midnight in Paris one of the surprise hits of last year in Brazil and worldwide.

The Help, focusing on the friendships between maids in 1960s Mississippi, is already proving popular in Brazil, perhaps due to the continued existence of maids in many people's homes today. It had the potential to be an Oscars big hitter, with its focus on issues like civil rights. But those heavyweight themes and some stellar performances were not enough to secure the most coveted of the Golden Globes, and its only win went to Octavia Spencer for the Best Supporting Actress.

If that sounds a bit on the heavy side and you're looking for something to see in Oscar season, there is always The Muppets, winner of Best Original Song, and always an unashamed joy.

Words by Beth McLoughlin

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