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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

February 20, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Oscar countdown: “Hugo”

Our alphabetical parade through the Best Picture contenders continues this President’s Day with “Hugo” — Martin Scorsese’s first family film, first 3D film, and seventh Best Picture nominee. (The others: “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas,” “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator,” and “The Departed” — the last being his first winner.) This gentle tale of a young boy living in a train station in 1930s Paris (based on Brian Selznick’s book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”) might at first glance seem an unlikely one for Scorsese — but the film soon becomes a tribute to French filmmaker George Melies and a valentine to early filmmaking — a subject dear to the heart of Scorsese, who’s devoted much time in his career to film preservation. The film is a charmer, and an artful primer in the use of 3D, which delicately enhances the story but doesn’t overwhelm it. The one thing standing in the way of “Hugo” dominating the Oscars this year: no acting nominations.
Total U.S. box office: $64.5 million
Total Oscar nominations: Eleven — the most for any film this year — for best picture, director, adapted screenplay, art direction, cinematography, costume design, film editing, original score, sound editing, sound mixing, and visual effects.
Best chance for a win: “Hugo” is an interesting hybrid for the fairly conservative Academy: it’s a 3D film, but a sweetly nostalgic one, made by a veteran filmmaker. It’s possible that “Hugo” could get an upset win for best picture and director, though “The Artist” seems to have a pretty clear hold on the lead. More likely, I think Scorsese’s film may be honored in the design categories and for its wondrous technical effects.
Odds of this movie creating some fabulous Oscar-night weirdness: if “Hugo” wins all eleven of its categories, it will tie for the most awarded film of all time — alongside “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic,” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” But I’m not holding my breath.
Where I’d rank this film among the 9 best picture nominees: 5
hugofilm25.jpg
Asa Butterfield hangs on to a clock in “Hugo” (photo by Jaap Buitendjik; courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

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