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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

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

February 21, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Oscar countdown: “Midnight in Paris”

Our alphabetical sashay through the Best Picture nominees continues with another of my favorites: “Midnight in Paris.” Who would have thought that, at 76, Woody Allen would suddenly come up with the biggest hit of his career, not to mention his first really good movie in six years (the last really good one, in my opinion, being “Match Point”) and first truly great one in sixteen years? (His last truly great one, in my humble opinion, was “Everyone Says I Love You.” Feel free to argue. I know not everyone’s an Allen fan.) Starring a loose and charming Owen Wilson and a glowing Marion Cotillard, “Midnight in Paris” is the story of a contemporary American writer on vacation in Paris and in love with that city’s literary history — who finds, through a mysterious quirk never explained by the movie, that he can travel back to the 1920s and mingle with Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Scott-and-Zelda and the rest of the gang. It’s a light, funny, warmly nostalgic and thoroughly delightful film — and a particular joy for all of us who were once English-lit majors. (When’s the last movie you saw with a Djuna Barnes joke?) And, to the surprise of pretty much everybody, it became one of the year’s surprise hits, opening quietly in theaters in late spring and still doing business months later. I saw it three times myself; making it my most-watched movie of the year.
Total U.S. box office: $56.4 million
Total Oscar nominations: Four — best picture, director, original screenplay, and art direction
Best chance for a win: Only one, but it’s a very good chance — I’m guessing “Midnight in Paris” will win the original screenplay category. (Unless “The Artist” goes for a sweep.) Not a chance in the other categories; I’m guessing many voters enjoyed “Midnight in Paris,” but not enough to put it on top.
Odds of this movie creating some fabulous Oscar-night weirdness: Well, if the famously non-Oscars-attending Allen should actually show up, that would create a stir. Allen’s been nominated 23 times in the directing or original screenplay categories (and once for best actor), and won three times: for writing and directing “Annie Hall” and for writing “Hannah and Her Sisters.” He didn’t show up either time, though he did appear at the Oscars ten years ago to present a tribute to New York on film.
Where I’d rank this film out of the 9 nominees: 3, but I have to say that my top three (“The Artist,” “The Descendants,” and this one) are very, very close and kind of interchangeable.
artsoscmidnightparis22.jpg
Owen Wilson and Marion Cotillard (and why weren’t the costumes for this movie nominated?) in “Midnight in Paris” (Photo by Roger Arpajou, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

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