Wilkes’ film expert weighs in on Oscar nominees

Bill Thomas, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Every spring, film buffs everywhere start buzzing with talk of Oscar gold. Who’s going to win? Who should win? Who got snubbed from the nominations? Discussions turn into debate and, sometimes, debates turn into arguments. Just about everyone has an opinion, though, and that includes Evene Estwick,  associate professor of communication studies at Wilkes University.

If any faculty member should have an opinion on such matters, it’s arguably her. Estwick is currently teaching the class “The Art of Film,” a course she said Wilkes intends to offer every other year, with this being the second time it’s been offered since she started teaching it in 2010.

“I’ve always loved film, even when I couldn’t use the academic terms, the proper terms for what I was seeing,” Estwick explained. “I just liked to watch films. I was fascinated with how you can take words and use visual images with those words to tell a story.”

That fascination led to Estwick getting an undergraduate degree in film production from Howard University. During her school days, she directed a 10-minute short film and had the opportunity to intern as a production assistant on several movie and music video sets, though none, she said, that many people are likely to have heard of.

Since coming to Wilkes, Estwick has offered the students in her yearly “Mass Media Literacy” class a chance to take part in an Oscar poll. The students are challenged to offer up their predictions and pit them against Estwick’s own. How many times has she lost?

“Quite a few times,” she said with a chuckle. “I’ve lost a few times and I’ve won a few. It’s about fifty-fifty.”

Estwick recently sat down with The Beacon to give her predictions for the 84th Academy Awards, which will air Sunday, Feb. 26. at 7 p.m. on ABC. Though she said she rarely agrees with who the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ultimately picks to win its major awards, she admitted that, this year, if her predictions turn out to be correct, it would mark a rare occurrence wherein most of the nominees Estwick feels ought to win an Oscar actually do.



Who will win: “The Help”

Who should win: “The Artist”

“’The Help’ will win because of the sentimental nature of the story. It’s also a realistic film that people can relate to. But ‘The Artist’ should win because it is a true work of cinematic excellence.”



Who will win: Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”

Who should win: Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”

“This is such a tough one because George Clooney (nominated for ‘The Descendants’) was so good and he’s such a favorite. I’m going to have stick with (Dujardin), though, because his performance was so different, so unique. There’s a difficulty of acting with no words, which  is a lot more involved. With other films you have the words and you have the visuals, but with ‘The Artist’ (a modern-day silent film) you just have the visuals.”



Who will win: Viola Davis in “The Help”

Who should win: Viola Davis in “The Help”

“Without a doubt, Viola Davis both will and should win. She was the center of “The Help”; she kept it grounded. Her acting is so nuanced, too. She’s not a loud actor. She’s realistic and authentic. And we’re not going to give to Meryl Streep, because we’re tired of her.”



Who will win: Michael Hazanavicius for “The Artist”

Who should win: Michael Hazanavicius for “The Artist”

“Again, the novelty of it and the difficulty of filming silent makes ‘The Artist’ stand out.”



Who will win: Michael Hazanavicius for “The Artist”

Who should win: Michael Hazanavicius for “The Artist”

“I think ‘The Artist’ again. I’m probably going to turn out to be so wrong on these. But, again, “The Artist” is a silent film, so you have to tell a complete, engrossing story without any dialogue. That’s impressive.”



Ryan Gosling as Best Actor for “Drive”

“’Drive’ got snubbed just because of the violence, but Gosling’s performance was so strong.”

Michael Fassbender as Best Actor for “Shame”

“Everyone thought he would have been nominated, but the nature of the film, the subject matter is a turn-off. He was nominated for a lot of awards by the British, though, because they’re not as stuck-up.”