Friday, March 5, 2010

Oscar predictions

So, here we are, just a couple hours before the Independent Spirit Awards (my favorite movie awards) are handed out, so it seems the proper time to make my annual Oscar predictions. I must boast that I am usually very accurate in these predictions, but this year there's no glory in that. Most of the categories are pretty easy to predict (even a Caveman could do it), with only two categories -- original screenplay and sound mixing -- too close to call accurately. Yet, even in one -- foreign language film -- where the winner is fairly certain, I'm going with an upset.

So I am going to start these predictions with the Who Knows and Who Really Cares Awards:

Live Action Short
Does anybody really see these things, especially members of the Academy? The same rules that apply to the foreign language award (where you must see all the nominated films before you can even vote) don't apply here. Three of the five films actually have a shot at winning this and I rank those three as (1, and my predicted winner) Kavi, (2) The Door and (3) The New Tenants. As set as most of the categories are, this could be one that decides the winner of your Oscar pool.

Animated Short
A Matter of Loaf and Death

Documentary Short
I'm picking The Last Truck because I think it will resonate more with the domestic (i.e., the overwhelming majority of) Academy members, but don't count out China's Unnatural Disaster.

The So-Called Technical Awards, so called because a lot of people have no idea what they are really for, they are that technical.

Remember back in the days when this award was won by the biggest hit song? No more, because movie songs are never hits these days. In fact, they are such nothings that the producers of the awards show has decided they will not even be played during the telecast. Never mind, the winner here is going to be The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart, which Jeff Bridges might sing anyway when he accepts his best actor Oscar. (Whoops! Getting ahead of myself here.)

Star Trek. For all those who think Avatar will win all the technical awards, think again. Besides, it isn't even nominated in this category.

Visual Effects
On the other hand, Avatar is nominated here and should win going away.

Animated Feature
If anything other than Up wins this award, it will be the biggest shocker of the night.

Documentary Feature
Food, Inc., has its supporters, but The Cove is a braver, more compelling doc, and deserves to win the Oscar I'm predicting it will receive.

Foreign Language Film
Conventional wisdom in this category goes like this: If critics voted for this award, A Prophet would win easily, but since Academy members are voting it will be The White Ribbon. OK, I know The White Ribbon is the overwhelming favorite but a little voice inside my head (which, one of these days, I will learn to ignore -- it always gets me in trouble) says that it's here we'll see the night's biggest upset. I'm going with The Secret in Their Eyes.


The Sound Awards
The Sound Editing Award goes to the technician who creates the sounds heard in a motion picture. Of course, some of them are recorded as the picture is being filmed, but most (and, of course, in the case of an animated film -- all [which is why an animated film should really win this every year]) -- of the sound is created in laboratories and/or recording studios. The Sound Mixing award goes to the technicians who integrate those created sounds into the soundtrack of the motion picture. With that explanation out of the way, I'm predicting Avatar wins the sound editing award but that The Hurt Locker takes the sound mixing Oscar in a minor upset over Avatar. But the mixing Oscar could go either way.

Coco Before Chanel has a shot here just because of all the Chanel fashion creations featured near the tail end of this movie. But this award usually goes to a costume drama and I don't see an exception this year. That's why I'm predicting The Young Victoria takes this one.

Art Direction
Avatar, of course.

I'm picking Avatar, but if The Hurt Locker wins here (and it stands a chance) that means Kathryn Bigelow's small movie is really putting the hurt on everyone else.

Film Editing
Another one of the technical awards I'm predicting The Hurt Locker will steal from Avatar. In fact, it's the editing that created all the suspense in this movie.

The Big 8 Awards, the heavyweights, the ones that mean the most to most casual observers. Unfortunately, except for the aforementioned original screenplay, there's really no suspense about which film/individual(s) will win.

Adapted Screenplay
Feel safe in betting your first born, your house and your entire retirement fund on Up in the Air, unfortunately the only Oscar this superb film is going to win all night.

Original Screenplay
This one really has me stumped. It's between The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds and if the Locker juggernaut rolls, it will probably pick this one up in its sweep. But, dang it (there's that little voice again), I'm going to side with the Basterds.

Supporting Actress
The easiest award of the night to predict. Anyone who thinks a nominee other than Mo'Nique has a chance for this Oscar just hasn't been paying attention. The same thing goes for:

Supporting Actor
Although there will be some sentimental support for Christopher Plummer's distinguished career (this, believe it or not, is Plummer's very first Oscar nomination), I can't see anyone other than Christoph Waltz taking home this Oscar.

Lead Actress
For some reason, this Oscar rarely goes to the person who really deserves it. Last year, Kate Winslet won it, not because she gave the year's best performance by an actress (there were at least a dozen better ones), but because the community holds her in high esteem and it was felt that it was about time she won something. This year Meryl Streep probably deserves the Oscar, but this is just Sandra Bullock's year. She pulled audiences in to see a pair of movies in 2009 in the middle of a recession and Hollywood, by gum, is going to award that.

Lead Actor
Jeff Bridges. Discussion over.

To go against the Director's Guild in this category is pure folly and I'm certainly not going to be guilty of folly (whimsy, maybe, but not folly). What's more, even fellow nominees James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino claim they are pulling for a Kathryn Bigelow win (even though, I bet, they voted for themselves.)

Most of the pundits claim this is a close race between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. I don't think so. The main reason is the acting and writing branches of the Academy, which together comprise 29 percent of the Academy voters, really don't like Avatar. The film these branches really like more than any other is Inglourious Basterds, which is why I think Tarantino's film, not Cameron's, stands the biggest chance of an upset. Of course, if Basterds does win, it will be the biggest Oscar injustice since those two branches combined to propel Crash to its best picture win. This time I don't think it's going to happen. I even think the banning of one of The Hurt Locker's producers will work in its favor because a lot of people will see this as a power play engineered by the studio backing Avatar. Not only that, since the Crash debacle, the Academy has actually selected the best of the nominees for this award. This year they have the opportunity not only to select the best of the nominees, but the film that really was the best picture of the year and I don't think the voters will pass up that opportunity. The winner will be The Hurt Locker.

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