Sunday, December 11, 2011

Calling My Shot

I had been hearing gripes this year about how tough predicting the Oscars has been because there's nothing even resembling a clear frontrunner. I just chalked it up to the usual griping from people who don't happen to like the frontrunner and are simply in denial.

Then I started planning this column in my head. 

They're right. 

I am speaking honestly when I say that a few paragraphs below this sentence is my prediction for what will win Best Picture and as I am typing this sentence, I have no idea what that movie is going to be. In fact, there's very few categories at all that have a clear cut favorite. The Golden Globe nominations come out this week, but in wide open years like this one, they tend not to indicate where the Academy will go. In fact, I would wager that the Academy voters aren't totally sure yet who they'll vote for. 

And now, I'm just droning on because I'm hoping I'll come across some movie I've forgotten that will make me say, "Oh yeah! That's the one that will win." It's not happening. So here it goes. I got 10 right last year. I doubt I'll do that well this year.

Best Picture: 
Ummm...let me get back to this one. 

Director: Terrence Malick, Tree of Life
I have a feeling this will be one of several instances of people being awarded for their careers over the job they did on the movie. This will be Malick's third nomination over a career that's spanned four decades and yet, has only seen 5 movies. Still, Tree of Life is a "director's movie" if there ever was one. It doesn't deserve Best Picture, but this is an award it does.

Actor: Brad Pitt, Moneyball
I think this category will be a 3-way street fight among Pitt, Michael Fassbender (Shame) and Ryan Gosling (Drive). Gosling would have been a shoo-in had The Ides of March been better received. But he was good in 3 movies this year. Fassbender has been getting rave reviews for Shame, but it's perhaps TOO daring. Similar to Gosling, Fassbender would have been a strong favorite had A Dangerous Method gotten better notices. So, that leaves us with Brad Pitt, who I'm sure many feel is overdue for an Oscar anyway and was nomination-worthy in two films this year. George Clooney will also be nominated for The Descendants, but he's won recently and given Pitt's rumored, impending retirement, I think they'll want to award him now rather than risk missing the chance later.

Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Meryl Streep has LOST more times than any person, except Katherine Hepburn, has been nominated. If she loses here, than she will have lost more times than anyone has been nominated. Period. That's a ridiculous statistic. And it's been almost 20 years since she last won. Come on. Let's throw the woman a bone to give her a reason to keep showing up year after year. 

Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, Drive
Among the 8 major categories, the supporting acting categories are the closest to being a lock. Brooks is well-liked in this industry for decades. He's playing against type. He's been nominated in this category before. There's a lot of things going for him. He didn't get a nomination for SAG awards, but I think it will still happen.

Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, Tree of Life
She is simply having one of the single greatest years of any actor in movie history. In any year, she could win for "Tree of Life". The funny thing is that she might get nominated for another movie. She may also win for "The Help". The only thing that might stop her is marrying a George Clooney or Ryan Gosling between now and then.

Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris
Unless there's a sweep by the "The Artist", I don't see Woody losing here. This was a prediction I made when the movie came out and I'm sticking to it.

Adapted Screenplay: Moneyball
This category could go a lot of ways. If the writers' branch embraces films like "War Horse", "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", or "Hugo". Based on how things look this second, I'm sticking with Sorkin.

Editing: War Horse
Just as a general rule, the Academy should really give Michael Kahn an Oscar at least once a decade. He's a three-time winner, all for Spielberg movies involving people fighting against Germans. How can he lose?

Cinematography: Tree of Life
"Tree of Life" is more of a painting than a film. This will be a deserving win.

Art Direction: Hugo
I think there's a strong possibility that "Hugo" can be the winner in a lot of the categories above. Momentum changes a lot during the Oscar race. But where things stand now, I think this is the biggest award it will take. When the stories come out about the kind of financial disaster this film is (including marketing costs, it will lose close to $250 million), a lot of people will shy away from this one.

Costume Design: The Artist
Sure looks like there's a lot of costumes in this movie. And the Academy tends to vote volume over substance. More thought about costumes goes into a movie like The Descendants than films like The Artist, J. Edgar, or A Dangerous Method (all likely nominees). But they'll pick one of the latter because, well, look! There's so many costumes!

Sound Mixing: Hugo 
Just taking a stab in the dark here.

Sound Editing: War Horse
Same here.

Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
I can't imagine any film this year more deserving. And the Academy loves giving it to CGI monkeys. 

Makeup: The Iron Lady
I'd rather see a stunts category than the almost annually flip of the coin this category is.

Song: The Muppets, "Man or Muppet"
When in doubt, go with the song people probably heard latest in the year.

Score:  The Artist
Since no silent film has won in over 80 years, it's hard to say there's a standard to award a movie that's ALL score. I just think it's a safe bet.

Animated Feature: Rango
It's been a while since there's been such a disappointing year for animated films. Particularly after a year that saw "Toy Story 3", "How to Train Your Dragon", "Despicable Me", "The Illusionist", etc. This year was so weak, I think "Winnie the Pooh" will contend. Even mediocre films like "Rio" and "Arthur Christmas" has a shot at nominations. Thankfully, even in a strong year, the brilliant "Rango" would probably win.

Documentary Feature: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
It's the only one I've seen this year. So let's go with that.

The Golden Globe nominations come out tomorrow, so I'm sure several of these choices will be proven destined to be wrong within 24 hours, but that's the fun, isn't it?

Oh yeah. I still need to pick Best Picture, don't I?

Best Picture: The Help

How's THAT for guts?

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