Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Common Sense Oscar Predictions 2012

Last year, I went to an Oscar watch-party in which the gracious hostess provided a couple of prizes for those who filled out a chart and predicted the highest number of actual winners.  Obviously, I thought that I had it in the bag.  Well, a few categories in and I was already down by a couple of wins.  With each passing category, I got more and more nervous, seeing my status as movie geek supreme firmly on the line.  I had to gulp a few extra sips of Cabernet to face the music of each winner being announced. 

I lost.  By one.

Now, two lessons here: One, Oscar prognosticating is a monumental waste of time.  Two, because the voting body is so large, you have to use a little common sense in these matters.  For instance, one of the categories I lost in last year was best cinematography.  I had predicted True Grit would win, based on the cinematographer Roger Deakins never having won the award, despite an impressive body of work.  The Oscar instead went to Wally Pfister for his work in Inception.  The common sense side of me would have not known about Deakins’ lack of a win, and focused solely on Inception’s wave of success and just how cool the movie looked. 

So, I’m taking a common sense approach this year.  Yes, a little background helps, but not overthinking it might prove to be a better strategy than in years past.  Feel free to come back and check to see how I’m doing come Oscar night.  As for me, hopefully I won’t have to pour those two extra glasses to get me through the night this time.        

Best Picture:  The Artist
% Sure: 110
Could Win: Hugo
Should Win: Hugo
Should Have Been There: Of films that had even a fighting chance, I’d say A Separation.  Of my own personal faves, I’d say Young Adult.
Comments: The Artist will win.  I liked it.  Hollywood liked it.  Your mom and your mom’s best friend liked it.  Your dog liked it.  It’s the least offensive film.  Everyone wins.  The end. 

Best Director:  Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
% Sure: 95
Could Win: Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Should Win: Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
Should Have Been There: Lynne Ramsey, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Comments: No real potential threat to the frontrunner (Hazanavicius) this year, unlike last year when there was a late push for David Fincher, even though we all knew his film wouldn’t win the big prize.  I could see Scorsese pulling it off, and I wouldn’t even be totally, compleeeeeeetely shocked if somehow Terrence Malick won.  But he won’t.  Smart money’s on the frontrunner here. 

Best Actor in a Leading Role:  Jean Dujardin, The Artist
% Sure: 87.5
Could Win: George Clooney
Should Win:  Brad Pitt
Should Have Been There: Michael. Freaking. Shannon.
Comments: Crazy that an unknown French actor is a frontrunner against the likes of Clooney and Pitt, who both turned in what conventional wisdom has deemed “career performances” (I only agree in the case of the latter), and at this point are pretty much scepter-wielding and crown-wearing members of Hollywood Royalty.  Dujardin will win, which I’m fine with, but if there are going to be any eye-popping shockers in the major categories this year, I do predict that it will be in this one, whether its Pitt or Clooney. 

Best Actress in a Leading Role:  Viola Davis, The Help
% Sure: 75
Could Win: Meryl Streep
Should Win: Viola Davis, although I haven’t seen Michelle Williams or Glenn Close. 
Should Have Been There: Charlize Theron
Comments: Davis has the important SAG win, and a bunch of others.  Meryl mainly has the BAFTA and the Golden Globe.  Are these irrelevant wins?  No, but both of those awards bodies are made up of non-Americans, who wouldn’t have as much of a connection with the civil rights movement, and in the case of the BAFTA’s, it’s obvious why they would gravitate toward the portrayal of a former Prime Minister.  I think this is a race, but it’s not a close race. 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:  Christopher Plummer, Beginners
% Sure: 100
Could Win: Max Von Sydow
Should Win: Christopher Plummer
Should Have Been There: Patton Oswalt
Comments: No one really gave Christopher Plummer a race this year.  It’s been his since day 1. 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:  Octavia Spencer, The Help
% Sure: 100
Could Win: Katie Holmes for Jack and Jill.  Because she has as much of a chance as any of the other four nominees.
Should Win: Any of the other nominees. 
Should Have Been There: Jennifer Ehle, Contagion
Comments: This will be one of the least-deserved acting wins of the last five years, behind ‘ole Sandy Bullock, of course. 

Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Descendants
% Sure: 50
Could Win: Hugo or Moneyball
Should Win: Moneyball
Should Have Been There: Jane Eyre
Comments:  I saved this one for last when writing this column.  Very difficult to figure out what’s going on here.  Payne films are known for their writing, and The Descendants is his most successful film to date.  Hugo, though, has 11 nominations, and could win based on general like for the film.  Then there’s Moneyball, which relies heavily on a strong script for its success.  Any of the three could win.  I think they award Payne and go with The Descendants.

Woody Allen's feeling the love this year
for Midnight in Paris
Best Original Screenplay:  Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen!)
% Sure: 70
Could Win: The Artist
Should Win: A Separation
Should Have Been There: Young Adult
Comments:  Look for The Artist to ride its wave of goodwill to an upset in this category.  I’m sticking with Allen’s pseudo-fantasy comedy as my prediction, though, as Paris is regarded as the best thing he’s done in awhile (only since Vicky Christina Barcelona, though, in my opinion), and I think people will want to reward the film legend in his twilight years. 

Best Art Direction:  Hugo
% Sure: 90
Could Win: The Artist
Should Win: Hugo
Should Have Been There: Contagion
Comments: This will be a well-deserved award for Hugo.  My thoughts on Hugo have been made known here, but among the many reasons that I fell in love with it was the production design, which I thought was impeccable and added so much to the experience of the movie. 

Best Cinematography: The Tree of Life
% Sure: 75
Could Win: The Artist
Should Win: It wouldn’t even be enough to give The Tree of Life two Oscars for its cinematography, so that. 
Should Have Been There: Anonymous
Comments: This is my line in the sand with the Academy.  This sounds like a childish thing to say, but there’s just no way a rational person can look at The Tree of Life and possibly want to award anything else, unless there’s some personal vendetta against the film.  If Tree of Life loses, then I just can’t even.

Best Film Editing: Hugo
% Sure: 89
Could Win: The Artist
Should Win: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Should Have Been There: Martha Marcy May Marlene (definitely the best film editing of 2011 for my money).
Comments:  This category is difficult to handicap.  I feel really good about Hugo, but I’m not sure if I can really articulate why.  The Artist, once again, could easily take this.  But here are the Best Film Editing winners wince 2000:  The Social Network, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, The Bourne Ultimatum, Crash, The Aviator, Return of the King, Chicago, Black Hawk Down, Traffic.  I don’t know why, but something doesn’t compute between these films and The Artist.  It doesn’t have the scope of any of these, save The Social Network, which was a masterclass in film editing.  I’m going with Hugo

Best Sound Mixing:  Hugo
% Sure: 68
Could Win: War Horse
Should Win: Moneyball
Should Have Been There: I’m just glad Moneyball made it in.  Well-deserved nomination.
Comments: The sound categories always give me issues.  Hugo doesn’t seem like the type of film to take both Sound Mixing and Editing, but I do think it wins this one, because for whatever reason Sound Mixing tends to go to the more “prestigious” films, whereas Sound Editing goes to more of the action-oriented films. 

One of the most heavily anticipated films of the
year, War Horse will end up with one award.
Best Sound Editing:  War Horse
% Sure: 63
Could Win: Hugo
Should Win: Drive
Should Have Been There: All good nominees.
Comments: See Above.

Best Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
% Sure: 50
Could Win: Hugo
Should Win: Hugo
Should Have Been There: The Tree of Life
Comments:  Here’s the nerdy statistic I have about this category: no Best Picture nominee has lost this award to a non-Best Picture nominee since the 1970’s, and before that it was the 1940’s.  That bodes well for Hugo.  But, in going along with my common sense approach, I’m predicting Apes here.  When you consider the work involved in creating a motion-capture ape that is essentially the main character in the film, that is something that really sticks out in voters’ minds, I think, even more than the flawless visual effects in Hugo.

Best Costume Design:  W.E.
% Sure: 40
Could Win: Hugo?
Should Win: Jane Eyre
Should Have Been There:  I always wish they would nominate contemporary movies here, so I’ll go with Martha Marcy May Marlene
Comments: Hardest category by far this year.  I have no idea, but here’s what I do know: I’m going with the common sense approach.  W.E. is a terrible movie which keeps winning a bunch of costume awards.  I’m not overthinking this.  I’m not overthinking this.  W.E. wins. 

Best Makeup:  The Meryl Streep Hamming It Up Movie
% Sure: 90
Could Win: Whatever.
Should Win: Whatever.
Should Have Been There: Contagion
Comments: Whatever.

Best Original Score:  The Artist
% Sure: 80
Could Win: Hugo
Should Win: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Should Have Been There: Contagion
Comments: I should feel more confident in this category than I am.  Hugo’s score is very good and would not be surprised if it pulled an upset.  The wildcard contender is Trent Reznor’s second go-around with David Fincher in this year’s Dragon Tattoo.  Since Reznor won last year, though, I feel like it might be too soon for voters to throw another bone his way. 

Best Original Song:  Man or Muppet, The Muppets
% Sure: 85
Could Win: Um, the only other nominee, Rio
Should Win: “As I reflect on my reflection...”
Should Have Been There: Every other song from The Muppets
Comments: This is the weirdest category this year.  No explanation as to why there are only two nominees here.  The Muppets could have easily filled the category with two or three other songs. Anyway, looking at it from a total achievement standpoint, I think most voters will go with The Muppets

Best Animated Feature Film:  Rango
% Sure: 99
Could Win: Chico & Rita
Should Win: The Lion King 3D.  Okay, it’s not eligible, but it’s the only animated film I saw this year.
Comments: Pixar finally will not win a statue.  I haven’t seen any of these.  Next.

Best Documentary Feature Film:
% Sure: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Could Win: Pina
Should Win: Not Pina (terrible), other than that I don’t care. 
Should Have Been There: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Comments:  Only one I’ve seen here is Pina, which is another discussion for another time (it was the worst 2011 film I saw, bar none).  The general consensus is that Paradise Lost is the one to beat here, so I suppose I will go along with that and pass it off as my own opinion, without giving any insight whatsoever. 

Best Foreign Language Film:  A Separation
% Sure: 90
Could Win: Monsieur Lazhar
Should Win/Only Film I’ve Seen in the Category: A Separation
Comments: This category gets weird sometimes and clearly superior films often lose out to inferior films (take two years ago when Palme D’Or winner The White Ribbon and critical powerhouse A Prophet lost out to vanilla crime saga The Secret in their Eyes).  A Separation should easily take this, and I predict it will since it was nominated for its screenplay (that NEVER happens with foreign films), but I wouldn’t put it past the Academy to do something weird here. 

I’m even including my predictions for the short categories this year.  Go me. 

Best Short Film, Live Action:  The Shore

Best Short Film, Animated:  The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Best Documentary, Short Subjects:  Saving Face

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