In the past, I haven’t been very successful when it comes to correctly guessing Oscar winners. There is always a part of me that refuses to recognize a bad film. Last year, for example, I didn’t acknowledge the art direction in Tim Burton’s awful Alice In Wonderland. Of course, that film ended up winning the Best Art Direction Oscar. It’s tough to accept that bad films have the potential to win awards, especially when so many good productions go unrewarded. This year, I’m going to attempt to be as objective as possible. Here are my official predictions for this year’s Oscar winners, along with some thoughts about my reasoning behind the choices.
I’m going with the basic assumption that The Artist will win big, and as far as I can tell it’s the frontrunner for the Best Picture award. The big question is, how many awards will the film ultimately win? If the Academy decides to go all-out with their support for the film, then I won’t be left with a very good number at the end of the night.
Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
This is very close to being a lock. Hazanavicius won the Best Director award from the Director’s Guild of America, which practically guarantees an award at the Oscars. Martin Scorcese would be a distant second pick.
Jean Dujardin – The Artist
It’s between Clooney and Dujardin for this award, but my guess is that it’ll ultimately go to the likeable Frenchman. In a better world, Gary Oldman would walk away with the prize for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but Dujardin is a solid choice.
Viola Davis – The Help
I wasn’t much of a fan of The Help, but if there was one thing that could be praised from this inexplicably popular film, it was Viola Davis’ performance. The Best Actress category is fairly weak this year. For reasons that escape me, many people seem to like Rooney Mara’s impression of Noomi Rapace from the English remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but I have a feeling this award is between Davis and Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady. Hard to get too excited about that.
Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
This is basically a lock, and deservedly so. He gave far and way the best performance out of all the nominees.
Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer – The Help
I’m still struggling to comprehend why everybody thinks this performance is so great. Actually, I think the better supporting performance from that film came from Jessica Chastain, who was in everything last year and probably should’ve been nominated for Take Shelter or The Tree Of Life instead. The only real competition in this category is from Bérénice Bejo, but Spencer feels like an unjustified lock.
Best Writing – Original Screenplay
Woody Allen – Midnight In Paris
Unless The Artist dominates throughout the evening, the writing awards for this year are going to be consolation prizes for two well-respected filmmakers. Midnight In Paris isn’t really in the running for Best Picture, but I think Woody will be rewarded for his best script in over a decade.
Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash – The Descendants
Alexander Payne’s latest film might be the only legitimate competition The Artist has in all the major categories. There is a chance the film will win big, but this is the only award I think the film has pretty much locked up. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Hugo were in my mind better adaptations, but The Descendants is still a worthy choice.
Best Animated Feature
From everything that I’ve heard, Chico & Rita is a wonderful film, and I look forward to seeing it when it comes to an Arizona theater in early March. But in a fairly lackluster year for animation, when even Pixar released a complete dud, Rango stands out as one of the best.
Best Foreign Language Film
This is the only one of the Foreign Film nominees that I’ve seen, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that any of the others are better than Asghar Farhadi’s masterpiece. It was my #3 film of last year, a 10/10 film, and I can’t see any possible way that it could lose out to something else.
Best Documentary Feature
Hell And Back Again
Despite seeing quite a few documentaries last year, I haven’t seen any of the Oscar nominees. I’m annoyed that they snubbed both Senna and Tabloid, but supposedly Hell And Back Again is very good. This is basically a shot in the dark pick.
Best Original Score
Ludovic Bource – The Artist
The nominations in this category this year are actually quite strong. My favorite was Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but I think The Artist is going to take this category.
Best Original Song
Bret McKenzie – “Man Or Muppet” from The Muppets
It would be awesome if Bret McKenzie, of Flight Of The Conchords fame, got an Oscar. With only two nominations in this category, I’d say he’s got a pretty good chance. It helps that the song is absolutely brilliant.
Best Sound Editing & Mixing
Both for Hugo
The sound in both Drive and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was brilliant, but I have a feeling Martin Scorcese’s terrific Hugo is going to win many of the technical categories. I’m still confused about the difference between sound editing and sound mixing, so I don’t really have any kind of educated guess here.
Best Art Direction
This could go to just about anything, but Hugo feels right.
The Tree Of Life
This might be the only category where the pick is more personal than logical. The Artist will probably win here, but I feel there could be a chance that the Academy will award The Tree Of Life in some way. This feels like the category that fits best; regardless of my indifference for the film itself, it looked incredible.
The horror……..the horror……seriously though, I have no clue in this category. It could be any one of the three nominees.
Best Costume Design
Apparently this film is unspeakably bad. It’s directed by Madonna, so no surprises there. Supposedly the costume design is solid though. I couldn’t care less about costume design, so I didn’t give this pick much thought.
Best Film Editing
Sure, why not? If The Artist is going to win several awards, I don’t see why it wouldn’t win this one. For the record, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had the best editing of the year.
Best Visual Effects
Hollywood keeps on pushing 3-D technology, and so far this is the only film that has done something interesting with the format. I think that alone will win Hugo the award, but visually it is a remarkable film overall.
Best Documentary – Short Subject
The Barber Of Birmingham: Foot Soldier Of The Civil Rights Movement
Best Live Action Short Film
Best Animated Short Film
I know almost nothing about any of the nominees in these short film categories. The only educated guess I can give is for La Luna, which is the Pixar short that will play in front of this summer’s Brave. Hollywood will want to continue giving Pixar some awards recognition, so they’ll walk away with the statue for Best Animated Short Film. The other two categories are a complete toss-up.
With that, my Oscar predictions are complete. 24 picks total. I’ll be updating this post with my final thoughts and ultimate score after the awards are finished.
As for a review of Wanderlust, well, life’s too short and money too scarce. I see plenty of films in theaters, but nothing really looked worthwhile this weekend. Until next time.
I’m going to discount those short film picks, which are basically just random guesses. So, at the end of the night, I went 15/21. In retrospect, a few of my misses seem fairly obvious. Specifically, Costume Design and Best Makeup; I should have went with the popular films. Also, I originally had picked Undefeated as my Best Documentary pick, but I switched it near the end for Hell And Back Again. I should have stuck with my first impression…
The other three misses could be considered upsets. Sure, Meryl Streep never was out of the running for Best Actress, but all signs seemed to point to Viola Davis taking home the award. Sure, The Help wasn’t any good, but from everything I’ve heard, The Iron Lady is even worse. The two bigger upsets were in the Best Cinematography and Best Editing awards. Regarding the former, I foolishly picked The Tree Of Life, but The Artist would have been my second choice. Hugo was the eventual winner, which I’m not too crazy about. The film deserved most of its wins, but winning in Cinematography feels slightly unwarranted, considering its strong reliance on CGI visuals. It reminds me of when Avatar won the award a couple years back. Likewise, in the Best Editing category, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo wouldn’t have even been my second choice. The editing was one of the few standouts from that film, but I assumed the award was going to go to The Artist or Hugo, the big winners of the night. It ended up being the consolation prize for David Fincher’s remake. Overall, even though I could have easily done better, I think I did fairly well with my picks. With the exception of the usual left-field victories, the awards are usually easy to predict. I don’t have very many complaints with the winners though; for the most part, the winners deserved their statues.
As for the show itself, well, it is what it is. It’s tough to generate much excitement for it; either it’s boring or embarrassing. Last year it was very much the latter; this year it leaned closer to the former. The big highlight was Christopher Guest and company’s Wizard of Oz test screening skit. There also seemed to be a conscious effort, in a world of instant streaming and home entertainment viewing, to highlight the importance of the theater experience. Some of this worked, some of it didn’t. I actually didn’t mind the celebrity interviews. Reese Witherspoon admitting that her favorite movie is Overboard somehow made perfect sense. Other than all that, I don’t really have much else to add. Watching the show itself has turned somewhat into an obligation, but I try to get some enjoyment out of it with my picks. In the end, it’s nothing to get worked up over, but I doubt my time would have gone to anything more meaningful.