Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Perfectly Reasonable Oscar Win Guesses

Hang on to your hats everybody, the Oscar train is pulling in, along with a strong wind which could remove the caps from your heads. Last year I did what some could call a meagerly terrible job guessing who would win which titles. This year is gonna be different. This year I have a feeling my guesses will be rock solid.

If I'm not right about ten of these nominees I'll eat one of those hats I mentioned earlier on.

With ten potential Best Pictures to choose from the title's esteem could be seen as getting stretched a bit thin. What's the point in even trying for an award nine other shmucks are being considered for? But pictures do not nominate themselves, and Inglourious Basterds is going to be seated on a pedestal right next to The Blind Side, and the animated Up is going to have two chances at best. Who do I think is going to win Best Picture?

I've given it a lot of thought, and spent restless nights pondering the matter. I really hate to say Avatar, and I'm not even sure I'm saying Avatar. Should I say Avatar? The chance that Avatar is going to win feels like a strong one. Is it that far fetched of an idea? Titanic was just as much of a long shot, and there isn't as strong a romance in Avatar, but there is the massive amounts of money raked in, plus industry people in the industry who have the right to vote on the matter are the ones calling the film a "game changer." That's my new favorite buzz phrase. My official word on the matter is...

Best Picture will go to Avatar. If not Avatar I would put The Hurt Locker as the second most likely, but almost tied with Up in the Air. If neither of those three win I will assume Hell has frozen over, and Lake Michigan has dried up. And pigs will fly. People aren't necessarily looking for a story about our failing economy and our fruitless war efforts to define our time. They're looking for someone flashy. Avatar can provide that.

Now that I've gotten the big one out of the way I really don't have a reason to keep writing this. Turns out I'm going to anyway! What Best Picture could be made without a Best Director? If past award ceremonies have taught me anything it's that the greatest directors do not indeed have to be responsible for the best film of the year. Kathryn Bigelow is getting much love from critics, and I wouldn't be shocked if she won the title this year. I just don't think she will. I will be happy enough if she does, and think she's deserving, but who will probably take home the little golden man is...

James Cameron to coincide with the Best Picture win. It might not be fair for Avatar to sweep house, but there's really no reason it won't. It has the main stream support, it has quite a critical backing, and it was insanely expensive while still getting all that money back with interest. Only a real award winner could pull something like that off, and that's James Cameron. Jimmy Cam. The father of all blue cats. He'll take his award, go home and watch dailies of Zoe Saldana while drifting off to sleep in a puddle of drool. Mostly drool.

Do the 82nd Academy Awards seem like a rip-off yet? That's okay. This isn't really the 82nd Academy Awards. This is speculation about how they could end up playing out. Here's where my speculation is going to get even shakier than it already is. I've saw three of the five performances in the Best Actor category. I've heard mixed remarks on Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart although he did take the win at the Golden Globes. Morgan Freeman looked fine in the trailer for Invictus, but he didn't look any more or less like his past Morgan Freemans, and I've read his take on Nelson Mandela was nice and expected. Nothing superb. George Clooney was a derivative of many of his past roles. Jeremy Renner looks like he's growing into a fine young actor, and I hope to see even more maturity brought to the table when he stars in The Town. All those guys aside, the winner as I predict will be...

Colin Firth for A Single Man. The Academy Awards seem like a much friendly place for him to be nominated than the Globes, and with Julianne Moore taking a hard snubbing there's no other way A Single Man can get its supposedly due recognition. I'd consider it this year's Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. A solid performance in a somewhat unseen film. Worth talking about, placed in a group with a bunch of good, but not great hopefuls. If not Firth I'd have to guess Jeff Bridges would get a reprise.

Best Supporting Actor gives even fewer performances for me to have born witness to. I hear Woody Harrelson is great in The Messenger, I haven't even heard of The Last Station, let alone know how Christopher Plummer was in it. Ohhh. Wait. The one about Tolstoy? Ohhh. Weird. Okay, no, he's not going to win. I highly doubt Damon will get anything out of Invictus past a nomination, and really? Stanley Tucci as the kidnapper in The Lovely Bones? Was this category made for me not to care? I'm not going to remember any of them were nominated after the worthy winner takes the crown, and he will take it in the shape of...

Christoph Waltz! The best performance in Inglourious Basterds, and one of my favorite of 2009, Waltz made Nazi Colonel Hans Landa bristle with intensity. He was great. A blood-chilling villain who keeps a steady tongue in cheek. I hope he wins, and if one of the others gets it I'll probably go ahead and stop watching. If I even do watch. I might just check up on the results when they come in at The Playlist or Slashfilm. Christoph Waltz for the win. Disregard that I haven't given the other nominees a chance. I don't think I need to on this matter.

Great... I didn't think I could get any less informed after Best Supporting Actors. Turns out I didn't see any of the five films the Best Actresses were pulled from. I think I can safely say Sandra Bullock is not going to win for The Blind Side. Was that movie really that good? Really? I understand Carey Mulligan being there because people can't shut up about her role in An Education. Guessing with the help of word of mouth and reviews I've perused I'm going to blindly hand the award to...

Gabourey Sidibe. Streep won at the Golden Globes, but that's... that's not even right. Sandra Bullock was nominated for her performance in The Proposal at the Globes, so I'm thinking I shouldn't bother taking them into any serious account. If there was one leading female performance I heard about more than Mulligan's last year it was Sidibe's as Precious. Go get 'em. I never had faith in that film, but I have faith she's going to win.

Neither Anna Kendrick or Vera Farmiga were anything above average in Up in the Air, so I'm trusting they were nominated because nobody could think up any leading ladies they'd seen prior to December once the other three slots were filled. Melanie Laurent, anybody? Guess not. So maybe I was wrong and I will trust the Globes to steer me right on this one...

Mo'Nique for Precious. Probably. Penelope Cruz didn't look like she was stretching anyones imagination in Nine, and Maggie Gyllenhaal has never acted outside an range of 'standard.' A comedian turned abusive mother shouts Award worthy performance. Hooray for two shots in the dark.

Finally we're back in familiar territory with Best Animated Feature. I haven't seen The Secret of Kells, but who has? Am I right? Up top! Shoot... I didn't see The Princess and The Frog, either. I did see Coraline in glorious 3D, though. In fact, I saw Fantastic Mr. Fox twice. That'll count toward one of the movies I didn't see. The final animated nominee I caught in theater, and the assumed winner, is...

Up. Why? Because Pixar made it. Not that I didn't like Up. I liked it quite a bit. I just don't think it's fair to pit other animated films against a Pixar film. It will trounce every other animated film each and every single opportunity it gets. Pixar films are like unstoppable forces. Consider Up a pitbull that hasn't been fed in a week or two. What that dog would do is what Up will do to its competition.

Maybe writing this was a mistake. I mean, the next category is Art Direction, and once again I'm finding myself only familiar with a single nominee. That nominee is Avatar, and I'm getting pretty sick of feeling like I'm vouching for Avatar. I'm sick of not having enough information to base my judges on too, don't get me wrong, but that coupled with potentially giving Avatar another win bugs me. So here I go, with a near complete in the dark...

Best Art Direction will go to John Myhre, with Gordon Sim as set decorator, for Nine. It's a supposed train wreck, and I'm betting art direction was one of its only strong suits. Myhre has won in the past, and the art direction in Avatar is potentially the worst thing about the movie next to the dialogue. If there's a definite anti-trend with the Oscars picking odd ducks like Nine I guess it will just go to show I'm not the analyst I claimed to be. And if Nine doesn't win I don't have any more credible guesses to give.

This could have been an easy category, Best Cinematography. Being a veritable wonder nut when it comes to cinematography I figured I could pinpoint the clear winner no problems. Avatar and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince are in the running beside The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds and The White Ribbon. The most intentional loop has been thrown. I didn't realize any of Avatar could be considered to have 'cinematography' what with everything happening inside a computer, and the Harry Potter nomination is eyebrow raising, then overlook-able. The other three nominees are all very worthy. The loopy thing is that each has such a different style. Vastly different styles. Three way ties need be accepted.

Since we've seen the color film stripped of its color routine before from films like The Man Who Wasn't There and Prince's Under the Cherry Moon I think the academy is unlikely to go for the black-and-white option. Sorry, Berger. Robert Richardson's work on Inglourious Basterds was wonderful, but his past wins may have convinced voters to look somewhere else. In keeping with the flavor of the month the academy may think handheld and gritty is the way to go and give the Slumdog-ian work of Barry Ackroyd the honor. The Hurt Locker for the win?

Now to costumes. I don't know anything about costuming. Half of me wants to believe everyone brings their clothes from home to the set. The dumb half of me. Assisting the dumb part make a choice is the part of me that didn't see a single nominee in this category. My success rate staying about 50 percent will be quite a sight. Winner:

Bright Star? I hear it's really good. I hear it's considered snubbed. I'll confirm when I see it.

Writing is nice. The more I write the more enjoyment I'm getting out of it. For this article writing less might be writing more. My points are threadbare now. This is the dregs. Two categories in a row where I haven't seen the slightest bit of any nominee. I could fake it up with the actresses. I know enough about their work to make deluded guesses. Documentaries aren't the same breed as actresses. They're each as different from each other as the cinematography options. In keeping with the "if I've heard buzz it must be gold" method I dub the winner...

... The Cove. I'm interested in seeing this. Bright Star, too. Where were all these movies in 2009?

Now I have to choose a documentary short film, too? Ugh. Alright. Rabbit a la Berlin sounds good. Not to knock short documentaries, by the way. This is coming from being uninformed.

I'm also uninformed with what constitutes a well-edited film. If the story is cohesive and the images aren't detrimentally jarring hasn't the editing done its job? I know what most of the editing in these films looked like and none of them are standing out. Why not The Hurt Locker again?

The foreign category I wish I was familiar with. I saw The White Ribbon, and it was great. It's somewhere near the top of my top films of 2009 list. It won the Grand Prize at Cannes, and has made plenty of people very proud of their cinematic achievement with the film. I don't think the academy will give it the win. I think the award will go to...

Un Prophete. Call it a hunch. Only call it a hunch. It isn't anything more than a hunch. For some reason. They missed their chance to give the award to last years foreign crime film with Gomorra, so that could play a role. Something about the cold violence in The White Ribbon being more unsettling than the blatant prison violence is playing a role, too. I really want to see A Prophet. Itching to, really. A win could push it closer to my grasp.

Now for more mindless guessing: Best Makeup will go to The Young Victorian because period pieces seem to have a knack for snagging makeup wins; Best Original Score will be given to Michael Giacchino for Up when the deserving winner is Alexandre Desplat for Fantastic Mr. Fox; "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart will win Best Original Song, because T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham wrote it; Logorama wins Best Short Animated film without batting an eye; Instead of Abracadabra would be a good choice for Best Short with Living Humans, but I only say that because it's the only one I've seen. Perhaps Miracle Fish will be the winner; The Hurt Locker will possibly narrowly avoid being beaten by Star Trek for Best Sound Editing, and will go on to take Best Sound Mixing as well; finally, Avatar will get a statue for visual effects because it's not fair, life.

I was thinking I could stop with the frivolous guessing when it got down to the writing nominees, but once again I'm baffled by the options. Since I haven't been very fair on Up in the Air through this post I'll claim it can take home the Best Adapted Screenplay win. People seem to enjoy Jason Reitman, and even if I'm in the minority with thinking it was a lousy movie it was indeed adapted from a novel. He managed to do that. That takes eyes.

Original screenplay would go to A Serious Man or Inglourious Basterds if I was the one deciding between nominees, but since I'm not I think Up is going to win. Pixar is always going on and on about how they put the story first, animation second. I thought Up's story was full of flaws, especially when it came to the villain, but I think they should be able to coast by and take a win home even if I think it undeserved.

How many of these am I going to guess correctly? If Avatar isn't Best Picture I think I can safely say I'm going to have chosen completely wrong for the rest of them. I'll cross my fingers.

- Eric T. Voigt

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