POST-AWARDS UPDATE: Well that went well … I finished the evening with a 12-4 record, my best ever score. Turns out you can predict the Oscars by just watching the machinations of the hype machine! And here I’ve been wasting all this time actually watching the films. Lesson learned! 🙂
I’m actually shocked at how few films I’ve seen this year, but my usual film employer spent the last few months being bought and then rebuilding, so I didn’t get to see my usual 50-70 or so movies this year (unless you count Turner Classic Movies!). I did go out and see some films in cinema that personally interested me, but by that count this was an off year; there are some films out now that I would like to take in (and probably will over time), but very few I absolutely had to see. Of the nominees listed, I actually did see Up, Julie & Julia, Star Trek, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Thus, I’m in a good position to make Academy Award predictions, because I can go by almost nothing but the hype. I’m not even going to read Ebert’s predictions this year. I feel this frees me from the slavery of actually having to watch these films, at least some of which I might not enjoy, and allows me to discover the zen of pure movie criticism. I learned that from Helmut Spargle.
So, with a few measly drops of LSD and my critic’s intuition, I’ll stake my claims today, and find out how well I did tomorrow. Glory or shame will be mine!
Original Song: “The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart. Because Hollywood wants you to know they love country music too. Yeah right.
Original Score: I will be pulling for Michael Giacchino for Up, but I actually think it will go to Avatar (James Horner). Nope, Giacchino won. I’m happy to be wrong on this one.
Sound Editing: This will be The Hurt Locker’s first of many Oscars.
Sound Mixing: I actually think Star Trek should get this one, as this is one area where I thought the film hung together (since it didn’t in terms of plot, continuity, direction or design …), but it will probably go to Avatar. Got it for sound editing, missed it for this one, it was The Hurt Locker again. Riff-Raff lookin’ good!
Cinematography: My bet is on Avatar for this one, which is a shame because computer-generated pictures shouldn’t be eligible for cinematography awards. It really ought to go to Inglorious Basterds.
Art Direction: Unless the Academy is feeling extraordinarily ornery, this will go to Avatar as well.
Animated Feature Film: For no reason I can make out, the Academy hates Pixar (probably because they are a clique), nevertheless I will be like Charlie Brown and kick the ball for Pixar’s Up. But if I’m right about the Academy, expect it to go to Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Original Screenplay: Well, Tarentino’s out of this one, since Inglorious Basterds is about as original as an episode of Hogan’s Heroes; Up won’t get it because the Academy hates Pixar; and The Hurt Locker won’t get it because there have been charges that the story is stolen. That leaves The Messenger and A Serious Man. From what little I know of these two films, I’m going with the Coen Brothers on this one. Dang it, missed this one. It was The Hurt Locker yet again.
Adapted Screenplay: Precious. That is all.
Foreign Language Film: Based completely on wild-assed guessing, I’ll pick The White Ribbon (Germany). Nope, it was the Argentinian film El Secreto de sus Ono.
Directing: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, though perhaps we’ll get an upset win with Lee Daniels for Precious — he certainly seems to be able to pull performances out of actors that other directors can’t get.
Supporting Actress: Mo’nique, Precious.
Supporting Actor: It’s between Christopher Plummer for The Last Station and Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds. I’ll be rooting for Plummer, but my gut says headline writers everywhere have already got it: “Christoph WALTZES Away With Award,” har-de-har-har.
Actress: I would love to see a total newcomer like Carey Mulligan or Gabourney Sidibe win it, but nah, it’ll be either Meryl Streep or Sandra Bullock. My guess: Sandra, even though Streep was actually much better. I personally thought Julie & Julia was awful (well, the Julie part anyway), but Streep was absolutely amazing as Julia Child, whereas Sandra Bullock is being rewarded for taking a risk outside her comfort zone (but wasn’t actually at all convincing IMHO). If Gabourney Sidibe pulls an upset, that will be the big story of the night.
Actor: I actually think Jeff Bridges could pull an surprise here.
Best Picture: Everyone thinks it will be The Hurt Locker, and they’re probably right, but I’m going with Precious for the upset. I was half-right on this, so I’m counting it. 🙂
Whether I’m right, wrong or somewhere in-between, I will say this: 2009 was a good year for variety of stories in movies, even if a number of them weren’t to my taste. I can think of many years where the nominees for Best Picture were mostly dramas with a token comedy, but this year we have a real buffet of styles and stories to choose from. I’m also seeing a pleasing trend back towards what I’ll call “sophisticated adult fare” like Up in the Air, An Education, A Serious Man and A Single Man (among others).
And in my world, the first 10 minutes of Up would receive a special award for Perfection in Computer Animation — that sequence is a summation of every element of a film coming together.