Saturday, January 12, 2013

Oscar predictions

As I've done in years past, I'm going to lay out my predictions for the winners of the 2013 Oscars. These predictions are based on nothing scientific; they reflect only my intuitions. In most cases, I'll be lifting up films I've never seen, but may have heard some buzz about. Where applicable, I'll try to lay out the reasoning (lame justifications, more like) for my selections.

Without further ado, then--

BEST PICTURE (my pick in boldface; asterisk* indicates I haven't seen this film)

Beasts of the Southern Wild*
Django Unchained
Les Misérables*
Life of Pi*
Silver Linings Playbook*
Zero Dark Thirty*

Lincoln seems the obvious choice, here: stellar acting by the protean Daniel Day Lewis, and the fact that the film is a historical costume drama (cue tympani and majestic angel farts)-- two major points in its favor. Having seen Django Unchained, I can vouch that Tarantino's film's abusive language makes it too controversial to win.

By the way: are you as annoyed as I am by the title of Zero Dark Thirty? I've almost never heard that expression: it's Oh Dark Thirty in my book.


Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook*
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln*
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables*
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master*
Denzel Washington, Flight*

This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that either Joaquin or Denzel nabs the statue-- Denzel because, as Cintra Wilson pointed out years ago, racist Hollywood deigns to reward black actors every few years; and Joaquin because, well, the Academy was feeling unusually brave. As much as I like them, I have to say that Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman are on this list because someone felt sorry for them.


Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty*
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook*
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour*
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild*
Naomi Watts, The Impossible*

I honestly have no clue who among the women might win, but I've heard the most buzz about Amour, a poignant movie about the trials of senescence. (And hats off to the Academy for considering foreign films for honors other than "Best Foreign Film"!)


Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook*
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master*
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln*
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

If it were up to me, I'd stuff those ballots to make damn sure that Alan Arkin would win the Oscar. I thought he was brilliant in Argo. It was a perfect role for his well-balanced, wisecracking style. But I have a feeling that the award will go to PSH, who despite being a boring person in real life (you ever see him on "Inside the Actor's Studio"? awful!), is a very talented actor. I'm also pretty sure that lightning won't strike twice for poor Christoph Waltz.


Amy Adams, The Master*
Sally Field, Lincoln*
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables*
Helen Hunt, The Sessions*
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook*

Amy Adams is talented and versatile-- a true character actress. But does she have the candlepower of a Sally Field, who may very well be enjoying a second wind thanks to Lincoln? And who wouldn't like to see Ms. Field clutching her Oscar, all these decades later, so that she can re-utter her famous 1984-era, "You like me right now-- you like me!" (Wikiquote)?


Brave, Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
*Frankenweenie, Tim Burton
*ParaNorman, Sam Fell and Chris Butler
*The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Peter Lord
*Wreck-It Ralph, Rich Moore

Pixar normally dominates this sort of thing, but even though I'm selecting Brave for the win this time, I don't feel that its story holds up to those of previous Pixar efforts. The trailer for Brave looked magnificent, but the movie was just meh. A shame, considering all the fun that Pixar could have had with Scottish history and culture. And what was up with those sighing blue sprites? Damn annoying. I'm sticking with Brave, though, because I can't say that I heard anything truly positive about the other nominees in this category. I recall seeing the trailers for all of these films, and being completely uninspired by them (except maybe for Frankenweenie, which might-- might-- beat out Brave.)


*Anna Karenina, Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained, Robert Richardson
*Life of Pi, Claudio Miranda
*Lincoln, Janusz Kaminski
*Skyfall, Roger Deakins

This is a tough one. The films that win "Best Cinematography" usually feature sweeping vistas and gorgeous panoramas. Although Django has some such scenes, I suspect the film is too intimately brutal to win this category. When in doubt, go with the huge, costumed epic boasting vaulted palace interiors, which is why I pick Anna Karenina, despite not having seen it. Palaces easily trump the Civil War and being stranded on a boat with a tiger. Skyfall is sure not to win, and if it does, there will be much scoffing.


*Anna Karenina, Jacqueline Durran
*Les Misérables, Paco Delgado
*Lincoln, Joanna Johnston
*Mirror Mirror, Eiko Ishioka
*Snow White and the Huntsman, Colleen Atwood

A little voice in my head keeps whispering "Pick Les Mis!" But I'm ignoring it. This was a difficult choice, because this category features three immense costume dramas. I have a feeling, though, that Lincoln won't win because of the relative lack of complexity of 1860s clothing (all black and white, with stovepipe hats) compared to the ambitious regalia doubtless on display in Anna Karenina. And because neither Mirror Mirror nor Snow White and the Huntsman was a particularly well-reviewed film, I seriously doubt that either will win the prize. That leaves Les Misérables, which could very well take Little Oscar away from Anna, if only Jackman, Hathaway, and Company can overcome their tepid press.


*Amour, Michael Haneke
*Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin
*Life of Pi, Ang Lee
*Lincoln, Steven Spielberg
*Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell

Not having seen any of the above films, I'm lost. At a guess, though, Lincoln will beat the crowd, since Best Picture and Best Director are often linked. Amour won't win: it's French-Austrian, and how often do foreign films win the big awards, anyway? Silver Linings Playbook is a comedy, which automatically takes it out of the running (too bad: Jennifer Lawrence has a fantastic sense of comic timing), and Life of Pi might just be too pretty to win.


*5 Broken Cameras, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
*The Gatekeepers, Nominees to be determined
*How to Survive a Plague, Nominees to be determined
*The Invisible War, Nominees to be determined
*Searching for Sugar Man, Nominees to be determined

Totally random guess. I'm assuming, here, that war-- literal or figurative-- draws the most people in. The documentary is about sexual assault in the United States military.


*Inocente, Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
*Kings Point, Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
*Mondays at Racine, Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
*Open Heart, Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
*Redemption, Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill

An even more random guess than with the previous category.


Argo, William Goldenberg
*Life of Pi, Tim Squyres
*Lincoln, Michael Kahn
*Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
*Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

I'm handing this to Argo mainly because I've seen the movie, and can attest to the power of editing: editing determines, to a significant extent, a movie's tone and pace. Argo very nicely builds tension in its third reel when Iranian security holds the entire group back from its Swissair flight out of the country. I'm going to predict that, if Argo doesn't clinch this award, it'll go to Zero Dark Thirty, which I assume to be another suspense-filled work in much the same spirit as Argo.


*Amour, Austria
*Kon-Tiki, Norway
*No, Chile
*A Royal Affair, Denmark
*War Witch, Canada

I'd normally vote first for A Royal Affair, the costume drama, but the positive press for Amour (which, despite being a French-language film, has an Austrian director, thereby making this an Austrian film) makes me think that Michael Haneke's story (he wrote Amour) is going to nail this.


*Hitchcock, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
*The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
*Les Misérables, Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Although this category is the one in which Les Misérables has the best chance of winning an Oscar, I don't think that even Les Mis can stop the juggernaut that is Peter Jackson. Jackson is a Kiwi with the heart of a Texan: he doesn't do anything small. Of course, it's possible that the Academy might snub Jackson twice and award him only when his third film comes out, as happened with Lord of the Rings, but given the competition, I think fantasy will win out over period. It's going to come down to those amazing dwarf beards in The Hobbit, I'm sure. Did you know that, in many scenes, those beards are actually CGI? And from what I saw in the trailer for Hitchcock, the latex covering Anthony Hopkins's face looks awful. If Hitchcock wins, I'll be very, very surprised.


*Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Argo, Alexandre Desplat
*Life of Pi, Mychael Danna
*Lincoln, John Williams
*Skyfall, Thomas Newman

As much as I liked Argo, and as much as I appreciate Alexandre Desplat's work on the final two Harry Potter films, Argo's not going to win this category. I don't recall the music playing a very significant role in the film; for the most part, the movie was laced with pop tunes from the late 1970s and very early 80s. I think a more reliable bet would be John Williams for Lincoln: I can imagine a sweeping, portentous score intermixed with subtle harmonies reflecting President Lincoln's pensive nature.


"Before My Time" from *Chasing Ice, Music and Lyric by J. Ralph More
"Everybody Needs A Best Friend" from *Ted, Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
"Pi's Lullaby" from *Life of Pi, Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
"Skyfall" from *Skyfall, Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
"Suddenly" from *Les Misérables, Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

This might be Seth MacFarlane's best chance to win an Oscar, but I'm almost positive the prize will go to the highly-YouTubed Adele for her "Skyfall." This will likely be Skyfall's only Oscar.


*Anna Karenina, Sarah Greenwood (Production Design); Katie Spencer (Set Decoration)
*The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Dan Hennah (Production Design); Ra Vincent and Simon Bright (Set Decoration)
*Les Misérables, Eve Stewart (Production Design); Anna Lynch-Robinson (Set Decoration)
*Life of Pi, David Gropman (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)
*Lincoln, Rick Carter (Production Design); Jim Erickson (Set Decoration)

Fantasy will trump castle intrigue here: The Hobbit will probably beat out the next most likely contender, Anna Karenina. Why? Mainly because The Hobbit features the ultimate prop: New Zealand itself. Ka Mate! Ka Mate!


*Adam and Dog, Minkyu Lee
*Fresh Guacamole, PES
*Head over Heels, Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
*Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare," David Silverman
*Paperman, John Kahrs

I'm going to predict that Adam and Dog will take the cake. Korean pride!


*Asad, Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
*Buzkashi Boys, Sam French and Ariel Nasr
*Curfew, Shawn Christensen
*Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw), Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
*Henry, Yan England

Total guess. The title alone sounds cool.


Argo, Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn,
Django Unchained, Wylie Stateman
*Life of Pi, Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
*Skyfall, Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
*Zero Dark Thirty, Paul N.J. Ottosson

At last! A category for which I've seen more than one of the nominated movies! I feel almost competent to judge this. Sound Editing is one of those categories where lesser genres can dominate: action, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy. Providing a movie's auditory elements is no small feat; so much depends on the sound. I think Skyfall is a strong contender here, but I'm going to go with what I know and vote for Django. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if Zero Dark Thirty took this one home.


Argo, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
*Les Misérables, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
*Life of Pi, Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
*Lincoln, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
*Skyfall, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

Sound mixing provides a film's auditory dimensionality; it's all about producing a seamless listening experience for the viewer. I'd say it's going to be a close run between Lincoln and Life of Pi, with Lincoln clinching this. It's a good bet that a movie nominated in twelve categories is going to take home at least some of those twelve.


*The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
*Life of Pi, Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
Marvel's The Avengers, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
*Prometheus, Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
*Snow White and the Huntsman, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson

I've seen (and reviewed) The Avengers, which had some pretty amazing special effects, but if I know the mind of the Motion Picture Academy, I think it'll pick The Hobbit. Peter Jackson's Weta special effects house has, since 2000, gained the stature of an ILM; they do great work there, with an international team. The Hobbit is a massive project, only one-third of which is visible in the current film. At the very least, Jackson and Weta deserve points for their ambition. The other contenders are strong, though, so I'm a bit shaky about my choice, here. Except regarding Snow White: I'm positive that Snow White won't win, unless the Academy has a cruel sense of humor.


Argo, Written by Chris Terrio
*Beasts of the Southern Wild, Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
*Life of Pi, Written by David Magee
*Lincoln, Written by Tony Kushner
*Silver Linings Playbook, Written by David O. Russell

My instinct, when it comes to screenwriting, is to go with whatever's quirkiest. By that criterion, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook are the strongest in this category. I'd really like to see both of these movies, each of which possesses a singular charm, if the previews are any indication. Of those two films, I think Beasts will take home the prize.


*Amour, Written by Michael Haneke
Django Unchained, Written by Quentin Tarantino
*Flight, Written by John Gatins
*Moonrise Kingdom, Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
*Zero Dark Thirty, Written by Mark Boal

I have a sad, sinking feeling that Wes Anderson is going to nail this one, because he's the quirkiest of the quirky when it comes to weird, deadpan, comedic storytelling. I'm not a fan of Wes Anderson-- not at all. I don't like his sense of humor, and I've come away from two of his films (Rushmore and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) feeling as if I'd wasted my time. I love Bill Murray as an actor, but can't fathom why he keeps working with Anderson. I'd much rather see the poignant Amour or the gritty Django win the statuette, but I think the Academy is too preoccupied with fellating Anderson for that to happen.

So those are my predictions for the upcoming Oscars. Like last time, I'm sure I'll get only about 30% of my predictions correct (all the ones that have to do with Lincoln), but this won't stop me from making Oscar predictions next year. There's something fun about prognostication: you may end up making a total ass of yourself by the end, but in the meantime, you're measuring yourself against reality, using reason and intuition to try to understand and foresee its flow. It's a test of mettle and acumen.

Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section.


1 comment:

Charles said...

Life of Pi had some amazing visual effects, so I wouldn't be surprised if it was a strong contender for that category. I've also heard really good things about ParaNorman, but I don't know if it is Oscar caliber.

Of all the films listed here, I've only seen the following:

Les Mis
Life of Pi
The Hobbit
The Avengers

Argo, The Hobbit, and The Avengers were all really good. I love the musical Les Mis (I've seen it on Broadway), and the film version is definitely sweeping, but it is not the best adaptation of a musical to film I have seen (Anne Hathaway is amazing, though). Life of Pi was visually beautiful but philosophically confused, and Skyfall was good, solid Bond fun.

Of these, I would really like to see The Hobbit and Argo take some awards home. Les Mis will win some just because it's Les Mis, and Life of Pi will probably win some awards it doesn't really deserve.

(Films that I haven't seen yet but really want to see: Django Unchained (still waiting for that review!), Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, ParaNorman.)