I've been a follower of the Oscars for at least a decade now and predicting the Oscar winners is a favorite sport of the awards show viewing public. I honestly love the Oscars though, I'm one of the few who not only watch it every year, but watch it from start to finish. It's a night designed to glorify the art and artifice of film making and I love film. I hope someday that the game industry's DICE awards achieve the same distinction.
I haven't been keeping track of my prediction accuracy for very long, but in the time that I have I'd say I'm about 80-85% accurate out of the categories I choose predict. What makes predicting the award winners so interesting is that so much of what the academy chooses is about politics. Depending on what's in the offering you may have to ask yourself "is the academy going to make a statement with their choices this year?" and the answer is often yes. Once you've watched enough Oscar ceremonies you begin to see the patterns though and the prediction becomes more interesting for it in my opinion. Anyway, without further ado, here are my predictions for the winners of the 82nd Oscar Awards.
Oh Academy ... this is the year that the Academy has decided it wants to be more pluralist and there are not 5 but 10 Best Picture nomination. Please gentle reader, do not take this as a spur of the moment "there were so many good films this year we just had to choose more" decision. I had heard about this move over half a year ago and it's all about trying to get more people interested in watching the show. If a film like District 9 (which normally would not have been in this category) is up for an award, there is more of a chance that people interested in that type of movie will watch. The thing is, it's not going to win. It was never going to win. Even when there's 5 options there are usually only 3 that stand a chance and such is the case this year. The three films are Avatar, The Hurt Locker, and Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire, it's apparently imperative that you say the ENTIRE title for this one as that's how I have always heard it referred to. And even out of those 3, there's only one choice. Avatar wins this one hands down and I'll tell you why. While normally, a sci-fi epic like this wouldn't get the award nor a nomination, James Cameron crafted a film that EVERYONE saw. There's no denying the film's power even with the debate over it's lack of originality. Whether or not Avatar is the best picture of the year is irrelevant when compared to the fact that EVERYONE saw this movie and it didn't suck. The Academy has no choice but to give it Best Picture simply based on the fact that the public already has. While a movie like The Hurt Locker may be a better film - coincidentally directed by Cameron's ex-wife Gale Ann Hurd - if the Academy gives it to nod to a movie that very few people saw versus the movie that EVERYONE saw then they look out of touch and they lose viewers for next year when everyone says "they never actually pick the best movie for those awards anyway." I like Avatar though and I like Cameron so I don't mind.
Actor in a Leading Role
I saw one of these films ... ONE. I meant to see the Hurt Locker, but not until after it was already out of theaters and I heard it was good and not the "Rah! Rah! War is great! Let's go kill people with dark skin in the desert!" movie I had assumed it was due simply to the fact that the trailer featured both guns and sand. The one movie I did see (Up in The Air) while good, wasn't Clooney's best ... not that it was bad, I mean it got him nominated after all. If I'm going to go with the buzz this is a two man race between Jeff Bridges and Jeremy Renner and in the end Bridges has the momentum right now so that's the way I'm going.
Pick: Jeff Bridges
Actor in a Supporting Role
Once again, I saw only one of these. It was that kind of year for film, the kind where the best performances were often not also in the best movies and overall good movies were hard to find. I can't even comment on any of performances here that I didn't see because I haven't heard anything about them. That's how bad it's been. These people are nominated for an Academy Award and no one's even talking about them. In the end though I'm going with Christoph Waltz from the one movie I did see, Inglourious Basterds. He honestly did a good job with Tarantino dialogue (he always makes it challenging) and he won the Golden Globe in the category, so there.
Pick: Chrisoph Waltz
Actress in a Leading Role
Now here we have an interesting situation: Sandra Bullock in the one decent role she's picked in the last decade and a newcomer in a challenging role for Gabourey Sidibe in Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire. I say this every year, but this is the category that slips me up most often. For instance, last year I chose Meryl Streep in Doubt over Kate Winslet in The Reader and as the awards show started my mistake dawned on me but it was too late. I think I may have it this year. Bullock won the Golden Globe and there was no lack of Oscar buzz surrounding her performance in The Blind Side, so I'm giving this one to her.
Pick: Sandra Bullock
Actress in a Supporting Role
This is another one that tends to slip me up, but there were some amazing supporting roles for women this year and the nominees are a tough bunch to choose from. Peneloper Cruz is nominated ... again, but I don't think she gets it because Nine wasn't anything big enough to make the Academy forget that they can't be bothered to care about musicals most of the time. Maggie Gyllenhall is always lovely, but I haven't heard anything about this performance and she wasn't in the running for the Golden Globe. Anna Kendrick was good in Up in The Air, but not that good. Monique has the Golden Globe and the buzz, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say she doesn't get the Oscar. For my money the award has to go to Vera Farmiga. She was amazing in Up in The Air, simply amazing. Her performance just resonates in the right way, such that when you get to the twist in her character's plot it hits you in much the same way as it does Clooney's character. This is going to be a close category though.
Pick: Vera Farmiga
Animated Feature Film
I said it last year and I'll say it again. There's a science to picking the best animated feature: if it's before 1995 and there's a Disney movie, the Disney movie wins. If it's after 1995 and there's a Pixar movie, the Pixar movie wins. If there's a movie by Hayao Miyazaki there's a 75% chance it's going to win regardless. This year we have both a Disney movie and a Pixar movie, but come on people ... Up wins it, hands down. I usually don't see non-Miyazaki animated features in the theater, but when I saw the trailers for Up I knew I had to see it and I was not disappointed. Personally I liked it better than Wall-E. Up wins.
The Academy is purposefully trying to trip me up here. A musical and a Victorian era period piece? This is dangerous ground to tread. Actually everything in this category has potential, so while the movies sucked this year, the art direction was amazing! Against my better judgment however I'm going to go for the musical because other than score/song, all they have going for them is art direction.
This category isn't as difficult as art direction luckily. For my money this one narrows down to Inglourious Basterds and Avatar. I have to go with Avatar though because I think the Academy is going to want to recognize the achievement in shooting for physical, digital, and 3D at the same time. I might be wrong, but it's just a gut feeling.
Once again, what are you trying to do to me Academy? This is usually a no-brainer category, pick the period piece or the musical. This year there are 2 period pieces and a musical! Ok, I guess the Coco Chanel movie is a period piece of sorts two, but Victorian always wins over 60's. I'm going to eliminate the musical and the 60's piece right of the bat and choose between the two Victorian flicks. From what I remember of the trailers for Bright Star the costumes were incredibly expressive and I can't picture The Young Victoria being anything more than the standard Victorian royalty fair that usually wins, so my pick is Bright Star.
Pick: Bright Star
Best Director goes to the director of the Best Picture winner, it's practically a rule and even if Avatar doesn't win Best Picture, Cameron deserves this award. If you remember, at the time Avatar was just coming out there was a lot of buzz about how it was going to change the way that movies are made and I think specifically what people were talking about was composite digital/physical actor movies. Directing actors against green screens is challenging because there's so little to work with. It's one of the reasons why the new Star Wars movies had just stilted acting. Everything was green screened to have digital backgrounds thrown in later and Lucas didn't have the chops or the technique to get real performances out of his people regardless. Cameron was able to in Avatar and he wins this category regardless of how Avatar fares in Best Picture.
Pick: James Cameron
This is a tough category, especially when I didn't see two of the films. Also, I'm pretty sure that Inglourious Basterds didn't have any editing and played out entirely in real time over several years of my life. I'm going to go with a movie I didn't see though and say Hurt Locker, because I don't think the 3 movies I did see on here will win.
Pick: The Hurt Locker
Music (Original Score)
This is not my best category either, but the Golden Globe when to Michael Giacchino for Up and I think that's a good call based on the selection.
Music (Original Song)
At least I can narrow this one down to two choices. It's either going to be Nine (because it's a musical) or Crazy Heart, because it's about a guy who plays music. Crazy Heart has both the Golden Globe and the momentum so that's where I'm going.
Pick: "The Weary Kind" Crazy Heart
Really? Why even have this category this year?
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Ah ok, back to categories I generally give a shit about. There is however no contest this year. First off, writing awards often go to new screenwriters or first time nominees. Oh and one of the movies literally says it's adapted in the friggin' title. Despite the fact that Up In The Air won the Golden Globe, it wasn't up against this film at the time and I think that makes all the difference.
Pick: Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire
Writing (Original Screenplay)
And original screenplay, a category that very, very often goes to a newcomer, but this year it's tough. I'd say the front runners are The Hurt Locker (written by a newcomer) and Inglourious Basterds (written by a guy who really likes words). Since I did not see The Hurt Locker I'm left at a bit of a disadvantage, but while I have issues with Inglourious Basterds, it was Tarantino's best writing since Pulp Fiction, hands down. I've got to give him the nod.
Pick: Inglourious Basterds
And that's all I've chosen to pick this year. I don't predict everything, because quite frankly there are some categories that I never see any films from until later on, like foreign, documentary and short, and there are some categories I wouldn't even know how to begin predicting like sounding mixing. I get the feeling I'm going to be below 80% accuracy this year though. Once again, it was an awful year for film, with piecemeal productions producing excellent aspects in films that are otherwise unwatchable. I hope 2010 is better and maybe an influx of new scripts will take Hollywood in bold new directions ... or maybe I'll just shut up and watch Iron Man 2.