Here’s the second annual Oscar-predictions posting from Two Guys in the Dark (although Pat’s further in the dark than I am this year because he’s leaving the golden guessing game completely to me, the visionary Ken Burke). I’ll admit that some of my “predictions” are just wild speculations (not that it matters what my method is because I usually only get about 60% of them correct, largely because I tend to over-think some categories when I should go for the more likely option). Check out the ceremony on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, starting at 5:30 Pacific/8:30 Eastern, or check back here on Feb. 25th and I’ll update my predictions with winners.
Color-coding key: red = my prediction, green = my preference of the nominees (plus a few other greenies that are my real preferences but that didn’t make the final list of contenders), red + green = prediction and preference, gold + bold at a later date = WINNER. [2/24/13 I'm in my usual not-so-great range this year again; I got 14 of 24 right for a 58% average, with the only one I expected to lose being Jennifer Lawrence winning Best Actress. My other misses were either complete surprises or not so much so because I was just guessing wildly anyway, although in 3 of my losing predictions I'm glad to see that the winner was the nominee that I had hoped would win even though I didn't assume victory. At least I know better than to have money riding on these results.]
Amour (Margaret Menegoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka and Michael Katz, Producers)
Argo (Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers) WINNER!
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers)
Django Unchained (Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers)
Les Misérables (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh,
Life of Pi (Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers)
Lincoln (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers)
Silver Linings Playbook (Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers)
Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers)
Just as I would have taken Melancholia (Lars von Trier; review in our Dec. 12, 2011 posting) last year for Best Picture over The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius; review in our Jan. 4, 2012 posting), although it wasn’t nominated by the hallowed Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, so I would take The Master (Thomas Paul Anderson; review in our Sept. 27, 2012 posting) this year, but the similar lack of nomination does complicate things a bit. My #2 for 2012 is Amour (review in our Jan. 24, 2013 posting along with the list of the others in my 2012 Top 10), but I don’t think the Oscar voters will give it both Foreign Language Film (which I do predict) and Best Picture, especially with the head of steam that Argo’s (Ben Affleck) been building up lately, although I’d put Lincoln at #3 and Argo at #4 overall for the year. Having already taken the Golden Globes Drama film award and the Screen Actors Guild Cast award (the SAG equivalent of Best Picture), Argo’s got a lot going for it, but given the respect the Academy has for Spielberg I wouldn’t count Lincoln (the seeming front-runner until about a month ago) out just yet. The final tipping point for Argo may be the large voting bloc of actors in the Academy who love to laud one of their own in roles behind the camera (as with the Best Director Oscars for Robert Redford [Ordinary People, 1980], Warren Beatty [Reds, 1981], Kevin Costner [Dances with Wolves, 1990], Clint Eastwood [Unforgiven, 1992; Million Dollar Baby, 2004]], Mel Gibson [Braveheart, 1995], and Ron Howard [A Beautiful Mind, 2001]), yet they can’t do that for Best Director because of Affleck’s lack of a nomination so this may be their chosen avenue to give him deserved praise.
Michael Haneke, Amour
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Ang Lee, Life of Pi WINNER!
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Here I would have preferred Anderson for The Master. (And I would have preferred to see Affleck nominated for Argo [for which he won the Golden Globe and Director’s Guild awards; with the DGA membership overlap into the Academy's own version of the directors guild it’s still a mystery how he missed the Oscar nomination] and Kathryn Bigelow nominated for Zero Dark Thirty [sorry, Zeitlin and Russell, but no worries for you because it’s been determined long ago that I’m not running this show].) No matter, though, because even if anyone else but Anderson had been allowed in I’d still go with the masterful historical exploration overseen by Spielberg, which flows us right into the next category.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln WINNER!
Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight
I’d replace Jackman with John Hawkes for The Sessions (Ben Lewin; review in our Nov. 9, 2012 posting), but, again, little matter in that if anyone except Day-Lewis wins this award there should be an Occupy movement at the homes of every Academy voter until they agree to take a revote (he’s already won the actor awards for Golden Globe Drama film and from the Screen Actors Guild, so his momentum just continues to build).
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook WINNER!
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible
I don’t really have any complaints here about the nominees, although I think it’s a bit generous to nominate Wallis for simply being a precocious child rather than necessarily playing one (although that kind of thinking would likely have disqualified John Wayne for his True Grit [Henry Hathaway, 1969] Best Actor Oscar, but I’d better not go there or I’m really going to end up on the NRA hit list)—I’d give the edge to Ann Dowd in Compliance (Craig Zobel) to round out this group of nominees—but even with Dowd included I think it will be a real battle between Chastain and Lawrence for the statuette (the former got the Golden Globe for drama film while the latter got the Globe for musical or comedy film along with the Screen Actors Guild actress award so she’s the more likely, but I’m going to keep stumbling around in the dark and go with Chastain). I thought Riva was clearly the best of the bunch (and, at 85, she likely won’t get many other chances), although the Academy is not too generous with even nominating performers from Foreign Language films, let alone awarding them. (So far, the only two women to win Best Actress in these circumstances were Sophia Loren for the Italian Two Women [Vittorio De Sica, 1960, but considered a 1961 film for Oscars based on U.S. release] and Marion Cotillard for the French La Vie en Rose [Oliver Dahan, 2007]; foreign-language men haven’t fared any better with only Roberto Benigni taking Best Actor in his own direction of the Italian Life Is Beautiful , although some might mistakenly think of Emil Jannings [The Way of All Flesh (Victor Fleming, 1927),The Last Command (Josef von Sternberg, 1928), but just the one Oscar—the first ever given for Best Actor—because in those days the “year” spanned 1927 into 1928 and could include multiple films], even though you must discount the Foreign Language aspect there because even though Jannings was German these were silent films made in Hollywood with English intertitles, or last year's Best Actor award for Jean Dujardin in The Artist, which for all practical purposes was a French film but again its Hollywood setting allowed English intertitles and the few spoken words were also in English so there's no Foreign Language aspect in play here either.) Once I finished compiling all of my predictions I found that I'm not forecasting any wins for Silver Linings Playbook, an outcome that I don't find to be likely, but, case-by-case, I'm sticking with my decisions (not easily arrived at in some of those cases, especially this one where I'm picking Chastain over Lawrence). I'll make one more prediction about the whole package, that I'm most likely to be wrong with this category so I guess I'm now betting against myself; it's strategy like that which forces me to just play nickel slots whenever I'm in Nevada.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained WINNER!
I honestly think that any of these nominees could be the winner (Jones seems to be the marginal front-runner here and has received the SAG supporting actor award, but Waltz got the Golden Globe which may play into any sentiment for spreading the wealth around to honor Tarantino a bit; nevertheless, you shouldn't discount the respect that Hollywood has for De Niro). I’m good with this group as is, although Leonardo DiCaprio also does a marvelous job in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and is a more legitimate candidate for Supporting Actor than Waltz, who’s really in a co-lead role. As with most anything else connected to The Master, I prefer Hoffman and maybe the voters will find other ways to laud Argo, thereby skipping over the marvelous performance of Arkin. Given that all of these guys are previous winners of either Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor (or both, in the case of De Niro) I think it could be any of them but I’m finally going with Jones simply because he was a key element in an important film and the spread-the-wealth attitude may land with him given that Argo seems to be edging out Lincoln for Best Picture. This one’s a real horse race.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables WINNER!
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
This is another case where I’m generally satisfied with the chosen contenders, although I think that Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy (Lee Daniels; review in our Oct. 19, 2012 posting) could easily replace Weaver and probably would have if more of the voters had actually seen her in it (sadly enough, it’s only in a few of the more obscure categories where you have to prove you’ve seen the nominees to be able to vote for them, but that’s no different than our political elections where you don’t have to prove you have an ounce of clarity about what a candidate stands for in order to cast your ballot). As with Waltz in the Best Supporting Actor category being a lead, I think that Hunt’s performance is more legitimately a consideration for Best Actress and I could easily knock Cooper out in favor of Waltz just as I think Hunt could eliminate Lawrence but this is where the political maneuvering comes in rather than just aesthetics. I have to say that from a pure power of acting perspective Hunt is the winner here by a long shot (despite the generally high quality of the other nominees), but for what I think a true supporting role should be I admire Hathaway’s one big scene in Les Mis and agree with the Golden Globe and SAG voters that it’s appropriate that she should get the gold (that's why I put a little green on her name by the photo; I do see her as being my favorite from one perspective, just as I prefer Hunt from another one, as contradictory as that might seem).
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
Argo, Screenplay by Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild, Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi, Screenplay by David Magee
Lincoln, Screenplay by Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook, Screenplay by David O. Russell
Here’s another group that I have no major complaints about. The Writer’s Guild awarded Argo in this category, but I think this may be one of the best shots for Silver Linings Playbook (where again the Academy’ voting rules allow everyone to vote on practically everything, so unless the actors have already swung the statuettes to Lawrence and/or De Niro I think that a win could happen here just to insure some love for Russell's work). I think the writing (along with the editing) is what drives the success of Argo but acknowledge respect for Lincoln as well and think that it will ultimately prevail in a very tight race (which ultimately may go to Silver Linings Playbook, I'll admit).
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
Amour, Written by Michael Haneke
Django Unchained, Written by Quentin Tarantino WINNER!
Flight, Written by John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom, Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty, Written by Mark Boal.
Once again, my heart lies with the un-nominated Anderson (Paul Thomas) for The Master, but of the official contenders I like Zero Dark Thirty the best and think that it will triumph, despite the complaints about its depictions of torture of terrorists in the film. (It will be unfortunate if those who are trying to rewrite history for public relations’ sake or misinterpreting what this film condemns rather than supports might prevent it for being awarded for its very effective structure and dialogue, but if so it certainly won’t be the first time that considerations outside of the quality of the work itself have worked against film artistry [I’ll just start with Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, a seeming “sure thing,” not getting Best Picture in 2005, although, even more surprisingly, Lee did get the Best Director Oscar even while losing the big prize].) However, if there's a sympathy vote simmering for the much-beloved Moonrise Kingdom it may surface in the decision for this award.
From here on down most of the categories either present me with too many options that I haven’t seen or are technical awards which might end up being chosen via either bandwagon or consolation-prize reasoning by those many actors who are voting in principle for a specific film without really understanding the nuances of the craft represented by the awards. Therefore, my predictions are largely a crapshoot and the results in many cases may not necessarily be comprehendible based on what actually happens on screen, but I pledged to predict in all 24 categories so here go my red ink attempts (and a little green notation where I have real reason for my favoritism, but most of these don't really lend themselves to much commentary from me). Please check back on Feb. 25 to see how I came out. (I’ll also try to not let the layout of this posting run on forever with these other 16 categories but that will require some negotiation between me and BlogSpot so we’ll see who triumphs there as well. Wish me luck. [And don't forget that whatever I compose will be proper only in Safari and Google Chrome; for those of you reading on any other browser I apologize in advance for how the words may swim around the page, but this is also the case in Safari and Google Chrome depending on how much you zoom in or out. Call me a 20th century dinosaur but computers drive me crazy.])
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Amour, Austria (A real beauty but the only one of the nominees that I’ve even seen, so who knows how good any of the rest of them may be [No looks great in previews].) WINNER!
A Royal Affair, Denmark
War Witch, Canada
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Frankenweenie (The money here seems to be with Ralph, but this is a Burton keeper for me, although no classics in this group as I gave only 3 ½ stars [of my 5] to both it and Brave in my reviews; see Oct. 24, 2012 posting for Frankenweenie and June 29, 2012 posting for Brave.)
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
5 Broken Cameras Inocente WINNER!
The Gatekeepers Kings Point
How to Survive a Plague Mondays at Racine
The Invisible War Open Heart
Searching for Sugarman WINNER! Redemption
CINEMATOGRAPHY FILM EDITING
Anna Karenina Argo WINNER!
Django Unchained Life of Pi
Life of Pi WINNER! Lincoln
Lincoln Silver Linings Playbook
Skyfall Zero Dark Thirty
Anna Karenina The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Life of Pi WINNER!
Les Misérables Marvel's The Avengers
Life of Pi Prometheus
Lincoln WINNER! Snow White and the Huntsman
COSTUME DESIGN MAKEUP AND HAIR STYLING
Anna Karenina WINNER! Hitchcock
Les Misérables The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Lincoln Les Misérables WINNER!
Snow White and the Huntsman
SOUND EDITING SOUND MIXING
Django Unchained Les Misérables WINNER!
Life of Pi Life of Pi
Skyfall WINNER! (tie) Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty WINNER! (tie) Skyfall
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE) MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
Anna Karenina "Before My Time," Chasing Ice
Argo "Everybody Needs a Best Friend," Ted
Life of Pi WINNER! "Pi's Lullaby," Life of Pi
Lincoln "Skyfall," Skyfall WINNER!
Skyfall "Suddenly," Les Misérables
SHORT FILM (ANIMATED) SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)
Adam and Dog Asad
Fresh Guacamole Buzkashi Boys
Head over Heels Curfew WINNER!
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
Paperman WINNER! Henry
If you want much, much more of everything Oscar then go to http://oscar.go.com/nominees where you’ll find links to considerably more information on each nominee in each category and trailer for most of them.
And for those of you who are expecting one of my usual song diversions you might like this wannabe-movie star tune from The Beatles, “Drive My Car,” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ts2U1mkfz4 (a fan video that matches the recorded song to footage of the Mop Tops performing some other tunes; not great visual quality, but, still, It’s The Beatles!). What I’d really like to refer you to is my friend and decades-ago roommate from the fabled University of Texas at Austin, Jerry Graham, and his marvelous song about the heritage of movies in a futuristic time, “Old Faces Come Alive on Electron Screens,” but I guess he never made it into a music video. Maybe if you’re somewhere close to Colorado Springs, CO you might try contacting his very successful automobile ad agency, Graham Advertising, at http://www.grahamadv.com to see if he’s still around there (but he’s not listed in “the people of graham” at this site so maybe he’s comfortably retired by now, although other searches show him as Owner and Chairman of the place; I’m not sure, as we’re rarely in touch anymore, but, still, you never know…) and get him to sing it for you if you can—it’s well worth your time if you could ever make it happen. (And I’m sure he’ll send a hit squad after me for wasting his time with crazy inquiries if anyone really tries this, but what’s the point of life if you don’t shake things up once in awhile? Now, maybe if you've got a car dealership that needs an ad agency he might listen to you. Let me know how that works out, OK?) It’s the perfect love-of-movies song that I’d love for you to hear but sometimes you can’t always get what you want (no, no link to the Stones this time [it's all Beatles this week], but you’re welcome to do that on your own if you like).
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