By: Daniel Reynolds
The other statues have been given out, people have clapped, winners praised, losers comforted. But now, the 85th Academy Awards are this Sunday.
It is time to get serious.
As some may recall, at the time of the Oscar nominations a month and a half ago, I made some predictions for what I called the Elite Eight of Academy Awards categories. We all had a grand ol’time talking about who would win, who should win, and what the deal was with the crazy Best Director snubs. But now, forget all that. We’re being serious and I’m here to help you win the Oscar pool that you’ve set up amongst friends, family or co-workers (or, all three!). Follow me if you want to live, wait, I mean, win. Win.
First up, some revisions to those Elite Eight picks and some brief justifications:
Best Picture: Argo – In a surprising turn, after it seemed like Ben Affleck’s latest film had lost its awards momentum, it somehow won it all back and has now become the dominant story line heading into the Oscar broadcast. I know I said Lincoln was a lock before, but it has apparently died at the theatre (too soon?).
Best Director: Steven Spielberg – Still winning. Still seems odd that somehow Bigelow, Affleck and Tarantino were not nominated. I’ll refrain from further comment.
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis – You can bet against Day-Lewis, but I wouldn’t.
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – Thought about Jessica Chastain, but then remembered Jennifer Lawrence. She still owns all of the screens.
Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones – I really felt this one was split somehow between Hoffman and DeNiro, but then I saw this and remembered that it would be great to see Jones trundle up on stage one more time to unleash the deadest of deadpan faces.
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway – For once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Lincoln – This script still makes congressional amendments riveting so it still gets the win.
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained – I’m chickening out on my earlier Zero Dark Thirty pick (who knew this torture meme had legs?) and fully backing Tarantino. He won the Golden Globe so let’s go all the way.
Now hold on, there are another 16 categories (most of which, we can admit, are less than exciting) to predict and unlike my last column, this time we’re going all out. Full disclosure: some of these picks are total crapshoots, but they are educated crapshoots. I swear.
Best Animated Feature: Wreck-It Ralph – I am totally kicking myself for leaving this off of my Top 10 of 2012 list. Sure it’s about video game characters, but it is definitely the Toy Story of Video Game character movies.
Best Foreign Language Film: Amour – Being nominated for some “mainstream” Oscars (including Best Picture, Original Screenplay and Best Actress) means that it will win here easily. I realized last week that Emmanuelle Riva was in Hiroshima, Mon Amour. That is amazing.
Best Documentary – Feature: Searching for Sugar Man – I’m going with the happy ending here. The story of Sixto Rodriquez is a remarkable yarn, and I don’t care how many docs about Israel and AIDS stand against it.
Best Documentary – Short: Open Heart – Have to go purely on synopsis here. Open Heart is a film about Rwandan children going to the Salem Centre in Sudan for treatment of serious heart disease. Go ahead, vote against it.
Best Live Action Short: Curfew – I can claim to have actually seen all of the nominees here, so indulge me as a weigh in. My take: It comes down to Curfew or Asad. Curfew has the better mix of drama/comedy involving a suicidal addict and his precocious niece, but Asad has the more interesting setting in Ethiopia. Coin flip: Curfew.
Best Animated Short: Paperman – This is the Pixar-backed one right? Yeah.
Best Original Score: Argo – Alexandre Desplat’s score hits all the right notes (see what I did there?) as it bounces back and forth between the film’s Iranian and Hollywood settings. Plus, he’s due.
Best Original Song: Skyfall – Um, Adele sings this you guys. She wins awards.
Best Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty – Let’s give it one. Zero Dark Thirty is, in all honesty, probably the most technically proficient and audacious film out of all the nominees. The amount of detail that went into the movie has to extend to the sound editing which could go from absolutely booming to shatteringly quiet.
Best Sound Mixing: Les Miserables – Live singing recorded on set. George Costanza approves.
Best Production Design: Les Miserables – This is fair right? Alright, I’ll be honest here: Les Mis is the only major nominated film I didn’t see. Given the pedigree it’s rolling in with, I’m assuming it wins a few Oscars so it is easier to market the DVD later.
Best Cinematography: Life of Pi – The story here is that Roger Deakins (cinematographer extraordinaire!), with his 10th nomination, will not win again. The Life of Pi is not the best film of the year, but it does achieve a breathtaking beauty despite an absence of objects, buildings, and people to actually film.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Les Miserables – I’m giving this one to Les Mis, citing a little known Oscar corollary known obliquely as ‘Hobbit fatigue’.
Best Costume Design: Les Miserables – It is clear that I expect a Les Mis romp through a lot of the design categories. It just feels like one of those movies that people either don’t care about (re: me) or really, really love. To that end, it’ll get a boost in the voting from some sections of the Academy, and it has more costumes than it knows what to do with.
Best Film Editing: Argo – The unsung predictor of Best Picture success if actually the Editing Oscar. So, assuming Argo does take the big prize, I won’t buck the trend here. Somewhere, the Zero Dark Thirty people are pulling their hair out.
Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi – As the only movie with both prestige and mass appear, Life of Pi gets the nod here. Look, I enjoyed the Avengers as much as the next guy, but no way is the movie where the Hulk punches a giant space worm in the face winning an Oscar.
Will you win your Oscar pool if you follow my suggestions? Yes. Yes you will. Godspeed and good luck. And if I’m wrong, just remember, all those people that picked Citizen Kane didn’t win their Oscar pools either.