The ONLY Oscar Blogger, who lives in walking distance to the Kodak Theater!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Final Oscar Predictions

I don’t cover the Oscars like I used to. My coverage for the 81st Academy Awards was the best stuff this blog ever did.  I still can’t help, but get excited over this time of year.  The Oscars are just something I will always enjoy.  Part of the reason is that it celebrates movies (some years better than others).  Another part is trying to figure out what is going to win.  Picking the Oscars is right next to trying to fill out a March Madness bracket.  There’s some easy picks, some tossups, and of course a few upsets that came out of nowhere.  All bets are off on Oscar night.

I didn’t see as many movies as I wanted to this year, but I’ve been doing enough reading to finalize my picks.  I wish I had more time, but the Oscars are tomorrow.  So without further ado, here are my preliminary picks for the 85th Academy Awards.

Best Picture: Argo

I can’t see this film losing at this point.  What is going to beat it?  Lincoln?  Silver Linings Playbook?  Those are the two options that make sense.  I don’t think either one has the support to do it.  You never know when it comes to the Oscars.  The Academy always has a few tricks up its sleeve.  The thing about Argo is that it’s about Hollywood.  The Academy likes to pat themselves on the bat.  It’s a feel good story about a horrible time in American history.  Hollywood plays a big part in the success of mission.  It’s about the creation of a fake movie and making the hostages fake film crew.  Plus, it’s a great film.  I don’t think it’s a masterpiece, but I enjoyed it.  I don’t have a problem with it joining the fraternity of Best Picture winners.  Let me put it this way, there’s a lot worse films that have won the top prize.  Lastly, George Clooney and Ben Affleck (and Grant Heslov) will accept the Oscar.  That has ratings written all over it.

Best Director: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

Not nominating Ben Affleck makes the Academy look really dumb.  I’ve been saying that for a while as Argo has dominated the award circuit.  It’s not the first time the Academy has made a dumb mistake, but it’s most recent one shouldn’t get a pass.  Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done, so this category is a bit difficult to figure out with the deserving winner.  Everyone just thinks Spielberg is going to win by default.  Speaking of dumb, that’s really dumb.  He may win, but I don’t think this is a given by any means.  I could easily see David O. Russell win.  I’m going with Ang Lee because this category looks like a trap to me.  I haven’t seen Life of Pi, but it’s the trailer/promos are visually stunning, Lee is well respected by the Academy, and he had a challenge of adapting this book into a film.  My understanding is that adapting this book was no easy task and one most filmmakers would fail if they attempted.  Ang Lee has made some bad films, but he’s also made some incredible ones.  I’ll just say Brokeback Mountain is one of the most important and best films of the last 20 years.  Like I said, Spielberg could win this.  Maybe, it’s his time to win his 3rd Best Director Oscar.  Instead, it’s time for Lee to win his 2nd Best Director Oscar.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

I love Daniel Day-Lewis.  He’s one of the greatest actors of not only his generation, but of all time.  I truly believe that.  He’s going to win his 3rd Oscar.  This is a lock.  I don’t think he’s lost one award this season.  It’s very similar to his steamroll in 07/08 for There Will Be Blood.  The most incredible part is that he has dominated award seasons by playing such diverse categories.  Five years ago, he played a horrible and hateful man in Daniel Plainview.  This year, he plays one of the most beloved Americans in history and one of the greatest Presidents in Abraham Lincoln.  With all that said, I would have not voted for him this year.  A lot of people are going to disagree, but I thought Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in The Master was better.  I realize that I sound like P.T. Anderson homer, but I haven’t seen another performance like Phoenix’s Freddie Quell this year.  I have problems with The Master and I don’t think it’s one of Anderson’s best films.  I do think the acting is very good (only 3 nominations this year and all for acting).  I think we may look back in five years and appreciate Phoenix’s performance a lot more than we do today.  I could be wrong, but I wanted to put that on the record.

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook

I believe Jennifer Lawrence is going to hold off Emannuelle Riva.  I don’t deny that she has probably gained ground.  Sometimes, these stories about actors or actresses gaining steam and pulling the upset come true.  Other times, it’s a false alarm.  Some people are mentioning Marion Cotillard a few years back.  I don’t think that’s a good comparison at all.  I’m going to be shocked if this upset happens.

Best Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook

Nominee Alan Arkin’s character says, “Argo fuck yourself.”  I say, “Argo fuck this category.”  This is maybe the toughest of the night.  At least it’s the toughest of the major categories.  There are three guys that could win.  I’m going to start by writing that I don’t want Waltz to win.  I’m not the first person to say this, but his performance reminded me too much of his character in Inglorious Basterds (he won the Oscar for that role).  I think he’s a talented actor, but it’s also too soon from his last win.  I would have preferred Leo or even Samuel L. Jackson getting the nod over him.  If you can’t tell, I’m going to be mad if he wins.  Tommy Lee Jones seems to be the safest pick of the bunch.  I didn’t like him that much in Lincoln.  Maybe it was because he was sharing the screen with Daniel Day-Lewis, but he didn’t jump out at me and make me say, “Wow.”  Plus, his grumpy face at the Globes is probably not going to help him.  He strikes me as an angry old man.  Then, I look to Robert De Niro.  This reminds me a lot of Meryl Streep last year.  He hasn’t won an Oscar since his role in Raging Bull.  It’s a longer drought than Streep.  Plus, the guy has been campaigning this season and I think it’s going to pay off.  He also has the Weinsteins.  Yes, he hasn’t won anything this season, but Alan Arkin didn’t win anything before his Little Miss Sunshine win.  I don’t think it’s an incredible role, but it’s good enough to pull off the win.

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

She’s won everything like Day-Lewis.  If Hathaway loses I would be shocked.  In somewhat related news, it’s a nice comeback story for a woman that co-hosted the Oscars a few years back and bombed with James Franco.  This is just further proof that they are both talented (I’m still a big Franco fan).  I think it’s going to be a nice moment for her.

Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained

I’m really torn on this category.  It’s one of the hardest to predict.  Zero Dark Thirty won the WGA, but both Amour and Django were ineligible.  My issue with Amour is that it’s a foreign film and is the Academy going to vote for that.  My issue with Django is that will the Academy embrace a script that uses the N-word over 100 times.  This is an old voting body and I don’t know if they are going to like that a lot.  I could be wrong, but it’s a tad excessive.  Oddly enough, Taratino did lose to Boal in 2009 when Hurt Locker beat Inglorious Basterds.  This could be revenge.  For that reason, I’m going with him.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo

Like the Best Picture race, the biggest threats to Argo seem to be Lincoln or Silver Linings Playbook.  This could be a good indicator for later in the evening.  If Lincoln or Silver Linings win, then maybe it will be closer than thought in the Best Picture race.

Best Animated Feature: Wreck-It Ralph

It’s either going to be this or Brave.  I saw Wreck-It Ralph and I enjoyed it.  I also didn’t hear/read amazing things about Pixar’s latest film, Brave.  The problem is that Pixar has done very well here.  Is it really going to be two years in a row with a non-Pixar film winning?  I think so.

Best Cinematography: Life of Pi

Poor Roger Deakins is probably going to lose again.  Him and Emmanuel Lubezki somehow don’t have Oscars.  It’s a huge gaffe in my opinion.  Shows you how much they know about cinematography.  Life of Pi seems like it’s going to take the Oscar win.  This reminds me a lot of Hugo’s win last year.

Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina

A lot of mediocre films have won this in the past.  It usually goes to the period pieces with the flashiest costumes.  Anna Karenina falls into that description, but Les Mis could steal it.  I just don’t want to start handing Les Mis too many Oscars because I don’t think the Academy likes it that much.

Best Documentary - Feature: Searching for Sugar Man

I don’t know very much about this film, but everyone is picking it.  I know it’s about Rodriguez, but that’s about it.  I’m just following the crowd.  It seems to be the overwhelming favorite.

Best Documentary - Short Subject: Open Heart

Whatever I pick will probably be wrong.  I hate this category more than any other.  It’s just tough to predict and I always get it wrong.  This is another category where I’m following the popular choice.

Best Film Editing: Argo

Best Picture and Best Film Editing like to go together.  The editing in this film is also really well done.  How can you not love editing at the end of the film?  The pacing is perfect and it’s intense even though you know they are going to make it out alive.  It’s really well done.

Best Foreign Language Film: Amour

Amour is getting a lot of love from the Academy.  Everyone says this is a lock.  I just can’t help, but remember Pan’s Labyrinth in 2006.  Received multiple nominations and lost this category to Lives of Others.  I read Kon-Tiki has screened well to members (remember members must go to special screenings for this category) and it could upset.  I just don’t feel like it’s a smart choice to get too crazy and pick it.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Les Misérables

Oscar voters love when the makeup and hairstyling makes actors look old or ugly.  Look no further than Les Mis.  I also feel like there’s no love for The Hobbit or Hitchcock.  I actually forgot both those films even came out last year and I find it hard to believe it could win this.

Best Original Score: Life of Pi

I’m not that familiar with this score as I’ve yet to see this film.  Why am I picking it?  Everyone else is and it seems like the smart choice.  The other alternatives seem to be Lincoln (John Williams) or Skyfall (won the BAFTA).

Best Original Song: "Skyfall" from Skyfall

This is one of the safest categories of the night.  Everyone loves Adele.  A Bond theme has actually never won an Oscar somehow (Live and Let Die was screwed).  This has to be the year.  I would be shocked if it lost.

Best Production Design: Life of Pi

This category is tough.  The Academy has really been favoring production design that is more CGI orientated.  That heavily favors Life of Pi.  Les Mis and Anna Karenina make strong cases.  Actually, I was going with Les Mis, but decided to change it.  I think Anna Karenina is out because there’s no way that film is winning two Oscars.  I find that hard to believe.  I may regret changing from Les Mis, but look at the last three winners in this category (Hugo, Alice in Wonderland, and Avatar).  Just seems like Life of Pi is the right choice.

Best Short - Animated: Paperman

This was shown before Wreck-It Ralph.  It could be a Dreamworks sweep.  This probably has a better shot at winning than Ralph as everyone seems to think this is the film to beat.  I haven’t seen it, but the black and white and blend of traditional/computer animation makes it sound very appealing.

Best Short - Live Action: Curfew

I don’t even like to comment on these short categories.  It’s not that I don’t care about them.  I’m sure they are great and the Academy has done a better job at making them accessible even to members who aren’t in the Academy.  Still, I haven’t seen any of them, so really have nothing to add.  This is another follow the leader type of pick.  I will say this that for the Oscars that is not a bad strategy to have.  I think it’s important to take a couple gambles where you see fit, but playing it safe will make your night better.  It has won me a number of Oscar contests through the years.

Best Sound Editing: Skyfall

I very well could be wrong with this pick.  This is one of my risky picks of the year.  Skyfall has nominations, so it’s not disliked by the Academy.  Plus, it follows in the mold of previous winners like Bourne, Dark Knight, and Inception.  The alternative could be either Zero Dark Thirty or Life of Pi.  The Hurt Locker won this a few years back, but the difference was that it also won Best Picture.  Life of Pi could be Bond’s strongest competition.  Both Skyfall and Pi won the sound editor guild awards.  I just have a hunch that Skyfall is going to win.

Best Sound Mixing: Les Misérables

Musicals or movies with a lot of singing do really well in this category.  Chicago, Ray, and Dreamgirls have won here recently and are in a similar mold to Les Mis.  Considering the singing was done live makes it even more impressive.  If the Academy goes crazy for Argo like it did for Slumdog Millionaire a few years back, then maybe it could win here.  That’s doubtful.

Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi

The film is beautiful and everyone is raving about the visual effects.  Seems like a safe choice and is probably one of the easiest picks of the night.

There you have it, my final predictions for the 85th Academy Awards. I'll try to post some reaction to the results and thoughts on the show a week after the Oscars.  I’m probably going to have to re-watch the show as I'm having my annual Oscar party.  It’s the fourth year in a row I’ve done it and I don’t really get to enjoy the show very much.
I hope it’s a good show.  Seth McFarlene is an interesting choice for host, so I’m curious to see how that will pan out.  For his sake, I hope he does well.  No one wants to bomb as Oscar host.

Lastly, make sure you enter my 6th Annual Oscar Contest.  The links are all over this blog, but you can also just click HERE.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

6th Annual Oscar Contest is Live

After much deliberation, I decided to keep the streak alive and do the 6th Annual Oscar Contest.  I don't anticipate a very big contest, but I would rather do a small one than miss a year completely.  I would have probably regretted it years down the road.

Anyone can enter the contest at the link HERE.

I'll post my picks on Friday or Saturday.  Still debating over a few categories (especially Director and Supporting Actor).

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: A Retrospect

Where have you gone, 2012?  Welcome to the sixth installment of my yearly retrospective.  As cliche as it sounds, I can't believe how fast the years go by.  It's kinda scary.  I don't really have too many bad things to say about 2012.  Looking back on last year's piece, I may have been a bit too ambitious of where I would be.  I don't like to say I failed because I didn't, but I obviously didn't do as much I would have liked.  I went in the right direction in 2012 and that is probably the most important thing.

I got a job at LMU in February and it's nice to be working full time for the first time since 2008.  It's so nice to have financial comfort in my life.  I wouldn't say I'm very comfortable, but at least I can spoil myself every so often.  My job is whatever.  I like the people I work for, but I am very overqualified for my job.  Honestly, I don't work any where close to the 40 hours I get paid for.  I'm not complaining though.  I can't help it if I'm so efficient that I run out of things to do.  Yes, I know I'm bragging.

While I did look for more challenging endeavors, I didn't look too hard.  My independent college counseling venture took its first steps this year.  That's my main priority right now and all the free time in my full time job allows me to work on this opportunity.  I partnered up with Venice Arts to do the first "Time to Dream" presentation in October with a few of my friends from LMU.  It took about a year to set the whole thing up, so I was very happy how it turned out.  It went so well that we'll be back to do more work with them in 2013.  My friends from LMU that have helped me with this have been amazing and it's been a total team effort.  Plus, we have a few other things on our plate.  We've been talking to a high school and hopefully we can start charging people to use our services as well.  Yes, we're coming after you, residents of affluent Los Angeles communities.  My friend, Mary, and I have been working hard the last few months to try to make something happen.  As we've both been saying, "We at least have to try."

One of the biggest reasons why I am staying optimistic about this college counseling/consulting is due to my new perspective on life about thinking anything is possible.  Why?  Well, I think running two marathons has really changed me in a lot of ways.  I'll never be a fast runner or even a great one, but no one can ever take away from me that I am a marathoner.  It's cool to think that I can say I ran a marathon and I have the medals to prove it.  I never thought that would be possible.  I have a lot of great memories from running marathons and I'll never forget them.  As much as it sucks at times, crossing that finish line is indescribable.  I enjoyed the experience so much that I am running the LA Marathon again in March.

While I'm on the subject of sports, it was a frustrating year in Boston sports.  The Patriots made the Super Bowl again.  And, they lost to the Giants again.  That one definitely hurt as they probably should have won.  As I said right after the Super Bowl and I'll say it again, "Fuck the Giants!"  The Patriots once again prepare for another playoff run and good news the Giants are out of the playoffs.  On a side note, I went to my first Patriots game on January 1st, which was fun.  It was nice to be able to say I saw Tom Brady play at least once.  The Bruins failed to repeat as Stanley Cup champs as they bowed out in the first round and the Celtics lost in the eastern conference finals.  While the C's overachieved, I thought the B's really choked.  They should have at least made it out of the first round.  Sadly, that's the last game of hockey they played in 2012 as the NHL is once again in a lock out.  Hopefully, they can figure something out soon or the entire season will be canceled again.  As for the Red Sox, I'm not even going to waste my time.  It was their worst record since 1965.  They were a bunch of bums!

While I am on the topic of frustration, I can't forget about Paul Thomas Anderson's latest film, The Master.  As much as I love PTA, I was underwhelmed and disappointed with his film.  I still need to see it again, but I doubt it will change my opinion much.  I am curious to see how his next film (probably Inherent Vice) will turn out.  Although, I may have to wait until 2014 or even 2015.

Obama winning re-election was one of the more positive events to happen.  Yeah the guy hasn't been perfect, but I would still rather go down with him, then ever align myself with the Republicans.  I do truly think he wants to move this country forward and I hope his second term exceeds his first in every area.  He still has the ability to be a great president.

In my free time, I continue to volunteer at Venice Arts.  I feel very fortunate that I have found an organization I can volunteer for and enjoy the work I do.  Volunteering is a great way to spend time and give back.  It's also the only time I ever get to use my filmmaking skills these days.  Yes, I left the film industry four years ago, but I never wanted to leave entirely.   I have done nothing recently and it's my fault.  I'll admit it.  Although, I would still like to do some producing or work on some projects.  My creative juices are still flowing throughout my body.  I hope I can get my hands dirty with making a movie, web series, or even a sketch next year.  I'm available and I'm willing to work for food.

The wedding bells are also starting to ring as I feel like more people I know are either getting married or engaged.  Maybe, it's my age, but I can't help thinking of myself and if I will ever get there as well.  My cousin, Andrew, got married in June.  My other cousin, Matt, got engaged in February and will get married next October.  My sister, Lori, got engaged in August and will get married August 2014.  And I can't forget about my friend, Julian, who got engaged in September.  His marriage date is to be determined.  The point is love is in the air and I need to start budgeting for weddings.  Hopefully, some of this love will enter my life, but who knows.  As Kevin Garnett famously said, "Anything is possible!"

I wanted to end with this college workshop and its prospects.  On a professional level, it's the most important thing I've done in the last year.  Arguably, the most important thing I've done in the last few years.  The goal this year was to pilot it out and see how everything went.  Now, it's time to go one step further and get serious.  That's where I am right now on this New Year's Eve.  2013 will be a make or break year for me.  It's possible this college consulting business could fail, but it's also possible it could take off.  I've got a couple ideas that will hopefully make us stand out more.  Plus, we're young and hungry.  There's no more excuses.

You only live once and I didn't get a Master's degree to be an administrative assistant.  For that reason, I'm posting this video from the late Alan Watts.  I just discovered it this year and it quickly became my favorite video of the year.  It inspires me, reminds me to dream big, and follow your passions.  It's my philosophy for 2013.

Happy New Year,

Mikey Filmmaker


Saturday, March 17, 2012

LA Marathon Training Diary: One Day Away

I realize that I haven't posted in a month regarding my training. In the last month, we have essentially been in taper mode. In the last three weeks of training, I've run 14 miles, 6 miles, and 6 miles. The goal has been to keep the legs fresh for the marathon, but also not completely stop training. Of course, no one wants to get injured, so we haven't been working too hard.

I never realized how much mental toughness is needed for the weeks leading up to the race. Maybe it's because it's my first time, but I've become a bit paranoid. I don't want to mess up six months of training. This last week has been especially difficult since I really don't want to do anything stupid. I've been trying to eat right (carbo load) and I haven't gone out unless I have to go to the store to buy food.

The other issue I've had is the weather tomorrow is not going to be ideal. Earlier in the week it looked like it was going to rain during the entire race. Now, it looks like it may have a couple showers, but otherwise should be fine. It's been a very unproductive work week for me as I could not stop checking the weather or not worry about the rain.

The one positive about the rain is that I ran really well in the rain a couple months ago when we did 15 miles. While every run is different, I look back to that for confidence to say I can run well if it does rain.

At the end of the day, I'm ready to run well in any condition. I feel really good going into the race and I think it's going to be a lot of fun. I met with my co-worker, who happens to be a very accomplished marathoner (former world record holder, '73 Boston winner, and winner of multiple other marathons) and she told me I was going to do great. That means a lot.

The energy and the positive nature of group 8 all week has also been great. At least no one publicly is freaking out about the rain. We've all trained so hard the last six months and tomorrow is the payoff. I have no idea how it's going to feel, but I can't wait. I'm running a marathon tomorrow.

Monday, February 27, 2012

5th Annual Oscar Contest Results

The Oscars are over and it's time to finally announce the winner of the Oscar pool. We had 110 people enter, but one person managed to win the contest outright with 22 correct picks. That ties my personal record and was really incredible showing. Honestly, I did a double take when I looked at his ballot. He only missed Best Editing and Best Documentary - Feature. Congratulations to Thomas Sentina!

I have included everyone that scored at least 17 picks, which was the same amount of picks I had this year.

22 Picks
Thomas Sentina (Winner)

20 Picks
Gary Gibson
Kent Bailey

19 Picks
Beth Hartnett
Preston Nicholson
James K Chambliss
Diane Guthmann
Philip Duong

18 Picks
Dave Guthmann
Kari Granlund
Shane Slater
John C. King
Chris Miller
Denexxel Domingo
Michael Johnson
Paul Kim
Patricia Mistric

17 Picks
Tim Wisneski
Kris Smith
Jimmy Orsag
Erica Adams
Matthew Partee
Megan Miller
Ryan Fernand
Katie Gillispie
Chris Frano
Neil Lapinsky

Congratulations to Thomas. I will be in contact with him shortly. I'm unsure if he is a LAMB. He didn't break my record to win the Fandango bucks, but he did win an iTunes gift card, two AMC movie passes, and his name will be photoshopped on the golden horse's ass. He is the closest person that has come to breaking my record and that is the most correct picks anyone has had in the five years I've been running this contest. I am really impressed.

If anyone thinks there may have been a mistake with their ballot, then leave a comment on this post. I double checked the top finishers and everything looks good. If there are no problems after three days, then I will close the contest.

Here are also some statistics from the categories that were a bit of a surprise.

15/110 predicted Meryl Streep for Best Actress
22/110 predicted Girl with a Dragon Tattoo for Best Editing
13/110 predicted Hugo for Best Cinematography
18/110 predicted Hugo for Best Visual Effects
9/110 predicted Undefeated for Best Documentary - Feature

Thanks again everyone for participating. See you next year for the 6th Annual contest.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Final Oscar Predictions

I want to be honest upfront. This is the worst year I've done researching my Oscar picks since I've been writing about the Oscars on this blog. Long gone are the days of "The ONLY Oscar blogger who lives in walking distance to the Kodak Theater". Of course that is not to say that I know nothing. I don't care if I sound cocky or arrogant, but I probably know more than most people about the Oscars and where these races are heading. The biggest difference is I haven't been analyzing them for months.

My first thought regarding this year's Oscars is that there are a lot of categories that are close. There seems to be an obvious frontrunner, but this year really lacks locks. This year I don't feel as confident in a number of categories. I am content with my selections, but I could easily see another nominee win. Part of my problem could be my endless overthinking, but I have no idea how well I will do this year. I would also be surprised if someone breaks my record in the Oscar pool. I don't think this is the year to get more than 22 picks. Maybe, I'll be wrong.

While I continue to ramble I might as well also say that I haven't even seen most of the films this year. I usually get screeners from my friends in the film industry, but that didn't happen. I still need to see The Artist, which I'm going to try to do later tonight. We'll see if that happens. The best thing about predicting the Oscars is you don't have to see the films to know what is going to win. So without further ado, here are my preliminary picks for the 84th Academy Awards.

Best Picture: The Artist

Believe it or not, I haven't even seen this film. It's not that I don't want to, but I haven't had a chance to see it in the theater and screeners for this are difficult to find. Trust me, I've been asking my friends since this film is on the top of my list. It's going win. There really hasn't been an exciting Best Picture race since The Departed and Babel were going head to head in 2006. At least that is the last Best Picture race that I incorrectly predicted. Hugo could maybe pull an upset, but that seems unlikely and nothing else is going to give The Artist a problem. Who would have ever thought the Academy would award a black and white silent film its top prize in 2012?

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

I love this guy's last name. It just sounds bad ass. The French auteur is in the frontrunner. He has the DGA, which all but guarantees his win. This would be closer if Scorsese was still looking for his first Oscar. It would be fun to see Malick win, but I don't think there is enough love for Tree of Life.

Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist

I was sticking with Clooney, but after the SAG awards I have to switch to Dujardin. I know I just wrote this about Scorsese, but I feel the same for Clooney. If he was still looking for his first I think he would be a much more serious contender. I wouldn't be shocked if he won, but there seems to be a genuine love for The Artist. Actors make up the largest voting branch of the Academy, picked Dujardin over Clooney. You have to think repeat on Sunday.

Best Actress: Viola Davis, The Help

Viola Davis put her name on the Oscar map a couple years ago for her brief, yet powerful performance in Doubt. Now, she has her chance to win an Oscar. She has done well in the precursors that it just makes sense. My only concern is Meryl Streep. Believe it or not, the woman has not won at the Oscars since Sophie's Choice in 1982. You got to think they are going to give her another one at some point. I just don't think it will be this year.

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners

This is just a classic Oscar role and Plummer has been winning everything. I think this is the easiest acting category all night. If he wins, then Plummer will be the oldest acting winner ever.

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help

Like Plummer, Spencer has been on cruise control and looks like a lock. She could split The Help vote with Jessica Chastain, but I don't see it this year. Sometimes I think the split theory is misleading.

Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris

Everyone loves Woody even though he never shows up. That could hurt him, but I think he's going to win it this year. The field is weak. The Artist could win, but I don't think members are going to vote for a silent film.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants

Here's a chance for the Academy to give some love to this film. I love Alexander Payne and he could become a two time Oscar screenwriting winner (won for Sideways in 2004). Also, if this wins, then Dean Pelton from Community would also win an Oscar. That would be really funny.

Best Animated Feature: Rango

No Pixar movie is nominated, so a non Pixar film will win this for the first time since Happy Feet in 2006. That year it defeated Cars. The Academy just doesn't like the Cars franchise even though its merchandising is incredibly profitable. Anyway, Rango like the obvious choice. I never even heard half of the films in this category. I figured maybe Tintin would have been awarded here, but that didn't even get nominated either. It's been a weird year for this category.

Best Art Direction: Hugo

I do think the Academy will give Hugo some awards, so this is one place where they can do that. The Academy never really embraced Harry Potter. War Horse just never picked up any steam and I can't see The Artist winning this category. I do think this is where the black and white will hurt it.

Best Cinematography: Tree of Life

I feel like this is a trap pick. Lubezki should have already won an Oscar for Children of Men in 2006. He was upset when the Academy went for Pan's Labyrinth. I'm sticking with this pick since Tree of Life may get a little love and this is the only place to do it. Plus, Lubezki has done well in the precursors. I just won't be surprised if I don't hear his name. The alternative could be Hugo or maybe The Artist. I can't convince myself to pick either one, so I'm sticking with Tree of Life.

Best Costume Design: Jane Eyre

Last year I got this category wrong with The King's Speech. I tried to convinced myself that the Academy would award a good film in this category. Look at the recent history of this category and some mediocre films have won here recently. They are all period pieces, so that is what they look at when voting. That leads me to this film. I wouldn't be surprised if The Artist or Hugo wins, but I can't bring myself to make the pick especially after the recent history. The last Best Picture nominee to win this award was The Aviator in 2004.

Best Documentary - Feature: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

The best documentary I saw all year, How to Die in Oregon, wasn't nominated this year since I don't believe it qualified. I saw it at Sundance for its world premiere and I highly recommend it. Anyway, I have no idea what is going to win here. This is one of the five categories where members need to attend special screenings to even vote in this category (Doc - Short Subject, Foreign Language, Animated Short, and Live Action Short are the others). That is part of the reason why people never really know how this will go. I heard from a friend that Undefeated was really good, but I have heard more buzz on Paradise Lost 3. That is why I'm going with it.

Best Documentary - Short Subject: Saving Face

The synopsis of this film seems the most powerful and engaging. It is about a Pakistani plastic surgeon who performs face reconstructive surgery on survivors of acid violence. Really any of these films could win. I'm sure they are all great, so consider it a crapshoot.

Best Film Editing: The Artist

When in doubt, pick the Best Picture winner to win this category. Nothing really stands out to me, so that is my logic behind this pick.

Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation

I haven't seen this film, but everyone loves it. There have been upsets in this category in the past. Pan's Labyrinth and Amelie lost here. I have been a little lucky with this category in the past. Yes, I picked Departures a couple years ago, which helped me win a lot of Oscar pools that year. The reason why I'm sticking with this film is there seems to be enough support. A Separation was even nominated for Best Original Screenplay. The alternate seems to be In Darkness, but I haven't heard enough buzz to change my mind.

Best Makeup: The Iron Lady

All three of the nominees here don't really impress me that much. I'm going with making Meryl Streep like Margaret Thatcher. Maybe Harry Potter steals one here.

Best Original Score: The Artist

This has to win here, right? It just makes sense since the music is so important in a film without dialogue.

Best Original Song: "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets

Flip a coin. I'm going with The Muppets since I think it would be fun to give it an Oscar. This category is somewhat of a joke this year. I think the Academy may have to look at their nominating process for Best Original Song. At least nominate three songs. Two nominees looks stupid.

Best Short - Animated: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris

I'm just picking the film with the longest title. I'm kidding. I have heard this is a really well done short and it seems to be the popular choice. The alternate may be La Luna, but history has not been kind to Pixar in this category. I have no idea why, but it seems to never win.

Best Short - Live Action: Tuba Atlantic

I have no idea about this category. I haven't heard of one film being the popular choice. It is all over the map. I am going with this film since I like the title and the film is from Norway. I'm hoping it will stand out and sneak in for the win.

Best Sound Editing: Hugo

I could see the sound categories going Hugo for both, War Horse for both, or it could split. I would rather just pick the same film for both and attempt to get at least one category right. You never know what is going to happen. I feel like this is another chance for the Academy to give Hugo some love. The upset would be if Transformers won, but as we learned 2007 the Academy doesn't like Transformers.

Best Sound Mixing: Hugo

To keep with my strategy of going for the same film for both sound categories, I'm sticking with Hugo here. It makes sense and I would rather go all in with Hugo than War Horse.

Best Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

This deserves to win, but will it? Hugo could win here, but I think they will go for those dirty apes. Plus, everyone loves Andy Serkis and all the great work he does.

There you have it. My final predictions for the 84th Academy Awards. I'll try to post some reaction to the results and thoughts on the show a day or two after the Oscars. I'm having my annual Oscar party, so I may have to rewatch the show again. We drink a lot of wine and it's loud, so I miss a lot. I do think the show will be better than last year's and I'm curious how well Billy Crystal will be. I don't think he'll be the savior some people expect, but he's reliable. Overall, it should be a fun night.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

LA Marathon Training Diary: Half Way There

February 18, 2012 - 13.1 miles (Marathon Race Pace)
This was technically a cut back week, but it didn't feel like it. Part of that reason was that this was a marathon race pace run, so we were running miles a minute faster than usual. For my pace group that means we were running 11 minutes a mile. After last week, I definitely was excited to see how my body would respond and how well I would run.

Overall, I felt pretty good on the run. Blisters are still driving me crazy, but I've somewhat accepted that is part of running long distances. I've got a hot spot right now on the bottom of my right foot. I'm also starting to really not like running in the median on San Vicente. The roots are killing my ankles. I have weak ankles to begin with, but I'm always nervous I may slip and hurt myself. That would be horrible, so I'm very careful during that part of the run. That is what made last week interesting since we were running faster than usual. It made that part of the run a little more challenging.

While one minute faster is a big difference, I didn't notice as much as I thought. The key is not looking at my Garmin every two minutes. It's a bad habit. My legs held up pretty well and I definitely thought like I had something left in the tank at the end of 13.1 miles. In the back of my mind I'm a little nervous since I know that on Marathon Sunday I need to keep this pace for another 13.1 miles. I need to do everything I can to stick with the group for as long as possible.

Next week is the last big run of training before we taper in the weeks leading up to the marathon. It's unbelievable to think, but it is less than a month away. The time has really flown. It's exciting and scary at the same time, but I feel like I'm ready. At this point, there is really no backing down.

Until next week... 16 miles...