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.