Monday, February 20, 2012

Oscar predix 12: Below the line

And so we begin 2012's Oscar predictions with the "bathroom break" awards: In other words, for the technical category and short films awards that the average viewer doesn't care about. Most of my blog's readers aren't average viewers, but even if you are a more casual fan, you DO need these categories to help win your Oscar office pool. After all, the major categories are pretty well set; the techs are much more in flux.

Short Film (Animated)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

Will/should win: I've seen all the nominees this year. Maybe Pixar had an off year with Cars 2, but they're still firing on all cylinders with La Luna, which is typically ingenious work by them. However, A Morning Stroll is very clever, with its multiple styles of animation, and it's the funniest of the lot. So it's a possible spoiler. The overall field here is underwhelming.

Short Film (Live Action)
The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic

Will/should win: This is a particularly strong group this year; with the possible exception of the slight but enjoyable, Pentecost, I could see any of these taking the Oscar. I'm going with the emotionalism of The Shore, a very affecting drama  starring Ciaran Hinds and directed by Terry George, who made Hotel Rwanda. I would not rule out Time Freak, which, like last year's winner God of Love. is a very clever little comedy.

Documentary Short
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God Is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Will win: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Should win: Saving Face

My personal favorite, Saving Face, an amazing story of Pakistani women prevailing over acid attacks, could very well win, but my gut tells me the better-known story of the tsunami that ravaged Japan will score more points.

 Best Cinematography
The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Will win: The Artist
Should win: The Tree of Life

Logic would dictate that Tree of Life would win here; it won the ASC award, and it fulfills the "pretty!" prerequisite typical of many winners. I think it deserves to win, not only for its beauty, but for its well-executed hand-held camerawork.

HOWEVER - a lot of people HATE The Tree of Life, and as knowledgeable Oscar prognosticators have pointed out, you have to go back 62 years to find the last movie that won cinematography without any other techs. And sure, Emmanuel Lubezki is due, but tell that to Roger Deakins.  Therefore, I'm thinking the overall love for The Aritst will carry the day.

Art Direction 
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

Will/Should win: The opening five minutes of Hugo should seal the deal for that film.

Costume Design
The Artist
Jane Eyre

Will/should win: Hugo is the most opulent and it's a Best Picture nominee.

Film Editing
The Artist, Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
The Descendants, Kevin Tent
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
Hugo, Thelma Schoonmaker 
Moneyball, Christopher Tellefsen

Will win: The Artist
 Should win: Moneyball

I wouldn't rule out another win for Thelma Schoonmaker, but I'm guessing The Artist's overall ingenuity prevails here. Moneyball might seem like a surprising personal pick for me, but I really admire the way it jumped back and forth in time to tell the backstory of Billy Beane.

Albert Nobbs, Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston, and Matthew W. Mungle
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk, and Yolanda Toussieng 
The Iron Lady, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Will/should win: Here's where Harry Potter finally wins something.

Music (Original Score)
The Adventures of Tintin, John Williams
The Artist, Ludovic Bource
Hugo, Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alberto Iglesias
War Horse, John Williams

Will/Should win: The Artist's score is too delightful to ignore. And I actually think Kim Novak's ridiculous complaint about the use of the Vertigo music will help the film, not hurt it.

Music (Original Song)
“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets, Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from Rio, Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, and Siedah Garrett

Will/should win: The Muppets had BETTER win this one, or whatever screen I'm watching this on will have a big hole in it.

Sound Editing
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Sound Mixing
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Will/should win: Hugo for both.

This category can be hard to be predict, and I'm inclined to think most voters who aren't in the sound branch don't know the difference. However, since the silent movie wasn't nominated here, I think voters will go for the Best Picture nominee that sounds great.

Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Will/should win: This will mark the third time that an Andy Serkis performance carries its film to Oscar, after The Two Towers and King Kong/

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