Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Predix: Best Picture

Here's how I rank the Oscar nominees, from most likely to least likely to win:

  1. Argo
  2. Silver Linings Playbook
  3. Lincoln
  4. Life of Pi
  5. Les Miserables
  6. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  7. Zero Dark Thirty
  8. Amour
  9. Django Unchained

And here's how I personally rank the Oscar nominees, from best to least:

  1. Argo
  2. Silver Linings Playbook
  3. Lincoln
  4. Life of Pi
  5. Zero Dark Thirty
  6. Django Unchained
  7. Les Miserables
  8. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  9. Amour 
 Keep an eye on this page for another important ranking: My ten best films of 2012

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oscar Predix: Sight and Sound

Time to close up the Oscar predictions with the technical categories. Many people think these are boring, but think of it this way - without these, there wouldn't be anything to hear or see.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: I really want Thomas Newman to win for Skyfall. It's criminal he hasn't got an Oscar. He could get it if voters are of that same mindset. But I have a sneaking suspicion the "prettiest" score will get it. That's Life of Pi. So here's what I'll do. I'll predict Pi. If it wins, I'm right.
If Skyfall wins, I'm wrong, but I get my wish. (If someone else wins, I'm screwed.)

BEST SONG: Absolutely no debate here. Adele's Skyfall wins this in a walk.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Anna Karenina was the showiest and was actually integral to its storytelling, though I think Lincoln could spoil. But I'll stick with Anna.

Should win: Didn't care for the film as a whole, but Anna's production design was truly inventive.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Same logic that applied to Score applies here. Roger Deakins (Skyfall)  should have an Oscar already. He should have several, in fact. But again, I have a feeling voters will default to "pretty" and go for Life of Pi - which also has an edge because of its impressive 3D.  Worked for Avatar and Hugo.

BEST EDITING: Argo is so well constructed that even though the conclusion is a matter of historical record, the suspense remains intense.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: I'll go for Anna Karenina here too. Ballot synergy.

Should win: Mirror Mirror wasn't much of a movie, but it had very imaginative costumes.

BEST MAKEUP/HAIR: The Hobbit would seem the logical choice, but the overall feeling around is one of ennui:  "been there, done that." So I'll go for Les Mis.

Should win: Lincoln, but it's not nominated for some reason. Les Mis was well done.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Best digital recreation of an animal this side of Jurassic Park means an easy win for Life of Pi.

BEST SOUND MIXING: Almost certainly Les Mis, for its mixing of the live singing.

Should win: Skyfall

BEST SOUND EDITING: This often goes to a well-made action film. Skyfall fits that to a T.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

OSCAR PREDIX: Films and screenplays

Having gone over the actors, we now dive into the best film races that aren't Best Picture, and some of the other major categories this year. If you need a reminder of the nominees, click here.

BEST DIRECTOR: A bit of a tough call this year. A month ago or so, I said Spielberg, but Daniel Day-Lewis aside, Lincoln has lost momentum. I'm going to go for Ang Lee, who took what people said was an until able book and filmed it.
Should win: David O. Russel, for deftly juggling the shifting tone of Silver Linings Playbook.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Another tough call. Zero Dark Thirty has lost momentum too, and I can't see any of the non-Best Picture nominees winning, so I'll go for the other Best Picture nominee: Django Unchained.
Should win: The delicately quirky Moonrise Kingdom.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The tough calls keep coming. Tony Kushner (Lincion) could win just for his reputation alone, but my suspicion is, voters will gravitate toward the feel-good movie of the lot: Silver Linings.
Should Win: Lincoln, for juggling so many threads of history with impressive forward momentum.
BEST ANIMATED FILM: My initial feeling had been Wreck-It-Ralph, but Brave has picked up a lot of precursors, so I'll swing that way. Wreck-It SHOULD win, however.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: When a nominee in this category is also up for Best Picture, that's the logical choice. Amour wins.
BEST DOCUMENTARY: The feel-good Searching for Sugarman has won most if not all precursors.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Oscar Predix: The Girls

As was the case with the actors, the actresses have one race that is very easy to predict, and one race that is not so easy to predict. With the ladies, though, the shoo-in is on the other foot, in the the supporting category that's a shoo-in.


Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Watts aside, you can cook up a scenario in which any of these nominees could win. I hate to say that about Watts, because I loved her film, and she's long overdue for an Oscar. But she's the only one I don't see having any chance.

Chastain is still riding a wave of praise after her tremendous coming out party last year, and for a long time, her steely but deeply felt work made her a favorite to win. Unfortunately, the torture controversy of ZD30 has tainted her chances. She's already a repeat nominee, though - she will return here.

Riva is a well-respected actress. She's in her 80s, so the Academy will not have many more chances to award her. She's heartbreakingly good in her film. As it happens, Oscar Sunday is her 86th birthday. What a present - and what a story - that would be. On the other hand, a couple of stumbling blocks remain. Her film is very hard to endure, and it's also very small. Have enough people seen it to carry her to the winners circle?

Wallis was sensational in Beasts of the Southern Wild, and she filmed it when she was 6. Only time will tell if she's here to stay, but given that her movie is also up for Picture, Director and Screenplay, she has a lot of support. Still - will rewarding her seem like a novelty more than anything else.

That leaves Lawrence. Some say she's too young for her role, and I can understand that argument, but I think that's part of why her performance works so well - her wise (or wise-ass) beyond her years quality gives the performance gravity. She runs the gamut of emotions, and having accomplished so much at only 22 years old, there's no question she's here to stay. She won the SAG award too, and her movie is extremely well liked, since all her co-stars are nominated.

SHOULD WIN: Lawrence, although every one of the nominees is deserving. The actresses had a great year.

WILL WIN: Lawrence.


Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

SHOULD WIN: I have to go with my beloved Amy, but I won't complain about who
WILL WIN: Hathaway. She's had this locked up since before her movie came out.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Oscar Predix 13: The Guys

In an Oscar race filled with tough calls this year, I'm going to start off easy and call the biggest shoo-in of the night.


Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

I mean, come on. If Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't win Best Actor for Lincoln, the Academy might as well rename itself The John Wilkes Booth Fan Club. Many people agree it's the best cinematic portrayal of the president, and some, such as myself, call it one of the very best performances of all time. I knew he was going to be great, and I STILL came away astonished. The only competitor who could possibly play spoiler, is, I think, Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, where she howed heretofore unseen range. But Daniel Day-Lewis will rightly become the first man to win three Best Actor statues.



Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

This one is tougher to call. Jones has won a lot of the precursors, and his role in Lincoln is very flamboyant - but there's not much of a story behind it. Good as he was, Jones didn't surprise anyone.  The Academy likes a story to go with its awards. So that's why, in a close race, I'm tipping my hand to De Niro. He hasn't been nominated at all since Cape Fear in 1992, and this role is seen as a welcome return to form after too many years of lazy paycheck performances.

And he's who I would vote for too - he moved me the most.

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook