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Oscar Predictions 2012

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

So the whole getting all my reviews online thing did not happen. Expect Actresses Galore, Screenplay Nominees, and Best Picture Overview to come online sometime in the next week. And not like last year when I said the reviews would be online soon; this year I really really mean it.

Text in red will be my post-show observations!

Best Picture: Midnight in Paris is a good movie, one I would recommend, but too slight to belong here. Moneyball, too: OK movie, doesn’t belong here. War Horse is the one I did not get a chance to see; I heard differing reviews of it. Some said Hallmarky malarkey; some said legitimately touching. I can’t say. Didn’t see it. Finally, The Help. A terribly uneven movie buoyed by its excellent performances and a message of racial equality that is touching, despite being muddled in its telling.

To me, there are four real contenders: The Descendants, Hugo, The Tree of Life, and The Artist. I liked Hugo; it was bright and energetic and visually interesting, but it was all in service to a story that is inherently pretty shallow. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have The Descendants, a totally grounded story about one of the most serious events that befall average people in their brief lives: a death in the family. This movie is a bit slow and flat, well-acted but depressing, and not in an enjoyable way. I did not like The Tree of Life. But it was one of those movies, one of those artistic, important-type movies that come out sometimes. I know enough about movies to know that buried underneath all the hype and bravado, there’s something there. I also know that if a movie doesn’t give me some semblance of a narrative through-line I am out, which is a personal preference that does not indicate quality but which does negate any chance for my enjoyment in an art film. As for The Artist, it is not unlike last year’s big winner, The King’s Speech, in that it is patently predictable at every moment, but well-put-together and charming as all get-out. More so that The King’s Speech even, because: dancing.

Prediction: The Artist

Preference: Better nominees in the future. The Artist.

Got this one right.

Best Director: Terrence Malick is a spoiler here, where he was excluded at the Golden Globes. There, Scorsese took it easily. Here, he has Malick to contend with. Like Scorsese, Malick is now an elder statesman of the cinema. However, he’s not nearly as prolific as Marty—who puts out a watchable movie every two years or so, to Malick’s unwatchable movies every ten years or so—and Malick’s never won this award. Again, I really didn’t care for this movie, but I think it deserves more attention than it got. Hazanavicius has a shot as well, though, because his film is on a major winning streak. The Artist is not directorially very interesting—and if this was a straight-up Olympic race to see who could revolutionize filmmaking the fastest, Malick (or Scorsese) would take it—but again, Tom Hooper took this award for The King’s Speech last year, so that proves that innovation is not a requirement. I think Hazanavicius takes it.

Prediction: Michel Hazanavicius

Preference: Terrence Malick

Got it right.

Best Actress: When I post my review of The Iron Lady, I’ll have a lot to say about Meryl Streep’s performance as Margaret Thatcher. She’s on an upswing after the BAFTAs, but I think either Viola Davis or Michelle Williams would be more worthy winners. I loved Rooney Mara in Dragon Tattoo, too, but she’s young and dour and has probably not done much promotion for herself. If the trilogy shapes up, she’ll get two more chances to impress people. Glenn Close might’ve had a chance if Albert Nobbs had done better at the box office or with critics, but it seems to be basically fifth in everybody’s mind these days.

Prediction: Meryl Streep

Preference: Michelle Williams

As soon as I saw Meryl all dressed in gold, I knew she knew she had it sewn up. She did.

Best Actor: Demian Bichir was terrific, but he can’t compete with these big names. Gary Oldman might be in line for a Career Oscar, although he was excellent in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But so far the earlier awards have been spread pretty evenly amongst The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin, George Clooney, and Brad Pitt. I liked all three of those performances—surprisingly, I found Brad Pitt’s the most nuanced and interesting.

Prediction: George Clooney

Preference: Brad Pitt

Missed this one! I should never have underestimated the Harvey Weinstein Publicity Machine. You can’t hate Jean Dujardin, who said, among other things, “Formidable!” One of my favorite French expressions.

Best Supporting Actress: Bejo is adorable, but her character might as well have been named Ingenue Starlet. Nothing special there. I skipped Albert Nobbs, but I’m sure Janet McTeer did great work. Whatever, nobody’s winning anything for that movie. Melissa McCarthy built a pretty amazing character in Bridesmaids, being loud and proud with basically zero percent vanity, and that’s great, but comedy doesn’t serve here. I expect one of the ladies from The Help to take this one, and though I thought Jessica Chastain was excellent as a sad, stupid trophy wife, Octavia Spencer was, to use a hacky term, a force of nature.

Prediction: Octavia Spencer

Preference: Octavia Spencer

Got this one.

Best Supporting Actor: This is no contest. This will be the least-surprising win of the night.

Prediction: Christopher Plummer

Preference: Christopher Plummer

Got this one.

Best Original Screenplay: The Artist wrote itself. It may (MAY) win this category but it won’t deserve it. It’s A Star is Born with a dog. It’s Singin’ in the Rain without sound. Every line, every beat is 100% predictable. I liked Margin Call, but it didn’t make as many waves as I think the filmmakers expected it to, and that will hurt it. On the other hand, you’ve got Bridesmaids, a movie that I’m sure nobody expected to be a multiple-Oscar nominee. I watched it again this week, and you know what? That’s a tight story. It does a lot of things right. Still, it’s up against two more pedigreed nominees: Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, ‘nuff said) and A Separation, a heartbreaking story that makes universal a deeply personal story about an Iranian family facing down a crisis.

Prediction: Midnight in Paris

Preference: A Separation

Got this one.

Best Adapted Screenplay: I haven’t read any of these original texts. I thought The Ides of March was good but standard; Hugo had some startlingly awkward storytelling which I can write more about later. I liked Moneyball and especially Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. As an all-around film, The Descendants had problems, but I don’t think the script was one of them. Also, it’s likely going to lose Best Picture, so it may get this as the consolation prize.

Prediction: The Descendants

Preference: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

What do you know, I predicted this one, too.

Best Cinematography: You might not know much about this category, but unlike many, it’s packed with worthy candidates. The Artist: not everybody can make black and white look that good. Dragon Tattoo: this movie was sharp, icy, Nordic, beautiful (and chilly) to look at. Hugo: This was another visual pleasure in a completely different way: warm, bright colors, constant motion on screen. The Tree of Life: every frame of this movie could be a beautiful still photo. The photo would be more interesting than the movie itself. War Horse: I didn’t see this movie, but Kaminski is a leader in the field (2 Oscars already for Saving Private Ryan, and Schindler’s List).

Prediction: no idea really, so War Horse

Preference: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo took this one. Told you I had no idea.

Best Art Direction: Didn’t see War Horse, but I’m still not quite sure why it’s here. Aren’t all war movies stark and brown? Harry Potter and Hugo are more artistic acts of whismy, which I like. Midnight in Paris and The Artist were both more based in reality, but still rich and vibrant-looking. They could really go in a lot of directions here.

Prediction: The Artist

Preference: Hugo

Surprisingly, The Artist‘s sweep did not extend to most of the technical categories, where Hugo was a big winner, as it was here.

Best Visual Effects: I only saw one of these movies, Hugo. I saw it in 3D so I have no idea how good the effects were or weren’t. Basically everything looked fake to me: it was in 3D. I don’t think this movie has a shot at this award, anyway; other movies stretched way farther into the fantasy realm, and that tends to take this category.

Prediction: we will soon be saying “Oscar winner Transformers: Dark of the Moon”!

Preference: Harry Potter is so much more respectable

Hugo took the award here, too. Wrong for me.

Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing: I don’t know anything about these categories. Well wishes to the winners and the ten seconds, respectively, they will get to thank their families.

Hugo, and Hugo, respectively.

Best Editing: Editing is a slippery thing. Even when I can tell that something is well-edited or poorly-edited, I don’t tend to remember that in my overall impression of the movie. I do know that Thelma Schoonmaker has already got three of these things for Scorsese movies she’s worked on, so she’s a pretty good guess.

Prediction: Hugo

Preference: Hugo

Weirdly, this one did not go to Hugo, but to the team from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Best Score: There’s a bit of a renaissance happening in film scores right now. Popular(-ish) bands have started scoring full films. Last year’s Blue Valentine was done by Grizzly Bear; Hanna was done by the Chemical Brothers. This is an awesome development for movies, because you get these great musicians with really distinctive sounds that establish a personality for a movie in a way that a conventional score will not necessarily do. Erstwhile Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor has been making a name for himself here, too. He won the Oscar last year (with co-composer Atticus Ross) for music from The Social Network. They did another excellent score this year, for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but apparently it was one and done for them, because they didn’t make the cut. The Oscar chose to go retro this year by nominating Old Standbys Howard Shore (Hugo) and John Williams (TWICE for The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse) and their sweeping, orchestral yawnfests. Williams could split his own vote here. If he does, my guess is the award goes to Bource in an Artist sweep. Personally, I liked Alberto Iglesias’s music for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for being unsettling, evocative of the period, and not the same old thing.

Prediction: The Artist

Preference: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Got this one right.

Best Makeup: I gave Albert Nobbs a wide berth. It looked terrible! Terrible, you guys. I had nightmares about this movie. Anyway, I think the nomination is stupid because nobody should be rewarded for making Glenn Close look like that. I haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter movies, but I know they made Ralph Fiennes noseless, so that’s impressive. I want to give this one to the team from The Iron Lady, however. Meryl Streep spends the majority of this movie in OldFace and she actually looks quite convincing: receded hairline, papery skin, pouchy eyes. I assume the makeup team put that gap in her teeth as well. They did a good job.

Prediction: Harry Potter

Preference: The Iron Lady

Got this one wrong, though my preference was right.

Best Costume Design: Strange category here. They are all period pieces—that’s pretty standard (although Girl With a Dragon Tattoo could have fit here; that was such a specific and interesting look on Lisbeth, and I can’t count how many people I’ve heard comment that she looked exactly as they pictured when they read the book)—but it must have been a weak year for period, because so many of these are from really boring eras. Anonymous is Elizabethan—dirty, scroungy era if you weren’t Elizabeth herself. Nobody wore underwear. Jane Eyre, in the book, describes herself as a “plain, quakerish governess.” She wears blue or grey, no frills, hair pulled straight back. Chaaaaarming. Hugo was 1920s era, but the characters in the movie were all good, middle-class folk, no flappers. (There was some lovely costuming in the recreations of Melies’ films, though, so don’t discount it.) The Artist is also the 1920s, and W.E. is the 1930s, and both take place in glamorous worlds (Hollywood and British high society). In my opinion, these two will duke it out to a bloody end.

Prediction: The Artist (I’m telling you, this thing is going to sweep)

Preference: I already gave the award away, in my head, when I watched The Artist. Award the man who designed this dress!

This one I got. The nominee clip did not show enough of this dress, preferring to show Jean Dujardin in a seemingly basic tuxedo.


Best Foreign Language: I only saw one of these movies, the only one that came to Cleveland in time for the actual Oscars show. I loved it, so I both hope and expect that it will win.

Prediction: A Separation

Preference: A Separation

Got this one. Hopefully this movie gets a nice publicity bump from this.

Best Animated: Didn’t see any of these, but I’m hearing great things about Rango. It’s the one I’m most likely to see on purpose, later. Chico & Rita is, unusually, an adult animated film, so they might go for that for the novelty factor.

Prediction: Rango

Preference: Rango

Got this, too.

Best Documentary: I didn’t see any of these although two of them are streaming on Netflix right now: Hell and Back Again (a soldier-in-combat thing) and If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (about militant greenies). Paradise Lost 3 has been getting great notices, as has Pina. Undefeated (about a football team) has been struggling to promote itself enough so that people realize it’s not The Undefeated (that movie about Sarah Palin).

Predicted: Hell and Back Again

Preference: they’re all the same to me

Could not have been wronger here. Undefeated, which I had heard almost nothing about, vanquished the more serious subject matter of its competition. All day people will be making puns on “undefeated.”

Best Documentary Short/Best Animated Short/Best Live Action Short: I meant to watch these at the Capitol. But I didn’t.

Best Song: You can give an Oscar to the Muppets, or you can not give an Oscar to the Muppets. Which call would you make?

Prediction: “Man or Muppet”

Preference: “Man or Muppet”

My prediction was correct, but we all lost out by not getting a Muppet performance.

Overall: out of 19 guesses, I made 12 correct ones. The technical categories killed me.

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