Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscar Predictions 2013: Jack Reacher wins by write-in votes

The best of all Oscars.
It's that time again. Yep, the Oscars are here to tell us what we're really going to value twenty years from now, and they're always right. Right? Right, of course. That's why we still love Dances with Wolves and have forgotten Goodfellas to the ashes of irrelevance. No, obviously not, and one could argue that we shouldn't waste time on this at all. But hey, it's fun betting money on who's going to win. So here's what I'm betting on come later tonight.

BEST ACTOR:

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

THE LOWDOWN: Pretty strong category, with Jackman as the only dud performance of the bunch, so it's a bit of a shame that it's pretty much a foregone conclusion as to who's going to win this. We can write Washington off immediately: he has two Oscars, and while his work in Flight is astonishing, there isn't any buzz around his performance anymore. I wrote back in October that "they might as well give the Best Actor Oscar to Joaquin Phoenix right now"; looks like I'm going to eat those words, because much as he deserves it, I don't think he has a chance unless the Weinstein Company does some of their voodoo for him. Even then, it's more likely that they've put their money behind Bradley Cooper's crowd-pleasing performance in Silver Linings Playbook. It's still not going to be enough to stop Day-Lewis from collecting his record-breaking third leading actor Oscar. It's well-deserved, even if there's one guy who's better.

SHOULD WIN: Phoenix
WILL WIN: Day-Lewis
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I know there was no shot in hell, but Denis Lavant's performance in Holy Motors was nothing short of miraculous. I would've also loved to see Jamie Foxx's taciturn performance in Django Unchained here.

BEST ACTRESS

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

THE LOWDOWN: Cross Wallis off the list immediately- she's just too young. Watts is more or less out, too, unless the people in Hollywood truly love her. Chastain and Lawrence have split the various awards over the course of the past few months, and while Chastain is the strongest in the category, I unfortunately think that the controversy around Zero Dark Thirty and the "unlikability" of her protagonist is going to count her out. Lawrence is the supposed front-runner, but she's awfully young at 22 to take the gold home. Riva, on the other hand, turns 86 today, on the day of the ceremony, which is both a wonderful incentive (great birthday present) and a reminder that she's probably not going to be here again. That, combined with her heartbreaking performance, makes me think that she's got an edge.

SHOULD WIN: Chastain
WILL WIN: Riva
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Rachel Weisz gave a career-best performance in The Deep Blue Sea as a woman who learns that passion leads to almost unbearable grief.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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

THE LOWDOWN: Well, fuck, this could be anyone. I'm willing to bet that Arkin is out, given that he has the least amount of screentime out of any of these guys by far. Otherwise, though, the precursors have been pretty split: Hoffman won the majority of the critics awards, Waltz won the BAFTA and the Globe, Jones won the SAG award, and De Niro is a sentimental favorite. They've all won at least once before, too, so there's no easy choice there either. I'm going to bet that my favorite, Hoffman, is out simply because he's younger and he was in the most difficult film of the bunch. Waltz won too recently for too similar a role. De Niro and Jones are the best bets, and I'm giving the slight edge to Jones off of the SAG award. No promises, though.

SHOULD WIN: Hoffman
WILL WIN: Jones, though again, it's anybody's game
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Would have loved to see Waltz's co-stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson, show up. But it's a damn shame that Matthew McConaughey couldn't show up for anything he did this year, considering that he resurrected his status as a talented character actor after appearing in so many dreadful romcoms.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams (The Master)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
Jackie Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

THE LOWDOWN: Hunt's film is too small and she's already won, so she's out. Also confident that we can write off Weaver unless she pulls a Beatrice Straight in Network win out of her tiny, tiny role. Adams has been nominated here four times (and she's the best of the bunch), but the film is too difficult and she's still young enough that they'd make her wait. Field has the best chance at an upset, but the fact that she's already won twice is going to count against her. I'd say Hathaway is pretty easily going to get it for being the only real reason to see Les Miserables. She's good, but I'm going to pretend she's winning for her better performance in The Dark Knight Rises (or that this is for her career-best work in Rachel Getting Married).

SHOULD WIN: Adams
WILL WIN: Hathaway
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Jennifer Ehle is one of the best actresses that no one knows, and Zero Dark Thirty should have changed that. Credit also goes to Kelly Reilly for her scene-stealing role in Flight. I'm most disappointed, though, that Judi Dench missed out for Skyfall.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Wes Anderson/Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
John Gatins (Flight)
Michael Haneke (Amour)
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)

THE LOWDOWN: Drop the two non-Best Picture nominees. After that, it gets complicated. Boal won the WGA award, but Tarantino and Haneke were ineligible for it, so that's not a great judge. Also: he won very recently for The Hurt Locker. He has a chance, but I'm putting him in third. Haneke's disadvantage is that he's foreign, but there's clearly respect for him and for the film (he is up for Director, after all). Tarantino, meanwhile, won Screenplay for Pulp Fiction, but that was nearly twenty years ago, so it might not count against him. It's going to be a squeaker, but I'm going with Haneke.

SHOULD/WILL WIN: Haneke
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: It's absolutely absurd to me that Paul Thomas Anderson couldn't even manage a nomination for The Master, but the Academy clearly didn't respond to it outside of the performances. Another great one: Rian Johnson for Looper.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Lucy Alibar/Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
David Magee (Life of Pi)
Tony Kushner (Lincoln)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Chris Terrio (Argo)

THE LOWDOWN: I'm miffed about some of these, as I didn't think Beasts' screenplay was a highlight; ditto for Terrio's well-structured but thin work on Argo. I think Alibar and Zeitlin don't have much of a chance here, while Magee' disadvantage is that Life of Pi comes off as more of a director's movie than a writer's movie. Russell looked like he had a shot some time ago, but the film has lost momentum and I'm betting that the Academy will want to go with an "important" film. That leaves Kushner, who should win, and Terrio, who I think will win because of A. the Guild win, and B. Argo's seemingly unstoppable momentum. Meh.

SHOULD WIN: Kushner
WILL WIN: Terrio
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Terence Davies for The Deep Blue Sea

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Life of Pi

THE LOWDOWN: My bet is that The Hobbit is out; the film just wasn't well-loved enough. Also betting against Life of Pi, as I'm surprised it's even here. One might think that the well-respected Best Picture nominees Lincoln and Les Miserables would be the obvious choices, but I think the visual lushness of the otherwise unsuccessful Anna Karenina is just too good to pass up.

SHOULD/WILL WIN: Anna Karenina
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: How do Wes Anderson's films not show up here every time they're eligible? My brain is reeling. Also: Jack Fisk for The Master

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Anna Karenina
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

THE LOWDOWN: Anna Karenina for the reasons above.
SHOULD/WILL WIN: Anna Karenina
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: See what I said about Moonrise Kingdom and The Master above.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

THE LOWDOWN: Robert Richardson has won a number of times, including last year for Hugo, so I'm counting him out. Also betting against Janusz Kaminski picking up another one for Lincoln, and I doubt Anna Karenina wins anything outside of the design awards. It's between Roger Deakins for Skyfall and Claudio Miranda for Life of Pi. Deakins has lost here 9 times, including for years he should have been a shoe-in (The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo). And while Skyfall shows that he's a master whether he's working on digital or celluloid, I think this is going to be loss number 10. The academy loves going for new technology in cinematography, and Life of Pi is going to get the same boost that Hugo and Avatar got by mixing photography with visual effects. He'll win someday...

SHOULD WIN: Deakins for Skyfall
WILL WIN: Miranda for Life of Pi
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Ok. I know that not everyone shares my love for The Master. But anyone who can look at Mihai Malaimare's gorgeous work (on 70mm, no less!) and say that it isn't one of the most beautiful looking films they've seen in ages, let alone among the top five of the year, has faulty eyes. This was the single most mystifying snub this year.

BEST EDITING

Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

THE LOWDOWN: Silver Linings and Lincoln aren't showy enough to take home the gold. Life of Pi could possibly manage it if it sweeps the technical awards, but I'm leaning towards William Goldenberg's brilliant work on Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. Few other films used editing as well this year, so it's really just a case of whether it'll be Goldenberg's work with Dylan Tichenor on Zero (should be) or his solo work on Argo (more likely). I'm going with the Best Picture front-runner.

SHOULD WIN: Zero Dark Thirty
WILL WIN: Argo
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Steven Soderbergh for Haywire

BEST MAKEUP/HAIR

Hitchcock
The Hobbit
Les Miserables

THE LOWDOWN: Hitchcock was more or less reviled, so I'm guessing that it won't win for turning Anthony Hopkins into Alfred Hitchcock. Some might bet on The Hobbit taking this, but I think Les Miserables has the edge for being a Best Picture nominee and for being more overtly Oscar-baity.

SHOULD WIN: The Hobbit
WILL WIN: Les Miserables
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I'd argue for the great work making Joseph Gordon-Levitt look like a young Bruce Willis in Looper, but no use of make-up this year was more essential than all the different transformations Denis Lavant went through in Holy Motors. Maybe the academy would know that if they bothered to watch the damn thing.

SOUND MIXING

Argo
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

THE LOWDOWN: Lincoln is the least showy, so it's out. I could see Argo winning both sound awards if it sweeps everything, but I'm not betting on it here. Skyfall would certainly be deserving, but I imagine they'll want to go with something with a little more gravitas. Life of Pi could certainly take both sound awards, but I'm betting that Les Miserables takes this one, as musicals have a history of winning sound mixing.

SHOULD WIN: Skyfall
WILL WIN: Les Miserables
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, The Impossible, Flight

SOUND EDITING

Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

THE LOWDOWN: Zero Dark Thirty should win, but I think it's getting completely shut out tonight. Ditto for Django Unchained. Argo and Skyfall have a good chance here, but I'm betting that they'll go with Life of Pi.

SHOULD WIN: Zero Dark Thirty
WILL WIN: Life of Pi
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Flight, The Impossible

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

The Avengers
The Hobbit
Life of Pi
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman

THE LOWDOWN: If you make one single bet tonight, let it be Life of Pi for Visual Effects. I'm not saying that the other films are undeserving- I particularly liked Prometheus for this- but Life of Pi has both a Best Picture nomination bump and some of the most gorgeous and realistic use of CGI in film history. Go with it.

SHOULD/WILL WIN: Life of Pi
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I'd like to see more practical effects heavy films get in here. Give some love to Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Mychael Danna (Life of Pi)
Alexandre Desplat (Argo)
Dario Marianelli (Anna Karenina)
Thomas Newman (Skyfall)
John Williams (Lincoln)

THE LOWDOWN: Marianelli won for Atonement and he doesn't have a Best Picture nomination on his side, so I'm counting him out. Also betting against the frequent Oscar-loser Newman. Desplat's score for Argo honestly isn't his most memorable this year. William has won five times for more memorable scores. I think Danna has this, and he's the best of the nominees, so I'll be cheering him on.

SHOULD/WILL WIN: Danna for Life of Pi
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Replace Desplat's score here for his work on Moonrise Kingdom. The big one? Jonny Greenwood's fascinating, strange score for The Master

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

"Before My Time" (Chasing Ice)
"Everybody Needs a Best Friend" (Ted)
"Pi's Lullaby" (Life of Pi)
"Skyfall" (Skyfall)
"Suddenly" (Les Miserables)

THE LOWDOWN: I was surprised "Pi's Lullaby" showed up here, as I just assumed it was part of the score. It's a great number, but I think that Danna's win for score is going to have to satisfy him. I'm going to count out "Before My Time", as it's part of the least-seen of the nominees, and "Everybody Needs a Best Friend", which is fun but part of a sillier movie. That boring song from Les Mis has a shot, but everyone loves giving Adele awards, so I think it'll happen here. It'll be the first Bond song to win an Oscar.

SHOULD/WILL WIN: Adele for "Skyfall"
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Is it too much to ask for "Who Were We?" from Holy Motors? Probably, but I'm going to gripe about it anyway.

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Brave
Frankenweenie
Paranorman
Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-it Ralph

THE LOWDOWN: Pirates! just squeaked in here, and I'm betting it's out. Paranorman was well-liked but didn't do well at the box office. Frankenweenie was met with a thundering "meh", and a vote for it would really just be a vote for Tim Burton. I'd say it's between Brave and Wreck-it Ralph, both of which have been splitting the precursors. The former is forgettable but has the Pixar machine on its side. The latter is great but has the disadvantage of being about a video game, which a lot of the older, stodgier voters might turn their noses up at. I'm giving an edge to Wreck-it Ralph, but only just.

SHOULD/WILL WIN: Wreck-it Ralph
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: I didn't see enough animated films this year to say.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man

THE LOWDOWN: The Invisible War has a chance to make some actual change in army policy, so I'm giving it an edge over the other three "important" documentaries. But I think the story of how Searching for Sugar Man resurrected Rodriguez's music career is too great to resist.

SHOULD WIN: I haven't seen Sugar Man, so it's hard to say. My favorite of the ones I've seen is The Invisible War
WILL WIN: Sugar Man
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: The Queen of Versailles

BEST FOREIGN FILM

Amour
Kon-Tiki
No
A Royal Affair
War Witch

THE LOWDOWN: Most would assume that Amour has it in the bag, what with a Best Picture nomination and all, but the Weinsteins have put a lot of money into Kon-Tiki, so it could be surprise. Still, I'm betting on Amour. It's just too terrific to resist.

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Amour, after which Michael Haneke will re-enact the most famous scene from Cache, horrifying everyone
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Holy Motors, The Turin Horse

BEST ANIMATED SHORT

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head Over Heels
The Longest Daycare
Paperman

THE LOWDOWN: These are hard to predict. I've only seen Paperman, and much as I'd love to see a Simpsons short (The Longest Daycare) take it, I'm going with the charming short that I've seen.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT

Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew
Death of a Shadow
Henry

THE LOWDOWN: What, like you've seen any of this stuff? I'm just gonna go with Buzkashi Boys.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

Inocente
King's Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Redemption

THE LOWDOWN: Christ, I have no idea. I'll just go with Mondays at Racine.

BEST DIRECTOR

Michael Haneke (Amour)
Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

THE LOWDOWN: Zeitlin is too new. Haneke is too foreign. The other three all have a shot. Russell has the Weinsteins behind him, but I think that a comedy like Silver Linings isn't going to get the same chance. A lot of predictors have migrated over to Ang Lee as of late, and he certainly has the showiest (and, to be fair, most gorgeous) work here. Spielberg has the fact that Lincoln is quieter than most of his films working against him, not to mention the fact that he's already won twice. But then again, Lee has won once, and Russell seems like a distant third to me. I'm not at all confident about this. Dammit, Academy, had you just nominated Ben Affleck like we all thought you were going to this would have been a lot easier. I'll go with Spielberg.

SHOULD WIN: Haneke
WILL WIN: Spielberg...maybe Lee
SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: (deep breath) Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathryn Bigelow, Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Leos Carax (yes, I know he had no chance)

BEST PICTURE

Amour
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

THE LOWDOWN: Another year, another example of me being puzzled that they didn't just go to ten nominees. It would have given deserving contenders like Moonrise Kingdom and The Master some recognition, but oh well. Let's go down the line: I think Zero Dark Thirty (the best of the bunch) and Django Unchained are too controversial and are going to be shut out. I also expect Beasts of the Southern Wild to get shut out on account of being too small. Amour is too foreign. Les Miserables is too divisive/not very good.

That leaves four remaining nominees that look like they've got a fighting chance. Silver Linings loses points for being a comedy, which the Oscars don't go for too often, and while it seems odd to say that a movie with 8 nominations is going to get shut out, I just don't think it'll push past the tough competition. Life of Pi will probably have to settle for technical nominations like Avatar and Hugo before it (for the record, I think it's a better movie than those two). That leaves a race between Lincoln and Argo, which has picked up a lot of momentum since Ben Affleck was snubbed for Best Director. The only thing that keeps me from saying Argo is a lock (aside from the Best Director snub, which tends to mean that your chance is blown) is the fact that something similar happened way back in 1995 with Apollo 13: the film was seen as a front-runner, only for Ron Howard to be snubbed for director. It ramped up some precursor wins (SAG ensemble, DGA, PGA) much like Argo has, but it ultimately lost Best Picture to Braveheart (ugh). Still, I'm not betting on a repeat. Argo just seems to be the movie of the moment, and while I think Lincoln still has a shot, it'll ultimately be a case of Argo pushing past the Director snub so producers Affleck, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov can go up to the stand and tell the Academy to Argo fuck themselves.

Total awards predictions:
Argo: 3 (Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Editing)
Lincoln: 3 (Director, Actor, Supporting Actor)
Amour: 3 (Actress, Original Screenplay, Foreign Film)
Les Miserables: 3 (Supporting Actress, Sound Mixing, Hair/Makeup)
Life of Pi: 4 (Cinematography, Visual Effects, Original Score, Sound Editing)
Anna Karenina: 2 (Costume Design, Production Design)
Skyfall: 1 (Original Song)
Wreck-it Ralph: 1 (Animated Film)
Searching for Sugar Man: 1 (Documentary Feature)
Paperman/Mondays at Racine/Buzkashi Boys: 1 each (the short categories that I don't know shit about)

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