Sunday, March 2, 2014

Oscar Predictions 2014: We All Know the Real Winner is R.I.P.D.


The Oscars are here, and so are my predictions/usual bitchiness about the nominees. One caveat: I’ve already written about the six biggest categories here, here, and here, so you’ll have to go there to get those picks. Otherwise, here we go:

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine)
Craig Borten/Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club)
Spike Jonze (Her)
Bob Nelson (Nebraska)
David O. Russell/Eric Warren Singer (American Hustle)


THE LOWDOWN: Anyone who’s pulling for the Woodman (this means you, Brent) better give it up now. He won too recently, and the revived controversy over what happened to Dylan Farrow killed any votes he might have gotten otherwise. I’m surprised that Borten and Wallack’s work is even in here, and that seems like a movie that’s going to get more votes for the performances than the writing. In another year, Nelson might stand a chance, but it looks like a close race between close buds David O. Russell and Spike Jonze. Hustle has a lot of momentum and is currently ranked third in most Best Picture race polls, but Her won the Golden Globe and the WGA award for Screenplay, so I think Jonze will just edge Russell out. And it’s as it should be.

SHOULD/WILL WIN: Jonze
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: I’m as stunned as most that the Coens missed out for Inside Llewyn Davis. Also: Asghar Farhadi for The Past, Greta Gerwig/Noah Baumbach for Frances Ha

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

Steve Coogan/Jeff Pope (Philomena)
Richard Linklater/Julie Delpy/Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight)
Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)
John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)

THE LOWDOWN: In a perfect world, Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke would be taking home Oscars for Before Midnight’s extraordinary climax alone. I’d also be happy to see Winter’s hilarious, Goodfellas-esque script for Wolf win, but I think the film is too polarizing to win anything other than maybe Actor (and even that I’m not betting on). Philomena has support among the older and British voters, but seems fundamentally small to me, and while Captain Phillips won the WGA Award, that’s because 12 Years a Slave was ineligible for finicky Guild reasons. That didn’t stop Django Unchained from winning Original Screenplay last year, and it won’t stop Ridley.

SHOULD WIN: Linklater/Delpy/Hawke
WILL WIN: Ridley
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: Abdellatif Kechiche for Blue is the Warmest Color

BEST ANIMATED FILM:

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Frozen
The Wind Rises

THE LOWDOWN: We can write off Despicable Me 2 and The Croods, the family films that got in here only because they went for five nominees, and Ernest & Celestine, which will have to be happy with getting more attention for the nomination. The only film that can stop Frozen is The Wind Rises, as the Academy might want to reward Hayao Miyazaki once more for what’s reportedly his final film. But Miyazaki won here for Spirited Away in 2003, so…

SHOULD WIN: I only saw Frozen, can’t say.
WILL WIN: Frozen. Eh, fine.
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: ?

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
The Great Beauty (Italy)
The Hunt (Denmark)
The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
Omar (Palestine)

THE LOWDOWN: I don’t see this going to either of the lower-profile nominees, The Missing Picture and Omar, though stranger things have happened (anyone remember Departures? Didn’t think so). The other three could all easily win: Breakdown seems to be picking up a lot of steam, while The Hunt could get support for its searing depiction of hysteria and Mads Mikkelson’s great performance. But both of these are downbeat, where The Great Beauty is lively, even hyperactive, and it’s the one that most excited people out of any of the nominees.

SHOULD/WILL WIN: The Great Beauty
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: Well, Blue is the Warmest Color was disqualified for stupid reasons, and The Past missed the shortlist, but I’m most miffed that The Grandmaster missed out. So much for Wong Kar-wai picking up an Oscar.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

THE LOWDOWN: Cutie and the Boxer is too sedate to win, and Dirty Wars doesn’t seem to have much momentum. I could see The Square winning for political reasons, which would be a big boon for Netflix (which released it). Still, I think the race comes down to 20 Feet from Stardom, the relatively feel-good film about background singers, and The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s haunting, overwhelming depiction of mass murderers. I’m going to go ahead and hope that the Academy votes for the formally adventurous, truly original doc this year.

SHOULD/WILL WIN: The Act of Killing
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: Let the Fire Burn, the terrific archival-footage based doc about the conflict between the Philadelphia Police and the black liberation group MOVE.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT:

Cavedigger
Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

THE LOWDOWN: The short categories are notoriously tough to predict, but The Lady in Number 6 is about the world’s oldest living Holocaust survivor. That’s all I have to say about that.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT:

That Wasn’t Me
Just Before Losing Everything
Helium
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?
The Voorman Problem

THE LOWDOWN: Guh, I have no idea. The Voorman Problem.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT:

Feral
Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Possessions
Room on the Broom

THE LOWDOWN: When in doubt, I tend to just go with the Disney nominee. Get a Horse!

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

William Butler/Owen Pallett (Her)
Alexandre Desplat (Philomena)
Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks)
Steven Price (Gravity)
John Williams (The Book Thief)

THE LOWDOWN: Williams is only here because Academy members don’t want to think of too many people outside of the usual suspects. Newman has been nominated 12 times without a win, but the antipathy for Saving Mr. Banks tells me it isn’t happening. Desplat is also a frequent nominee without a win, but I couldn’t hum the Philomena theme if you put a gun to my head. I think Arcade Fire genuinely does have a chance for Her, and I’ll be crossing my fingers all night, but Price’s work on Gravity seems to have the momentum and the respect from older and younger Academy members.

SHOULD WIN: Butler/Pallett
WILL WIN: Price
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: Shane Carruth wasn’t going to get in for Upstream Color, but how about Alex Ebert for All Is Lost?

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams (Despicable Me 2)
“Let It Go” by Kristen Anderson-Lopez/Robert Lopez (Frozen)
“The Moon Song” by Karen O/Spike Jonze (Her)
“Ordinary Love” by U2 (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

THE LOWDOWN: With that horrible song from Alone Yet Not Alone removed…nothing has really changed. The Pharrell song is pleasant enough but doesn’t really stand a chance, and much as I love “The Moon Song” (and think that the Best Picture nomination says something about the respect for Her), I think it won’t appeal to enough Academy voters. It’s between the lame U2 song that has momentum following Mandela’s death or the overpraised song from Frozen that’s turned into phenomenon. Eh, the latter.

SHOULD WIN: “The Moon Song”
WILL WIN: “Let It Go”
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: “So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12, “Amen” from All Is Lost, and I’ll bend any rule to get “Please Mr. Kennedy” from Inside Llewyn Davis in here (UH oh!)

BEST SOUND EDITING:

All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor

THE LOWDOWN: All Is Lost’s single nomination suggests that it has a snowball’s chance in hell, even though it deserved so much more (it’s this year’s Drive, which got the same single nomination). Middle-Earth has been plenty honored before, and Lone Survivor doesn’t have a Best Picture nomination or a robust enough box office to drive it home. It’s between Captain Phillips and Gravity, and I expect Gravity to clean up in the technical awards.

SHOULD WIN: All Is Lost
WILL WIN: Gravity
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: Pacific Rim

BEST SOUND MIXING:

Captain Phillips
Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Gravity

THE LOWDOWN: With regards to The Hobbit and Lone Survivor, see above. In other circumstances, I’d think that the way the Coens and company mixed the songs and the sounds of 1960s Greenwich Village would give Inside Llewyn Davis a fighting chance, but the Academy clearly didn’t go for the film overall, I think it’s out. Same fight as above, same predicted result.

SHOULD/WILL WIN: Gravity
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: All Is Lost, Pacific Rim

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:

American Hustle
Gravity
The Great Gatsby
Her
12 Years a Slave

THE LOWDOWN: Showy tends to be more successful here, so the verisimilitude of 12 Years a Slave won’t help it. I think Gravity is going to face the same problem here as Life of Pi did last year, where certain voters are going to wonder how much of the look of the film falls under “production design” and how much falls under “visual effects.” Her should win for making the near future seem both new and palpable, but flashy period work tends to do better here. My bet is that The Great Gatsby is going to edge out American Hustle here in the “Most Production Design” race.

SHOULD WIN: Her
WILL WIN: The Great Gatsby
SHOULD BE HERE: Inside Llewyn Davis

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
12 Years a Slave

THE LOWDOWN: All period work, but 12 Years has the same problem here that it has above. Normally, I tend to sigh and say “the Academy loves frilly shit,” but the lack of enthusiasm for The Invisible Woman makes me doubt it has a chance. I’d love to see The Grandmaster get something, but it won’t happen. It’s the same race as above, and here I think American Hustle’s delightfully tacky work will win.

SHOULD WIN: The Grandmaster
WILL WIN: American Hustle
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: Great costume design isn’t the Academy’s definition of “lots of stuff,” but a costume that tells us something about the characters. For that, Inside Llewyn Davis and The World’s End should be here, alongside Her, which had the year’s most memorable costume: those wonderful, wonderful pants.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Roger Deakins (Prisoners)
Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis)
Philippe Le Sourd (The Grandmaster)
Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity)
Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska)

THE LOWDOWN: I’m surprised Papamichael is even here. The black-and-white in Nebraska is thematically effective, but hardly the most impressive work of the year. Le Sourd and Delbonnel gave us some of the year’s most beautiful images, but neither have the support that they need to push through. And while Roger Deakins has the fact that he still hasn’t won going for him (plus the fact that his photography is one of the only redeeming factors of Prisoners), it’s not going to be enough to go against Lubezki’s stunningly choreographed shots. Lubezki should have won two years ago for The Tree of Life, but this is a more than deserving make-up and a stunning achievement in its own right.

SHOULD WIN: Delbonnel
WILL WIN: Lubezki
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: The best cinematography of the year was Hoyte van Hoytema’s work on Her, at once isolating yet warm in its shallow focus compositions, which was exactly the point. Also: Sean Bobbitt for 12 Years a Slave, Rodrigo Prieto for The Wolf of Wall Street

BEST EDITING:

Jay Cassidy/Crispin Struthers/Alan Baumgarten (American Hustle)
Alfonso Cuarón/Mark Sanger (Gravity)
John Mac McMurphy/Martin Pensa (Dallas Buyers Club)
Christopher Rouse (Captain Phillips)
Joe Walker (12 Years a Slave)

THE LOWDOWN: First off – Dallas Buyers Club for Best Editing? Wha? And while the Academy clearly didn’t think the editing and in American Hustle was as sloppy as I did, the work is on its face infinitely less bravura than the other three nominees. I would love to see Walker take this for 12 Years, given how some of the cuts I think are worthy of David Lean, but I think that the Academy will reward something that’s either more frenetic (Captain Phillips) or more overtly made to wow the audience (Gravity). Here’s where I think there’s a decent chance that Gravity might lose out, considering how well Greengrass’s style tends to do in editing, but I’m going to give Cuarón and Sanger the edge.

SHOULD WIN: 12 Years a Slave
WILL WIN: Gravity
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: How in the high holy hell do you nominate Dallas Buyers Club and American Hustle here and leave out Thelma Schoonmaker, one of the greatest editors who ever lived, who does some of her best work on The Wolf of Wall Street? Maybe the film’s length made some members pause. Maybe those members have their heads up their asses.

BEST MAKEUP/HAIRSTYLING

Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

THE LOWDOWN: With The Lone Ranger’s nomination being a bit of a surprise, I don’t see it as a real threat. It’s been the obvious OSCAR movie (which does have good makeup effects, to be fair) and the decidedly less “respectable” one. Confession: I have a soft spot for the Jackass series, but even without it, holy shit, that old man makeup is really impressive considering that no one ever does old person makeup right ever. That it’s being used for purposes that spit in the face of “respectability” makes me want it to win even more. I don’t give a shit if I get this wrong, I’m putting all my marbles on…

SHOULD/WILL WIN: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: Here’s the one place American Hustle really belonged and got screwed in. What gives?

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Gravity
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

THE LOWDOWN: Move along folks, nothing to see here.

SHOULD WIN: Come now. Do I really have to say it?
WILL WIN: Fine. Gravity, obviously.
SHOULDA BEEN HERE: …but I’m still annoyed Pacific Rim missed out.

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