Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Predicting the Winners

Okay, let's do this thing. Aiming for more than 21 correct (my current record). I think there are several really close two-horse races - Sound Editing, Documentary Short, Makeup, production design, both Screenplay awards, and, to a lesser extent, Actress and Supporting Actor. And I have a tough time on Score and Cinematography, not having seen Life of Pi, which I think might pick up some technical nods, since I don't think it will win anything major. And director is its own special thing. To wit:

Best motion picture of the year
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Django Unchained”
“Les Misérables”
“Life of Pi”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Ah, what a difference two months makes. Before it was Lincoln, with Silver Linings and Life of Pi nipping at its heels. But at this point Argo has won all the major precursors: the BAFTA, PGA, SAG ensemble, WGA, Golden Globe and ACE. It's rare for a film to win without a director nomination. But it is also rare to win without an editing win, and Argo has the lead in that category, too (see the ACE above). While I'd never count out Harvey Weinstein's campaigning, and Silver Linings Playbook has had legs at the box office, Argo seems pretty universally beloved. And hollywood LOVES films about hollywood. As for Lincoln, the reviews seemed shocked that Spielberg didn't fall into the maudlin and overly-sentimental, but I think the characterization still plagues his perception. And George Clooney is probably a smoother campaigner for Best Film than Steven.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Daniel Day Lewis. The only other precursor winner was Hugh Jackman in a category for musicals. And it has been pointed out that Valjean is not exactly his best musical performance.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”

This one is a toss up between Jessica and Jennifer. Emmanuelle has won a couple of awards, but I don't see the Academy going old. The Academy has awarded older women in the past, but three of those were Hepburn, was was Meryl, and one was Helen Mirren. I think they need to have a long-established presence in Hollywood to really have a shot. So. The Js split the Golden Globes, Jen got the SAG. Jessica got Boston, Washington (surprise), Jen got Los Angeles (telling?). They split the CCAs. And NBR went Jessica, but gave Jen a breakthrough award. Actress tends to skew young and ingenue, so Jen is younger, but it is Jessica's first lead actress nom.

I really think Jessica Chastain is remarkable. She's had so many good roles in such a short period of time. But I think Jen's is a better role of these two. And I think she has a lot of good will from both Winter's Bone and generally being awesome. Not to mention she's had better box office. I think Jen. Just barely. Harvey is campaigning for her, and Zero Dark Thirty hasn't had quite the same momentum.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Alan Arkin in “Argo”
Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”

Well, they've all won before. So no legacy needs here. I think this one is another two horse race between Tommy Lee Jones and Christoph Waltz (which, too bad DeNiro! You were super good!)  Christoph Waltz won the globe and the BAFTA, Tommy won the SAG. Christoph is the more charming (Tommy scowly), but Tommy plays a super noble character. Christoph's performance relies on a lot of the same charm as Inglorious Basterds. It feels like Christoph has some momentum, but I'm going to go SAG and say Tommy.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Amy Adams in “The Master”
Sally Field in “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”

Well, although she has become progressively more irritating as the season has progressed, and while there has been somewhat of a backlash against her performance choices and the lack of screen-time ( not that that stopped Judi Dench), this is Anne's to lose.

Achievement in directing
“Amour,” Michael Haneke
“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi,” Ang Lee
“Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg
“Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell

Well, this is tricky. The precursors have gone Affleck (or others). (Can the Oscars take write-in submissions?) Ben and Michael are just lucky for the nominations (although Michael won the National Society of Film Critics - I don't think that translates into Oscar). The satellites gave it to Russell, but he wasn't up for a DGA - only Spielberg and Lee were. Will the Oscars go Spielberg as an apology for not giving a lot to Lincoln despite the many noms? He's had more precursor nominations than Lee. I don't know. I just don't feel like industry types are very warm on Spielberg, unlike Russell (especially given his personal connection to his film) and Lee (who made an 'unfilmable' movie). Russell has had issues in the past (to put it mildly) and, per Affleck's example, we know the industry loves a redemption story. Lee has won fairly recently.  Honestly, since Affleck isn't here, I'm kinda thinking Spielberg might get it. If  for no other reason than doing his best work in a long time. Reminding him he'll receive accolades if he stays away from War Pony treacle. Lincoln did get the most nominations. It is a big period, hollywood-baity piece, and really good. Okay, Spielberg. I think. (I'd be really happy with a Russell upset though!)

Best foreign language film of the year
“Amour,” Austria
“Kon-Tiki,” Norway
“No,” Chile
“A Royal Affair,” Denmark
“War Witch,” Canada

Amour. No question. It has won every precursor.

 Best animated feature film of the year
“Brave,” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
“Frankenweenie,” Tim Burton
“ParaNorman,” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” Peter Lord
“Wreck-It Ralph,” Rich Moore

It's kinda too bad that ParaNorman and Frankenweenie, both with their horror homages, came out in the same year. And while Aardman has done well in the past, I don't think Pirates has enough recognition or success for a chance. That leaves Brave, which is not thought to be one of Pixar's best efforts (or that is my impression from the reviews) and Wreck-It, which seems pretty beloved. Brave won the ACE, BAFTA, golden globe, while Wreck-It won the NBR, CCA, PGA and Annie. Those last two tip it, I think. Wreck-It.

(For the record, ParaNorman, which is very cute and I love Laika's stuff, won the SF, Boston and Washington awards, while Frankenweenie got the Broadcast Film Critics, Los Angeles, and NY Film Critics Circle. Pirates was not even NOMINATED in the 18 precursors I tracked. For realsies.)

Adapted screenplay
“Argo,” Chris Terrio
“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi,” David Magee
“Lincoln,” Tony Kushner
“Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell

I'm going to reiterate how sad I am that this category cannot also be 10, because Perks of Being a Wallflower and Cloud Atlas. Come on. Anyhoo. I really thought Lincoln had this locked up, because... Tony Kushner. But David O. Russell got the BAFTA (and NBR) and Argo got the WGA (and Los Angeles), and I tend to weight the guild awards a lot. That said, Lincoln got National Society of Film Critics, Broadcast Film Critics, CCA, and three big regional awards. A lot has been  talked about the extensive rewrites Tony Kushner did to wrangle Lincoln's presidency into a film. So... I'm thinking really between Argo and Lincoln. Argo has the momentum. Lincoln has the prestige. For any award outside of the main 5, I think this is where Lincoln has the best chance. I was really thinking Tony Kushner gets it. He's beloved, Doris Kearns Goodwin is beloved. Mississippi finally ratified the 13th amendment this week. Lincoln. BUT... the Oscar pundits are leaning Argo, based on the recent momentum. But is it really enough to sweep up everything in the face of Affleck's snub? I'm going to go Argo. But just barely. ARGH. (ba dum dum.)

Original screenplay
“Amour,” Michael Haneke
“Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino
“Flight,” John Gatins
“Moonrise Kingdom,” Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
“Zero Dark Thirty,” Mark Boal

I think this is between Quentin and Mark Boal. Boal has won the Sattelites, NY FIlm Critics Online, SF,  and, most importantly, WGA. Quentin has won the BAFTA, Golden Globe, and CCA. Zero Dark Thirty had the early support, but the WGA suggests it may not have fallen off all that much. That, or hollywood enjoys rallying around one its own who they feel is being bullied by congress (one always wants to feel as if they would have stood up to HUAC.) Quentin hasn't won the screenplay Oscar since Pulp Fiction, and his two major precursors were foreign, where I feel like his work is more unanimously praised (Cannes loving him and whatnot.) Since Zero Dark Thirty is unlikely to win much else (actress and editing pending), I think it might go Boal here. Sure, Quentin is known for his writing - he's excellent. But Inglorious Basterds was also a stronger script (not to mention the power of the movies killed Hitler), and Harvey didn't win him that one. But maybe the academy wants to make up for that? Mark Boal just won, so maybe Quentin is overdue. Hmmm - my gut is to go with the WGA, but now I've talked myself into thinking the broader academy will go Quentin. He loves film  - very vocally. Okay. Quentin.

(Plus, Quentin is ineligible for the WGA, as are many other films, so this guild is less an obvious precursor than, say, the PGAs.)

Best documentary feature
“5 Broken Cameras”
“The Gatekeepers”
“How to Survive a Plague”
“The Invisible War”
“Searching for Sugar Man”

Searching for Sugar Man. It won the DGA, ACE, BAFTA, PGA, WGA, CCA, NBR, and IDA. The dark horses here are 5 Broken Cameras, which won the CinemaEye, and How to Survive a Plague, which won the CE for Editing, plus has a hollywood-fave topic.
Best documentary short subject
“Inocente,” Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
“Kings Point,” Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
“Mondays at Racine,” Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
“Open Heart,” Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
“Redemption,” Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill

I've heard that Mondays at Racine or Open Heart are the ones to beat. Not having seen them, I can't weigh in.  Plus, the IDA nominations that overlap with the oscar noms are those two, and Kings Point. I'm going Open Heart. Watch it be Mondays at Racine.

Achievement in cinematography
“Anna Karenina,” Seamus McGarvey
“Django Unchained,” Robert Richardson
“Life of Pi,” Claudio Miranda
“Lincoln,” Janusz Kaminski
“Skyfall,” Roger Deakins

Well, the last time I bet on Roger Deakins, I lost. (So has he, the 9 other nominations before this one. Losing for Jesse James is still awful.) And while I really like Janusz Kaminski and Seamus McGarvey as well, I think if anyone will beat Deakins, it will be Claudio Miranda, who has won the BAFTA, and a few regional ones along with Deakins. Still, Deakins won the ASC (guild award) and I would hope the Academy would FINALLY give him his due. And this was easily the most beautiful bond film ever. The cinematography was noteworthy. But will the larger Academy body give it to a bunch of skyscapes? It feels like Pi might be a little flashier - when people think of imagery, they might go to neon whales rather than Bond on a bench in a art museum. Again, I didn't see Pi, so, like Score, I'm going to defer to those in the know and say Pi. But as much as I want a perfect score here, I'd be very, very happy with an upset. 

Achievement in costume design
“Anna Karenina,” Jacqueline Durran
“Les Misérables,” Paco Delgado
“Lincoln,” Joanna Johnston
“Mirror Mirror,” Eiko Ishioka
“Snow White and the Huntsman,” Colleen Atwood

I doubt they academy will give Eiko Ishioka a posthumous award for her work in Mirror Mirror. Which is a little too bad, since those were fab. And Colleen Atwood has waaaay too many. I think it's going Anna Karenina, which won the BAFTA and CCA. I mean, The Duchess won. Kiera Knightly in pretty clothes. (Marie Antoinette, The Young Victoria, Elizabeth the Golden Age are also recent winners, although the two previous Joe Wright/Kiera collabs lost (to Elizabeth and Memoirs of a Geisha). But I'm thinking this wins it. Even people who didn't see the film, saw the pretty dresses. The guild awards are tonight, though, so I reserve the right to update during the week based on what wins there.

Achievement in film editing
“Argo,” William Goldenberg
“Life of Pi,” Tim Squyres
“Lincoln,” Michael Kahn
“Silver Linings Playbook,” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
“Zero Dark Thirty,” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg

Well, Silver Linings Playbook won the Satellite and ACE for comedy. And Zero Dark Thirty won a number of early awards back in early December when it had more buzz. But I think the lack of momentum, plus the actual SEAL saying the climactic raid was shorter and tighter, really hurts its chances. Argo won the BAFTA, but more importantly the ACE for drama. I think that, with Argo's momentum, pulls it ahead. Not to mention, William Goldenberg did both. So people may go with his individual achievement.

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
“Hitchcock,” Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
“Les Misérables,” Westcott and Julie Dartnell

Well, Hitchcock totally fizzled, and the Hobbit was... not well respected. Les Mis won the BAFTA. So although when I think hair and makeup I think Hobbit (because... craftsmanship over Anne Hathaway's buzzcut), Les Mis might have the edge. But the Academy does love big epics. LOTR won two.  Hmmm. This would be the only place where the Hobbit would win, I think. But does aging Hugh Jackman win over the comical dwarf beards? I think its a bit of a toss up. The historical wins were for better movies, but I'll stick with precedent. Hobbit. 

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
“Anna Karenina,” Dario Marianelli
“Argo,” Alexandre Desplat
“Life of Pi,” Mychael Danna
“Lincoln,” John Williams
“Skyfall,” Thomas Newman

Skyfall won the BAFTA, Life of Pi won the Golden Globe, Lincoln won the CCA and Argo won the Satellites. Useful, people, useful. Argo has the most nominations going in and Alexandre Desplat also did Zero Dark Thirty and Moonrise Kingdom this year. If Argo sweeps the Oscars, it would make sense to pick this one up as well. Thomas Newman is oft nominated without winning, so I'd say he's the second choice here, but I think Argo gets it. HOWEVER, the majority of Oscar pundits are saying Life of Pi, and I haven't seen it, so I'm really not sure what it has going for it. I really liked Argo's score, but I get the sense that not everyone did. (And I'm sure some people thought Desplat's work in Moonrise Kingdom was better.) So, I'm going to say that with my incomplete knowledge of the category, I'll bow to popular opinion and go Life of Pi. (Watch it be Argo.)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice,” Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted,” Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi,” Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
“Skyfall” from “Skyfall,” Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
“Suddenly” from “Les Misérables,” Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

It's gotta be Adele. She's so great! Everyone wants to hear her sing and laugh at her speech. And given the song's similarity to the best Bond theme, the World is Not Enough (*cough*C minor*cough*rising fifth*), I'm good with that! 

Achievement in production design
“Anna Karenina” (Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer)
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright)
“Les Misérables” (Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson)
“Life of Pi” (Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock)
“Lincoln” (Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson)

Hmmm... seeing as Moonrise Kingdom isn't here.... Lincoln won the Satellite, Les Mis won the BAFTA (flags for everybody!), and Life of Pi won the guild award for fantasy. (For.... what? The row boat?) Anna Karenina won the CCA and, most importantly, the guild award for period film, which gives it the edge. It is set in a decadent theater palace. Anna for sure. (Despite the many talented crafstpeople on the Hobbit, I just don't see it overcoming the bad reputation of the film.)

The experts are giving it to Les Mis. But for what... the rags? the weirdly crooked alleys? It is another period piece, so it's in the running. And it has more sets. But I'm thinking the Academy goes glitz over grime.Don't let me down, guild!

Best animated short film
“Adam and Dog” (Minkyu Lee)
“Fresh Guacamole” (PES)
“Head over Heels” (Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly)
“Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”” (David Silverman)
“Paperman” (John Kahrs)

Okay - I like Adam and Dog best. But Paperman is lovely, well done, with good pacing, technologically innovative, sentimental, and it feels like a Pixar short. Paperman. 

Best live action short film
“Asad” (Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura)
“Buzkashi Boys” (Sam French and Ariel Nasr)
“Curfew” (Shawn Christensen)
“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” (Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele)
“Henry” (Yan England)

I hear Curfew. So with almost nothing to go on... that. (Although I have read more articles about the making of Buzkashi Boys, so maybe that could influence?)

Achievement in sound editing
“Argo” (Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn)
“Django Unchained” (Wylie Stateman)
“Life of Pi” (Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton)
“Skyfall” (Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers)
“Zero Dark Thirty” (Paul N.J. Ottosson)

 Les Mis, which won one of the MPSE awards (for a musical) is not up here. So Life of Pi won music in a live action and dialogue (dialogue? "arrrr...." "stop, don't eat me" "arrrr....) while Skyfall won for effects. This category often goes to action (Inception, Dark Knight, Bourne Ultimatum, King Kong, etc.) That said, Life of Pi won 2 to Skyfall's 1 guild award. And I'm pretty sure I picked Transformers last year only to have Hugo win (ugh.) Barring an Argo sweep (and since Return of the King, no film has really done that), I'm going to go Skyfall by a nose. Since the song is winning, maybe they'll be thinking favorably when it comes to sound. And it is a very technically accomplished film (see also cinematography.)

(The bookies are saying Zero Dark Thirty over Skyfall, but I don't see it. I don't think it has the momentum.)

Achievement in sound mixing
“Argo” (John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia)
“Les Misérables” (Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes)
“Life of Pi” (Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin)
“Lincoln” (Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins)
“Skyfall” (Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson)

 I think this will go Les Mis, because of the difficulty of mixing the live singing with the orchestration later. (I have no idea if that is actually tricky to do, but it is the most noticeable workmanship in the category.) The crowd stuff is great in Argo. And in the past, this category has sometimes gone jointly with editing to a loud action film, so it could split to Skyfall. But Les Mis was the only one of these nominated for both a CAS and a Satellite, and it won the CAS, so I'm sticking guild. Lincoln and Skyfall were the other CAS noms, so those are my dark horses.

Achievement in visual effects
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White)
“Life of Pi” (Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott)
“Marvel’s The Avengers” (Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick)
“Prometheus” (Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill)
“Snow White and the Huntsman” (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson)

Life of Pi won the CCA, BAFTA, and VES. Despite the studio going out of business.... that tiger. It wins it. 

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