Saturday, February 23, 2013

Odienator's Ostentatious, On-The-Money Oscar Oracles 2012

by Odienator

Oscar night is upon us yet again, which means it’s time for Internet bloggers to make fools of themselves by second-guessing a body of people who use darts to select winners. This year, I considered doing just that, but I kept hitting the wall instead of the Oscar ballot I printed out. One dart went into an electrical outlet. Sorry for the power outage, neighbors!

Anyway, enough shenanigans on my part. I’ve broken down the main categories into Who Will Win, Who Should Win, and the spoiler category called, in honor of the newly-married Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!”

Last year, I won the Oscar Pool. My crown will be taken this year, I am sure. But enough of my bragging. Unlike the Oscar show, I won’t make you sit through 4 hours of Seth MacFarlane reminding you  why you hate him before you get to:

Best Picture

In typical cockeyed fashion, the Academy allows up to 10 nominees but once again settled on 9. I think the expansion of this category results in some severe bottom-of-the-barrel scraping, but I digress. The nominees are:


Who Will Win: Argo
Who Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Silver Linings Playbook

Had the goddamn Best Director category done its job, we’d be talking about a different Best Picture winner here. Not that Argo is a bad film—I loved it—but it would lack the sympathy vote I think will push it over the edge. Director Ben Affleck would win the Directing Oscar and this category would be wide open. As it stands, the odds of Argo winning are so good that not even the most desperate bookies will let you bet on it.

Had the goddamn Best Director category done its job and nominated Kathryn Bigelow, it would have made history (a woman nominated twice in 85 years—cue the exploding heads) and beat a path for Zero Dark Thirty, the best film on this list, to be Best Picture. One can have endless discussions about torture and intent, but one will have to have them someplace other than this blog. This would be my choice if I had a ballot. Sorry, Django! You’d be my second choice.

For the first time in 25 years, there’s a film in this category I haven’t seen before Oscar night. That film is Les Miz, and while some say it could play spoiler, ‘tis doubtful. Les Miz’s big win comes elsewhere. The other movie I’ve been hearing a lot about as a spoiler is Lincoln, but if I had a No Guts/No Glory choice, it would be for Silver Linings Playbook to take this top honor. It has a nominee in every acting category, plus best directing, writing and picture nominations. The last film to do that was Warren Beatty’s Reds, which wound up with two of the acting awards but no Best Picture. That sounds about right for Silver Linings Playbook.

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

Who Will Win: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Who Should Win: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Reds also won Best Director, which is why I put David O. Russell in as spoiler. If I were smart, I’d put him in as winner of this award. But I think Ang Lee has it sewn up. The backstory behind bringing Pi to the screen, and the amount of effort it took on Lee’s part should push him over the edge. With Ben Affleck consoling himself with the DGA but not an Oscar nod, the category toughened to the point where I’m only about 60% sure of this prediction.

I didn’t choose Haneke as spoiler because his film will win elsewhere. Nor did I opt for Spielberg as spoiler because he, like four other nominated people this year, has a chance to bring home a third Oscar. They won’t give it to him for the same reason they won’t give it to Sally Field or Denzel. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, I’m Ready for my Close-up Mr. Tom Hooper
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Who Should Win: Abraham Lincoln was a good ol’ man…
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: The only surprise will be if Day-Lewis loses.

This is the “bet yo’ Mama” bet, that is, the surest bet of the 85th Academy Awards show. There’s a shot Argo loses best picture, despite what the bookies say. The only way Day-Lewis can lose is Price Waterhouse sabotage. Hell, even Robert DeNiro’s character from Silver Linings Playbook wouldn’t bet against Lincoln—and his son’s nominated here! Absent Lincoln, I could make a case for Denzel getting his third Oscar for FINALLY getting completely dirty in a role, but Lincoln’s here. So Washington loses.

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

Who Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Who Should Win: Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

The Best Actress category has the youngest and the oldest Actress nominees in history this year. They are respectively Wallis, whose unusual, beautiful name is hard to pronounce, and Riva, whose unusual, beautiful name is pronounceable only because we’ve all seen that Sylvia Kristel movie. Riva contributes the most to her overrated film, saving it with her fellow actor, Jean-Louis Trintignant. Plus, she is an acting legend in the twilight of her life, so a case could be made for her snatching Oscar from the eager hands of the career-hot Jennifer Lawrence. Naomi Watts has gotten lots of praise for The Impossible (even from critics who hate the film), but this nod is her reward. The same holds for little Hushpuppy.

Maybe next time, kiddo.

Left in the dust is Chastain, who despite having one of the worst lines in recent memory (“I’m the motherfucker who found this place!”) gives this category’s richest, most interesting performance. I’d vote for the chameleon-like Chastain in a heartbeat here.

Like last year, the winner of this award will piss me off. My dislike of Silver Linings Playbook is old news, and as good as Lawrence has been even in dreck like The Hunger Games, I don’t think she deserves an Oscar for this overwritten, clichéd role. Her father-in-law in Playbook is another story…

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Argo
Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained

Who Will Win: Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Who Should Win: Robert DeNiro, Silver Linings Playbook
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln

The toughest call of the night. All five of these actors have won Oscars--DeNiro has two. Had either Christoph Waltz or Alan Arkin not won recently for Inglorious Basterds and Little Miss Sunshine respectively, this would be a dogfight between the two. I knew Arkin would get nominated after I saw Argo, but in a year with roles like Sam Jackson’s house slave in Django Unchained, Arkin should have been shown the door here. Waltz is doing a variation on his Oscar winning role, the Pale Rider to his earlier High Plains Drifter, and while he’s great, I would have voted for Sam. Hoffman is here because he got swept up in the two-for-one deal that put Phoenix in the Best Actor category; you can’t honor one without the other. But he’s well outmanned here.

That leaves Jones and DeNiro, two actors scoring their first nods in at least 20 years. I’d be inclined to give Jones the edge, but DeNiro has been working the publicity tour jovially, while Jones has been staring at cameras as if he were about to run everyone over with the trucks he shills for in commercials. Jones is excellent in Lincoln; he’s given some great dialogue and situations to play. Robert DeNiro is not so lucky, but he manages to turn his role in Silver Linings Playbook into something magical. He plays several emotions, switching between them on a dime, and his story is a lot more interesting than the Benny and Joon main story. DeNiro kept me from walking out of Silver Linings Playbook, and I think the Academy will award him for it.

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

Who Will Win: White Jennifer Hudson
Who Should Win: Sally Field, Lincoln
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Helen Hunt, The Sessions

Helen Hunt is really the lead, so as much as I loved her performance in The Sessions, I can’t pick her here. I wish she’d been in the Best Actress category. At least she’d be away from the OTHER sure bet in the show. If you can bet your Mama on Daniel Day-Lewis, you can bet your Daddy on Anne Hathaway. Miss Hathaway goes from the Beverly Hillbillies straight into Dreamgirls territory, buoyed like her Dreamgirls predecessor by THE SONG THAT WILL NOT DIE. In Hathaway’s case, it’s I Dreamed a Dream, the song that got Susan Boyle a career and will get Hathaway her Oscar. Truth be told, I Dreamed a Dream is a horrible song made bearable by the fact it’s the best thing in the Les Miz soundtrack. It’s like that line in Eddie Murphy Raw: If you’ve been starving, a saltine will taste like a Ritz cracker. In Jennifer Hudson’s defense (and I loved her in Dreamgirls), she got more scenes to act than Hathaway does. In Hathaway’s defense, homegirl knows how to sell a performance. So she’s got this.

Sally Field has won 2 Oscars, and I highly doubt the Academy wants to give her a third despite just how delicately balanced her work is in Lincoln. In this case, they like her, they really like her, but not enough to keep Hathaway’s Fantine at bay.

Best Original Screenplay

Django Unchained
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

Who Will Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Who Should Win: Django Unchained
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Amour

This is a tough category. I was tempted to ignore Amour altogether, and put my spoiler money on Moonrise Kingdom. But I wondered if the older Academy folks would go for Anderson’s idiosyncrasies. I don’t believe they will. If they didn’t give it to Quentin for Inglorious Basterds, they’re not going to give it to him for Inglorious Blacksterds. This category is between Zero Dark Thirty and Amour. I couldn’t make up my mind on Oscar’s choice, so I flipped a coin. Heads, Zero Dark Thirty, tails, Amour. The coin handed on heads. So here we are.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook

Who Will Win: Argo
Who Should Win: Lincoln
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Lincoln

This is an even TOUGHER category, especially with Argo’s defeat of Lincoln at the WGA’s. Life of Pi came from a seemingly unadaptable book, which may score it some points but not enough to take this category. Silver Linings Playbook has better shots elsewhere. That leaves Tony Kushner’s epic dialogue vs. Argo’s big Hollywood-style action. It’s almost too close to call, which means this category could split and go someplace unexpected. I doubt it, though. If Argo is going to win best Picture, it’s got to win something else in a major category. My heart says Lincoln, and my head says Argo. Always bet with your head.

Best Animated Feature
The Pirates Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

Who Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph
Who Should Win: Frankenweenie
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: Brave

I liked all five of these with varying levels of enjoyment. But for Oscar voters, it’s Pixar vs. Disney. With two movies in the category, it appears Disney has better odds. Pixar’s Brave wasted its PR about being the first female-centric Pixar film by saddling poor Merida to a standard story. The main character is Toy Story-quality, but the script is in the basement that brought us Cars. Paranorman and Pirates are quirkier than what usually wins the category. Frankenweenie, my favorite of this list, has Tim Burton behind it and perhaps his labor of love will appeal to voters who think he’s owed an Oscar. I’m going to stake my money on Wreck-It Ralph, my second favorite here, because it’s won more awards than its competitors. A win here would be a first for the studio that pioneered animation.

This picture has nothing  to do with my choice of Wreck-It Ralph.

This show is running way too long! The rest of the field:

Best Art Direction: It’s between the Great Emancipator and Throw Anna In Front of the Train. I’m going with Lincoln.

Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina is my pick.

Best Cin-tog: Life of Pi will trump 10-time loser Roger Deakins’ work on Skyfall. The latter I couldn’t even appreciate because my theater had the goddamn 3-D filter on the camera, turning Bond’s latest adventure brown.

Best Editing: William Goldenberg is guaranteed an Oscar, but for which movie? Zero Dark Thirty or Argo? I’m going to go with Argo. You know, best picture, best editing go together like rama-lama-lama you know the rest.

Best Foreign Film: Kon-Tiki could spoil, but I’m going with Amour.

Best Makeup: Because it held up no matter how close Tom Hooper put his camera, the winner here is Les Miz. If Hitchcock wins, I will shoot my television. They put Edward G. Robinson’s lips on Alfred Hitchcock. NO!

Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi’s 3D effects (which as usual I could not perceive) and its tiger, Richard Parker, will rule the day.

Best Original Song will go to that dreary ass, sleep-inducing Adele song, Skyfall. I hope Shirley Bassey tackles her and runs off with the Oscar while singing the Moonraker theme song. And Sir Paul McCartney blocks Adele from running after Shirley.

Best Original Score:
I’m REALLY tempted to go with Life of Pi, but I’m going out on a limb to say Argo.

Best Animated Short:
Paperman, which I saw but have NO recollection of, is the favorite in a category that rarely goes for favorites. My choice is Adam and Dog.

Best Documentary Short: Eenie-meenie-miney-mo…Open Heart.

Best Documentary: I’ve seen four of the five. The one I would vote for, The Central Park Five, is nowhere to be found. Out of this list, I’d vote for How to Survive a Plague. The Academy will go for the least troubling of the five, however, Searching for Sugar Man.

Best Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty is loud. Let's go with that.

Best Sound Mixing: Like a 70's sitcoom, Les Miserables was recorded LIVE LIVE LIVE! That has to count for something.

Happy Oscar Watching guys! Remember: Seth MacFarlane is NOT a valid reason to murder your TV. Bad Oscar choices, however, are perfectly good reasons to do so.

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