Saturday, February 21, 2009

Breaking My Own Rule - The Academy Awards

So, I’m going to go ahead and break my own rule. I’m going to make predictions. But, hey, it’s the Academy Awards. I have been, historically, very bad at predicting the Oscars for a couple of reasons. First, I tend to give the Academy too much credit and assume that they will make the right decisions. Second, I like to go out on a limb and predict upsets sometimes (I had Little Miss Sunshine for Best Picture over The Departed, and we know how well that went over).

What I’m going to do, though, is make predictions and make wishes. Now, this may seem unnecessary, and yes, it does increase my chances of being right, but the predictions are the predictions. They can be wrong, and in all likelihood, they will be, at least on some accounts. And, if you’ve read any of the preceding posts here, then you know what my favorite movies this year have been, and my wish list will come as no surprise.

Check in at 5:00 pm on Sunday, and I will live blog the Oscars. My reactions, my thoughts, and all of that in real time.


Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire
Wish: Slumdog Millionaire

It is rare that the Academy members award the best movie of the year, and a lot of the time, they don’t even reward the best movie of the five nominees. If you follow awards buzz at all, then you know that Slumdog Millionaire has been the frontrunner for months. Nothing else can touch it. Is it the best picture of the year? Not quite. But, that doesn’t matter because it is the best of the nominated pictures. And, sometimes that’s enough.


Prediction: Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire
Wish: Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire

Like his film, Danny Boyle is easily the best of the nominees, though Gus Van Sant’s work on Milk is also worthy. The sheer tenacity of Boyle to go into the slums of Mumbai and drag out an artistic achievement like Slumdog is enough to earn him the award. He deserves it, and for once, it looks like the Academy knows it.


Prediction: Sean Penn for Milk
Wish: Richard Jenkins for The Visitor

For my reasoning on Richard Jenkins, check out my list of the best performances of the year on the bottom of this page. As for the prediction, Jenkins’ part is just too small for the Academy to love it as much as they should. The race would appear to be between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler). My prediction is for Penn because Milk is a much better loved movie within the Academy, and there are plenty of people who just don’t like Mickey Rourke.


Prediction: Kate Winslet for The Reader
Wish: Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married

Kate Winslet will win for several reasons: 1) the Academy likes The Reader a lot; 2) they like Kate Winslet a lot; 3) and, most importantly, somehow, they got the impression that they owe her an award. It is true that she has lost the award five times, but that’s no reason to award somebody, particularly not for this film, which isn’t even Winslet’s best performance of the year. But, she’s still going to win.


Prediction: Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight
Wish: Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt

I like both performances. So does the Academy. We just happen to disagree on which we like more. But, Ledger wins this in a walk.


Prediction: Viola Davis for Doubt
Wish: Amy Adams for Doubt

The smart money is on Penelope Cruz, but I play for free and lose nothing in predicting Viola Davis. She’s well liked, as is the movie, and the performance, despite its length, is deeply respected. Penelope Cruz, on the other hand, is in a movie that isn’t quite as liked, which I think is what it comes down to because, apart from the performances, the Academy is awarding films.


Prediction: Dustin Lance Black for Milk
Wish: Martin MacDonagh for In Bruges

Black’s screenplay is respected throughout the Academy’s membership, and once again, I think this comes down to rewarding a film that they like a lot because they’re not going to give it Best Picture. Don’t be surprised if Wall-E pulls off an upset, but I wouldn’t count on it. There’s too much of a prejudice against animated films, despite Wall-E’s six nominations.


Prediction: Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire
Wish: John Patrick Shanley for Doubt

Despite what I think is an over-reliance on a single plot device, Beaufoy’s script is good enough to win, and it will roll right along with a night of Slumdog Millionaire victories.


Prediction: The Reader (Roger Deakins and Chris Menges)
Wish: Slumdog Millionaire (Anthony Dod Mantle)

If I were smart, I would predict Slumdog like everyone else. Also, the upset pick is supposedly Claudio Miranda’s work on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But, I’ll take this as an opportunity to go out on the furthest limb available. People like Roger Deakins, and he’s never won, despite many nominations. I think it’s his year. And, it is a very pretty movie, at least in terms of look. Mantle, though, does deserve the award, and I won’t be the least bit upset to be wrong in my prediction. It just means I won’t be perfect.


Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire (Chris Dickens)
Wish: Slumdog Millionaire (Chris Dickens)

If you’ve seen it, then you know why. The pacing, the kinetic energy, the fractured timeline. It’s edited as well as any Bourne film you’ve ever seen. The Academy knows that.


Prediction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Donald Graham Burt, Victor J. Zolfo)
Wish: Revolutionary Road (Kristi Zea, Debra Schutt)

Button’s lavish period sets, which span several periods, will win the day here. It is an admirable feat, but Revolutionary Road is so dependant on the set to express the unspoken conflicts present in the book that it can’t be stressed enough how important Zea and Schutt’s work is to the film.


Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire (Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Resul Pookutty)
Wish: Slumdog Millionaire (Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Resul Pookutty)

(see next entry)


Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire (Tom Sayers)
Wish: Wall-E (Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood)

The first half of Wall-E is all sound, and Ben Burtt’s work, here and in the sound mixing, deserves to be recognized. But, Slumdog seems destined to win everything. And, if the movie teaches us one thing, it’s that destiny will not be denied.


Prediction: The Duchess (Michael O’ Connor)
Wish: The Duchess (Michael O’ Connor)

In this category, the award tends to go to the flashiest, showiest costumes from the nominated films. And, this is one category where it doesn’t matter how much the Academy liked a movie (if you remember the win for Marie Antoinette, then you know what I mean). Luckily, O’ Connor’s work on The Duchess actually is the best of the year.


Prediction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Greg Cannom)
Wish: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Greg Cannom)

Just about every character in this movie ages about 60 or 80 years. If that’s not deserving of an award, I don’t know what is.


Prediction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton, Craig Barron)
Wish: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton, Craig Barron)

It may be one of the most impressive displays of visual effects ever put to film. Brad Pitt’s transformation as Benjamin Button is nothing short of miraculous. Nothing else this year even comes close.


Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire (A.R. Rahman)
Wish: Slumdog Millionaire (A.R. Rahman)

It’s a very flashy score, ever-present in the film, which just means that the Academy is more likely to remember it. It also features a wonderful mix of current pop and traditional orchestration, and it is unlikely that the Academy won’t fall for this score.


Prediction: “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire
Wish: “O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire

The point of this award is to award the song that best exemplifies the film it is in and that best fits the mood and theme of the film. How a song featured only in the end credits fits this bill is beyond me, but it appears that “Jai Ho” is the Academy favorite.


Prediction: Wall-E
Wish: Wall-E

Never mind the fact that it is the best animated film of the year, Wall-E wins this award by virtue of its five other nominations.


Prediction: Man On Wire
Wish: Trouble the Water

For as much as Slumdog has dominated the main categories at this year’s various awards ceremonies, Man On Wire has won just as many if not more awards in the documentary categories. It will keep that streak going at the Oscars.


Prediction: The Class
Wish: The Class

Most people are saying Waltz with Bashir, so expect that if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the Academy is quite adventurous enough to award an animated semi-documentary in its foreign language category. The Class, on the other hand, is right up their alley.


I haven’t seen them (except for Pixar’s Presto, which played before Wall-E), so what do I know about it. I’ll still make predictions, though, just to be thorough.

Short Live Action- Toyland
Short Animated- Presto
Short Documentary- The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306

So, that’s that. Tomorrow night-- the Oscars. Then, this whole silly, glorious mess will be over.

No comments: