Friday, February 24, 2012

Oscar Forecast: “The Artist” with a Chance of Sacha Baron Cohen

UPDATED: Wow the 84th annual Academy Awards are over. First the surprises: Meryl won best actress! WTF? She had been the frontrunner since "The Iron Lady" was greenlit and yet Viola Davis started gaining steam throughout the final weeks leading to the Oscars. I was surprised and happy to see Meryl finally break her losing streak. But poor Viola Davis... The Help did not make history by awarding two Black actresses from the same film. And how did The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo manage that editing upset? It makes sense when you see how editing was implemented in the film - that crosscutting did wonders to wow the Academy - and it now means that this film is the first film since 1967's "Bullitt" to win only one Oscar for Film Editing. That's fascinating to me, but probably not to you. The Artist, winning five Oscars, including Best Picture of course actually tied with Hugo, who snatched up five technical awards including both sound categories and even visual effects. Poor "Rise of Planet of the Apes" you just can't go wrong with Oscar stats: no non-best picture nominee has won best visual effects against another best picture nominee in, like, a really long time. I'm also glad Woody Allen won another Oscar (even if he isn't) - presented by Angelina Jolie's leg - though "Midnight in Paris" isn't really one of my favorites of his. Overall it was a really fun and exciting evening. Billy Crystal was excellent but the evening's best moment occurred before the ceremony even began when Sacha Baron Cohen, as "the Dictator" dumped "Kim Jong Il's ashes" all over red carpet interviewer Ryan Seacrest. Ashes ashes we all fall down! Hilarious! I only got 14 out of 24 predictions correct, my worst showing since The Departed won (where i only scored 13). I can't wait for next year when "Lincoln" sweeps and hands Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis yet another Oscar.

What a crazy year for Oscar movies. Most of them are just good and not particularly amazing. Most of my favorites were populist summer fare. At least “The Help,” the resident my-mom-loved-that-movie nominee, gets better with repeat viewings and features some great performances (and is poised to take home two acting statues on Sunday). Let’s face it, that charming black & white silent movie ode to old Hollywood “The Artist” is ready to sweep on Sunday night. But how many awards will it actually win? Could it be a “Slumdog” night and walk away with a majority of its nominations? Or will it be a more reserved “King’s Speech” night where it manages to win less than half of its nominations? Remember that was a movie with 12 nominations and was predicted to sweep most of those technical categories and it didn’t win a single one. “Inception” won just as many Oscars as “The King’s Speech” after all. Having said that, “The Artist” will win a lot, but what else will walk away a big winner? “Hugo” is the most nominated movie of the evening, but I’m doubtful it will walk away with more than a couple technical wins. In fact, I’m very doubtful about most of this year’s categories, which should at least make for an entertaining show. And without further ado here are my fearless predictions for the 2012 Academy Awards.

Best Picture

Who Will Win: “The Artist.” This has been the frontrunner for a long time. It’s a fun and sweet nod to the old days. I’m sure it’s a favorite among many an octogenarian in the Academy. “Hugo” has the most nominations, but I can’t imagine it having a chance at the big prize. It also has the distinction of being the only Sacha Baron Cohen film ever nominated for best picture. But “The Artist” wins this thing hands down.

Who Should Win: “Hugo.” I’m not even sure if any of the nine nominees should actually win best picture - although I do really like "The Artist." But Hugo was the only film to make my top ten of the year list. It’s a fun movie, made with Martin Scorsese’s expertise. It’s one of the most fun and thrilling “kids movies” in a while. I also liked "The Help" and "Moneyball" but frankly the best picture of the year is obviously "Bridesmaids," duh.

Should Have Been Nominated: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Best Director

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius, “The Artist.” This French guy won the DGA just a couple of weeks ago. You can’t really argue with history. Only 6 times in the history of both awards has the winner of the DGA failed to win the Oscar.

Should Win: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo.” I love all of Scorsese’s recent films. Others say they’re not as good as his films from the early days. Screw them. I’d watch “Hugo” over “Raging Bull” any day of the week.

Should Have Been Nominated: David Fincher, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Best Actor

Will Win: Jean Dujardin, “The Artist.” This is actually a tough race. George Clooney, who was the frontrunner months ago, could easily take this. But I think Dujardin’s charm really sold this movie. Plus it’s got that “silent film” gimmick which would make it one of the very, very few silent performances ever rewarded. He also won at SAG over favorite Clooney. Think of him as the new Roberto Benigni, but more French.

Should Win: Brad Pitt, “Moneyball.” I think I’d just really like to see Brad Pitt win an Oscar. I’m not too particularly crazy about any of this year’s Actor nominees (although I haven’t seen “A Better Life” but who has?) and the guy who REALLY deserves to win wasn’t even nominated!!! For shame, Academy!

Should Have Been Nominated: Michael Fassbender, “Shame”

Best Actress

Will Win: Viola Davis, “The Help.” Another tight race. If Meryl Streep can’t even win an Oscar for playing Margaret Thatcher, then will she ever win again?? If “The Iron Lady” was more well received this would have been no contest. But “The Help” has a best picture nomination and is certainly more loved amongst the Academy’s acting branch as it received three acting nominations. Streep will have to settle for losing her 15h Oscar.

Should Win: Meryl Streep, “The Iron Lady.” Even though some people hate this movie, I think Streep is brilliant in it. It’s better than her performances in “Doubt” and “Julia & Julia.” Streep not only transforms herself into a British Prime Minister, but she transforms herself into an old lady. She is obviously a master of her craft, and she’s simply spellbinding onscreen. You’ll win again one day Ms. Streep, one day. Davis is awesome and deserves to win too, but this is the Streep performance we’ve all been waiting for.

Should Have Been Nominated: Charlize Theron, “Young Adult”

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Christopher Plummer, “Beginners.” I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Beginners” but Plummer was good. I’m ad odds about why exactly he’s such a strong frontrunner, but I think it’s because this is such a weak year for supporting male performances.

Should Win: Jonah Hill, “Moneyball.” I don’t really think any of these guys deserve to win any more than anyone else. I would vote for Jonah just because he’s the guy from “Superbad” that no one ever expected to become an Oscar nominee. I’m sure Academy members Michael Cera, Paul Rudd, James Franco, and Judd Apatow will all be marking Jonah’s name down as well.

Should Have Been Nominated: Albert Brooks, “Drive”

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Octavia Spencer, “The Help.” I think this one is in the bag. If she doesn’t win, the winner can expect a shit pie at their front door.

Should Win: Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids.” I never thought in a million years that McCarthy would actually be nominated. I certainly didn’t think so when I first saw the film last summer. She’s hilarious and heartfelt all at once. She stole that movie. and it’s great to see the Academy loosen up a little bit. I’d love for her name to be called in a shocking Marisa Tomei sort of way.

Should Have Been Nominated: “Shailene Woodly, “The Descendants”

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: “The Descendants.” I’m not too confident in this choice. I’m wondering if, like another recent George Clooney film that was supposed to win this award, (“Up in the Air”) the movie peaked too soon in the award season. Alexander Payne is a previous winner for his last film “Sideways,” so he’s an obvious favorite, but I’m curious if “Moneyball” has a shot at this. It could happen, but probably not.

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: “Midnight in Paris.” Oy vey. I’m not feeling very confident in this choice. Woody Allen’s most whimsical and original script in years (supposedly) is poised to take this prize, but I’m wondering of the originality in “The Arist” could prevail. But I’m also wondering if Academy members would be less likely to vote for a silent movie in the screenplay category.

Best Animated Feature Film
Will Win: “Rango.” How is it that Pixar doesn’t have a nominee in here? Oh yeah, that’s because they made “Cars 2.” I thought maybe the Pixar brand would have been good enough, but it wasn’t. The very original, and very strange, Rango will easily walk away with this award, which would be the first non-Pixar win since “Happy Feet” stole the Oscar from “Cars” in 2007.

Best Art Direction
Will Win: “Hugo.” One of the few guarantee wins for the most-nominated “Hugo.”

Best Cinematography
Will Win: “The Tree of Life.” This seems like the obvious choice, but it so obviously features the best cinematography of the year. But not so fast. A lot of people hate this movie. But it was nominated for best picture and best director, so how could it be hated? Watch it, try to stay awake, and then get back to me. I could actually picture any of these movies (except “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) winning.

Best Costume Design
Will Win: “Anonymous.” This is going to be a difficult category to predict. And I’m going to go out on a limb and predict a movie that no one else believes will win. But why not? It’s a movie set in Shakespearean times. Have you actually seen these costumes? Oscar history would tend to agree with me. Odds are the Academy hasn’t even seen this movie, so the Academy will probably end up going with their love of “The Artist” or “Hugo.” Who knows really?

Best Documentary - Feature

Will Win: "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" This is another shrug the shoulders category. I lot has been said about this Paradise Lost series about the “West Memphis Three” and the film has even helped get off the men accused of murder. But I’m sure either "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" or “To Hell and Back Again” could win as well.

Best Documentary - Short Subject

Will Win: “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”

Best Film Editing
Will Win: "The Artist." It may not have the most flashy or obvious editing, but because editing and best picture usually go together, I’m betting “The Artist” will take this one.

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: “A Separation.” This Iranian film is also nominated for Best Original Screenplay. It’s won all the precursor awards… however there is a Holocaust drama in the mix (“In Darkness”) so don’t be surprised if there’s a surprise here which tends to happen in this cagetory. Remember in order to vote for this award Academy members must see all the nominees, which means the obvious “popular” choice doesn’t always win (ie “Pan’s Labyrinth”). But I think “A Separation” will take it.

Best Makeup
Will Win:
“The Iron Lady.” This is a race between fantasy makeup in “Harry Potter” and old age makeup in “The Iron Lady.” Say what you will about the film, but the makeup design is simply flawless. I’m sure it will prevail.

Best Original Score
Will Win: "The Artist." Composer Ludovic Bource is practically guaranteed a win here. The movie relied so heavily on its music score since it’s a silent film that it’s one of several “Artist” sure things of the evening.

Best Original Song
Will Win: ‘Man or Muppet’ from "The Muppets." Flight of the Concords guy Bret McKenzie has a 50/50 shot at this, and I say he takes it. But what a lousy category this year, huh? What were they thinking? There were so many great songs left off, and they didn’t even nominate the best song from the Muppets! (that would be ‘Pictures in My Head’)

Best Short Film – Animated
Will Win:
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” I’ve seen all the nominees and it’s certainly an eclectic group. But I say it comes down to the emotionally charged “Books” and Pixar’s "La Luna" which could easily win, but Pixar has an odd losing streak in this category. Perhaps, with no nominee in the feature category, they might just vote for Pixar anyways. Who knows?

Best Short Film – Live Action
Will Win:
“Tuba Atlantic.” As with most of these shorts categories, your guess is as good as mine.

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: “War Horse.” I’ve never been so unsure of myself in the sound categories. Conventional wisdom says the “loudest” movie tends to win. And that would be “Transformers” but if they didn’t give it to the first film, why start now? Besides, "Avatar" didn't win either of these awards and that was way more liked than the "Transformers" films. War films tend to win here, which I feel gives it an edge over the other popular choice “Hugo.”

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: “War Horse.” I’m still not convinced the Academy will see “Hugo” as a very aural experience. If it wins, it’s because it’s the film that is most liked in the category, which could very well turn out to be true. The sound categories could easily split, so I’m playing it safe and picking “War Horse” for both.

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” I feel like “Apes” should be the obvious choice. But not so fast. No film has won this award against another film that was also up for best picture. Which leads me to believe that “Hugo” might walk away with this. How odd would it be if a Martin Scorsese movie won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects? That would be like a Woody Allen movie winning for Best Sound Editing. Or a Michael Bay movie winning for Best Original Screenplay. I’m not too confident in my pick here, but maybe I’m just over thinking things.