July 29, 2014

2013 Oscar Preview: Part Four

Does the name Bruce Beresford ring a bell?

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams — The Master
Sally Field — Lincoln
Anne Hathaway — Les Miserables
Helen Hunt — The Sessions
Jacki Weaver — Silver Linings Playbook

Will Win: Anne Hathaway
Should Win: Anne Hathaway

Before we even get to the 15 or so critics circle wins let’s just talk about the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics Choice awards oh, and the SAG award. This year has two locks, and she’s one.

If you’ve seen Les Mis you know exactly the moment when she wins this award, and kudos to Tom Hooper for making it in one continuous shot.

Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin — Argo
Robert De Niro — Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman — The Master
Tommy Lee Jones — Lincoln
Christoph Waltz — Django Unchained 

Will Win: Tommy Lee Jones
Should Win: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Kind of neck and neck for Jones and Waltz. Waltz has a BAFTA and a Golden Globe with 4 critics circle wins agains Jones’ 6 circles and a SAG award. But it’s the SAG that nails it for Jones. Most of the Academy are actors and SAG is, you know. That having been said, Hoffman’s 8 circles and Critics Choice award might come along and take advantage of the other two vote-splitting.

Here’s the thing. I haven’t actually gotten around to seeing Hoffman’s performance. But I have seen the other four. They are solid. But they are not surprising. Not from these actors in these roles. I have yet to not be surprised by Hoffman. Sight unseen, I can wager that there’s something revelatory.

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain — Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence — Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva — Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis — Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts — The Impossible

Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence
Should Win: Quvenzhane Wallis

While Lawrence seems the inevitable pick, especially with a SAG award and a Globe under her belt, keep in mind that Riva got the BAFTA and a ton of smaller wins, and Chastain got the other Globe and a ton of smaller wins, so either could upset.

To be fair, I have not seen Watts or Riva’s performance yet, and I suspect that Riva’s might be the best of the year, based on reports. But from what I have seen, I have seen nothing like what Wallis does with her performance. She has to carry a film that has no genre, no predictability, no linear narrative on which to pin our point of view. It is a portrait of a place more than a story, and she has to ground us in it. That’s an enormous challenge for an actor of any age, and she pulls it off incredibly, defiantly.

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper — Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis — Lincoln
Hugh Jackman — Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix — The Master
Denzel Washington — Flight

Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Before we even get into him winning every single possible award an actor can win before the Oscars thing, let’s just state for the record that Day-Lewis has won half the Best Actor Oscars for which he’s been nominated. So you could basically flip a coin at this point. But you don’t have to. Cos he’s gonna win. The second lock of the night.

Day-Lewis has also pretty much deserved all of the Oscars he’s been nominated for, so there’s that. Here the magic is in how he takes a character who should be The President, and really just tries to play a guy, with certain characteristics, with certain flaws, with certain doubts. And that guy happens to be Abraham Lincoln. And so we care when shit happens to him because Day-Lewis has gotten us to focus on the guy, not the figure.

Best Director

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

Will Win: Senor Spielbergo
Should Win: Do I really have to say it?

It’s funny, the two people with the most wins going into this are not represented here. Kathryn Bigelow was an early favorite when the initial awards season kudos had every best picture win going to Zero Dark Thirty and almost every best director win going to her. As the tide turned, every other critics circle win went to Argo and every other best director win went to Ben Affleck, and that trend continued into post-season with a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics Circle and, finally, a what used to be 90% predictive Directors Guild Award. But now all that’s thrown out the window and the biggest name here is Spielberg.

Ben Affleck did a fantastic job and has done a fantastic job over three films. And the good news is that probably means he’ll be back to The Show. And I won’t cry to see Spielberg win another statue. He’s my favorite director. And this is one of his better films. And the other nominated directors did good work. But all of that having been said…what the fuck?

Best Picture

Amour
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Argo

If I were looking at this strictly based on the numbers, I’d say Argo has won six critics circle awards, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a Critics Choice award and a (somewhat predictive) Producer’s Guild Award. Oddsmakers like it, too. The only reason I hesitate is because it is not nominated for Best Director. But then there are three little words. Driving. Miss. Daisy. I still remember the joke Billy Crystal made that night. Something like, “And then we have Driving Miss Daisy, a film which apparently directed itself.” Two other films have also pulled off winning Best Picture without the director being nominated for Best Director, Wings in 1929 and Grand Hotel in 1932, so it’s not impossible, just rare. And with this much momentum, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Affleck on that stage come Oscar night, just not as a director. If this still makes you nervous, though, bet on Lincoln.

You can read here how many different ways I loved Argo. The only way I wouldn’t give it the should here is if they nominated Cabin in the Woods.

2013 Oscar Preview: Part Three

In which we address the nomination omission that doesn’t rhyme with Den Maffleck.

Visual Effects

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi – VES, BAFTA,Critics Choice
Marvel’s The Avengers
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman

Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi

It’s all about the tiger. Visual Effects Society, BAFTA, and Critics Choice all gave this the win.

Here’s the thing. All of the films nominated here had great special effects. As I was watching most of them I thought, “Wow, those are great effects.” But with Life of Pi, it never occurred to me to consider whether or not the tiger was real. All I was thinking was, “Dude, get the fuck away from that tiger!”

(Which makes this news all the sadder.)

Animated Feature

Brave
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

Will Win: Brave
Should Win: Tie: ParaNorman/Wreck-It Ralph

Wins have been scattered all over the place in animated this year. ParaNorman got 11 critics circle wins but no majors. Wreck-It Ralph scored 5 plus a Critics Circle and an Annie. Brave scored zero regular season wins but nabbed a BAFTA and a Golden Globe and Pixar is, like, the New York Yankees of the animated category. That having been said, consider Wreck-It Ralph a serious spoiler.

Technically, I consider ParaNorman the more accomplished film. It is a truly brilliant crafting of a horror film as a kid’s film, and not the other way around. That having been said, I have a soft spot in my heart for Wreck-It Ralph. It has such a great energy and loves video games as much as ParaNorman loves horror movies, so I’d have to say I’d be perfectly happy to see either one win.

Cinematography

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Life of Pi

Nine critics circle wins and a BAFTA and a Critics Choice award and, come on, I mean, have you seen it?

There are some truly unforgettable images in this film. It’s kind of a no-brainer. That having been said, I would love to see Skyfall snatch this out from under Life of Pi. (Which is a distinct possibility. It did win the American Society of Cinematographers Award.) First, I love me some Skyfall, and second, Roger Deakins has been nominated ten times already.

Film Editing

Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty

While the common wisdom is that whatever wins Best Picture tends to win Best Editing because, I don’t know, people are lazy, looking at least at the last ten years of wins makes that sound less realistic. That having been said, a likely winner like Argo looks better than most of the rest of these right now. Also, a BAFTA. And an ACE Eddie Award.

While I’d be happy to see Argo win—a whole lot of making the first and last twenty minutes work is in the cutting—to make a procedural like Zero Dark Thirty feel like something other than than a decade of dead ends is first rate editing. Ditto The French Connection and All the President’s Men, with which this film shares a lineage.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook

Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Argo

Right now this is kind of a dead heat between Lincoln, Argo, and Silver Linings Playbook. Lincoln‘s got 6 critics circle wins and Critics Choice award. Silver Linings has four and a BAFTA. But Argo has 8 circles and the Writer’s Guild Award and, conceivably, a Best Picture edge. Oddsmakers favor Lincoln, but Argo is close behind and, in this case, I’m betting on the spoiler.

While I love, love, love the dialogue in Lincoln (it’s Tony Kushner here folks) I have to say, Argo has that too, plus great structure. The only way you get to a point where you can take a story where I know the ending and still make it tense is to start with a solid screenplay.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Amour
Django Unchained
Flight
Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

Will Win: Django Unchained
Should Win: Looper

Hollywood doesn’t seem to know what to do with Quentin Tarantino except occasionally nominate him for writing, which is a fine thing to do, he’s an exceptional writer, but he does other things, too. (To be fair, he did get a directing nod for Pulp Fiction.) In this case, BAFTA, Globes, and Critics Circle have already jumped on this bandwagon, so it seems likely the Academy will follow. Fair warning, oddsmakers favor Zero Dark Thirty heavily over Django. I’m thinking that’s due to the WGA win, but my guess is the torture controversy will hold more weight than the Spike Lee won’t go see it controversy.

How in the fuckety-fuck name of fucekty-fuck does Looper not get at least a nod in this category? Just what the hell? No, seriously, what. the. hell?

Next: Not having seen The Master or Amour comes back to bite me in the ass.

2013 Oscar Preview: Part Two

Bet you didn’t think either—much less both—Snow White movies would get Oscar nods, did you?

Makeup and Hairstyling

Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables

Will Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Should Win: Les Miserables

Your guess is as good as mine. No one makeup job here really stands out over another, and it’s usually the obvious choice that wins. Most of the Rings films have won this awards in the past.

Part of the reason Les Mis worked for me is that when people looked like they were sick and dying (which is a lot) they sounded like they were sick and dying (Linda Holmes brings up this point in her take on the flick, in here somewhere). Well, the first part of that is to look like you’re sick and dying.

Costume Design

Anna Karenina
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

Will Win: Anna Karenina
Should Win: Les Miserables

When in doubt, go with frilly and period.

Don’t feel strongly about this one, but the costumes in Les Mis worked for me.

Production Design

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln

Will Win: Anna Karenina
Should Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Interestingly, perhaps only to me, this used to be called Art Direction. Period usually has an advantage here and the production design on Anna is supposed to be outstanding. That having been said, consider Les Mis a serious spoiler. Oddsmakers favor it, but I’m giving Anna the edge because it won the Art Directors Guild Award.

I had my issues with Hobbit, most of them having to do with 48fps projection, but the production design was not one of them. Wins it on the caves alone. Which might have been mostly CG, come to think of it.

Music (Original Score)

Anna Karenina
Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall 

Will Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Skyfall

Life of Pi, Lincoln, and Skyfall are all reasonable contenders here and have taken some kudos thus far. Just going with Life of Pi because oddsmakers favor it, but, honestly, anything could happen here.

I don’t remember the scores from any of these except, obviously, the main theme from Skyfall, but should that even be eligible?

Music (Original Song)

“Before My Time” from Chasing Ice
“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from Ted
“Pi’s Lullaby” from Life of Pi
“Skyfall” from Skyfall gg, cc
“Suddenly” from Les Miserables

Will Win: “Skyfall”
Should Win: “Skyfall”

A Golden Globe, a Critics Choice Award, and everybody loves Adele and, honestly, have you even heard of any of these other songs? I haven’t even heard of one of the movies nominated.

It’s no “A View to a Kill” (what is?) but “Skyfall” brings us back to the heady days of Shirley Bassey, when a Bond theme was a motherfuckin’ Bond theme.

Foreign Language Film

Amour
Kon-Tiki
No
A Royal Affair
War Witch

Will Win: Amour
Should Win: Amour

You have to be really careful with this category. When a nominee becomes too obvious, nominated for a bunch of other awards, like Amelie or Bituiful in the past, it can be easy to be deceived into thinking it’s a lock for Best Foreign when, in fact, it’s not. That having been said, it’s already won BAFTA, Golden Globe, Critics Choice and 12 critics circle awards so, after a point, you just sort of have to be okay with that.

I think The Raid: Redemption is the only foreign film I saw last year, so I’m going to assume the popular opinion is correct.

Next: Mmmmm, Pi.

2013 Oscar Preview: Part One

The most half-assed of my many half-assed predictions this year will come in these notoriously hard to predict categories…

Short Film (Animated)

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”
Paperman

Will Win: Paperman
Should Win:
Paperman

I once again had the pleasure of watching all of the Oscar-nominated animated shorts with Dr. Wife (this time for Valentine’s Day) and while they were all good (Longest Daycare was the funniest The Simpsons has been in years), this one is clearly sweeter and more endearing than the rest. Not saying that’s what the Academy always values, but it’s kind of hard to ignore in this case.

Funnily, all of the shorts this year are silent (well, no dialogue, anyway) and so the visual storytelling on display is bar none. But in the end Paperman displays a confident visual style and economy of storytelling that just makes it stand out for me (although Daycare is a close second).

Short Film (Live Action)

Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
Henry

Will Win: Curfew
Should Win:
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)

Oddsmakers favor Curfew, and it’s got a hooky premise.

Death of a Shadow just looks badass.

Documentary Short Subject

Inocente
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Redemption

Will Win: Open Heart
Should Win:
Kings Point

Just going with the oddsmakers again because I have no idea.

I don’t know, I just like the scale of the project in Kings Point.

Documentary Feature

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man

Will Win: Searching for Sugar Man
Should Win:
The Invisible War

A BAFTA and Critic’s Choice win on top of six critics circle wins make this a pretty easy pick.

Haven’t seen Searching, to be fair, but Invisible War is quite simply necessary viewing.

Sound Editing

Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

Will Win: Skyfall
Should Win:
 Argo

First off, this is a completely unpredictable category. Oddsmakers like Zero Dark Thirty, but I don’t because it’s the one film here not nominated by the guild actually devoted to sound editing for their annual awards. Next best odds are for Skyfall.

Not sure if this falls under Sound Editing or Sound Mixing, but the way in which period music is heard in Argo is consistent with the stereo systems available at the time. In other words, it doesn’t sound pristine. It sounds like it’s coming out of a late 70′s/early 80′s hi-fi system, and I think that’s a brilliant touch.

Sound Mixing

Argo
Les Miserablesx
Life of Pi
Lincolnx
Skyfallx

Will Win: Les Miserables
Should Win:
Les Miserables

The whole point of Les Mis, from a singing standpoint, is that the actors were recorded live. This award is all about the live recording.

That experiment did not work for everyone. It totally worked for me.

Next: Anna Kareninapalooza

2012 Oscar Preview—Part Four: Sometimes the System Works

In which I let SAG do all of the heavy lifting…

Best Supporting Actress

Bérénice Bejo — The Artist
Jessica Chastain — The Help
Melissa McCarthy — Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer — Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer — The Help

Will Win: Octavia Spencer
Should Win: Melissa McCarthy

The Globes, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, and SAG (not to mention 6 critics circles) have all pointed to Spencer and said “You!” Normally, two nominated actresses from the same film in the same category threaten to split the vote (and Chastain has her fair share of plaudits), but in this case the choice seems to be clear.

Spencer gives an outstanding performance, but McCarthy is the heart and soul of Bridesmaids, and creates a rich, layered, memorable character that just does it for me more than anyone else nominated.

Best Supporting Actor

Kenneth Branagh — My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill — Moneyball
Nick Nolte — Warrior
Christopher Plummer — Beginners
Max von Sydow — Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Will Win: Christopher Plummer
Should Win: Kenneth Branagh

If Albert Brooks had been in this race it might have been more interesting, but even then I’d lay odds on Plummer. It’s one of those career Oscar dealies. Man is 83 and ain’t got but two nods to his name including this one, and the first one came when he was 81! BAFTA, SAG, Critics’ Choice, and Globes concur. Anyone else getting nostalgic for his turns in Dragnet or Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country about now?

Plummer gives a fine performance in Beginners, but Branagh has the meatier role. There’s just more for him to do. It’s not all that far off from a lead role, to be fair. Ironically, the last time he got nominated for an acting Oscar it was in a role for which the man he plays in this film also got an Oscar nod. Did you follow all of that?

Best Actress

Glenn Close — Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis — The Help
Rooney Mara — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep — The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams — My Week with Marilyn

Will Win: Viola Davis
Should Win: Michelle Williams

It’s probably easier to say who will not win. Glenn Close or Rooney Mara. Now the rest. Viola Davis won SAG and Critics’ Choice. Meryl Streep won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. Michelle Williams also won a Golden Globe and entered awards season with a ton of critical love. Your guess is as good as mine. So I’m going to go with an old maxim. When in doubt, follow SAG. Biggest voting block of the Academy is actors. Also, Gold Derby gives her 5/6 odds and I’m increasingly convinced of their accuracy (especially after seeing some of the stuff they pulled out of their ass for the Globes).

I should probably point out that I haven’t seen Albert Nobbs or The Iron Lady, arguably the most transformative roles here (although Mara and Williams are pretty damn transformed themselves). But from what I have seen, Williams gives the most vital performance. Of course, if they’d bothered to nominate Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Best Actor

Demián Bichir — A Better Life
George Clooney — The Descendants
Jean Dujardin — The Artist
Gary Oldman — Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt — Moneyball

Will Win: Jean Dujardin
Should Win: Gary Oldman

So for a while it looked like Clooney was the lock but then with Dujardin getting the other Globe and a BAFTA and, most importantly, SAG kudos it seems like he’s now in the lead.

Oldman, shockingly, has never even been nominated. And while I rarely go in for the “let’s give him a prize to celebrate his entire career whether or not this is actually an Oscar-worthy performance,” it doesn’t matter because this really is an Oscar-worthy performance. The monologue where he recalls meeting an infamous Russian spy alone is worth the win.

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius — The Artist
Alexander Payne — The Descendants
Martin Scorsese — Hugo
Woody Allen — Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick — The Tree of Life

Will Win: Michel Hazanavicius
Should Win: Michel Hazanavicius

The DGA has spoken, and usually (like 90 plus percent of the time), that’s all you need. Doesn’t hurt that BAFTA and Critics’ Choice agree. Globes went with Scorsese, who’s probably next most likely.

Hazanavicius proves himself to be a masterful visual storyteller and challenges himself in a way that a lot of directors never have, and doesn’t just pull it off, but creates one of the best movies in recent memory. The silent film isn’t just a gimmick. It’s actually a great movie.

Best Picture

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: The Artist

Earlier in awards season it looked like it might be between The Descendants and The Artist and then, perhaps as kudos did not swing Alexander Payne’s way as they did for Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist pulled ahead. Producer’s Guild, Critics’ Choice, BAFTA, and the Globes (at least for Musical/Comedy) all went this way.

For once, my favorite film of the year also happens to be the top contender for Best Picture. The system works! Don’t fix anything! Long live Hollywood and the studio system! (This celebration of the studio system was made inside the studio system, right?)

2012 Oscar Preview—Part Three: Apes vs. Wizards

The smart money’s on the apes…

Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Will Win: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Should Win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The smart money is on Apes. It won the Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual-Effects Driven Feature Motion Picture (is it just me or is that kind of a long title?), not a terrible indicator. Not to mention its 8/11 odds on Gold Derby. However, no Harry Potter film has ever won Best Visual Effects. I know. So if there was ever a time to reward the whole series…

Apes really has some amazing, um, apes. And, once again, Andy Serkis proves that he’s worthy of an Oscar, but that all happens through collaboration with some amazing effects artists.

Animated Feature

A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Rango

Will Win: Rango
Should Win: Rango

Critcs’ Choice and BAFTA went Rango, and the Globes went  Tintin, which ain’t an option here. Plus, like, 15 critics circles.

Rango is what would happen if the Coen brothers directed an animated film. Quirky, yet authentic, with the most distinct visual style I’ve seen in years.

Cinematography

The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Will Win: The Tree of Life
Should Win: The Tree of Life

Pretty much every critics circle plus the ASC have given Life the win. BAFTA went Artist, which I’d consider a mild spoiler.

It’s truly a glorious spectacle. Given that you pretty much have to abandon the search for a coherent narrative to get into Life‘s groove, it makes sense that it packs most of its discourse into its visuals.

Film Editing

The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Moneyball

Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: Hugo

The winner here is often a strong contender for Best Picture. Hugo and The Artist have the most nods, but The Artist got the Eddie.

I feel like Hugo had the most to juggle stylistically and tonally and, more often that not, those rhythms are defined by the editing.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Descendants
Hugo
The Ides of March
Moneyball
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Will Win: The Descendants
Should Win: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Often, a likely Best Picture contender is the favorite here, which would lean more towards Hugo. However, The Descendants has 11 ciritics cirlce wins and a WGA award. Moneyball got the Critics’ Choice award plus seven other critics circle wins. And Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy got the BAFTA. Hugo ain’t got none o’ that. I’m going with Descendants, if for nothing else than it’s kind of the next most likely Best Picture win.

Moneyball is a brilliant blend of the styles of Sorkin and Zaillian, and given the source material, the narrative they cull is outstanding. That having been said, the film’s most salient features, its heart (its talking pie, if you will), come more from the masterful direction of Bennet Miller and some outstanding performances across the board. Just looking at the screenplay, I feel like Tinker accomplishes more, handling some difficult, counterintuitive material and making it effortlessly accessible and true. Both are amazing works and I’m having trouble choosing is what I’m saying.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

The Artist
Bridesmaids
Margin Call
Midnight in Paris
A Separation

Will Win: Midnight in Paris
Should Win: The Artist

With a WGA, Critics’ Choice, and a Golden Globe win, Paris seems like the obvious choice. Besides, when’s the last time the Academy has given Woody some love? (The answer would be 1987, when he won the same award for Hannah and Her Sisters.) As it turns out, he’s earned more Best Original Screenplay nods than anyone. 15 total. So, really, it’s just  law of averages after a while.

Normally this is where I’d bitch about 50/50 not being nominated, but The Artist is a truly outstanding screenplay. Visual storytelling starts on the page, and this one has it down cold.

Next: Which film will win Best Picture? The loving tribute to movies or the other loving tribute to movies?

2012 Oscar Preview—Part Two: The Muppet Show

Am I a maaaaaaaaaaaaan or am I a blogger (am I a blogger)?

Makeup

Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two
The Iron Lady

Will Win: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two
Should Win: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two

Fantasy usually wins this category, though the makeup jobs in all three are memorable. Consider Lady a spoiler.

I’d be happy to see any of these win, but the transformations in Nobbs and Lady are focused on the main character, whereas a host of makeup creations inhabit the Potter universe, most notably He Whose Nose Shall Not Be Seen.

Costume Design

Anonymous
The Artist
Hugo
Jane Eyre
W.E.

Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: The Artist

Normally, I would go with the notion that the Academy likes frilly, and favor Anonymous or Jane Eyre. But I have a feeling that Old Hollywood will out.

I don’t know why, but the costumes in The Artist just felt right. And since Ryan Gosling’s bad-ass scorpion jacket from Drive can’t win…

Art Direction

The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

Will Win: Hugo
Should Win: Hugo

The Art Directors Guild honored Harry Potter and Hugo in the Fantasy and Period categories respectively (which is interesting because you could make an argument for Hugo being fantasy). And while I think the Academy might be looking for ways to honor the Harry Potter series as a whole (which is part of why I’m favoring it over Lady in Makeup), I think the momentum of “most nominated” will  put Hugo over the top.

Hugo made better use of 3D than most films, and part of that had to do with the Art Direction. The interior of that clock alone is worth a win.

Music (Original Score)

The Adventures of Tintin
The Artist
Hugo
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse

Will Win: The Artist
Should Win: The Artist

BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, and Golden Globes agree. Best Music = The Artist. Not exactly a tough pick. That’s pretty much the only sound in the movie.

And I agree. For the movie to work, the music has to work. And the movie really, really works.

Music (Original Song)

“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets
“Real in Rio” from Rio

Will Win: “Man or Muppet”
Should Win: “Man or Muppet”

The rules surrounding the choice of best song (section IV-C) nods indicate that there’s a threshold of votes a song needs to get to be nominated. If only one eligible song gets enough votes, then the song with the next most votes gets nominated as well, just to, you know, make it a race. We don’t know which of these two (or if only one) got enough votes, but I have a guess.

“Real in Rio” is a perfectly fine song. But “Man or Muppet” has all the great song structure and lyrical wit songwriter Bret McKenzie brought to the best Flight of the Conchords tunes. It actually reminds me how strong their songs were even if you discount the humor.

Foreign Language Film

Bullhead
Footnote
In Darkness
Monsieur Lazhar
A Separation

Will Win: A Separation
Should Win: A Separation

Where this gets tricky is the fact that the best-known foreign-language film ain’t necessarily the most likely to win. In some cases (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; The Sea Inside) being nominated in another category seems a boon, in others (Biutiful, Amelie) it doesn’t help. Here, I just can’t think of anything else that’s on the radar, but A Separation‘s Best Original Screenplay nod could work against it here. At least Critics’ Choice and BAFTA have also signed off on it.

I haven’t really seen any of these, and the only other comparably lauded foreign flick from 2011 is The Skin I Live In, which ain’t nominated.

Next: Admit it. When you saw the Real Steel trailer you thought to yourself, “This is just a cynical play for an Oscar.”