Oscar ballots have all been turned in by the members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and we’re just a few short days away from the 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, and while many already feel they know exactly which way the major awards are going to go, there’s always a chance for a couple of surprises.
Anyone else miss the days of movies like The Pianist and surprise wins like the screenplay for Precious? Me, too! And while that doesn’t mean this year will be full of surprises, we think this will be a year where the wealth is spread among a number of different movies rather than one movie sweeping every award.
Now, after months and months of deliberating, I’ve put together a list of which way I think all 24 categories will go with a couple of my thoughts on why they may go that way. Hopefully, this can help you make your own decisions when filling out your office pools or online games. (And if you win lots of money based on these picks, feel free to send me a cut! If not, there’s always next year!)
Documentary Short “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” by 2011 Oscar nominee Lucy Walker (Waste Land) touches upon the devastating earthquake and flood that rocked Japan in 2010, an event that’s still fresh in many minds. Honestly, I haven’t seen a couple of the shorts, so this could go another way. This is always a tough category to call.
Documentary Feature – Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin’s Undefeated is one of the few movies, other than Wim Wenders’ Pina which has received a theatrical release and it has all the heartwarming elements of a movie like Best Picture nominee The Blind Side. Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost 3 may be the category spoiler, being the third film in a series of docs that helped get someone off Death Row, though it never got a real theatrical release which may hurt its chances.
Live Action Short “The Shore” (Terry and Oorlagh George) In the last few years, this has often gone to a comedy, but this is too strong a film to ignore, one that has humor and drama and terrific performances by known Irish actors Ciaran Hinds and Kerry Condon.
Animated Short “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore” From William Joyce, who has worked at Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks Animation, and Brandon Oldenburg, this is the most fully-realized short in the category, one with beautiful animation and terrific emotions.
Animated Feature Gore Verbinski’s animated Western Rango has enough strong cinematic elements to win over Oscar voters of all ages rather than being seen as a “children’s movie.” (The Spanish film Chico & Rita is also quite beautiful and could be a surprise spoiler but honestly, how many Academy members will have a chance to see it?)
Make-Up The Iron Lady should get this even though it’s often gone to sci-fi, fantasy and horror movies in the past. In this case, we think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the first nomination for the franchise, will be shut out by the make-up job of turning Meryl Streep into Margaret Thatcher. Of course, the last biopic to win, La Vie en Rose, also got a matching actress win. Hmm…
Costume Design Anonymous – We think this one will beat The Artist but will only surprise a few since “costume dramas” tend to win in this category with the most obvious alternative being the other costume drama nominated, Jane Eyre.
Art Direction – Dante Ferreti and Francesca Lo Schiavo for Hugo would be his third win in a row out of nine nominations, his previous wins being for Sweeney Todd and The Aviator. His work recreating an enormous Paris train station in 3D is just as spectacular.
Visual FX Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the amazing photorealistic apes created by WETA along with the performance by Andy Serkis have wowed everyone who’ve seen the movie. While we’d prefer to see the “Harry Potter” franchise finally get its due for FX, and it does offer a potential spoiler being the last chance for it to be honored, the WETA team have already won the Visual Effects Society award, which is the strongest precursor.
Sound Editing Transformers: Dark of the Moon should win because this category is for sound FX and there are few movies that rely as much on sound FX in this category as Michael Bay’s movie, and this should be the movie’s consolation for losing the visual FX prize again.
Sound Mixing Hugo should take this one because this award is about the actual mixing of sound FX, dialogue and music and Martin Scorsese’s film should receive this technical award because it epitomizes that. While Spielberg’s War Horse could be a spoiler, the lack of support elsewhere won’t help.
Original Score Three-time Oscar winner Howard Shore’s score for Martin Scorsese’s Hugo may pull out a surprise win, being a fantastic piece of work, and we think it might steal this category from the early favorite The Artist despite it winning a number of earlier awards.
Original Song “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets seems to be getting a stronger push with songwriter Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords doing a ton of press on this, but this is the only category with a 50:50 chance so we’ll go this way.
Cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki’s nominated for the fifth time for his work on Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and he’s been sweeping all previous awards, including the ASC award given out by his fellow cinematographers. Last time he won that one (for Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men), he lost the Oscar to Guillermo Navaro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, but we don’t think that will be the case this year.
Film Editing – The Artist should take this as this is one category that will help bolster its inevitable Best Picture win since there’s a pretty decent track record there.
Foreign Language Film Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation (Iran) is a shoe-in to win, bolstered by its original screenplay nomination, a rarity for this category.
Original Screenplay Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris should take this even though the recent BAFTA loss in this category may be somewhat worrying. We think that the Academy’s nomination for the movie both as Best Picture and for Allen’s direction will help push this ahead of its primary competition The Artist.
Adapted Screenplay The screenplay for Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, co-written by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, should win with ease here, especially with the screenplay for The Help not even being nominated, but its main competition is the brilliantly-written adaptation of Moneyball by previous winners Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian.
Both of the above have swept just about every previous award of note and there’s very little stopping them now. Sorry, Max von Sydow.
The two actors with the fiercest competition, so much so that if Meryl Streep and/or Jean Dujardin win in their respective categories, people won’t be too surprised, though we think that the popular actress will finally be recognized and that the Academy will go with the actor they know over the relative unknown despite Dujardin’s SAG and BAFTA wins.
There’s very little doubt in our mind that The Artist will take home the top two prizes, bolstered by the film’s strong support from all the guilds and as diverse groups as the National Board of Review, Broadcast Film Critics Society, BAFTA and the New York Film Critics Circle.
So to recap our Oscar predictions:
Picture – The Artist
Director Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Lead Actress Viola Davis, The Help
Lead Actor George Clooney, The Descendants
Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer, The Help
Supporting Actor Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Original Screenplay Midnight in Paris
Adapted Screenplay The Descendants
Foreign Language Film A Separation
Animated Feature Rango
Documentary Feature – Undefeated
Film Editing – The Artist
Cinematography The Tree of Life
Original Score Hugo
Original Song “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets
Sound Editing Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Sound Mixing Hugo
Visual FX Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Make-Up The Iron Lady
Costume Design Anonymous
Art Direction – Hugo
Documentary Short “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”
Live Action Short “The Shore”
Animated Short “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore”
That’s more or less it for this year, although join us on Oscar night, February 26, as the Oscar Warrior will be live-blogging the proceedings, maybe even offering up a couple drinking games for those of age.