Friday, February 25, 2011

Let Me Get Out the Old Magic 8 Ball

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The annual Academy Awards telecast is this Sunday. I know, it's a bunch of rich, beautiful people patting themselves on the back and giving long, sometimes politically-charged speeches...but the dresses are pretty, so I will be watching. Plus, I really have nothing better to do. I'll probably fold laundry while I gawk at the pretty sparklies.

So, to make my night a little more interesting (what you guys do is entirely up to you), I'm making my Oscar predictions now, and we'll see how well I did come Sunday evening.

***Please remember, while I am an actor and filmmaker, I'm a really, really, really indie, low-budget one. I have no insider information. Heck, I haven't even seen all the nominated movies. My picks are based solely on my own opinions of what I have seen, what I've read on the Interwebs, and which name jumped out at me when I looked at the list. Which, if you think about it, is probably how a lot of the voting is done.***

First, the biggies:

Best Film
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are Alright
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

My Pick: The King's Speech. It's really a toss-up between this and The Social Network, and I love this juxtaposition; One, a period piece about friendship and triumph, set in a royal court--a dramedy of manners, really. The other is so thoroughly modern, that it's considered the representative movie for this generation, and is completely overrun with avarice, greed, and animosity (way to go, this generation?). Both are heavy hitters, filled with all the goodies voters love, and I think Social will rack up the awards, but my big money's on royalty.

Best Actor
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

My Pick: Colin Firth. This is a great race. Jeff Bridges is a demi-god, James Franco's an uber-talented nut, Jesse Eisenberg is breaking out as a new Tom Hanks, and Javier Bardem is...well, freaking gorgeous and always believable. Still, I think Colin Firth deserved gold for A Single Man, and I think this is the year the Academy makes it up to him.

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are Alright
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

My Pick: Christian Bale. Personally, I think Mark Ruffalo is one of the most underrated actors working today, so I'd love to see him get it. I'm also a huge fan of Geoffrey Rush from way back at Shakespeare In Love, but Bale's been sweeping the awards, and I don't see the streak ending without an Oscar in his mitts.

Best Actress
Annette Bening, The Kids Are Alright
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

My Pick: Natalie Portman. She's got it sewn up. First off, her performance was phenomenal--easily the best of her career, thus far (keep it up!). Secondly, people remember her as an extraordinarily talented child actor, so there's the "I watched her grow up!" factor. Thirdly, she's pregnant and gorgeous, and from what I can tell, exceedingly likable. She's handled the campaign with grace and humor, and I can't imagine this story ending with any other actress accepting the award. With that, Williams is consistently remarkable, and it would be nice to see Annette Bening win after so many nominations.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jackie Weaver, Animal Kingdom

My Pick: Melissa Leo. This is a qualified pick. The only way Leo loses is if the Oscar voters were turned off by her campaign. See, in most of her movies, Leo plays characters that are dowdy, frumpy, and well-worn. For her "For Your Consideration" ads, she dressed a little more glamorously, wore pretty makeup, and fixed her hair. I saw the ads. She looked nice. She looked happy. For some reason, this caused a bit of a ruckus, and it was rumored that she lost a fair number of votes for it. It seems you're not supposed to be so open about wanting to win. Oh, well. If she doesn't win, I think this is a fairly open category. Some votes might transfer to Fighter co-star Amy Adams. A few could go to Helena Bonham Carter, as voters generally like Queens. I would put my non-Leo money on Steinfeld. The kid really proved herself with her debut role. She had dialogue and physical work that would make veterans run in terror, and she nailed all of it. I'd love to see the child win.

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
David Fincher, The Social Network
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

My Pick: David Fincher. Any of these gentlemen could walk away with it. I'm picking Fincher because he made a bunch of geeks sitting around a computer not only interesting, but downright riveting.

Animated Feature Film
How To Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

My Pick: Toy Story 3. Hands down. I loved How To Train Your Dragon, and any other year, it might have had a shot. Unfortunately for Dragon, TS3 was not only the best animated feature of 2010, but also one of the best movies, period, for the year. I sobbed all the way through the opening and ending. In fact, I'm tearing up now just thinking about Andy growing up, and his sweet little ragamuffin gang of toybox friends, and...oh, darn you, Pixar! Where's that tissue...?

Okay, now the rest:

Art Direction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Could go to Alice In Wonderland because you'd think it would. I just didn't care for the movie, and found the entire design too drab and boring. Inception deserves to win because of all the detail that went into making the dreams believable, but...well, dreamlike, at the same time. Still, I think Potter will take it, for its beautiful and seemingly effortless blending of the Wizarding world and the Muggle world.

Cinematography: True Grit. All of the nominated films were beautifully shot, but I'm giving it to True Grit, for capturing the beauty and danger of the wilderness surrounding the Wild West. Talk about breathtaking.

Costume Design: Alice In Wonderland. The movie was lousy, but the costumes were stunning. Plus, designer Colleen Atwood is a perennial favorite.

Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop. Could go to Restrepo. I loved Exit, though I question its authenticity. I think it'll win, as long as voters are lenient in their definition of "documentary". This was hysterical, thought provoking, a little shocking, and just a ton of fun. Truly, a work of art.

Best Documentary Short Subject: The Warriors of Quigang. Shot in the dark. I haven't seen any of the nominated films, and for that, I apologize.

Film Editing: The Social Network. Sorkin is known for pages and pages of dialogue; long, sweeping monologues, heated arguments, and rapid-fire exchanges. Edit them well, and you have some seriously exciting drama, my friends. Edit them poorly and...well, you have a lot of talking. A lot of talking. Whoo, boy, can these people go on...where's that wrap up music when you need it?

Best Foreign Language Film: Biutiful. It's done well at previous awards, and Javier Bardem is up for best actor. I'm calling this a safe bet.

Makeup: The Wolfman. Because it would be a shame if it didn't. Sure, the movie may have flopped, but Rick Baker's creature makeup was astounding. (By the way, the director's cut of the movie is worlds better than the theatrical release, and I recommend giving it a look.)

Original Score: The Social Network. Again, it's done well at other awards, and it's one of the more interesting scores I've heard in a while.

Original Song: "Coming Home" from Country Strong. I apologize again, but I've not heard any of the nominees, with the exception of the one from Toy Story 3, and I don't remember it. I'm going with this one simply because I would hope that a song from a movie about singers and performing would be worth having a singer actually perform. Hope springs eternal.

Best Animated Short: Night and Day. I loved this short. Absolutely adored it. The Gruffalo could prove the upset, but I'm going with this sweet visual treat.

Best Short Film (Live Action): Na Wewe. Have I seen any of these? Nope. Does this one have a fun name? Yep. There you go.

Sound Editing: Tron: Legacy. Why? Because my friend Shaun, a sound editor, was blown away by it. So, there.

Sound Mixing: Inception. Like the many layers of the dream, there were many layers to this sound, and they blended seamlessly. My hat's off to these guys.

Visual Effects: Inception. No, no one was waving wands or boasting ginormous heads, but you never knew what was real and what was imagined in Inception. Every effect was grounded in truth, and the results were thrillingly realistic.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): The Social Network. It should go to True Grit, for it's rustic language, and the interplay between our spunky heroine and pickled old Rooster Cogburn, but it won't. Sorkin's computer wizzes will take home the prize.

Writing (Original Screenplay): The Kids Are Alright. It wins for being one of the most accurate portrayals of familial love in a long, long time.

Well, that's that. Tune in Monday to see how I fared, and have a fabulous weekend!

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