Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Likely Oscar Winners

Alrighty. Narratives are key to the pseudoscience of predicting the Oscars, I considered three possible Oscar narratives: an Avatar sweep, a Bigelow upset, and a Basterds left-fielder, listed in order of likelihood and reverse order of preference. I’ll explain below and in my personal picks in the next post.

Best Picture - Avatar. Four years ago the Academy snubbed the frontrunner, a love story, in favor of the feel-good issue movie. There followed a backlash which factored into last year's awards. Three years ago was Martin Scorsese's coronation. Two years ago the Academy awarded a film the mainstream public had barely heard of and probably would have hated by the end, which--along with a painfully boring awards show--probably turned off audiences. Last year they sidestepped the issue movie and awarded the (underdog) favorite, a feel-good love story. Lessons learned? Audience favorites, love stories, feel-good flicks, manifest destiny. Avatar's a box office colossus, features CG cat-people sex, and ends with the whole rabble holding hands and swaying, grooving with the planet; oh, and James Cameron is king of the world.

Avatar's box office momentum makes it un-fucking-stoppable, and as Christopher Orr points out, with the expanded field of nominees, the opposition is split too much to mount an upset. My mistake last year was in betting on the political angle of the Academy's cynicism. The fact of the matter is they want to maintain relevance with the public whose ratings they crave, and they're not going to do that by awarding Best Picture to the movie people were too busy seeing Transformers 2 to see.

Best Director - James Cameron, because they'll want to be consistent in their Best Picture selection.
Best Actor - Jeff Bridges. He's the favorite.
Best Actress - Gabourey Sidibe an unlikely favorite, but favorite all the same. Sandra Bullock's getting some serious attention, and some would like Meryl Streep to take another statue home, but Precious is said to basically hinge on Sidibe's performance. She's an underdog, and the Academy loves them plenty.
Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz, because people have been calling for it since Cannes.
Best Supporting Actress - Mo'Nique. Favorite once again.
Best Original Screenplay - Basterds. Not enough have heard of A Serious Man.
Best Adapted Screenplay - Up in the Air, because everyone's been talking about it, and it's gotta win something.
Best Animated Feature - Up, because Pixar always wins.
Best Foreign Language Film - The White Ribbon, because it's the only one of the nominees I've heard of, giving it a high profile.

Best Documentary Feature - Burma VJ – Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller. Because I read about it on the film-blogging site I read, and because Burma's (rightfully) a chic activist cause right now.
Best Documentary Short - China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province. Because everyone's scared about China.
Best Live Action Short - The New Tenants. Crapshoot.
Best Animated Short - A Matter of Loaf and Death. Because Nick Park always delivers the goods.
Best Original Score - Up. They're not going to give it to James Horner, are they? Even I’m not cynical enough to bet on that.
Best Original Song - "Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart. Favorite.
Best Sound Editing – Avatar, because 99% of its credits were computer programmers, and accordingly it’s going to sweep the technical awards.
Best Sound Mixing - Avatar
Best Art Direction - Avatar
Best Cinematography – Avatar
Best Makeup - Star Trek, because it makes us think of a time when William Shatner wasn’t price line negotiating.
Best Costume Design – Nine. With all that Golden Globe attention, it’s gotta win something.
Best Film Editing - The Hurt Locker. I think they’ll grant the importance of editing to establishing the movie’s sense of life out of balance.
Best Visual Effects – Avatar. Does this really require an explanation?

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