MY WORST OSCAR PREDICTIONS YET! It's time for my annual Oscar humiliation! At picking winners I've had good years and bad, but the very compulsion to indulge this juvenile habit, let alone share it with the world, shames me deeply. Well, better this than Middle East policy, I guess.
As usual, I have seen but few of the nominated films, so these predictions are based mostly on ignorance and gut-rumblings. I will also say that I'm very nervous about these picks, as my Jesuitical reasoning has led me unto highly counterintuitive choices. But that's the story of my life. Now let 'er rip:
Best Visual Effects: Inception. Because it's a Best Picture nominee, and because everyone who gushes about it seems to be describing special effects rather than a movie.
Best Sound Editing/Best Sound Mixing: Toy Story for the former, Inception for the latter. There. We've taken care of two Best Picture nominees that won't win anything else.
Best Makeup: The Wolfman. A man turns into a wolfman!
Best Documentary Short. The Warriors of Qiugang. I just saw the trailers and Jesus Christ, all this stuff looks grim. The Chinese pollution and corruption theme in Warriors seems like something Oscar voters would go for.
Best Animated Short: Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage. Like a sap, I'm picking the one I liked.
Best Live Action Short: Na Wewe. A.O. Scott has me convinced.
Best Documentary Feature: Exit Through the Gift Shop. In my big 2009 win, I got burned betting against the front-runner in the category. Never again!
Best Song: If I Rise, from 127 Hours. It sounds like something a Hollywood factotum might play on his car stereo. And it's from a Best Picture nominee that won't win anything else.
Best Foreign-Language Film: Biutiful. Oscar likes Iñàrritu.
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3. Duh.
Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland. Something besides a Best Picture nominee has to win a meaningful award, and awful as this movie is, its look is highly distinctive and clever. Plus Tim Burton films have won this award three times before.
Best Costume Design: The King's Speech. Never bet against period dress in this category. But which period? I'm guessing many voters will boost the Oscar count for their Best Picture choice with this craft award.
Best Original Score: The Social Network. Yes, I agree, Trent Reznor winning an Oscar would be awesome. And I bet a lot of the voters think so too. (I know they're all supposed to be geezers, but surely you remember "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"; maybe they take recommendations in the musical categories from their less-elderly children or mistresses.)
Best Editing: The Fighter. Tough call. It usually goes either to the Best Picture winner by default, or to a perceived flashy-cutting job a la Bullitt. The Fighter has jittery-as-hell sequences which David O. Russell will not win an Oscar for, so it's this or 127 Hours.
Best Cinematography: True Grit. Roger Deakins FTW. It's time.
Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech. No way around it.
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network. Release the Sorkin!
Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech. I sweated this one, and briefly considered Darren Aronofsky, and even the Coens. Carpetbagger thinks The King's Speech will win Best Picture but picks Fincher for directing because "best director-best picture splits are rare in Oscar history, but when they happen, they usually reward the edgier film’s director." But since 1972, those splits have usually happened because the Best Picture winners in those years (Crash, Chicago, Gladiator, et alia) really, really sucked. (Also, what's "edgy" about The Social Network?) Whatever its drawbacks, The King's Speech is a well-made object.
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter. On consideration, I'm halfway convinced by Jay B's reservations about this showy performance. But Bale's in front and there's no one they're drooling to replace him with.
Best Supporting Actress: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech. Attend my brilliant reasoning! First, the last time a film won both the Best Supporting Actor and Actress Oscars was Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986. And that was by Woody Allen, a jackpot for supporting actors. Bale will win, so favorite Melissa Leo probably won't.
Till this very moment, and my fifth beer, I was going with Hailee Steinfeld. I really think that if the Coens and Jeff Bridges hadn't been so recently honored, and if the film hadn't been a remake, True Grit would win everything this year; it has deep feeling and great craft, and is just the sort of thing the voters would like to reward with a strong showing. And Steinfeld, who's the heart of the film, would be the logical beneficiary of their affection for it. But the energy is flowing toward The King's Speech, and HBC had a great year with this and Alice in Wonderland, of which she was the only really magical aspect. Well, her and the frogs.
Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech. I'm not a total idiot.
Best Actress: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right. Or am I? But they've been trying to give this chick an Oscar for 20 years. When her co-star Julianne Moore, who was equally wonderful, didn't get a nomination, I sensed something was up. It may have been easy for voters to decide that Natalie Portman will get another chance down the road. And if it wasn't so easy, Warren Beatty may have made some phone calls.
Best Picture: The King's Speech. For all the reasons you've heard elsewhere. It's lush and uplifting and a massive hit.
These prognostications are made for entertainment purposes only. I'm sure not putting money on them. See you on the red carpet!
UPDATE. LE-O-O-O-O-O-O! Clearly this is one of my bad years. Alice in Wonderland takes both Best Costume and Best Art Direction, and The Fighter both Supporting Actor awards. Hmm. Not that you should listen to me at this late date (10:10 pm EST), but it's looking more like The Social Network's year.
UPDATE 2. No it wasn't. Ah crap. 12 for 25 -- great for batting, lousy for Oscar prognostication. Well, back to tedious political subjects.