Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preliminary Oscar Predictions I Will Pretend Never Happened In Three Months' Time

Welcome back to the show, folks. The name of the game is Oscar Predictions, and almost no one is good at playing it. Yet everyone tries to play and chances are you're watching intently. It's a little charade we love to play every year from October to February. Very few are good at it (Sasha Stone and Nathaniel Rogers are my personal favorites because they're in-depth and scary accurate, respectively), but really, anyone can play... Just get ready to get beat.

My first year on this blog, I didn't fare too badly at this game, getting a strong score for nomination predictions and only missing six winners. I actually did very well with nominations but utterly failing at predicting the winners. This year, I'm hoping to do better on the whole, taking fewer crazy risks and really listening to the buzz and the history.

This first round is based off of how I believe the trajectory will play out for the next few months. I preface these nomination predictions with a few disclaimers:

- If The Social Network cannot hold onto its buzz, it will hurt the film's overall performance, though not significantly.
- If Black Swan underwhelms, it will seriously hurt the film's performance in all categories other than Best Actress.
- Absolutely no one has seen Love and Other Drugs, The Fighter, or True Grit yet. I would say that the former could do a lot better than any of us are assuming, while the latter could do a lot worse than any of us are assuming. The Fighter, I think, we have pegged fairly well.

With those out of the way, let's get started with the screenplay categories. All picks are ranked by likelihood to be nominated, not to win.

Best Adapted Screenplay
(1) The Social Network
(2) Toy Story 3
(3) Rabbit Hole
(4) True Grit
(5) Winter's Bone

This is an interesting category, simply because with one exception (Rabbit Hole) the writers and genres of these are more known for their original work than their adapted work. Pixar is never known to adapt, but all sequels are automatically adapted works. I seriously thought Winter's Bone was original (and I gave it better odds of getting nominated there) because the oh-so-similar Frozen River was original. Joel and Ethan Coen are more well-known for their original works, but True Grit is actually an old Western they're remaking. Aaron Sorkin, who penned The Social Network, is almost purely an original screenwriter, and there are some circles that think this work is original as well. Sorkin, I pray, ignore them and submit into Adapted. You'll get nominated and win easily. I don't see a lot of room for movement here. I think this is one of the most secure sets--but then again, Adapted is usually my strongest category.

Best Original Screenplay
(1) The King's Speech
(2) The Kids Are All Right
(3) Inception
(4) The Fighter
(5) Black Swan

This is not the last time I'll mention Black Swan, a movie that has sent so many into hysteria and waves of praise but for some reason absolutely no one has any confidence in come Oscar time. Search me. I rank it low only because no one else has it ranked at all. Most have Mike Leigh's newest movie Another Year in that spot. Personally, I feel like the Academy has turned off of Leigh ever since Happy-Go-Lucky did so poorly, and I feel it's the type of movie that needed to be released in the summer to get good traction. But I might be greatly underestimating it. Otherwise, this category is pretty solid, with plenty of potential of being thrown into chaos.

Best Supporting Actor
(1) Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
(2) Christian Bale, The Fighter
(3) Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
(4) Ed Harris, The Way Back
(5) Josh Brolin, True Grit

I'd say only the top two are considered locks here. I've heard rumblings that Bale won't be nominated because of his reputation, but it's a super-baity role in what looks like a slam-dunk of a movie and can be used to reward his phenomenal work over the past decade from American Psycho to The Dark Knight. Garfield has a shot of winning this category if he can beat out the internal competition of ├╝berfamous Justin Timberlake and supposed scene stealer (though I don't see it) Armie Hammer, but they might get bogged down in each other if voters can't recognize that Garfield's performance is the superior one. Harris' film might not even make an impact on awards season simply because of the weak-ass release date, but who knows? Regardless, Harris has huge momentum from never winning (think Jeff Bridges and Kate Winslet "It's their time" buzz), so he's probably the film's best shot. And Brolin has to contend with Damon for the True Grit nomination, but I would bet a good amount of money that the former nominee for Milk will win out. If you're wondering why Mark Ruffalo isn't on my list for The Kids Are All Right, let me just say that he is not being discussed nearly as much as his female costars (not even as much as on-screen son Josh Hutcherson!), and the Academy has already proven that they don't really like him that much. He's gotta start campaigning to get the nod.

Best Supporting Actress
(1) Helena Bonham-Carter, The King's Speech
(2) Melissa Leo, The Fighter
(3) Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
(4) Amy Adams, The Fighter
(5) Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole

Bonham-Carter is a lock for a nomination, but I'd say her shot at winning is far, far lower. It all depends on who else gets in. Let me say first off that this is a weird, weird, WEIRD year for this category. Leo is obviously well-liked, getting a nomination for little-seen Frozen River two years ago (and, I'd suspect, almost winning that year), so she should get in. Adams is really well-loved by the Academy (what else could explain that nod for Doubt?), so she should get in no matter how good or bad the performance as long as the movie on the whole is favorably received. Weaver's performance is one of the best of the year in any category--the trick is getting nominated. Sony Classics is doing the right thing, sending out screeners first and trying to pull off another Leo-esque nomination (and hey, it worked last time), so I think this should work. Wiest is a pick I am completely lacking confidence in, but that might be because I'm lacking confidence in Rabbit Hole on the whole (almost a pun). She's easy to nominate, given her position in the industry, and I favor her over the other options (Miranda Richardson for Made in Dagenham, Rosamund Pike for either of her two films, Dagenham or Barney's Version, Sissy Spacek for Get Low), which all strike me as too obscure/British. Let me clarify that: I love British cinema. My number one and two for Best Picture last year were both British films. But they are unapproachable and a little cold at times, which is what I feel some of those performances divulge into. I will say this: if either Barbara Hershey or Mila Kunis can really get buzz going for Black Swan or any of the women can get singled out in For Colored Girls, Wiest's spot is theirs. But right now, there's a lot of internal competition going on in those two films.

Best Actress
(1) Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
(2) Natalie Portman, Black Swan
(3) Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
(4) Lesley Manville, Another Year
(5) Sally Hawkins, Made in Dagenham

The top two are in. Done. Nothing can derail Bening and Portman at this point. They're set. Lawrence may not have Carey Mulligan-sized buzz around her, but she is very good in the role and already getting major recognition, so I bet she makes it in as well. Manville and Hawkins...I know, I know. I already contradicted myself by not putting Mike Leigh in the Screenplay category but putting them both in here. The fact is, Manville has super-sized buzz around her, though I fear her name may be a little too unknown this year (her competition includes Michelle Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Kidman...) to make it in. And the Academy may just dislike Sally Hawkins. It's not unheard of. They hate the incredibly talented Peter Sarsgaard, after all. Honestly, I'm stopping myself from swapping Manville and Hawkins for Hathaway and Kidman as I write this, and I probably will soon enough, but hell, go with your gut, right? One thing: Julianne Moore cannot get nominated alongside Bening. It's just not gonna happen. There's only enough buzz to sustain one of them, and it's gonna be Bening. Plain and simple.

Best Actor
(1) Colin Firth, The King's Speech
(2) James Franco, 127 Hours
(3) Jeff Bridges, True Grit
(4) Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
(5) Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

I find it fascinating that this year is destined to be almost exactly like last year. Franco has a lot of buzz around him, but I don't think he can win, simply because he's so young. Still, he should get nominated easily. Wahlberg is an obvious favorite of the Academy, getting nominated for The Departed five years ago over Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Alec Baldwin all for the same film. That's a big group of superstars to beat as handily as he did. But the real story is around the three real competitors: last year's winner (Bridges), last year's wronged second-placer (Firth), and a young star who anchors a likely Best Picture winner (Eisenberg, recalling Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker). Unlike last year, I think Firth will win because of his momentum, but to those who don't think Bridges can win two years in a row, two words: Tom Hanks. It's happened before, and it could happen again. But nominations for the pair are likely.

Best Director
(1) Christopher Nolan, Inception
(2) David Fincher, The Social Network
(3) Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
(4) Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
(5) David O'Russell, The Fighter

Speaking of former match-ups, we actually have a repeat of the Best Director showdown from two years ago: Fincher vs. Boyle, formerly up for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire. Last time, Boyle had the edge, but I'd be surprised if either one wins this time. It's been posited several times by Sasha Stone at Awards Daily that there will be more Picture/Director splits now that Best Picture features ten nominees. I completely agree. I think that even if The Hurt Locker hadn't won Best Picture last year, Kathryn Bigelow would have won Best Director. And I'm not sure Fincher can do any better than second place this year. Nolan is so visionary and so uncompromising in his vision in Inception that it's hard to see another frontrunner. Sure, the direction of The Social Network is able, but it's mostly Aaron Sorkin's vision. Fincher doesn't seem to have that much impact. Hooper and O'Russell are here because I think there'll be great success for their films and they'll get coattail nominations.

Best Picture
(1) The King's Speech
(2) The Social Network
(3) 127 Hours
(4) The Fighter
(5) True Grit
(6) Inception
(7) Black Swan
(8) Toy Story 3
(9) The Kids Are All Right
(10) For Colored Girls

Starting from the bottom...

For Colored Girls isn't an Oscar film, really, but assume that there is now a Blind Side "spot" in the pool: a space for a heartwarming film that people can rally around as a pillar of good values. Wouldn't a racially diverse, adapted-from-an-award-winning-play film like this fill that spot quite well? Unless the reviews are vicious, I see this happening.

The Kids Are All Right is not a pick I'm super-confident about. But I think the buzz from the summer is good enough to grant a nomination.

Toy Story 3 will ride massive box office and golden reviews to a nomination.

Black Swan seems to be an absolutely phenomenal film, so forgive me if I can't understand others' resignation about granting this movie better positioning in their pools. I see it easily getting nominated in a field of ten.

Inception, like Toy Story 3, has the box office, reviews, and buzz to get nominated.

True Grit might be horrible, but I doubt it. I think it might be too similar to No Country for Old Men to win, though.

The Fighter may not be screened yet, but I think it looks golden for at least a nomination simply because it's so up the Academy's alley.

127 Hours is a triumphing story of the human spirit ZZZZZZZZ... Oh, sorry. It'll get nominated. Just forgive my absolute distaste for it sight unseen.

The Social Network would have to cause 10,000 seizures in China to not get nominated at this point.

The King's Speech isn't my prediction to win, but like The Social Network, it's ridiculous to think it won't get nominated.

Whew! That took a while! What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Little bit of both? Think I'm craycray? Take it to the comments!


Simon said...

True Grit is supposed to be a more faithful adaption of the book, which is amazing, so I doubt it'll suck very hard.

The Fighter looks unbearbly baity, but Christian Bale is due, so I won't complain.

Kevin said...

It's weird, but I've been feeling the opposite of how I "should" be feeling about those two movies. I actually am kinda excited for The Fighter, while True Grit just looks unbearable. I like when the Coens don't look like they're pandering, a la Burn After Reading. This reads so pandering to me.