American Madness

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Predictions before Tuesday morning

Posted by Jason Ihle | 3 Comments

OscarsHere are my full predictions for the Academy Award nominations, scheduled to be announced Tuesday morning. I never make predictions in the Documentary, Foreign Film and Short film categories, but all others are here.

Let’s see how I do and then follow up with commentary later in the week.

Best Picture - With 10 nominees this year the category feels rather bloated and will certainly let in more than a couple of films that will make you scratch your head with wonder about whether it really is one of the best films of the year and deserving of such recognition.

I’d say the top 8 films on my list below have a pretty solid lock on a nomination. The last two spots are tough calls. You have to weigh the driving force of Harvey Weinstein behind Nine and A Single Man. But Nine was just short of awful and A Single Man (unseen by me) doesn’t seem to be as widely touted as other films. Crazy Heart (also unseen by me) could ride the wave of Jeff Bridges’ performance. The Messenger is a timely choice, being about two soldiers whose job it is to inform next of kin of the deaths of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. District 9 was a very well-received sci-fi film. And I’ve got a warm spot for Fantastic Mr. Fox which I thought was really great. The Road is excellent, but I don’t really think it has a great chance. I don’t understand why I don’t see anyone talking about The White Ribbon being nominated here. It’s as if foreign films are relegated to the back of the bus. There’s also the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man. It speaks to a niche market, but one that is abundant in Hollywood. Although I don’t know if the Academy is still populated by enough Jews who are connected enough to that culture to fully appreciate how that film gets to the core of Jewish suffering. For the final two spots I’m going to go with A Single Man and A Serious Man, if for no other reason than the similar titles may confuse older voters (like what happened some years ago with Pat Buchanan and Al Gore).

The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air
Inglourious Basterds
An Education
A Serious Man
A Single Man

Best Director - Without a doubt we’ll see Bigelow competing against ex-husband Cameron. And it’s hard to see it going any way other than the final three spots for those listed below.

Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
James Cameron (Avatar)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)
Lee Daniels (Precious).

Best Actress - I can’t believe that starting on Tuesday, Academy Award Nominee Sandra Bullock will enter the lexicon as a completely un-ironic phrase. Let me say that her performance in The Blind Side may actually be her best. It’s certainly better than the mediocre acting people thought was great acting in Crash, but she’s still just a little better than average. Yet when a formerly not particularly great, very popular actress turns in something that is as good as what we should expect from a professional Hollywood actor, it’s hailed as momentous. Sorry, I don’t see it. She’s probably gonna win the damn thing too. It’s like Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, but not as good.

So of the four remaining slots you can expect to see Sidibe, Mulligan and Streep. Although I’ve not seen her film yet, the final spot will likely go to Mirren. Emily Blunt was fine in The Young Victoria, but she’s not quite there yet. Abbie Cornish was incredible in Bright Star and I’m sorry to say she won’t get the recognition this year. And I am baffled by the complete absence of Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist) in the discussion of the Best Actress nominees. She won the award at Cannes last year and in my opinion her performance was about the only redeeming feature of that film.

Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
Carey Mulligan (An Education)
Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
Helen Mirren (The Last Station)

Best Actor – This list of 5 is pretty solid:
Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
George Clooney (Up in the Air)
Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Colin Firth (A Single Man)
Morgan Freeman (Invictus)

Supporting Actress – My biggest hope is that no one from Nine is nominated because they’re just a bunch of stars making appearances without creating characters. You can be pretty sure we’ll see Mo’Nique winning the Oscar. The also-rans will be Farmiga and Kendrick. The final two spots are tough to call. It could be Julianne Moore (A Single Man), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Samantha Morton (The Messenger), Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) and either Marion Cotillard or Penélope Cruz (both Nine). I’m going to choose Morton and Kruger.

Mo’Nique (Precious)
Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air)
Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)
Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds)
Samantha Morton (The Messenger)

Supporting Actor – Waltz can already clear a place on his mantle for the Oscar and put his name on the list of actors Quentin Tarantino has rescued from obscurity. I wouldn’t say any other performance is a lock for a nomination except maybe Tucci, who had two very good roles (really after a whole career full of them) in The Lovely Bones and Julie & Julia but the former is more showy. My personal feeling is that the character wasn’t written well-enough for Tucci to have given a great performance, but he’ll get the nod. After that it’s tricky. We can probably expect Damon, who is perhaps more deserving of a lead actor nod for The Informant!. Then there’s Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Alfred Molina (An Education), and Peter Capaldi (In the Loop). Capaldi is so deserving, but I don’t think it will happen. Alec Baldwin was truly great and I’m going to go out on a limb and say he’ll be recognized. The last spot I’m giving to Molina. But Harrelson and Plummer got the SAG nominations. I expect to score 3/5 in this category.

Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Matt Damon (Invictus)
Alec Baldwin (It’s Complicated)
Alfred Molina (An Education)

Original Screenplay - Please not James Cameron for his dreadful Avatar screenplay.
Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man)
Bob Petersen and Pete Docter (Up).
For the final spot I’m going to favor Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for 500 Days of Summer over The Hangover.

Adapted Screenplay:
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air)
Nick Hornby (An Education)
Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious)
Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart)
Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach (Fantastic Mr. Fox)

Animated Feature – For only the second time there will be 5 nominees in this category. And it was a great year for animated films.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog;

Either of the last two could go to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (unseen by me).

In the more technical categories it’s so hard to gauge what will be nominated. There are the films I’ve seen and think are likely to be recognized, but also many not-so-great films I’ve not seen that have really good art direction or excellent sound design.

Film Editing:
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air
Inglourious Basterds
It’s Complicated

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Where the Wild Things Are
The White Ribbon

Art Direction:
Sherlock Holmes
The Young Victoria
A Single Man

Costume Design:
Coco Before Chanel
The Young Victoria
Sherlock Holmes

Original Score: Strange rules have dictated the ineligibility of certain scores like that of Where the Wild Things Are, a joint effort between Carter Burwell and Karen O. Also Brian Eno’s etheral score for The Lovely Bones (by his own choice) and T Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton’s Crazy Heart score, which was not pushed by the studio in order to focus on the two eligible original songs.

James Horner (Avatar)
Michael Giacchino (Up)
Abel Korzeniowski (A Single Man)
Marvin Hamlisch (The Informant!)
Elliot Goldenthal (Public Enemies)

Original Song: All the more difficult to predict for two reasons. One is that the voting system in this category allows for the possibility of having from 2 – 5 nominees, or no award at all. Two is that quite often a song is nominated from an otherwise mediocre film, which is why I’ve included the Paul McCartney song from Everybody’s Fine. Although not the crappy U2 song “Winter” from Brothers.

“The Weary Kind” (Crazy Heart)
“Colorblind” (Invictus)
“(I Want To) Come Home” (Everybody’s Fine)
“Down in New Orleans” (The Princess and the Frog)

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
District 9
The Young Victoria

Visual Effects: I remember the days when it was pretty easy to determine the three nominees in this category. Avatar is an obvious shoe-in, but the other 6 finalists include the 2 predictions below plus Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Terminator Salvation. Who’s to say (apart from the expert members of the VFX branch of the Academy) what the best 3 of the 7 are? And films that didn’t even make it past the semi-final stage include G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Where the Wild Things Are and Watchmen.

District 9

The Hurt Locker
Star Trek

Sound Editing:
The Hurt Locker
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen


3 Responses to “Predictions before Tuesday morning”

  1. Jason Ihle
    February 2nd, 2010 @

    Quick comment, but I have to leave for work in about 15 minutes:

    36/45 (80%) in the top categories.

    The Blind Side for Best Picture? Really? District 9? Really? This is the result of opening it to 10 nominees. Well, the Academy will achieve its desire result. Popular films nominated in top categories (Avatar, Blind Side, District 9) will turn into bigger TV audience. Unfortunate side effect: less prestige to be nominated for best picture.

    Up is the second animated film nominated for Best Picture. But as the Beauty and the Beast was nominated in a field of 5 contenders, we’ll call this the “Roger Maris Record”.

    Kathryn Bigelow is only the 4th woman ever nominated for Best Director and has a very strong chance of being the first to win it.

    Lee Daniels: After John Singleton, second black person nominated for Director.

    Best Actor and Best Actress: as predicted. Meryl Streep (now with 16 nods including 3 for supporting actress) has now bested Kathrine Hepburn’s 12 nominations for lead actress.

    Supporting Actress: no big surprises, but Maggie Gyllenhaal wasn’t as expected. Penelope Cruz? Really?

    Supporting Actor: no big surprises again. It could have gone several ways.

    Adapted Screenplay: In the Loop is a nice surprise here.

    Animated Feature: The Secret of Kells? Where’d that come from?

    Song: Sorry, but Randy Newman’s music for The Princess and the Frog was mostly forgettable.
    Certainly not worthy of the two nominations he’s got.

    Overall 68/96 or about 71%. Not bad. And if you combine the two sound categories (because it’s not as if my untrained ears can really understand the difference) then you can mark me a little higher. I had Transformers in Sound Editing but it was nominated for Sound Mixing. Vice Versa for Up.

    More to follow.

  2. Jason Ihle
    February 2nd, 2010 @

    Back to say a bit more now.

    Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: Composer John Williams has now had his longest dry spell without a nomination (4 years) since his first in 1968.

  3. Joaquin
    October 11th, 2015 @

    sorry for hogging the taherd, but anyway:the academy has never awarded a science fiction movie with best picture, so it would not be any kind of upset here to give the award to inglorious basterds or up in the air.cinematography and director should be a slam dunk for cameron though. if this were any other field, science or music or engineering or art, there would not even be a discussion here. the development of, and correct usage of, the 3D camera would be the cinematography award. not only did he invent it from scratch, but cameron has shown how to properly frame and focus the fusion 3D camera so the result is immersive and background information, rather than making it IN YOUR FACE.many major directors now want to copy this technique. scorcese, spielberg, et cetera. this is THE measure for how important something was. in effect, every director who wants to use cameron’s 3D camera is giving him a citation, exactly the same as in science or medicine or music. this is the process used in selecting nobel prizes and grammy awards. nobody is going to copy bigelow’s camera work, because all she did was imitate what michael mann and paul greengrass have already been doing with hand held cameras. she didn’t even do it as well as them.the director award would be for cameron’s development of the virtual cam, which enabled him to direct the actors as they will appear in the rendered version of the movie. he is the first person to solve this problem for motion capture, a problem which has resisted zemeckis’ best efforts for over 10 years. the virtual cam takes the guess work of the acting, so the the director sees exactly what the actors are doing instead of telling them what to do and then hoping it looks right after the computer guys get done animating it. he took the whole process away from the computer guys and put it back into the director’s hands.note again the directors who are now planning to copy cameron’s work on avatar: spielberg, scorcese, zemeckis, and plenty of others like jackson, soderbergh, and the widely hated michael bay. come on, it’s obvious who the best director was here. although cameron certainly does not need a pat on the back and a golden statue, the academy should try to retain some credibility and award the correct person.

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