Charley Reed has done enough guest blog posts here that I’m no longer going to consider him a guest poster. Instead, I’m going to put his great commentaries on pop media culture under the heading Charley’s Pop Culture. Here are his Oscar picks:
Sunday February 24 marks the 85th Annual Oscars and for every Oscar season, there are Oscar predictions. However, like every year, there are some particular quirks that should make things interesting:
This year, Lincoln and Life of Pi lead the pack in number of nominations with 12 and 11, respectively, but the two films that have the strongest push behind them and are most likely to take home awards are Silver Lining’s Playbook (8) and Argo (7). Also, despite that there are many familiar faces and previous winners nominated this year (including the entire Best Supporting Actor category) there is a great chance that many of the night’s winners will be first-timers.
So, without further ado, here are my predictions for the Oscars, only featuring the categories that I have seen at least one film in:
Best Visual Effects
Nominees: “Life of Pi,” “The Hobbit,” “Prometheus,” “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “The Avengers”
Will Win: Life of Pi (Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott)
Should Win: Prometheus (Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill)
Dark Horse: The Hobbit
Most analysts agree that Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” will win visual effects and I can understand the rationale – lots of pretty-looking CGI, which falls in line with the previous few winners of the category – namely “Hugo” and “Avatar,” but I think the realness of the work in Prometheus is far more impressive. In particular, the c-section scene was cringe-inducing. The Hobbit is the only film popular enough and in the same vein as Life of Pi in visuals to potentially usurp, but for many people it won’t top the work done on the LOTR series nearly a decade ago.
Best Sound Mixing
Nominees: “Argo,” “Les Miserables,” “Life of Pie,” “Lincoln,” “Skyfall”
Will Win: Les Miserables (Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes)
Should Win: Les Miserables
Dark Horse: Skyfall (Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson)
Whether you liked the approach or hated it, whether you can’t stand musicals or you love them, you can’t deny that Les Miserables took a big risk by using live-recorded music for their film – something that had never been attempted before. What’s more, it actually made some (but certainly not all) of the songs far more powerful than they would have been otherwise. This is one case where the film with the most “perfect” mixing of sound – Skyfall – doesn’t deserve the award. Still a shot though.
Best Sound Editing
Nominees: “Argo,” “Django Unchained,” “Life of Pi,” “Skyfall,” “Zero Dark Thirty”
Will Win: Zero Dark Thirty (Paul N.J. Ottosson)
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Dark Horse: Django Unchained (Wylie Stateman)
The smart money in this category is actually on “Life of Pi” according to the prognosticators, but Ottosson’s work in Zero Dark Thirty is more deserving and probably more likely to win for one reason and one reason only – the ambush scene on Osama Bin Laden’s compound. The balance and cutting between the crew on the ground, command crew, and the people on the ground was incredibly tense and effective. Django is a dark horse because of its impressive foley work (King-Schultz’s dentist carriage, use of whips, etc…) as well as it’s particularly clever decision to swap traditional bullet effects with the sound of cannon fodder. It’s ultimately a pretty close fight between Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty.
Nominees: “Chasing Ice,” “Ted,” “Life of Pi,” “Skyfall,” “Les Miserables”
Will Win: Skyfall (Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth)
Should Win: Skyfall
Dark Horse: Ted (Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane)
I don’t think there is any real competition here – Adele’s song is popular, classic, and one of the most memorable parts of a film that saved the James Bond franchise from potentially tanking after the lackluster Quantum of Solace. I only include the song from Ted as a dark horse because I’d like to see it win at least ONE award.
Nominees: “Anna Karenina,” “Argo, “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Skyfall”
Will Win: Life of Pi (Mychael Danna)
Should Win: Lincoln (John Williams)
Dark Horse: Argo (Alexandre Desplat)
This is a category I really have a hard time with because the person I think should win (Alexandre Desplat) was nominated for the wrong movie (he also scored Zero Dark Thirty). In this category Life of Pi has the most uniqueness to it and most in-your-face approach whereas John Williams’ score is far more subdued, but if there is one thing you never do at the Oscars – it’s count out John Williams. Not sure with this one – going with the general consensus on this one.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Nominees: “Hitchcock,” “The Hobbit,” “Les Miserables”
Will Win: The Hobbit (Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane)
Should Win: Les Misérables (Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell)
Dark Horse: Hitchcock (Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel)
This is a fairly… boring category considering some other great films I think deserved a nomination including The Grey, Django Unchained, Lincoln, etc… but I am again going with flashier and in-your-face than subdued, which is what a win for Les Mis would be. I don’t think Hitchcock has a shot here, and I would be completely surprised if it won. My money is on Hobbit, but could easily see a deserved win for Les Miserables.
Nominees: “Argo,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Lining’s Playbook,” “Zero Dark Thirty”
Will Win: William Goldenberg (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty)
Should Win: William Goldenberg (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty)
Dark Horse: Silver Linings Playbook (Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers)
So does William Goldenberg win or does William Goldenberg win? This is essentially a two-film race with William Goldenberg nominated for both (joined by Dylan Tichenor on Zero Dark Thirty) and I think he will end up taking home a golden statue – though I’m not prepared to say which one with absolute certainly, Argo is probably the one he’ll win for. The only outside surprise I could see here is Goldenberg splitting the votes and Cassidy/Struthers winning for Silver Lining’s Playbook, which actually does a great job of indicating anger and love by playing with space via simplistic editing techniques.
Nominees: “Anna Karenina,” “Les Miserables,” “Lincoln,” “Mirror Mirror,” “Snow White and the Huntsman”
Will Win: Anna Karenina (Jacqueline Durran)
Should Win: Anna Karenina
Dark Horse: Les Misérables (Paco Delgado)
What does the Costume Design award exist for if not for elaborate period pieces like Anna Karenina. The film itself might not have been great but the film’s setting and take on late 1800s Russia is. Mirror Mirror and Snow White are too similar to really pull ahead of Anna Karenina, but Les Miserables is similarly adherent to a classic timeline (but so is Lincoln) so it comes down to which one stands out the most – and neither Les Mis or Lincoln really pop the same way Anna Karenina does. Les Mis may have had enough momentum when the votes were cast, however, to overcome that handicap.
Nominees: “Anna Karenina,” “Django Unchained,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Skyfall”
Will Win: Life of Pi (Claudio Miranda)
Should Win: Django Unchained (Robert Richardson)
Dark Horse: Skyfall (Roger Deakins)
Life of Pi has the momentum in this category win a couple of wins already, but Skyfall’s Roger Deakins recently earned a nod from the American Society of Cinematographers, so he could sweep in and win. However, I think that the work of Robert Richardson in Django Unchained has been criminally ignored. Sure Life of Pi is bright and colorful, but cinematography isn’t always about making things look pretty, it’s about proper placement of the camera to help tell a story and there are countless examples of that in Django from seeing Django in a broken mirror before he kills a slaver to matching camera angles with a character’s superiority (or lack thereof) in a scene – particularly when put in parallel from early on when Django and King-Schultz arrive at Big Daddy’s plantation to when Django takes down Candyland. But, actually, more importantly – why wasn’t Mihai Malaimare Jr. nominated for “The Master?” That might be the biggest crime in this category.
Nominees: “Anna Karenina,” “The Hobbit,” “Les Miserables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln”
Will Win: Les Misérables (Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson)
Should Win: Les Misérables (Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson)
Dark Horse: Lincoln (Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson)
In the category formerly known as “Best Art Direction,” it makes sense once again to pick Anna Karenina, but I am thinking that there will be a stronger push behind the more critically acclaimed and financially successful Les Miserables. Both films do a great job with their artistry and Anna Karenina actually probably does a better job providing visual eye-candy, but I think Les Miserables does more with less and deserves a win here. Lincoln could sneak in here with its adaptation of iconic spaces like the White House, Capitol Hill and Gettysburg.
Best Foreign Film
Nominees: “Amour,” “A Royal Affair,” “Kon-Tiki,” “No,” “War Witch”
Will Win: Amour (Austria)
Should Win: Amour
Dark Horse: No (Chile)
When you win the Palme d’Or and have five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, I think it’s a safe bet that you’ll be winning at LEAST this category – in the same vein as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon from a decade ago. Of the other nominees, A Royal Affair and No have the most critical acclaim behind them, but there’s very little chance they can upset Amour.
Best Animated Short Film
Nominees: “Adam and Dog,” “Fresh Guacamole,” “Head Over Heels,” “Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare,” “Paperman”
Will Win: Paperman (John Kahrs)
Should Win: Paperman
Dark Horse: Fresh Guacamole (PES)
The short film that showed ahead of “Wreck-It Ralph” was “Paperman,” which fondly recalled the classic, cute animated films of yesteryear for Disney. The only reservation I have with Paperman winning is that it was essentially ripped from a short live-action film called “Signs” that won the Cannes Gold Lion in 2009. However, there is enough variation that I wouldn’t be upset if Paperman won. However, I could see a surprise win for the independent Fresh Guacamole, which provides a creative use of stop animation to take us through the preparation of an easy and tasty party dish. (Editor’s Note: I think Paperman and Signs have some storytelling similarity, but they are distinctly different films. There’s lots of repetition of stories out there. REH)
Best Animated Feature Film
Nominees: “Brave,” “Frankenweenie,” “ParaNorman,” “The Pirates: Band of Misfits,” “Wreck-It Ralph”
Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore)
Should Win: Wreck-It Ralph
Dark Horse: Frankenweenie (Tim Burton)
I admittedly have only seen Wreck-It Ralph and ParaNorman out of this slate, but I think I am pretty confident in picking Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph as this year’s winner due in equal parts to its Disney backing, commercial success, and critical acclaim. Brave was the early frontrunner, but I think it lost steam around the time the Oscar votes were cast. The only potential spoiler is Tim Burton because, well, he’s Tim Burton, many people remember the original Frankenweenie and it’s a film that has a lot of movie references for a voting block that is savvy on that sort of things – and Tim Burton is due for an Oscar at this point. (Editor’s Note: Wreck-It Ralph was the most original film I’ve seen out of Disney animation in forever. Radically better than the derivative Brave, as much as it pains me to say nice things about Disney over Pixar. REH)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Lining’s Playbook”
Will Win: Argo (Chris Terrio)
Should Win: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin)
Dark Horse: Silver Lining’s Playbook (David O. Russell)
The screenplay categories this year are a particularly interesting group because there is an unusual case that can be made for every script up for nomination. However, in the Adapted category, I think it’s a pretty strong guess that Argo will take home the gold here. That said, if there is one award that I would give to the out-of-nowhere indie, Beasts of the Southern Wild, this would be it even though it has a very, very slim chance of pulling that off. The strongest competitor to Argo is probably Lincoln, but there is more buzz around Silver Linings Playbook and David O. Russell’s role in crafting the film.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: “Amour,” “Django Unchained,” “Flight,” “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Zero Dark Thirty”
Will Win: Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
Should Win: Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
Dark Horse: Amour (Michael Haneke)
This is a big-name battle between Tarantino and Mark Boal, who won this award for “The Hurt Locker,” a similar Kathryn Bigelow-helmed film about war and the people involved in it. That said, Tarantino deserves this award for smartly marrying two of the most dissimilar film genres in history (Western and Blaxploitation) and not only made it enjoyable, but made it incredibly successful as well. For someone who has so radically changed how people watch films, it’s a shame that Tarantino has no Oscar to his name and if there was ever a chance for a justified “make up” Oscar, this would be it. However, there is a lot of critical acclaim and buzz around the work of Michael Haneke for Amour and since he is not likely to win Best Director, which he IS nominated for, they might give it to him here instead.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook), Sally Field (Lincoln)
Will Win: Anne Hathaway
Should Win: Anne Hathaway
Dark Horse: Sally Field
It’s tough to really call Sally Field a dark horse, since her role was incredibly prominent and she was on all of the talk shows building up the background of her fight for the role when Spielberg didn’t think she’d be right opposite Daniel Day Lewis, but against Anne Hathaway this year she is. Now, I think Anne Hathaway’s role was hampered a bit by the hype for me personally, and I think she has had far better roles (Rachel Getting Married comes to mind) but out of this year’s crop of nominees the only one I would be OK with winning over her is Amy Adams, whose performance was fantastic in The Master, though not nearly as memorable as Hathaway’s. This is about as close to a lock this year as you are going to get.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings Playbook), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Cristoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Will Win: Christoph Waltz
Should Win: Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Dark Horse: Robert DeNiro
This is probably the most competitive of the Oscar categories this year with everyone in this category having won before (Hoffman is the only one who hasn’t received a Best Supporting win, having won for playing Truman Capote in “Capote”) and all of the performances actually being incredibly rock-solid. That said, the momentum is in Christoph Waltz’s corner for his second team up with Tarantino as the bounty hunter/doctor who frees a slave and delivers him to his lost wife. Tommy Lee Jones would be a similarly outstanding pick for accomplishing the amazing feat of making you root for a congressman. However, I do think that out of all the performances, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a cult leader in “The Master” was the best in its ability to be nuanced and make you believe he had a plan even as you were shown just how lost he really was. DeNiro is the dark horse here because his role was the first I’ve seen him play in about 10 years that acted like a real human being – a father with OCD who wants his bi-polar son to be happy – and the Academy really loves Silver Linings Playbook and DeNiro so that could be a surprise victory.
Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)
Will Win: Emmanuelle Riva
Should Win: Emmanuelle Riva
Dark Horse: Emmanuelle Riva
Editor’s Note: I don’t think Charley means what he wrote as his picks…. REH
2nd Editor’s Note: Charley says he absolutely stands behind his picks on this category.!
This category went from being a back-and-forth between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence early on to a sure-thing for Lawrence to a “hold on a second” come-from-behind push for Emmanuelle Riva. The three actresses have each garnered an important award – Chastain got the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama, Jennifer Lawrence won both the Golden Globe for Musical or Comedy and the Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Best Actress, and Riva won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress. The SAG Award and Globe have me thinking that Jennifer Lawrence will win, but there are always a couple of upsets and this category has all the makings of an upset.
Nominees: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Denzel Washington (Flight)
Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should Win: Joaquin Phoenix
Dark Horse: Bradley Cooper
Behind Anne Hathaway, Daniel Day-Lewis’ chances of winning for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln is about as certain a thing as you can get at the awards and so it will surprise nobody if he wins, earning an impressive third Academy Award. That said, Joaquin Phoenix in The Master really does deserve this award for his portrayal of a wayward naval officer who stumbles across a cult leader, becoming his guinea pig for a new approach on life – with, to say the least, mixed results. However, Phoenix is still reeling publicly from his too-amazing performance in “I’m Still Here,” which has soured a lot of people on him for the time being. The only real potential spoiler for Day-Lewis here is Bradley Cooper for his portrayal of a bi-polar school teacher dealing with a broken marriage and equally-broken family life. Cooper has done a lot of great work outside of stuff like “The Hangover” and is definitely deserving of some admiration of his acting talents, which this could do if he wins.
Nominees: Michael Haneke (Amour), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), Benh Zeitlin (Beats of the Southern Wild)
Will Win: Steven Spielberg
Should Win: Ben Affleck
Dark Horse: Michael Haneke
If there is one thing people have had hammered into their heads ever since Lincoln came out, it’s the names Daniel Day-Lewis and Steven Spielberg, so it’s no surprise that Speilberg is leading the pack of contenders with Ang Lee not far behind. But let’s not avoid the 800-pound elephant in the room – where the hell is Ben Affleck? I don’t care if he’s not nominated this year, he deserves the award. That said it’s likely a tossup between Spielberg and Lee with the slight edge to Spielberg. A dark horse contender could emerge in Michael Haneke, arguably one of the greatest directors of all time (living or not) and not having an Oscar to his name is criminal – a crime that the Academy is no doubt well aware of and may be looking to correct here, especially given that Spielberg and Lee both have statuettes already for this category.
Nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
Will Win: Argo
Should Win: Argo
Dark Horse: Silver Linings Playbook
I’ve had hope that Argo would win Best Picture since it came out and started receiving Oscar buzz and so I am pleased that it is the certified frontrunner for this award. Normally that wouldn’t mean anything with surprise victories from Crash (over sure-thing Brokeback Mountain) and The Hurt Locker (over crowd-favorite Avatar) but Argo has racked up so many awards preceding the Oscars and given the ranking format for choosing winners, Argo won’t get anything less than a third place vote from Academy members, which greatly helps its chances. That said, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty still have a chance but the only potential spoiler I see is Silver Linings Playbook with its impressive nomination combo (Director, Picture, Actor, Actress, etc…) because a film with nominations in each key award (including the all-important editing category) should logically be the best picture, right? We shall see.
So, with all of the nominations counted, it looks like the awards will be pretty evenly distributed on Sunday. I have Life of Pi, Les Miserables, and Argo each earning three awards with Amour, Lincoln and Django Unchained not far behind with two apiece. Regardless of who wins or who loses, it’s sure to be a fun-filled evening.