Revenge of the Oscars

WritingOnce again, I’ve failed to update this blog regularly, and it comes down to an Oscar post. Two years ago, Moviepass helped me to see most of the movies. Last year, with a new baby, I didn’t even bother to try. This time I did my best to predict what would get nominations, and actually did pretty well. I had actually already seen a more than half the nominated movies by the time they were announced. So it wasn’t too difficult to get it wrapped up…mostly. I still haven’t seen two of the foreign language nominees, but I don’t believe that it’s going to matter, and I’ll explain why below.

I’m not sure that I’m going to be live tweeting the Oscars on February 9 this year, but you can still follow me on Twitter. I may still do it. I swear that I’m going to write to this blog more this year. I’ve got a lot to say that I’ve been keeping to myself for various reasons, but it’s getting to be high time to get it out.

Anyway, on with the show:

Best Picture

My pick: “1917”

What will probably win: “1917” or “Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood”

Why: This one is really weird. I think this will be a toss up between “1917” and “Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood.” The problem is that, while most of the movies nominated for best picture this year, they all have some pretty deep flaws. “Once Upon A Time…” has an edge for winning because it’s about Hollywood and the Academy tends to love looking in a mirror, but the ending is odd and the Academy doesn’t seem to be the biggest fan of Tarantino. “1917,” on the other hand, has been getting a lot of recognition, and although the Golden Globes are actually pretty poor at predicting the Oscars (which “1917” won), in this case I think it has enough of a following to be a threat. I like it, and many will be taken by its style of doing the entire movie in a series of about four tracking shot, even though this has been done before with “Birdman” and to greater effect in “Son of Saul.” Still, I had a soft spot for World War I, which I find to be one of the most interesting conflicts the world has seen.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

My pick: Adam Sandler (“Uncut Gems”) because fuck you, Academy!

Who will probably win: Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”)

Why: If ever there was a travesty in the nominations, it was snubbing Adam Sandler for “Uncut Gems.” Sandler gave the strongest performance of his career and if there was ever any doubt that he could be a serious not to mention amazing actor, this would have put those fears to rest. But Sandler’s “brand” seems to have marked him and prevented a more than deserved nomination for this film. As such, Joaquin Phoenix is the favorite to take home the award for “Joker.” Despite the film having its issues (not to mention some undeserved controversies), acting was not one of them. Phoenix definitely gave it his all and it shows, making him the one to beat.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

My pick: Renée Zellweger (“Judy”)

Who will probably win: Renée Zellweger (“Judy”)

Why: Of the nominees, Renée Zellweger is the one to beat. Aside from just putting in a strong performance, this is the type of role that the Academy usually eats up, namely portraying a real person, particularly someone who was in show business. The only real other contender here would be Charlize Theron who channeled Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell” so amazingly that she was nearly unrecognizable (more on this later). However, given the controversies that surround Megyn Kelly, this award is still going to belong to Zellweger.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

My pick: Joe Pesci (“The Irishman”)

Who will probably win: Brad Pitt (“Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood”)

Why: Brad Pitt very likely has this one on lock down, and not undeservedly so. He gives an excellent not to mention entertaining performance. But my personal favorite is Joe Pesci who essentially came out of retirement to play a low-key and subtly menacing role in “The Irishman” that just has a great edge to it, in my opinion.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

My pick: Scarlett Johansson (“Jojo Rabbit”)

Who will probably win: Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”)

Why: When it comes to empathy and strong character while playing a supporting role, Scarlett Johansson embodied this as Jojo’s mother in “Jojo Rabbit.” She was probably one of the best parts of that film. However, Laura Dern, despite hardly having much time in Marriage Story, does do well and has been doing well on the awards circuit so far. As such, I give her the edge on taking home this award, even though not my personal favorite among the nominees..

Best Achievement in Directing

My pick: Sam Mendes (“1917”)

Who will probably win: Sam Mendes (“1917”)

Why: The seamless movement of “1917” is visually very interesting to watch and the direction provided by Sam Mendes is no small contributor to it. Getting the kind of consistency between takes to it appear like that is extraordinarily difficult (Fun Fact: It’s not really one take, just shot and edited very cleverly to make it seem that way). For this reason, I give it the advantage in the Directing category.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

My pick: “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”

Who will probably win: “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”

Why: Tarantino is nothing if not a master of the screenplay and the Academy knows it. He’s one of the best and most original screenwriters living and doesn’t have much competition whenever he’s nominated in this category.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

My pick: “Jojo Rabbit”

Who will probably win: “Little Women”

Why: Taika Waititi took a very difficult subject and made a sublime film with with “Jojo Rabbit.” However, he has some very stiff competition, particularly from Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women.” I suspect that there’s enough bitterness over her being snubbed in the Directing category that some may vote for her here on that fact alone. Not that she doesn’t deserve it. She did a fantastic job with the screenplay (which I’ll admit I have not read the source material), but my personal favorite remains “Jojo Rabbit” for tackling something a little more original.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

My pick: “Klaus”

Who will probably win: “Klaus”

Why: While I usually say that the nominees reflect how the Academy doesn’t understand animation, this year didn’t seem to be a great year for animation in general. There wasn’t much that stood out or that I would consider Oscar-worthy. But I was very surprised by “Klaus.” It seemed to come out of nowhere and was a very touching story with a very interesting visual style. Some of the character designed even seemed to channel Don Bluth, one of my favorite animators of all time. It’s the stand out film in a category that seemed rather “meh” for this year.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

My pick: “Parasite”

Who will probably win: “Parasite”

Why: I was unable to see two of the films in this category (“Les Misérables” and “Corpus Christi”), but that doesn’t matter. Bong Joon-Ho has created a great crossover film that is unfortunately going to have an uphill battle in other categories because it is a foreign language film. That, however, makes it a lock in this category.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

My pick: “The Lighthouse”

Who will probably win: “1917”

Why: While my personal favorite in Cinematography this year was the beautifully shot “The Lighthouse,” let alone it’s technical prowess (seriously, I don’t think people understand how difficult it is shoot in black and white make it look that good), this will likely go to the deserving “1917.” Achieving what they did with the tracking shots and making them that smooth to edit seamlessly together is quite a brilliant accomplishment, and I wouldn’t be disappointed with this film taking the award.

Best Achievement in Editing

My pick: “Ford v Ferrari”

Who will probably win: “Ford v Ferrari”

Why: Among the nominated films in general this year, “Ford v Ferrari” is probably the most fun, but I think it’s unlikely to take home any awards other than Film Editing. Editing together the fast-paced racing segments is difficult to say the least, but manages to accomplish this without losing the audience in the action and confusing anyone about where everyone is or what’s going on. I’m kind of surprised that “1917” didn’t get a nomination here, though.

Best Achievement in Production Design

My pick: “1917”

Who will probably win: “1917”

Why: Among the nominees in Production Design this year, “1917” stands out. As opposed to recreating houses and basic structures, “1917” painstakingly recreates the battlefield of World War I, recreating the desolation and, thus, the tension of walking through No Man’s Land, as well as bombed out structures and trenches. As such, it makes itself unique among the nominees, and therefore more noticeable.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

My pick: “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”

Who will probably win: “Little Women”

Why: When it comes to Costume Design. the Academy loves a period piece, often the older the better, so this will likely go to “Little Women.” However, personally, the recreation of Hollywood in the late ’60s/early ’70s in “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood” was in no small part due to the costumes and was a major part of the movie’s charm. Hence, it gets my vote. Honestly, “Rocketman” should have gotten a costume nod for the impressive recreations of some of Elton John’s most iconic outfits.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

My pick: “Bombshell”

Who will probably win: “Judy”

Why: Like “Parasite,” “Bombshell” has an uphill battle where it’s nominated, but more having to do with it’s subject matter. However, no one can deny the Makeup and Hairstyling nomination it received. The transformation of Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly is uncanny, and John Lithgow absolutely looks of the part of Lucif…er, I mean Roger Ailes. However, simply because of the subject and because Hollywood does seem to like looking at itself, I give a slight edge to “Judy” actually winning the Oscar.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

My pick: 1917″

Who will probably win: 1917″

Why: The tension in “1917” is due in no small part to the music. While very low-key and mostly relegated to the background, as opposed to being in your face like “Star Wars,” it blends perfectly to create an overwhelming sense of dread.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

My pick: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”

Who will probably win: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”

Why: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” is a standout among the nominees. I’m kind of surprised that “Rocketman” didn’t get more nominations, especially for Costume Design, but then again it seems like the kind of movie that the Academy isn’t quite sure what to do with. Plus, it would be cool to see Elton John and Bernie Taupin finally win an award together.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

My pick: “1917”

Who will probably win: “1917”

Why: When it comes to the sound awards, always bet on the war movie. “1917” is pretty much a lock for this one.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

My pick: “1917”

Who will probably win: “1917”

Why: See the comment for Sound Mixing. This one is going to “1917.” It will be a major upset if it doesn’t.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

My pick: “Avengers: Endgame”

Who will probably win: “1917”

Why: Even with the Academy not sure what to make of and no nominating comic book movies (with the exception of “Black Panther”), I’m a little surprised that “Avengers: Endgame” didn’t get more notice just because of the sheer scale of it and the culmination of ten years of films into one cohesive whole. The Academy has done this before with :Return of the King,” which clearly got its nominations and wins on the strength of the trilogy and not just “Return of the King.” This is probably going to “1917,” which owes visual effects for fleshing out the battlefields and adding to the seamlessness of the tracking shots, even if some of the green screen effects were kind of cheesy. Seriously, when the guy leaps from the cliff, did anyone believe for a second that he was actually falling?

Best Documentary, Feature

My pick: “For Sama”

Who will probably win: “American Factory”

Why: “For Sama,” a film created for the filmmaker’s daughter telling the story Aleppo, is frightening, heartbreaking, and difficult to watch. It’s a fantastic piece of film-making that I never want to watch again because of some of the terrible imagery, but it is moving. However, “American Factory” has had greater promotion and been a bit more accessible, and is easier to watch, even though I found it rather boring. As such, it will probably take home the award. It’s possible that “Honeyland” could be some stronger competition, though, just because it is quite unique in being a crossover nominee (it’s also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film), but I still give the slight edge to “American Factory.”

Best Documentary, Short Subject

My pick: “In the Absence”

Who will probably win: “In the Absence”

Why: The short films tend to be more of wild cards than anything else, and are much harder to predict. Among the nominees this year, “In the Absence” is the most emotional and moving, hands down. Not much else to say on this one.

Best Short Film, Animated

My pick: “Hair Love”

Who will probably win: “Hair Love”

Why: “Hair Love” is an amazingly good short animation with a fascinating visual style and, it turns out, a surprisingly touching story. It’s possible that “Kitbull” could upset this category (it is produced by Pixar, afterall, even if it doesn’t have Pixar’s usual style), but I still give the deserving edge to “Hair Love.”

Best Short Film, Live Action

My pick: “Brotherhood”

Who will probably win: “Brotherhood”

Why: Again, we kind of have a toss up here. However, simply based on buzz, “Brotherhood” is the likely winner. Not much else to say on that.

There you have it. The awards winners for this year. Last time I did this, I had a pretty good track record. Let’s see if that holds tomorrow.

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