My quick-and-dirty Oscar picks (OK, not that quick)

Been lagging behind other, more qualified Academy Award prognosticators. Wait. Who could be more qualified than someone who has seen 74% of ALL the Oscar-nominated feature and short films (not merely the top prizes, but covering every category including sound mixing and catering)?

Kidding on catering, but one peeve: Why isn’t there an award for Best Casting … or Best Cast? My pick for this year: “Margin Call.” We’re talking Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Simon Baker and the devilishly handsome Zachary Quinto, who wins for Best Eyebrows. Now, that’s a cast-iron hot cast.

 
Enough procrastinating, on to my prognosticating.

BEST PICTURE

Prediction: The Artist
Pick: The Descendants

  • “The Artist” … all I can say is “f*** joie de vivre.”
  • I wanted to love “Loud/Close,” but there wasn’t enough of an emotional payoff – no “wallop,” as my friend and movie partner Ellen put it.
  • “The Help” was manipulative and rewrote history, but I could live with it winning: empowerment is a solid, inspirational theme.
  • “Midnight in Paris” was a great “Cinderella” story and intellectual fun, but seeing Owen Wilson “do” Woody Allen got tedious.
  • “War Horse” was “E.T” with a horse, meets “Saving Private Ryan.
  • “The Tree of Life”? I’d rather watch the Discovery channel.
  • “Hugo” would have to be my second choice – even the dust was 3-D!
  • “Moneyball” was the only movie I saw on the regular cycle, when it came out … it inspired previous blog posts and made me a temporary card-carrying baseball fan, but “The Social Network” may have blown Aaron Sorkin’s wad.
  • My pick, “The Descendants,” is the kind of movie that seeps into your skin, awakes your senses. I saw it weeks ago, and still remember every scene. Who would have thought a land deal and a coma could prove so suspenseful? All I hope for in a film it had: a well-told story, memorable and insightful characters, a non-formulaic and unpredictable plot, amazing performances, and, this is technical: I put a lot of weight on the opening and closing shots/scenes. The wife with the wind in her face, then the father and offspring cocooning to “March of the Penguins” – such spectacular choices. Speaking of which, I love it when movies show other movies within the movie. “Bridesmaids” did this, too, with “Castaways,” when Annie had hit bottom, felt as if she had no friends, just like Tom Hanks’ character befriending sports gear.

BEST ACTOR

Prediction: Jean Dujardin
Pick: Brad Pitt

I want someone (anyone?) to upset Dujardin’s au jus (French gravy) train.

 I’ve gone ’round and ’round on this one. There’s only one actor I can easily eliminate: Gary Oldman, who reminded me of something out of “South Park” with that poker face of his in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” … Tin Man.

And though I love George Clooney — and “love” is too tame a word — I just couldn’t buy the fact his kids didn’t find him equally as charming as I do. He couldn’t turn off the charm, not even with “the run.”
Jean Dujardin is the French George Clooney, and Demian Bichir is the Mexican George Clooney … they can’t all win. Bichir did take a cliché of a script and make me cry. But he’s such a long shot …

I think it’s time for Brad Pitt’s lifetime achievement award. As far as I can tell, I am the only one. He was intense in “The Tree of Life” as a family abuser, and I know he isn’t nominated for that movie, but he HATES baseball, and look how he sold “Moneyball” – his arc as a father, his insecurities … he showed us a different side of Brad Pitt. So I’m pulling for the underdog, in the spirit of the Oakland A’s.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Prediction & Pick: Christopher Plummer

(see previous post, “Bummer for Christopher Plummer?” When I wrote it, I had no clue he was the front-runner.)

BEST ACTRESS

Prediction & Pick: Viola Davis

But I wish there were room for Glenn Close. Maybe in the Best Actor category? heheh.

Ever since “Doubt,” I have adored Viola. She was also smashing this year in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” sharing praise with Sandra Bullock for giving that movie an emotional center. But what a shame for Glenn Close, whose beach scene with Janet McTeer should become as legendary as those from “Chariots of Fire,” “10,” and “From Here to Eternity.” I was transfixed by her performance. After the movie was over, and it truly settled within me, I sat weeping in the theater. But because Close spent 15 years working to bring this movie to the screen, and had already honed the Albert character onstage (and what brilliance in her interpretative manly movements), I’ll say that’s an unfair advantage. As for Mara Rooney, I liked her, but think I liked the actress in the Swedish version more. Meryl Streep, oh, Meryl. You were a better Thatcher than ever Thatcher was, but I think I’ll give it to you for makeup this year. Michelle Williams was a creampuff surprise, rounding out Marilyn with her Norma Jean essence. She wasn’t an impersonator; she was an incubator. Still … it is definitely Viola’s time.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Prediction: Octavia Spencer
Pick: Jessica Chastain (see previous post, “Moonlighting at the Movies”)

ANIMATED FEATURE

Prediction: Rango
Pick: Chico & Rita

Because it was the jazziest animated feature ever.

ART DIRECTION

Prediction: Hugo
Pick: War Horse

Because the horse-getting-stuck-in-the-barbed-wire scene sticks with you.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Prediction & Pick: The Tree of Life

Because it can’t possibly win anything else.

COSTUME DESIGN

Prediction: W.E.

Because Arianne Phillips has Madonna on her side.

Pick: Anonymous

Not THAT Anonymous! Now, that would be an easy costume ...

I also liked “Jane Eyre,” but the best costumes were over in the first 15 minutes, whereas Lisy Christl had to costume entire crowds authentically and also hand-sew all those noodly collars. Plus, Vanessa Redgrave’s gowns were to-die-for. By beheading.

DIRECTING

Prediction & Pick: Michel Hazanavicius

I’ll give him that one, because he WAS the movie. But I would be happy if Alexander Payne or Martin Scorsese managed to win. And I would like to cast anti-votes for both Terrence Malick and Woody Allen. I imagine Woody telling Owen Wilson: “Be more me.” Ugh. He even made him wear his pants like him.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Prediction: Undefeated

But I didn’t get to see it.

Pick: Hell and Back Again

 I saw only this one and “Paradise Lost,” and this one was brilliant — and daring.

FILM EDITING

Prediction: Thelma Schoonmaker for “Hugo”
Pick: Kevin Tent for “The Descendants”

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Prediction & Pick: A Separation

 If I could select this for Best Picture overall, I would.

MAKEUP

Prediction & Pick: Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland for “The Iron Lady”

MUSIC (Original Score)

Prediction: Ludovic Bource for “The Artist”
Pick: Howard Shore for “Hugo”

MUSIC (Original Song)

Haven’t seen either movie or listened to either song yet. I’ll decide tonight, but I’m leaning toward “Rio.” Coin toss.

SOUND EDITING

Prediction: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Because voters are gonna wanna give it something.

Pick: Drive

Because this was an AWESOME movie. It’s “Taxi Driver” for stunt men.

SOUND MIXING

Prediction & Pick: Hugo

VISUAL EFFECTS

Prediction & Pick: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

WRITING (Adapted Screenplay)

Prediction: The Descendants

And I’d be thrilled for it, but I am faulting it for its narration.

Pick: Moneyball

Because OMIGOD how did they turn THAT dry book into a gripping MOVIE?

WRITING (Original Screenplay)

Prediction: Midnight in Paris
Pick: A Separation

“Margin Call” was quite interesting, but it was written in code. “Bridesmaids” was an unexpected treat, but because it was half-improv, it shouldn’t count. “The Artist” had a meatier plot than I expected, but Michel will get enough overblown credit, and because it’s silent, it’s borderline writing.

Phew. Let the Oscar parties begin!!