Saturday, February 24, 2007

Oscars! Ack!

I don't know exactly how this happened, but apparently the Oscars are tomorrow night, and here I am without my annual know-nothing Oscar predictions. How the heck did that happen?

So here I am, about to rush through them, because I have managed to catch in time, and because this is a tradition now, after three years, maybe four, I can't actually recall. Granted, I won't be able to stick to the predictions for the top awards in my column as I have for the last few years (a point made more annoying by the fact that I was sort of struggling for a column last week as it was) but posting them at all is better than nothing.

So, let the predictions begin, starting from the bottom of the official IMDB Oscar ballot, and working my way to the top.

Best Short Film, Live Action:
Binta y la gran idea
Eramos pocos
Helmer & Son
The Saviour
West Bank Story

Interesting to see a couple of (apparently) foreign films in the list. I like the title of "West Bank Story" as it seems to be a sort-of play on "West Side Story" but I'm gonna go with "The Saviour" as my prediction here. Who's gonna vote against the saviour? Not me, that's for sure.

Winner: The Saviour

Best Short Film, Animated:
The Danish Poet
The Little Matchgirl
No Time for Nuts

I wonder if "The Danish Poet" is about a guy who writes poetry about pastries? I know that's not the *obvious* meaning of the title, but wouldn't that make for a great play on words? "No Time for Nuts" is clearly a losing bet, as everyone knows there's always time for nuts. Always. I'm gonna go with "The Little Matchgirl" to win this, because hopefully it's a movie about a girl lighting stuff on fire. That'd rock.

Winner: The Little Matchgirl

Best Documentary, Short Subjects:
The Blood of Yingzhou District
Recycled Life
Rehearsing a Dream
Two Hands: The Leon Fleisher Story

As much as I'd like to pick "Recycled Life" as the winner under the assumption that it's about recycling (and, therefore, a hot topic in the same year that "An Inconvenient Truth" made waves), I'm going to choose the movie with the word "Blood" in the title, even though I'm not entirely sure how an entire district can bleed.

Winner: The BLood of Yingzhou District

Best Documentary, Features
Deliver Us from Evil
An Inconvenient Truth
Iraq in Fragments
Jesus Camp
My Country My Country

I've actually seen Jesus Camp, and would love to show it some support by predicting a win -- it was a fantastic, if mildly frightening, look at extremes of evangelical Christianity -- unfortunately, I think this is probably locked by "An Inconvenient Truth." Global warming has been a hot, hot topic for a number of years now, this year included, and this movie was EVERYWHERE, and on everyone's mind. I even saw an article within the last few days how an oscar win here might even push Al Gore into a run for the President in the next US election. Which is maybe putting too much power in the hands of a little gold statue, but whatever.

Winner: An Inconvenient Truth

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Efter brylluppet
El Laberinto del Fauno
Das Leben der Anderen

Hard to comment on movies whose titles you'd need to put through a translator to understand. Harder still to make jokes about them. So I think I'll just point the finger of prediction at "Water" because it at least appears to be somewhat understandable in English. And because there's a pretty groovy Oingo Boingo song by that title.

[EDIT: After seeing it's name pop up in other categories, I've figured out that "El Laberinto del Fauno" is actually the film better known as "Pan's Labyrinth" which seems a better choice for a winner here, so I've changed my official choice accordingly.]

Winner: El Laberinto del Fauno

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Happy Feet
Monster House

I can't remember if this category exists every year or not. Are there always enough animated films in a year for this category to exist? I don't watch a lot of animated stuff, so I'm not really sure, but it seems plausible, I guess. I'll pick Cars for no other reason than I think it's a Pixar movie, and for the most part, Pixar stuff rocks.

Winner: Cars

Best Achivement in Visual Effects
Priates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Superman Returns

Wow, looks like a light year for SFX movies, with only three nominations here. As much as there was some nice FX work in Superman, I'm going to give this one to Pirates, just because it seemed to have a whole lot *more* FX going on. Sure it's great to make a man fly. But to make two dozen pirates look like strange, half-fish creatures is an even bigger deal.

Winner: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Blood Diamond
Flags of our Fathers
Letters from Iwo Jima
Pirates of of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

I still don't really understand the difference between this category and the next one, how one differentiates between "Sound" and "Sound Editing." I want to give it to Apocalypto, because I suspect it was pretty noisy, but I think Gibson's getting snubbed this year, after proving to the world that he's pretty much completely batshit insane. So let's go with Pirates again, instead.

Winner: Pirates of the Caribbean

Best Achievement in Sound
Blood Diamond
Flags of our Fathers
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Dreamgirls was a musical, wasn't it? I can't remember. Sure, why not, give it to that one.

Winner: Dreamgirls

Best Achievement in Makeup
El Laberinto del Fauno

I've only seen a handful of shots from El Laberinto del Fauno, but there's some bizarre, freaky, nightmarish stuff going on in that movie, and it's all thanks to the makeup work. Besides, Apocalypto continues to get snubbed, and Click is a bloody Adam Sandler movie. Let's move on.

Winner: El Laberinto del Fauno

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
An Inconvenient Truth - "I Need to Wake Up"
Dreamgirls - "Listen"
Dreamgirls - "Love You I Do"
Cars - "Our Town"
Dreamgirls - "Patience"

Hard to go wrong here -- seems like picking something from the movie that was nominated three times in one category is a safe bet. But which one to choose? Patience, I think. Because it's a virtue.

Winner: Dreamgirls - "Patience"

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
Babel - Gustavo Santaolalla
The Good German - Thomas Newman
Notes on a Scandal - Philip Glass
El Laberinto del Fauno - Javier Navarrete
The Queen - Alexandre Desplat

What a weird category for me this year. Glass is the only composer who's name I recognize, and yet the movie he scored doesn't ring a bell at all for me. I'll pick Babel, is it was apparently the sort of movie that you feel sort of sad while also sort of poignant, so it probably had a score like that too. Big sweeping moody music is always good for an award.

Winner: Babel - Gustavo Santaolalla

Best Achievement in Costume Design
The Good Shepherd
El Laberinto del Fauno
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
The Prestige

It's usually safe to bet on the period stuff in this category, except there's a few period pieces on the list -- Dreamgirls, The Prestige, Pirate, I think Shepherd is. What's a fella to do when faced with that particular problem? Easy. Choose the one that isn't immediately thought of as a period film. And the one with lots of freaky costumes to complement the freaky makeup.

Winner: El Laberinto del Fauno

Best Achievement in Art Direction
The Good Shepherd
El Laberinto del Fauno
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
The Prestige

Seriously, with a movie that looks as messed up as El Laberinto del Fauno, how could this not win?

Winner: El Laberinto del Fauno

Best Achievement in Editing
Blood Diamond
Children of Men
The Departed
United 93

Most people have been predicting Scorsese's The Departed as a big sweeper at the Oscars this year, and tend to agree, so I'll start the sweeps with this award right here.

Winner: The Departed

Best Achievement in Cinematography
The Black Dahlia
Children of Men
The Illusionist
El Laberinto del Fauno
The Prestige

Going for the Fauno yet again, even though I'm tempted to pick The Prestige -- Chris Nolan's films always look fantastic.

Winner: El Laberinto del Fauno

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Children of Men
The Departed
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal

Comedies are rarely honoured at the Oscars, so that puts the kibosh on Borat. Children of Men was apparently quite good, but also quite overlooked. I'll give this one to The Departed.

Winner: The Departed

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
El Laberinto del Fauno
The Queen

Both Babel and Little Miss Sunshine are hot picks for the Best Picture Oscar, but I don't think they're getting that one. This category could give voters a chance to hand either of those films an honourary Oscar of some kind. On the other hand, Letters has had a lot of critics raving, and it's got Paul Haggis behind the screenplay, who's been Oscar bait for the last few years, so it seems like a safer bet.

Winner: Letters from Iwo Jima

Best Achievement in Directing
Clint Eastwood
Stephen Frears
Paul Greengrass
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Martin Scorsese

Just give Marty the damn award and admit it's at least a couple of decades too late.

Winner: Martin Scorsese

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Adriana Barraza
Cate Blanchett
Abigail Breslin
Jennifer Hudson
Rinko Kikuchi

Dreamgirls seems likely to win *something* and this seems as good a category as any.

Winner: Jennifer Hudson

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin
Jackie Earle Haley
Djimon Hounsou
Eddie Murphy
Mark Whalberg

Pardon my french, but what the fuck has happened to the world that Eddie Murphy ends up with an Oscar nomination? I mean, okay, I haven't seen the movie, so maybe this is the performance of a lifetime, but I just don't see it going to him. Whalberg didn't have enough to do in The Departed to really snag the Oscar, so I'm giving it to Alan Arkin, because he's a fine actor, and because Little Miss Sunshine will probably snag something.

Winner: Alan Arkin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Penelope Cruz
Judi Dench
Helen Mirren
Meryl Streep
Kate Winslet

Everyone seems to be predicting Mirren, for having so completely embodied her character in The Queen. Seems like a safe bet, even against Meryl Streep, who has sort of lost some of her award-winningness in the last decade or two.

Winner: Helen Mirren

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Leonardo DiCaprio
Ryan Goslin
Peter O'Toole
Will Smith
Forrest Whitaker

It could go to O'Toole, as a sort-of honourary, sorry-for-never-giving-you-the-award sort of thing, but Whitaker's been winning just about every pre-Oscar award around, so he's the one to put money on.

Winner: Forrest Whitaker

Best Motion Picture of the Year
The Departed
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Babel's been hotly debated for a winner here, and also described, somewhat unflatteringly, as CRASH PART 2. I haven't seen the film myself, but if it's anything like Crash -- last year's best picture winner -- I have two things to say. It's probably annoying as hell. And if it wins, I'll be disgusted to the point of vomit. In fact, if Babel wins best picture, I think I'll probably retire this annual Oscar prediction thingy, out of disgust for the awards in general.

Winner: The Departed

And that completes this year's list of pointless, know-nothing, bullshit opinion Oscar predictions. Hope you enjoyed them. Check back in the next few days for a post-Oscar analysis of my wins and my losses.

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