Oscar

Predicting the Oscars against the odds

Originally posted as part of Road to the Gold, an Oscar blog on LALoyolan.com. For original, please refer to: Road to the gold: Predicting the Oscars against the odds – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Oscar

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The months of anticipation and blind predictions come to a head this Sunday at the Academy Awards. Amateur and professional prognosticators alike await the Oscars like it’s Hollywood’s holy night. No more second-guessing – the predictions are locked in and all one can do is wait.

While the show itself is likely to be fun and full of good speeches by winners in pretty dresses and sharp tuxedos, the real thrill comes from seeing how well you could read the cards and anticipate who the victors will be. So often, prognosticators will be proven wrong. Occasionally, they’ll be very right. But it’s always an anxiety-filled experience waiting for each of the envelopes to be opened.

Most who attempt to predict what and who will win stick to the eight primary categories: Best Director, Writing (original screenplay and adapted screenplay), all four acting categories and Best Picture. In that spirit, I present to you my predictions for the big races at this Sunday’s Academy Awards.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

I’d love to see Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s sharp “Bridesmaids” script take the win. It’s so rare to see comedy recognized at the Oscars, but the screenplay about seven different women and one ridiculous wedding party deserves recognition. That said, I don’t think anything can beat Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” screenplay.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Three of the nominees here are also nominated for Best Picture. While the “Hugo” screenplay is larger than life and Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian crafted a really smart script for “Moneyball,” look no further than the rich complexities in the simple subject of “The Descendants” to take the gold.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

“Drive” star Albert Brooks was the major snub here when nominations were announced – the race without him is far more boring. Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) is the only one with any traction here. The Oscar is his.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

A Melissa McCarthy (“Bridesmaids”) win would be utterly fantastic, but I think another comedienne, Octavia Spencer, is a lock for “The Help.” If the Academy is overcome in their love for “The Artist,” however, a surprise win for Bérénice Bejo is possible.

BEST ACTOR

This race is between the movie star playing an unknown (George Clooney, “The Descendants”) and the unknown playing a movie star (Jean Dujardin, “The Artist”). As with Best Supporting Actress, an “Artist” sweep could prove beneficial for Dujardin, but Clooney has been racking up most of the early awards. Still, I’d give the edge to my personal favorite in the category: Dujardin.

BEST ACTRESS

Just four years ago, Meryl Streep and Viola Davis acted together in “Doubt,” and now the two actresses and friends are the frontrunners for Best Actress. They’ve each won a sizable amount of precursor awards so neither has the distinct advantage. I’d give the edge to Davis, but never count Streep out – she hasn’t won this specific honor in 29 years and some circles consider her overdue.

BEST DIRECTOR

Very rarely does Best Director award anyone other than the helmer of the Best Picture, but if there is a split, expect Martin Scorcese to win here for “Hugo.” The smart money’s on French director Michel Hazanavicius for “The Artist,” however.

BEST PICTURE

This is a race between four films: “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “The Help” and “Hugo.” “The Artist” is the frontrunner, but not everyone is as enamored of the silent film as I am. “The Descendants” is not a favorite of mine, but a lot of people appreciate the complexity of the script and Alexander Payne’s direction. “The Help” is celebrated by actors but might lack the support in the technical fields. “Hugo” is a marvel in 3-D, but voters get 2-D screeners and the film doesn’t lend itself to the simpler format. Ultimately, look for “The Artist” to capitalize on the love for cinema permeating this year’s nominee and its impressive precursor award streak. It should win and it will.

Oscar

The lamest Best Supporting Actor category ever

Originally posted as part of Road to the Gold, an Oscar blog on LALoyolan.com. For original, please refer to: The lamest Best Supporting Actor category ever – Los Angeles Loyolan: Road To The Gold.

Oscar

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Somehow, this year’s Best Supporting Actor race has managed to be the dullest one in history. This is a category that has featured four straight years of winners who dominated every single precursor with little to no resistance: Javier Bardem for “No Country for Old Men,” Heath Ledger for “The Dark Knight,” Christoph Waltz for “Inglourious Basterds” and Christian Bale for “The Fighter.” And yet this year beats all the rest.

It was supposed to be different – this was a year that saw multiple stellar performances recognized early by multiple critics. Oscar front-runner Christopher Plummer received acclaim for his performance as a gay, cancer-stricken father in “Beginners,” while industry veteran Albert Brooks was lauded for his work as a gangster in “Drive.” Additionally, different voting bodies recognized Patton Oswalt for “Young Adult” and Armie Hammer in “J. Edgar.” It looked like a year when both veterans and younger performers alike would be rewarded.

When the nominations were announced, only Jonah Hill for “Moneyball” remained among the youngsters. Joining him were Plummer, “My Week with Marilyn” star Kenneth Branagh, Max Von Sydow from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and Nick Nolte from “Warrior.” Plummer, Von Sydow and Nolte are all over 70 years old. Branagh is 50. The average age of all nominees is 62.

Certainly the nominees don’t have to be young to be interesting, but it does make the category less diverse. All of the nominees are white as well. Of course, diversity isn’t required – but then again, it’s always appreciated, especially when the performances aren’t great. And the performances this year simply aren’t great.

To wit: While Brooks was playing against type and wonderfully menacing in “Drive,” Nolte is merely rekindling an old spark of talent in “Warrior.” It’s the difference between an ambitious performance and a reliable one, and that’s the constant struggle with Best Supporting Actor in particular. It tends to reward the comfortable over the tenacious.

Best Supporting Actor isn’t likely to change in structure for some time – it is, like all others, a category that rewards what’s available. Hopefully, more films will soon give supporting actors a chance to do the same powerful work as the front-runners each year. That way, the race can become more than just a footnote at the big show.