Official Oscar Predictions- Duncan

It’s finally time- a relatively anticlimactic Oscar season is still littered with a few tight races, and there’s always the fun business of predicting the odd categories I know nothing about at all.  Many thanks to Dave for the alternate viewpoints for all of Oscar week, and for listing all the nominees in his picks post, because I didn't bother.

First, let’s blitz through the categories where I’ve seen none of the films. My analysis is largely based on whatever trailers are on YouTube. So you know, you can take them to the bank!

Best Documentary Feature: Man On Wire

I used to see a lot of docs, but I saw none this year. I blame Landmark cinemas for hardly getting them anymore. Man On Wire is the only one in the group with any buzz that I’ve seen out there.

Best Documentary Short: The Witness From The Balcony of Room 306

This category is almost always four for four completely depressing- this year we have dramatically similar docs about polio still holding on in the third world (The Final Inch) and cleft palates in rural India (Smile Pinki) duking it out to sadden us with the tale of a photographer of record in a Cambodian death camp (The Conscious Of Nhem En). But I think they’ll lose to The Witness From The Balcony of Room 306, a well-timed shot about the last surviving witness to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.

Best Animated Short: La Maison En Petits Cubes

Pixar (Presto) is becoming so good it’s passé, Lavatory Lovestory looks cute but sparse, This Way Up and Oktopodi are disposable CGI numbers, so I pick what looks like a beautiful hand-drawn piece in La Maison En Petits Cubes. The only year I saw the shorts I still missed this category, so I’ve learned to go with your gut and not worry about it.

Best Live Action Short: Spielzugland

I’d rundown each film, but I have two words for this choice: Holo. Caust.

Mark it down.

Best Foreign Language Film: Waltz With Bashir

And finally, a film shafted for Animated and Documentary (depending on who you ask) should win Foreign language. Now let’s get to the categories where I can have real opinions about stuff!

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Best Original Song:

Will win: “Jai Ho” – Slumdog Millionaire
Should win: “Down To Earth” – Wall-E

Hey did you know there’s this thing called “Bollywood”? It’s like Hollywood, but for India! I know, how adorable is that? They even sing and dance at the end of the movies. If only we could give an Oscar to the adorable singing and dancing somehow!

Best Original Score:

Will Win: A. R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
Should Win: Thomas Newman, Wall-E

Don’t really remember much from any of the five nominated scores, to be honest. I can’t really think of a moment in Slumdog that wasn’t a more defined music video sequence with a full song. And I’ve watched it a bunch, sure, but all I have to do is think of the line “Computer: define ‘dancing’” to hear Newman’s dreamy score.

Best Achievement in Sound:

Will Win, Should Win: Wall-E - Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, Ben Burtt

Best Achievement in Sound Editing:

Will Win, Should Win: Wall-E – Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood

I’m not worried about what the guilds say- last year these statues went where they should, and I think Wall-E is a revolutionary sonically made film. I mean, there’s just no way a just god would give Slumdog Millionaire NINE Oscars, right?


Best Achievement in Visual Effects:

Will Win, Should Win: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – Barba/Preeg/Dalton/Barron

Best Achievement in Makeup:

Will Win, Should Win: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – Greg Cannom

No question that Brad Pitt’s radical transformation from geriatric infant to teen heart-throb takes both of these statues.

Best Achievement in Costume Design:

Will Win: The Duchess – Michael O’Connor
Should Win: meh.

I guess, from a technical standpoint, period costumes are impressive to pull off, but isn’t the whole point sort of that they could make them 200 years ago just as well? Could they make a Batsuit back then? No? Then where’s that nomination?

Best Achievement in Art Direction:

Will Win, Should Win: The Dark Knight – Nathan Crowley, Peter Lando

I say that since this is arguably the most pretigious category The Dark Knight doesn’t share with Slumdog (sorry, sound categories), then this will be where people reward it. Button is the favorite, but Art Direction never really follows the crowd.

Best Achievement in Editing:

Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire – Chris Dickens
Should Win: The Dark Knight – Lee Smith

Here, however, will be the last giant, flashing sign that Slumdog is our inevitable champ. Oh well.

Best Achievement in Cinematography:

Will Win, Should Win: The Dark Knight – Wally Pfister

You know what, though? Screw Slumdog mania! This category burns me every time I go with the consensus, so I say Slumdog loses this one and misses the sweep by three, not just the sound awards. So there.

Best Animated Pixar Film (I mean, Animated Feature):

Will Win, Should Win: Wall-E

I kind of want a pet cockroach. That’s all I got here. Now, time for the big eight!

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly For The Screen:

Will Win: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Should Win: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges

Black is essentially winning for having the wherewithal to complete his script independently and stick with it until he got it to the right people’s attention, after many other previous attempts to dramatize Harvey Milk’s life floundered. The script itself is pretty traditional, though.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published:

Will Win: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Should Win: meh.

Can’t say I really care for any of the five, not to an Oscar level. I wonder if you could guess which film I would’ve given it to instead?

Best Performance By An Actress in a Supporting Role:

Will Win, Should Win: Amy Adams, Doubt

Here’s a poorly researched, random theory I came up with: when one supporting category is a complete lock, the other category goes rogue. See: last year (Bardem was certain, Swinton surprised) and the year before (Hudson was a safe bet, Arkin was a shocker). So I say Amy Adams takes it, my favorite of the five.

Best Performance By An Actor in a Supporting Role:

Will Win, Should Win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

You know the thing about chaos? It’s fair.

Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role:

Will Win: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Should Win: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Don’t get me started.

Best Performance By An Actor in a Leading Role:

Will Win: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Should Win: Can’t Rourke and Penn tie?

Seriously, I personally can’t choose, but I justed changed my pick back to Rourke, after waffling several times.  If Penn wins, I'm throwing something at a wall.

Best Achievement In Directing:

Will Win: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Should Win: David Fincher, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

I thought, as Dave said, there was a second director on Slumdog? What happened there? But if we’re talking achievement, Button is clearly a more controlled vision than Boyle’s breathless fairy-tale.

Best Motion Picture of The Year:

Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire
Should Win: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

Of the options given to me (okay, I’ll let it go), Button would get my vote. But it’s Slumdog fever these days, even if saying that in the slums of Mumbai might get you killed.

I really, upon writing this out, didn’t feel as enthusiastic about making picks as last year (a year with multiple classics that, importantly, were mostly duly honored by the Academy). But I’m sure I’ll feel the drama before each announcement before tomorrow night.

And if I get 20 out of 24 right I’ll be super enthused. Just watch.

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