It’s Academy Awards season, and that means that it’s time for America’s favorite spectator sport: predicting who’s gonna win. But how can you make a good bet in your office Oscar pool without having seen all the movies? Simple-by seeing what sort of thing the Academy has gone for in the past, and following the system.
You see, these aren’t my opinions on what should win, heavens, no. I don’t have any emotional attachments here. I’m just a pretty good handicapper of horses. But don’t worry; your correspondent will explain his decisions along the way.
Without further ado, my predictions for what will win the Oscars in 2007.
ACTOR: Forest Whitaker
He played against type and took a big risk. Oscar likes that. It’s not quite on the level of transforming oneself physically, but it’s close. (Peter O’Toole has no chance because they gave him Lifetime Achievement.
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Eddie Murphy
There’s just a lot of buzz, plain and simple.
ACTRESS: Helen Mirren
The only thing preventing her from winning is if one of the other women dies and folks get sentimental.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Hudson
This is traditionally the category where Oscar likes to pick a fresh or unrecognizable face. Hudson’s got a lot of buzz. My second choice would be Adriana Barraza-they may go with a true dark horse, ya never know.
ANIMATED FEATURE: “Cars”
I don’t care if “Happy Feet” has more buzz, these people carry a torch for Pixar you can see from a mile away.
ART DIRECTION: “Pan’s Labyrinth”
Courtesy of Roger Ebert, here’s the rule about picking Oscars: replace ‘Best’ with ‘Most’. Most Art Direction, Most Visual Effects, Most Makeup, Most Acting. This is not to speak pejoratively of the nominees or winners, only to guide the betting man toward the likely choice. You need to pick something where a voter can recognize and remember the choices made in the category.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: “Pan’s Labyrinth”
I foresee this sweeping a lot of the ‘technical’ (God, I hate that word in this context) awards.
COSTUME DESIGN: “Dreamgirls”
The only other thing I could see winning is “Marie-Antoinette” but I don’t think the film itself has enough good will. Only the period pieces have a chance here; remember, it’s Most Costume Design.
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
I think this is the year they finally throw poor Marty a bone. They don’t call it the Apology Awards for nothin’.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: “An Inconvenient Truth”
This was a big movie and made an impact, and also there are no Holocaust films to stand in its way. (Oscar rule: Holocaust trumps all. Fact.)
DOCUMENTARY SHORT: “The Blood of Yingzhou District”
I’ve never heard of any of these movies but this one sounds like it’s got the right trappings.
EDITING: “The Departed”
It’s Thelma Schoonmaker, people. Don’t you dare bet against her ‘less you got a reason.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “Pan’s Labyrinth”
Lock. Like “Crouching Tiger” before it, lots of people have seen this and are ready to get behind it.
MAKEUP: “Pan’s Labyrinth”
I can’t see either of the other choices drawing the votes, although at least no one involved with “Click” has made any anti-Semitic remarks recently.
MUSICAL SCORE: “The Good German”
I have a feeling this is going to be an Apology Award for Thomas Newman. His number’s come up quite a lot.
MUSIC (SONG): “Cars”
(1) Pixar love as discussed, (2) all the “Dreamgirls” votes are going to cancel each other out.
BEST PICTURE: “The Departed”
Like I said, it’s Marty’s time. As the armchair voters on Ain’t-it-Cool-News might say, “SCORSESE GOTTA EAT”.
SHORT FILM (ANIMATED): “The Little Matchgirl”
I’ve actually seen this one, and it has all the right trappings: Disney magic, heart-wrenching material and pretty animation to boot.
SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION): “West Bank Story”
A touch of whimsy, plus a potential political message about Jews and Israel and such-a pet topic in Oscar territory if ever there was one (recall Vanessa Redgrave’s unpopular pro-Palestine speech). It’s got the elements. I’m torn between this and “Binta y la Gran Idea” for sheer lovability, as concepts go.
SOUND EDITING: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
No one actually knows what this category is about but this movie has the most sound effects including lots of nice gunfire or something so it will win. Side note: watching some poor pretty-but-dim starlet helplessly reading the description of this award off the teleprompter is one of the highlights of the show for me, and hopefully you.
SOUND MIXING: “Dreamgirls”
It has music. People understand that, sort of. This isn’t the sort of category you can overanalyze-I mean, come on, they let Keira Knightley vote on these.
VISUAL EFFECTS: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
Most Visual Effects. Move along, people.
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY): “Children of Men”
This is a hard one, but I feel like this will be the Academy’s chance to share the wealth a bit.
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY): “Little Miss Sunshine”
A quirky comedy people can get behind, and certainly the film I sense the most buzz from in terms of the writing.
If you win anything betting on the Oscars according to these choices, please forward me a dollar. Other than that, happy moviegoing and enjoy the show!