Movies: Oscar Weekend —The Predictions!

Since so much of the traditional craft of cinematography has to do with lighting, it's odd that this category has of late become an extension of the visual effects category. Movies keep winning that look they were heavily created in post-production in the vfx bay… which is why I think Ang Lee's CG heavy spiritual parable about a boy and a Bengal tiger probably has this one wrapped up. And not just because it's bioluminescent moments are subliminal reminders of Avatar (which also won this statue). That will be a bitter defeat for fans of the legendary Roger Deakins who single handedly made this the Best Looking Bond ever (well, he and Daniel Craig's trainer). Deakins has been nominated ten times, he's hugely influential to the art of cinema, and he's never won that freaking statue. 

Will Win: Life of Pi
Might Win: Skyfall
Should Win: Anna Karenina or Skyfall

Production Designers are responsible for the entire look of a picture — the color palette, the sets, the visual bric-a-brac. But this award also sometimes goes to heavy f/x pictures. Nevertheless since "Best" often means "Most" with Oscar, for better and worse, I think this time it's going to the movie with the Most Production Design of the Traditional Variety… albeit with a twist; Anna Karenina's sets transform as you watch them.

Will & Should Win: Anna Karenina
Might Win: Life of Pi

Oscar chose well in this category. Will they prefer the death fetish ensembles of Queen Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman, the period recreations of Lincoln, the theatrical flair of Les Misérables? None of the above. This is a contest between the gobsmackingly beautiful & sumptuous Anna Karenina and the swan song of Eiko Ishioka, one of the world's most innovative costume designers (she died a year ago) on that other Snow White picture Mirror Mirror


Will & Should Win: Anna Karenina
Might Win: Mirror Mirror

I always pray that the Oscars won't become like the Emmys and reward the same things over and over again — they're definitely in danger of that since the cinematic landscape is more cluttered with franchises and sequels than its ever been. Middle Earth might well win a third Makeup Oscar so is this prediction wishful thinking?

Will Win: Les Miserables
Might Win: The Hobbit
Should Win: Les Miserables 

This category is always plagued with the "haven't seen it" factor which prevents most moviegoers from caring about it. The problem is that the rules don't require these candidates to open in the US during the film year so only Denmark's A Royal Affair (a strong costume drama with eerily resonant politics) and Austria's Amour (also nominated for Best Picture) have been widely seen. Chile's entry No starring everyone's favorite Mexican hottie Gael García Bernal (something of a mascot of this category) is a terrific movie that would make a totally worthy winner in most years (go see it!) but it's only just opened in theaters. Canada's child soldier drama War Witch and Norway's seafaring Kon-Tiki (drool-cup required if you're into hunky Scandinavian men) have yet to open.

Will & Should Win: Amour
Might Win: n/a

When they snubbed Nicole Kidman's risky slutty genius in The Paperboy (you're only hurting yourself if you haven't seen her psychic blowjob routine) I lost interest in this category. Instead we got the now grossly overappreciated Amy Adams (four nominations already???) in The Master and Jacki Weaver's able smiling from the background of Silver Linings Playbook. Helen Hunt and Sally Field were both terrific in The Sessions and Lincoln respectively but the polarizing Anne Hathaway is sucking up all the oxygen in the room. FTR: I adore Anne Hathaway and "I Dreamed a Dream" absolutely killed me (in the good way) so haters can blow me… psychically.


Will & Should Win: Anne Hathaway
Might Win: Sally Field (only if voters hate Hathaway as much as the internet seems to. Although I maintain that a third win would do a lot of damage to Field's legacy. She suffered quite a lot of "you like me. you really really like me" backlash after her second Oscar.)

I will need a moment of silent tears when this category is over. Frankly I think Argo gilds the lily way too much in its final moments with every SUSPENSE cliche in the book so I don't think it deserved the nomination much less a win. But unless they can be convinced otherwise, they like to pair this with their choice for Best Picture.

Will Win: Argo
Might Win: Life of Pi
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty hands down

A lot of people — even crazed movie buffs — don't understand the difference between these two categories. I shall try to explain in brief: Sound Editing is the creation of the aural elements and the special effects portion of the noise you hear. Sound Mix is how all the elements (dialogue, score, f/x, ambient sound, etcetera) blend together. Les Miz has had the noisiest campaign for Sound Mixing given all the hoopla about the live-singing and the orchestral ear pieces and then all the work they had to do in post to line everything up but here's something you should know: Greg P. Russell is one of the most nominated losers in Oscar history. He's up for Sound Mixing for the 16TH TIME for Skyfall. If Skyfall wins, expect that bearded man on stage to have a joygasm. 

Will Win: Life of Pi
Might Win: Skyfall
Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Will & Should Win: Les Misérables
Might & Should (Too) Win: Skyfall

I haven't seen all of the nominees here yet but I'm rooting hard for the very moving Plague, and not just because it's gay. It's also very well structured, balanced and smart. But Sugar Man, which I think is a lesser picture, has been winning lots and lots of awards and did well at the box office, too.

Will Win: Searching for Sugar Man
Might Win: How To Survive a Plague

This year's field  has been unusually combative since there's no frontrunner. The only film without a prayer of winning is The Pirates! A Band of Misfits which was the only surprise nominee. My heart goes out to ParaNorman since it's an Honorary Gay movie but I don't think it'll manage a win opposite much larger films from major studios or famous directors.


Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph
Might Win: Brave
Should Win: Frankenweenie? It's a toss up for me. (Believe it or not it'd be Tim Burton's first Oscar!)

As much as everyone loved The Avengers last summer — "we have a Hulk" — this one is a no brainer. 

Will & Should Win: Life of Pi
Might Win: n/a

Introducing the year's simultaneously Most Boring & Most Exciting contest. How is that even possible? Well, it's boring because there's no reason to really root hard for any of the men since all of them are previous Oscar winners (the only time in history that's happened in an acting category) and it's the most exciting because it's the only one five-wide race going. You can make a case for any of the five winning: Alan Arkin might win on the coattails of the Best Picture Argo; Robert De Niro might win for Silver Linings Playbook because his campaign was relentless and because he's finally trying to act again after years of phoning it in; Tommy Lee Jones might win because he's phenomenally effective in Lincoln; Christoph Waltz might win because he already won for this performance in Inglourious Basterds and he's the lead  — seriously they might just as well have titled it Schultz Unchains Django; and Philip Seymour Hoffman might win for The Master simply because he's Philip Seymour Hoffman. My hope is that they'll all split the vote and we'll end up back where we started with the original frontrunner.

Will & Should Win: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Might Win: ANYONE

My guess is the film with the most world-music sound takes it.

Will Win: Life of Pi
Might Win: Skyfall
Should Win: Anna Karenina

Believe it or not no Bond film has ever won Best Song… and very few of them have been nominated! In fact Skyfall ended a 30+ year drought of nominations for James Bond pictures. I only ask that she find a way to high-five Daniel Craig again when she wins the Oscar.


Will & Should Win: "Skyfall"
Might Win: n/a

I'm desperately hoping that Tony Kushner wins for Lincoln because he's a genius. Somehow he made a complex totally involving movie about a bunch of old men in wigs arguing with each other for 2 ½ hours. Plus Lincoln has more jokes than Argo. It's true. Argo has just one but it fools you into thinking it has a lot of them by telling it so often.

Will Win: Argo
Might & Should Win: Lincoln

I'm taking a risk in my prediction here because I don't think Amour is going home with only one Oscar. Precursor Awards have favored Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty in this category but I'm guessing their heat has dissipated enough to give Michael Haneke a well deserved trophy for his incredibly moving drama about the end of life and longtime love.

Will Win: Amour
Might Win: Zero Dark Thirty
Should Win: Moonrise Kingdom

This tends to be the area where I fail most dramatically at making correct predictions — even in years where I catch all of the nominees — but my guesses are Curfew, Innocente and Paperman respectively.

Along with Supporting Actor this is the most difficult category to predict this year. The reason being that Ben Affleck, who I had predicted for the win before the nominations were announced, was a surprise omission. With Argo out of the mix anything could happen. In most situations this would be an easy get for Spielberg but the raves for Lincoln have been heavily focused on its screenplay and its actors rather than on its direction … and he's already won this prize twice which will give some voters pause. Ang Lee arguably has the toughest assignment and Life of Pi is a global hit. But will he really win a second Best Director Oscar for another film that won't win Best Picture (Brokeback Mountain *sob*). David O. Russell could surprise since Playbook had a really aggressive campaign. It would take a miracle but I'm rooting for one of the other two. 


Will Win: Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Might Win: Ang Lee, Life of Pi or David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Should Win: Michael Haneke, Amour or Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild

This one is locked up but can we take a moment to appreciate how spectacular the whole field is: Bradley Cooper really anchors Silver Linings Playbook and makes you feel for a character that is, as written, not all that sympathetic; Hugh Jackman is the nicest guy in Hollywood and, like Hathaway, just rips your heart out in his first big solo  ("Soliloquy"); Denzel Washington reminds us why he became such a mammoth star in Flight; Joaquin Phoenix is visceral and confusing and mesmerizing as a veteran with a bad case of undiagnosed PTS syndrome and alcoholism in The Master; And then there's Daniel Day Lewis who well… you know.

Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Might Win: n/a

A lot of pundits have jumped on the Amour train here, Oscar night being Emmanuelle Riva's 86th Birthday which would make her the oldest acting winner of all time, but I'm not buying it. It's a brave indelible performance but I just don't think it's in Oscar's character to reward a foreign language performance by an actress that isn't an international sex symbol (check out your history: that's the only way they go there). And, besides, the heavily male skewing membership of the Academy tends to use this category not to reward long careers but to crown their "it" girl of the moment. Which means it's basically Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty vs. Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook (with a side of Global Hunger Games Fame)


Will Win: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Might & Should Win: Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

This was once a suspenseful category until Oscar snubbed Ben Affleck in Best Director and then suddenly the media and the industry had an inexplicable pity party for one of the most handsome, most successful, and already Oscar'ed men in the business (Affleck won Best Screenplay in 1997 for Good Will Hunting) and Argo just roared to awards life. Plus a vote for Argo is a vote for Hollywood since the movie hinges on the film industry being heroic and helping with a hostage rescue.

Will Win: Argo
Might Win: Lincoln
Should Win: Beasts of the Southern Wild or Amour

And how festive is your Oscar party going to be this year?


Nathaniel Rogers would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.