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Oscar Wrapup ’08: Genius or Idiot?

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(Please pretend like I’m not lame and you’re reading this sometime Monday instead of sometime Wednesday or whenever you’re actually reading it.  I meant to write it Monday, I swear. But Guitar Hero demanded more of my attention that I had anticipated.)

This year, there was no doubt: I’m a genius, me. Last year, I went 6-for-9, but felt particularly idiotic for missing Best Picture; this year, of the nine categories for which I provided predictions, I nailed seven of them, including the “stunning upset” in the Best Actress race. It should’ve been eight-of-nine, but I talked myself out of what would have been a right call. The details:

Best Picture: What I said: No Country for Old Men. What won: No Country. Once the Coen Brothers picked up their Best Adapted Screenplay award, it became pretty clear it was going to be a big night for them. Now the Academy can safely ignore them again until 2020. Genius.

Best Actor: What I said: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood. Who won: Lewis. As I noted with Helen Mirren’s win last year, it’s not particularly genius of me to go with the mortal lock. However, it’s also certainly not idiotic of me, so genius it is.

Best Actress: What I said: Marion Cotillard, La vie en rose. Who won: Cotillard. Here’s where my astounding genius truly shone most brightly. No other actress had as much near-universal praise for their performance this year as did Cotillard, so I was having trouble understanding why no one thought she would win. It’s rare, yes, but not unprecedented, to bestow one of the acting awards on a foreign-language performance, and I figured that if the Academy had done it before they’d do it again for a performance that acclaimed. And they did. Genius.

Best Supporting Actor: What I said: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men. Who won: Bardem. Yay me, going with the prohibitive favorite. Genius.

Best Supporting Actress: What I said: Ruby Dee, American Gangster. Who won: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton. Yup, I blew this one, though I’m glad to have been wrong — Swinton’s a deserving winner both for what was supposed to be a fantastic performance in Clayton and for years’ worth of quality work. Plus, she seems to be my kind of weird, and anyone who mentions nipple-suited Batman in their acceptance speech gets a big thumbs up from me. I like her now even more than I did before she won. Idiot, but happily so.

Best Director: What I said: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men. Who won: The Coens. It was fun watching Paul Thomas Anderson’s head almost explode as the Coens took all these prizes, wasn’t it? Genius.

Best Original Screenplay: What I said: Diablo Cody, Juno. Who won: Cody. This one was, to me, almost a lock since I knew Juno wasn’t going to get any of the other major awards. (Don’t worry, those of you who feel Ellen Page got shafted — she didn’t; winning lead acting awards for comedies might be even more rare than winning them for foreign-language films. And Page will have, I feel quite sure, many, many more opportunities to win one of these in the years to come.) Anyway: Genius.

Best Adapted Screenplay: What I said: Sarah Polley, Away From Her. Who won: Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men. Here’s where my astounding genius was most obscured by the clouds of my idiocy. This one was the one I talked myself out of and shouldn’t have: the Academy’s fondness for gifting Oscars to actors who branch out into other areas was trumped this year by their fondness for gifting Oscars to the Coen Brothers, and really I can’t much blame them for that. Idiot.

Best Animated Feature: What I said: Ratatouille. What won: Ratatouille. Yay me for predicting that one of the best-reviewed movies of the year — animated or not — would win the Best Animated flick. Genius.

So there you have it… 7-2. Pretty damn genius of me, overall. Please tune in next year when I follow up this year’s genius outing by idiotically missing three of the four acting awards and Best Picture!

Written by Allen

February 27th, 2008 at 5:46 am

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Oscar Predictions ’08

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When I wrote up my predictions for the Oscars last year, I noted that I’d seen very, very few of the films nominated for any of the major awards. This year has proven to be even lamer for me, movie-wise: I’ve seen none of the movies nominated for any of the major prizes. That’s right… none. The only nominated movies I’ve seen even for the mid-level awards are Ratatouille and Enchanted. (Hmm, I’m noticing a little bit of a commonality there.)

What’s worse, this year I really, really want to see four out of the five movies nominated for Best Picture. I want to watch Juno for the tremendous cast and screenplay — any comedy that well respected by Oscar should be just fantastic; No Country for Old Men is by the Coen Brothers, which is all the recommendation I need, even without all of the critical buzz; There Will Be Blood was written and directed by one of my favorite directors, Paul Thomas Anderson (the brains behind Magnolia, one of my top ten flicks); and Michael Clayton was named after one of the wide receivers on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so that’s a must-see for me, too. Only Atonement leaves me cold at the thought of watching it.

My regular Oscar-predicting disclaimer applies: what follows are not the movies or performances I think should win, but rather those I think will win. Given the fact that I ain’t seen nuthin’ this year, I clearly have no basis to say what I think should win. Away we go…

Best Picture: No Country for Old Men. It’s been more than a decade since the Coen Brothers have gotten major Oscar love and Sunday night will be the night for righting that wrong, culminating in No Country‘s Best Picture win. Though I’ll admit that I won’t be totally shocked if There Will Be Blood takes it — I’ve heard much more talk about Blood being a “modern masterpiece” than No Country.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood. This one’s the no-chance-for-an-upset category this year. I hope Day-Lewis has been rehearsing his acceptance speech.

Best Actress: Marion Cotillard, La vie en rose. The presumptive favorite for this award is Julie Christie, but I haven’t heard as much praise for Christie’s performance as I have for Cotillard’s, whose only knock against her seems to be that the movie is from France. But Roberto Begnini won the Best Actor award in 1999 for the Italian Life Is Beautiful, so I don’t think that’s as big a stumbling block as many may think — if her performance truly is the best, she should win regardless of where the movie comes from. I’m going with the upset here.

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men. See the notes for Daniel Day-Lewis above; Bardem’s only slightly less of a lock for this prize. I’m sure there will be some sentimental vote for 82-year-old first-time nominee Hal Holbrook, but Ruby Dee will be taking home the Geezer Memorial Award this year (see next category).

Best Supporting Actress: Ruby Dee, American Gangster. This category seems to be the most wide-open. I’m not sure there even is a favorite here. But I’m going with Dee because she’s really, really old and this might be the last time Academy voters can honor her.

Best Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men. I’m glad that the Director’s Guild amended their “movies can only have one director” rule so that the Coens could give up the credit trick of pretending that one of them (Joel) directs their films and the other (Ethan) produces them when it’s long been known that they split both duties (as well as the screenwriting). How awkward would it have been for Joel to win the Best Director Oscar for Fargo when they both acted as director? Anyway, that’s no longer an issue and the two of them will be able to share this award just like they did the Best Original Screenplay award for Fargo in 1996.

Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, Juno. Last year, I said the following about Little Miss Sunshine: “I believe this will be the only major award Sunshine gets; it seems like when the Academy falls in love with a little indie of this sort and lavishes it with bunches of nominations, they usually wind up giving it one award as a pat on the head, and frequently that award is for its screenplay. (Lost In Translation, anyone?)” So this award will just have to do.” Substitute “Juno” for “Little Miss Sunshine” and it still applies. (Not to imply that Cody’s screenplay wouldn’t be deserving; it is, from just about everything I’ve heard, an absolutely fantastic piece of writing.)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Sarah Polley, Away From Her. Since I’m predicting Julie Christie doesn’t win Best Actress for this movie, I’m giving the Adapted Screenplay award to Polley to make up for it. The Academy loves to bestow honors on actors who branch out into other fields and do it well — hell, Ben Affleck has an Oscar, remember?

Best Animated Feature: Rataouille. I mean, c’mon.

Coming Monday: The Second Annual Oscar Prediction “Genius or Idiot?” Wrapup!

Written by Allen

February 23rd, 2008 at 3:28 pm

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Oscar Wrapup ‘07: “Genius or Idiot?” Edition

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Oscars ’07 are now officially in the books, and during last night’s telecast we saw (to take a cue from Lifetime Achievement winner Ennio Morricone) the Good (awards to deserving veterans like Helen Mirren, Alan Arkin and Forest Whitaker), the Bad (Celine Dion’s overwrought and occasionally off-key histrionics) and the Ugly (a shaven-headed Jack Nicholson).

But now that we know who all got to go home with tiny bald men, I know there’s one key question you still need answered: how did Allen do with his Oscar predictions?

The answer: Overall pretty well, I think, though I certainly don’t like the fact that I blew both Best Picture winners. (Or I guessed them incorrectly, anyway.) Let’s look back at what I said on Friday and play a little game I’m going to call Genius or Idiot.

Best Picture. What I said: Babel. What won: The Departed. I did say that I was hoping Babel wouldn’t win, though I was hoping if it didn’t Little Miss Sunshine would. I also said I couldn’t see The Departed, a really high-end crime thriller, winning this one. Clearly, the ruling on this one is Idiot.

Best Actor: What I said: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland. Who won: Whitaker. Congratulations to me for going with the prohibitive favorite. Genius.

Best Actress: What I said: Helen Mirren, The Queen. Who won: Mirren. Congratulations to me for going with one of the biggest locks in recent Oscar history. Genius.

Best Supporting Actor: What I said: Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children. Who won: Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine. Even though I was wrong in my pick, I’m still going to be kind to myself and give myself a Genius award for this one since I had the principle correct. I predicted this category was the one most likely to see an upset (’cause there’s always one) and thought Haley’s comeback performance would score it for him. However, while Oscar voters did exactly what I predicted, they didn’t do it how I predicted; it would appear that they thought Arkin’s 38-year absence from Oscar ballots trumped Haley’s former-child-star-made-good story.

Best Supporting Actress: What I said: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls. Who won: Hudson. Congratulations to me for going with the prohibitive favorite. Genius.

Best Director: What I said: Martin Scorcese, The Departed. Who won: Scorcese.  Yes, Marty was the favorite here, but he’s been the favorite before and never won, so this one wasn’t quite as much a gimme as one might have assumed. Still: Genius.

Best Original Screenplay: What I said: Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine. Who won: Arndt. I was partially right in thinking this would be the big reward for Sunshine since comedies don’t win Best Picture; I underestimated the voters’ love for this movie, what with them giving Arkin his first Oscar, too. Genius.

Best Adapted Screenplay: What I said: William Monahan, The Departed. Who won: Monahan. This award was the source of one of my biggest sources of joy and my biggest predictive embarrassment. The joy: I had no idea that I looked just friggin’ like Monahan (‘cept he�’ a little beefier, I think). Seeing him stand on that stage receiving his Oscar made it very, very easy for me to picture myself doing the same thing someday. The embarrassment? I quote myself:

I’ll tell you this right now: while you’re watching the awards telecast, if you see The Departed win this award and Scorcese wins for Best Director and you’ve got money riding on it winning Best Picture — go change your bets fast if you still can. No way does it win all three.

Yeah, well. According to recent Oscar history, that should have been true, though as the ever-astute Tim P. pointed out, that’s not true historically –movies which are deemed good enough to win Best Screenplay and Best Director usually go on to win Best Picture as well. Maybe I should’ve thought about this one more in the larger context, but I didn’t. If I’m going to give myself a Genius for getting one wrong above, I think it’s only fair to give myself an Idiot for this one even though I got it right. (For future reference, any time you ever see me reference betting with regards to a prediction of mine, that’s a good sign you should go the other way with whatever I say.)

Best Animated Feature: What I said: Cars. What won: Happy Feet. I did say I wouldn’t be surprised if Happy Feet won, especially given that it was, y’know, a better movie. Still: Idiot.

So the final tally for this year is 6-3 Genius. I think that’s certainly respectable. Join me again next February as I continue my quest to someday pick every one of the major categories correctly. As long as I stay away from making any comments about wagers, I think it’s possible.

Written by Allen

February 26th, 2007 at 9:49 am

Posted in Movies,Pop Culture

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