They say that when playing a sport it’s harder to go completely defeated than it is to go undefeated. The NFL in 2007 saw the Patriots go 16-0 during the regular season for the first time ever. One year later, the Detroit Lions went an unbelievable 0-16, another NFL first.
And 2009 will be remembered for the year I accurately predict exactly all 24 LOSERS for the Oscars. Some will be very confident (like Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder) and some will be straight-up guesses (like Animation and Documentary Short, categories I usually end up guessing correctly about 50% of the time). Monday morning I’ll review my picks, and hopefully I will have accomplished something truly unprecedented: a complete, and total defeat.
Let’s start with the Tier of Complete Guesses:
Short Film (Live Action)
The Sure-Loser Will Be: The Pig. I mean just read this synopsis–”A man facing surgery finds comfort in the painting of a pig hanging in his hospital room.” I can’t see that beating the Nazi-centric Spielzugland or New Boy about an African boy beginning school in Ireland.
Short Film (Animated)
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Presto. This is the one that most of you have seen, because it preceded Wall-E. It was funny, but it was basically your average Looney Tunes fair. Lavatory – Lovestory is about a bathroom attendant who finds flowers in her tip jar. Awww. Oktapodi is about an octopus trying to save his other octopus friend from being eaten. Double awww.
The Sure-Loser Will Be: The Final Inch. There are two short documentaries coming out of India and the other is about a girl with a cleft lip making a friend. The Final Inch is about polio–BORING.
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Slumdog Millionaire. Slumdog will take home a lot of the top prizes, but I see them losing some of the technical awards. I can see The Dark Knight picking up at least one of these sound awards and maybe Wall-E picking up the other. With TDK getting a snub for Best Picture or Director, I think the technical awards will be a no-brainer. I’ve always been horrible at guessing who wins these sound awards, I guess my ears are just not trained to appreciate every subtle nuance.
Tier of Educated Guesses:
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Wall-E. Slumdog‘s “Jai-Ho” will probably win. Granted, it’s nominated alongside “O Sava” also from Slumdog, so logic would say that the two songs will split votes. But, “Jai-Ho” is clearly the song that should win seeing as it’s the end-title musical number performed by the cast. Plus, Peter Gabriel? Pssh.
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Defiance. The score to Defiance is a strange one, and I always disagreed with it being nominated. There’s nothing James Newton Howard does here that’s either noteworthy or non-noteworthy, and that movie has virtually no steam heading into the Oscars. The only thing I can see happening is they give it to Howard because of him and Hans Zimmer’s Dark Knight score, which isn’t even nominated.
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Hellboy II. The makeup is actually really impressive except for a.) we’ve already seen Ron Perlman’s makeup job in the first Hellboy, b.) all the creatures look like leftovers from the Pan’s Labyrinth set, and c.) the makeup calls too much attention to itself in the film, blatantly screaming “LOOK AT HOW DETAILED THESE MAKEUP JOBS ARE!” Benjamin Button and The Dark Knight have a really good shot at duking it out for this one. I’d love to see TDK take it, based on the simplicity and beauty of the Joker’s makeup job, but I bet it goes to Ben Button.
Foreign Language Film
The Sure-Loser Will Be: The Baader Meinhof Complex. Waltz With Bashir and The Class have gotten all the buzz, whereas Baadar Meinhof is another German film that I doubt is better than The Lives of Others (which won in 2007).
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Revolutionary Road. What is it even doing here? I can’t imagine it’s that hard to dress up the way people did in the 1950′s suburbs. I’ve seen community theatre productions that have had better costumes than Revolutionary Road. Besides putting this up against the grand Duchess and Australia and the vibrant Milk will be tough. Also, Benjamin Button has costumes that span several decades.
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Changeling. I almost went with The Dark Knight here, but I love Wally Pfister’s work in that film too much to write him off. The Changeling is one of those films that probably got nominated because it was a poorly reviewed movie that had some redeeming qualities, the cinematography being one of them. It looks too much like Mystic River or any of Eastwood’s other films to really be taken seriously in this category.
Art Direction/Visual Effects
The Sure-Loser Will Be: The Dark Knight. As far as Art Direction goes, this is almost laughable that TDK was nominated. Living in Chicago, I see how little they did to mask the city as Gotham. There are so many inconsistencies with the locations that Nathan Crowley should not have been rewarded with a nomination. I mean, look at the Bat Cave, it’s a long, white room! Seriously, Academy? Also, the effects used to bring Two-Face’s scar to life were far too distracting and pulled me out of the moment. Benjamin Button put on a clinic as far as facial visual effects go and Iron Man made us believe that a CGI dude could inhabit that space, so I say one of those two has to win. But then again I did say that The Dark Knight would win a bunch of technical awards, didn’t I…
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Frost/Nixon. A hard category to call because it’s always unclear exactly what the Academy is looking for. This is a film that should be highlighting its performances and screenplay, the editing is not what we’re looking for in a film like this. Then again, maybe that’s why it’s a perfect candidate to win.
Tier of Piggy Bank LOCKS
Animated Feature Film
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Bolt. Obviously.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Doubt. John Patrick Shanley’s original stage script won lots of awards. His film adaptation is worse than his original, so I can’t see how it wins.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Sure-Loser Will Be: In Bruges. My logic on this one is basically: Four of the last five winners have been comedies (the exception being Crash) that have been met with considerable buzz. None of the films this year have the distinction of being “This year’s Juno,” (which was last year’s “This year’s Little Miss Sunshine“). However, Milk won the WGA award for Original Screenplay, yet I think it’s the weakest of the five. Personally, I think Wall-E is the best original screenplay from last year and a Pixar and Andrew Stanton deserve to finally win for consistent spectacular writing. That being said, Martin McDonagh’s script for In Bruges is awesome, just probably doesn’t have enough buzz to win this year.
Actress in a Supporting Role
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Amy Adams, Doubt. Viola Davis out-acted her in 10 minutes of screen time, so that’s not the greatest sign for Adams. Penelope Cruz absolutely OWNS every minute of Vicky Cristina Barcelona she appears in and even moments that she’s not and people are just talking about her. All I ever heard about Adams’ performance is that Jenna Fischer (“The Office”) had done a better job on Broadway.
Actor in a Supporting Role
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Everyone not named Heath Ledger. If there’s ever been a certainty in Oscar history, this is it. This is what 80% of the viewing audience will be waiting to see. Best Supporting Actor is usually one of the earlier awards handed out during the evening, and I bet that once whoever accepts Ledger’s award leaves the stage (I heard reports it may be his daughter? Or does she just get to keep it?), ratings will drop. Expect to see Supporting Actor handed out later than usual this year. In all seriousness though, it’s barely a competition. Hoffman and Brolin were very good in their respective roles, Downey was funny, and Shannon was amusing, but nothing compares to Ledger’s Joker. This is more of a sure-thing than Daniel Day Lewis’ win was last year.
Actor/Actress in a Leading Role
The Sure-Losers Will Be: The couple–Brad Pitt, Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Angelina Jolie, Changeling. Don’t feel too bad for them though. At the end of the day they’re still Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Side note 1: I don’t think it’s Winslet’s year, even though she’s favored to win. The Reader really isn’t that strong of a performance for her. I think Streep absolutely nailed Doubt. Anne Hathaway had a lot of good buzz coming into award season but hasn’t really cleaned up too many awards. I see a 2002 thing happening: Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day Lewis were the favorites to win for About Schmidt and Gangs of New York, yet Adrien Brody walked away with the prize for The Pianist. Hathaway is Brody in this equation. But then again, if she wins we won’t get to see Streep drunk onstage again, like at the SAGs. Side Note 2: Langella. Rourke. Penn. I can see any of those guys winning, but I’d LOVE to see Richard Jenkins take the stage for the little-seen The Visitor.
The Sure-Loser Will Be: Stephen Daldry, The Reader. I almost went with “Anyone not named Danny Boyle,” but this race is much closer than that. Gus Van Sant did a magnificent job with Milk and David Fincher had such high ambitions that were met with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. That being said, if it’s not Boyle taking home the prize (who does deserve it, by the way), I think it should be Ron Howard. Daldry is just not going to win. Period. I’ll give everyone that comments on this article ten bucks if Stephen Daldry wins the Best Director award.
The Sure-Loser Will Be: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I think it could be easier for me to say The Reader again, but what’s the fun in that? People often overlook the fact that the movie that gets the most nominations generally doesn’t win the main award. Granted, sometimes it does win the award, but that’s only when people are confident as hell that it will win. Like, everyone knew Return of the King would win, while everyone pretty much knew The Aviator wouldn’t. That all being said, I also once said “There’s no way in hell Crash wins Best Picture.” I’m just glad I didn’t put money behind that statement.
What do you think? Can Josh go 0-24 (or more optimistically, 24-0) this Sunday?