Oscar Predictions: Behind the Scenes

Over the next two days you will see plenty of predictions about who will take home a little golden guy on Sunday night, but I thought I should throw up a disclaimer from the start. As a critic, it is difficult for me to make predictions without a bit of bias toward the films that I really like. Thus, in addition to giving you who I think will win, I am going to lay down who I think should win as well. With that said, lets get down to it. We start with some of the lesser publicized categories, the awards given to those who work behind the scenes. From the man behind the camera to those who adapt previous literature into a two hour cinematic adventure, these folks are the gears that keep the wheels of cinema rolling. Without them, there would be no story, no dazzling visuals and certainly none of those eye-popping effects that sell popcorn.

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Who Will Win: Guillermo Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth)
Who Should Win: Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men)

Combining his keen eye with the strong willed vision of director Alfonso Cuaron, Emmanuel Lubezki helped to create one of the most visually stimulating films of the year in Children of Men. The two men brought to life P.D. James’ dark and chaotic vision of a future world where humanity can no longer procreate and everyone is just waiting for the end to come. The look of the film sets the tone of intrigue and creates a distinct mood within the viewer, a mood that adds to the already intriguing story. But while Children of Men was the most stunning film, it did not get quite as much press as Pan’s Labyrinth, which is highly regarded as one of the year’s best looking films. Guillermo Navarro led us deep into a fantasy world like no other, and he just may come back out with a little hardware come Sunday night.

Best Achievement in Editing
Who Will Win: Thelma Schoonmaker (The Departed)
Who Should Win: Thelma Schoonmaker (The Departed)

Here is where I will agree with my own prediction. Martin Scorsese’s latest masterpiece would not have been such a gripping story had the pieces of the puzzle not been put into place so perfectly. Scosese’s trusted emissary Thelma Shoonmaker, who has edited many of his recent films, executed a tightly cut film that oozed tension and gave us all a jolt here and there. Well worth a ticket, a purchase on DVD and an Oscar statuette.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Who Will Win:
John Knoll, Hal T. Hickel, Charles Gibson, Allen Hall (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest)
Who Should Win: John Knoll, Hal T. Hickel, Charles Gibson, Allen Hall (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest)

Who can resist the awe-inspiring effects that bombarded us in this year’s top grossing film. It raked in over $1 billion dollars at the world wide box office. Anyone want to take a guess at why? An insanely entertaining Johnny Depp, pulse pounding action and — you guessed it, some wicked cool special effects. If Superman Returns would have had more action, this one would have been close, but its not.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Who Will Win:
William Monohan (The Departed)
Who Should Win: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer, Todd Phillips (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan)

Just like the editing award, this one will see Marty Scorsese’s film garnering more gold. Monohan’s adaptation of Infernal Affairs was exceptional. He captured the tension, got us involved in the lives of the characters and wrote some killer dialogue for ole’ Jack Nicholson. But isn’t it time that an award goes to a movie where two hairy, disgustingly naked men run ramped through a hotel lobby? I don’t think the Academy will share that sentiment.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Who Will Win:
Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine)
Who Should Win: Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine)

Maybe I am feeling a bit too agreeable, or maybe the Academy will get it right this year. The story of Little Miss Sunshine, illuminated by an outstanding cast, was what truly made this one of the best films of the year. First time screenwriter Michael Arndt deserves all the credit in the world for creating this charming and mostly dysfunctional portrait of the American family. Grandpa did coke, Olive shook her booty and the writer should damn-well get some praise.

Round One complete as we roll on toward the big night, Sunday February 25 at 6pm (Eastern). That is this Sunday for those keeping score at home. Later tonight I will examine the off-beat film categories, including Best Animated Feature, Best Documentary and Best Foreign Language Film, so don’t click too far away.