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85th Academy Awards Preview and Predictions - Page 1 of 3

Oscar weekend is upon us and with it, the end of Hollywood's long awards season. Never before have I been so prepared for an Academy Awards ceremony. Having seen all but two of the major nominated films (Amour and Skyfall) and paid some notice to the many honors given out prior to Sunday, I feel reasonably equipped to make predictions, lend my support, and call attention to some of the Oscars' unfortunate omissions. On the other hand, this is proving to be one of the least predictable Oscar ceremonies in a long time.

I present my picks (or lack thereof) for all 24 categories in an order resembling the one that the Academy might use...

Jump to a Category:

Page 1:

Supporting ActressOriginal ScreenplayAdapted ScreenplayAnimated FeatureAnimated Short

Production DesignCostume DesignMakeup and HairstylingCinematographyLive-Action Short

Page 2:

Supporting ActorDocumentary FeatureDocumentary ShortVisual EffectsSound Editing

Sound MixingFilm EditingOriginal ScoreOriginal SongForeign Language Film

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DirectorLead ActressLead ActorPicture

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams – The Master

Sally Field – Lincoln
Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook

Who Will Win: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

This is one of the few locks of this year's Oscars. Though I thought the actor-dominated Academy might be more inclined to support Sally Field, whose return to cinema prominence is a nice surprise for someone who's acted for nearly 50 years, there's virtually no chance Hathaway doesn't come away with her first Oscar. (One upside to the fact that this is always one of the first categories awarded: we'll get Hathaway's weepy, artificial acceptance speech out of the way early.)

Who Should Win: Hmm... good question.

I'm not an Anne Hathaway fan and though she is as tolerable as ever here, it is a brief performance and a showy one. Unfortunately, good female roles are so hard to come by, that it's tough to argue a better choice. Amy Adams deserves to be more than a biennial bridesmaid, but The Master doesn't give her all that much to do. Jacki Weaver is good in Silver Linings Playbook, but she's the focal point in one scene and reduced to periphery beyond that. Ordinarily, I'd back any alumnus of "Mad About You", but The Sessions wasn't all that good and Helen Hunt wasn't the best part of it.

DVDizzy.com Readers' Choice: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables

Who Should Have Been Nominated: Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I'm kind of surprised that Smith didn't get nominated, because it was a strong performance in a likable film that got a decent amount of awards attention. I chalk it up to timing; if the film opened around Thanksgiving instead of Memorial Day, Smith is nominated, if largely for her unfakable age and long cinema legacy.

"Zero Dark Thirty" stars Jessica Chastain as Maya, a CIA officer devoted to finding Osama bin Laden.

Best Original Screenplay

Amour – Michael Haneke
Django Unchained – Quentin Tarantino
Flight – John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty – Mark Boal

What Will Win: Amour

This is one of the least predictable categories in a ceremony more capable of surprising than most. Having not seen Amour, I can only suspect that Michael Haneke's tale of aging will resonate with the Academy, where the median age is 62. It's been almost twenty years since Tarantino won his first and only Oscar, but I suspect that the language (you know what I'm talking about) doesn't sit well with the socially progressive votership.

What Should Win: Zero Dark Thirty or Moonrise Kingdom

Boal just won this award three years ago for The Hurt Locker, so it may be tough for him to repeat, since it would be a win for research (including the stupidly controversial torture aspect) rather than artfulness. You can't read too much into its Writers Guild Award win this week, since Django and Amour were ineligible. Moonrise Kingdom is the kind of witty, original script that has often fared well in this category (e.g. Juno, Midnight in Paris) and Wes Anderson is over ten years due for an Oscar, but again the timing is against this, as all the film's buzz seems to have faded by now.

DVDizzy.com Readers' Choice: Django Unchained

What Should Have Been Nominated: The Master

For being the vision of one individual, Paul Thomas Anderson's films boast a wealth of ideas. This one's ideas didn't grab everybody and surely made some uncomfortable, but give the man some credit. Wreck-It Ralph shows enough creativity to warrant consideration too, if the Academy took non-Pixar animation seriously.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Argo – Chris Terrio from "The Master of Disguise" by Antonio J. Mendez and Wired Magazine article "The Great Escape" by Joshuah Bearman
Beasts of the Southern Wild – Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin from Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar
Life of Pi – David Magee from Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Lincoln – Tony Kushner from Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell from The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

What Will Win: Lincoln

Everyone kind of assumed that this award was a shoo-in for Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, but it seems to me its narrow vision and belabored structure is the thing most responsible for the film's stuffy boredom. I think and hope there's a decent chance it doesn't win.

What Should Win: Any of the other four nominees.

There's so much more vitality and color to the other nominees. Argo's win at this week's Writers Guild of America Award gives it an advantage, as the Oscars have only departed from the WGA in this category once in the past eight years. Life of Pi perhaps has the strongest foundation and deserves credit for making the unfilmable perfectly captivating. And you'd be foolish to discount Silver Linings Playbook, which the nominations show the Academy clearly liked. Beasts is probably the biggest longshot.

DVDizzy.com Readers' Choice: Lincoln

What Should Have Been Nominated: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I don't know that this is a better screenplay than Lincoln, but Stephen Chbosky did a most admirable job of adapting his evidently beloved novel. This is the only place for such a film to be recognized, which it should be. The same goes for The Hunger Games, though people stopped seeing that as a genuine contender long ago.

Young Victor Frankenstein is thrilled to reunite with his beloved but deceased dog Sparky in Tim Burton's stop motion 2012 animated film "Frankenweenie."

Best Animated Feature

Brave, directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Frankenweenie, directed by Tim Burton
ParaNorman, directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler
The Pirates! Band of Misfits, directed by Peter Lord
Wreck-It Ralph, directed by Rich Moore

What Will Win: Wreck-It Ralph

What Should Win: Wreck-It Ralph

It's a little ridiculous that Walt Disney Animation Studios, the pioneer and longtime powerhouse in animation, has yet to win this award in its 12-year history. They've made some very good films in that time, just not as good as Pixar's. This year, they've bested a lesser but still very good Pixar effort and deserve to be recognized for it.
I think Brave will lose from the "share the wealth" thinking that seems to have cost Cars this award six years ago. Brave would become only the fourth eligible Pixar film not to win this award since it was introduced.

DVDizzy.com Readers' Choice: Wreck-It Ralph

What Should Have Been Nominated: The Secret World of Arrietty

Arrietty was ineligible because Disney waited too long after its Japanese theatrical release to put it in American theaters. A seemingly arbitrary rule, but Disney should have known it. After all, this is the Disney that gives their Tinker Bell movies qualifying engagements at their El Capitan Theatre to better the odds of having this category support five nominees. (Is it sheer coincidence that Ghibli is going to have GKIDS handle North American distribution on at least some of its future titles?)

If eligible, Arrietty was a more deserving nominee than ParaNorman. Otherwise, I am in complete agreement with this great field and especially pleased that the charming The Pirates! managed to get a nod over less deserving fare released later in the year. Disney has three nominees in this category for the first time since 2002, when Spirited Away won the award over two in-house films.

Best Animated Short Film

Adam and Dog, directed by Minkyu Lee
Fresh Guacamole, directed by PES
Head Over Heels, directed by Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O'Reilly
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare, directed by David Silverman
Paperman, directed by John Kahrs

What Will Win: Paperman

What Should Win: Paperman

This is the first year I've seen more than a couple of nominees in this category. In fact, I've seen all five; thank you, Internet and Wreck-It Ralph. I ordinarily root for the Pixar short, but this year they did not have one, since La Luna competed last year, when it was unknown to the general public. Disney's Paperman is the most striking of the five both visually and thematically. Fresh Guacamole is fun, but slight (running around 104 seconds). Over 10 minutes each, Adam and Dog and Head Over Heels are both longer than they need to be, since they lack dialogue; the stop-motion Head has a creative concept, while the quasi-Biblical Adam makes nice use of the traditional animation medium that many love and miss. The Simpsons short is fun, which in some years would probably be enough to win, but I think it's going to have to be a two-Oscar night for Disney Animation Studios.

What Should Be Nominated: Who knows?

Lost at sea, Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) begins to make an extraordinary connection with a fearsome Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Best Production Design

Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables
Life of Pi

What Will Win: Les Misérables

What Should Win: Life of Pi

The category formerly known as Art Direction is up for grabs. Since The Hobbit is essentially an extension of Peter Jackson and company's Lord of the Rings work (which, like most aspects of that series, lost twice before winning for Return of the King), it probably won't win. Anything else could, so it might just come down to what movie voters like the best.

What Should Be Nominated: The Master and Moonrise Kingdom, but you could make a case for most of these two Andersons' films.

Best Costume Design

Anna Karenina
Les Misérables
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

What Will Win: Anna Karenina

What Should Win: Anna Karenina

Ah, Costume Design. The one Oscar category where bad movies get love and sometimes even win. That's what's going on here, with the year's two feeble Snow White movies joined by the two Best Picture nominees set furthest in the past. With its opulence, Anna Karenina is expected to defeat all of the above for what could be its only Oscar.

DVDizzy.com Readers' Choice: Anna Karenina

What Should Be Nominated: Django had a pretty sweet blue suit. Maybe if he did more twirling?

Hungry, hairy dwarves gather around Bilbo Baggins' table for an unexpected feast.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables

What Will Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

What Should Win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The three nominees each represent something different in the field of makeup (and, now, hairstyling). You've got the biopic recreation in Hitchcock, the aging required of epics in Les Mis, and the sheer fantasy of The Hobbit. Of the three films, the Academy clearly likes Les Mis best, but it seems ridiculous that its unbecoming haircuts could deserve this award over Hobbit's far more extensive (and unenviable) work needed to create a dozen hirsute dwarves. Hitchcock was a nice try, but it didn't really pull off its lofty goals.

DVDizzy.com Readers' Choice: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

What Should Have Been Nominated: If this category supported five, Men in Black 3 and Holy Motors could have been included.

Best Cinematography

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi

What Will Win: Life of Pi

What Should Win: Life of Pi

When in doubt, bet on Pi. Skyfall could drum up some sympathy for Roger Deakins, the Coen Brothers director of photography who has been nominated for this award ten times and never won.

DVDizzy.com Readers' Choice: Life of Pi

What Should Have Been Nominated: The Master and Moonrise Kingdom would have made suitable substitutes for any of these.

Best Live-Action Short

Buzkashi Boys
Death of a Shadow

What Will Win: Curfew

What Should Win: Beats me. Haven't seen any of them.

Makers of Oscar-aspiring short films should spend nearly as much time deciding on a title as making the film. After all, more people will see the title and use that to make their blind picks in this category. I picked Curfew because the first letter of those titles resemble a multiple choice test: A, B, C, D, E (I'm assuming the "H" in Henry is silent like it is to Eliza Doolittle). As you know... when in doubt, pick "C." That's just common test-taking sense.

Continue >>

Jump to a Category:

Page 1:

Supporting ActressOriginal ScreenplayAdapted ScreenplayAnimated FeatureAnimated Short

Production DesignCostume DesignMakeup and HairstylingCinematographyLive-Action Short

Page 2:

Supporting ActorDocumentary FeatureDocumentary ShortVisual EffectsSound Editing

Sound MixingFilm EditingOriginal ScoreOriginal SongForeign Language Film

Page 3:

DirectorLead ActressLead ActorPicture

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Posted February 22, 2013, two days before the 85th Academy Awards ceremony.

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