Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oscars 2012: Final

Well, it's that time again: the Oscars! I have been prognosticating the Academy Awards since I was nine; I was very proud when I beat my mom by picking Unforgiven to win over Howard's End. I did not know anything about the movies at the time; I was just following my dad's lead - and I'm pretty sure he did not know anything either, but he was just doing it to aggravate my mom. I am in my ninth (!) year of tracking my picks online. As always, here are my stats from the previous years I have been tracking: (Note: the year is the year of movies, not the year of the airing of the telecast. I finally switched in this year's recap.)

2004: 7/9, missed Picture and Original Screenplay
2005: 7/9, missed Picture and Supporting Actress
2006: 5/9, missed Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Animated Feature
2007: 6/9, missed Adapted Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actress
2008: 8/9, missed Actor
2009: 6/9, missed Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and Original Screenplay
2010: 7/9, missed Director and Original Screenplay
2011: 8/9, missed Actress (Streeeeep!)

Most years are anywhere from mostly predictable to incredibly predictable; most of my mispicks over the years were when I thought there would be more sentimental picks, or when I was trying to pick an underdog to win. I should have known better in almost each circumstance, and in almost each case, I picked the wrong one of the final two I had narrowed down to. The only ones that stick out as real shocks that I had no clue to pick were: 2004's Original Screenplay (Eternal Sunshine, which certainly deserved to win); 2007's Best Supporting Actress (Tilda Swinton); and the still-festering travesty of 2005's Best Picture (Crash over Brokeback Mountain). I have an overall percentage of 75% in the 9 major categories (54/72), with most categories at or above that level. The only categories I have consistently missed on are Best Picture (4/8) and the Screenplays (a combined 11/16). I'm not sure why, since I should have predicted most of those picks, but I guess it's just hard sometimes to see how the Academy will see it. I have only missed Director once - 2010, in which Tom Hooper undeservedly beat David Fincher - as well as missing Animated Feature only once (2006's Happy Feet). My strongest area has been in the acting categories: With the exception of 2006 and 2007, when I took some risks and missed a couple of "shouldahadit" picks, I've only missed two acting awards, both in years when I took a risk in my pick that prevented me from the sweep.
And this year, the most wide-open race in years, might sink me. In fact, I fully expect to miss three or four categories, and I am fully prepared for this year to be one of my worst years of Oscar picking year (if not the worst). There are a few gimmes, but there are far more contentious categories, and I feel perhaps more than almost any previous year that anything really could happen tonight. So what I'm saying is don't trust my picks this year

Best Picture: It comes down to two choices: Argo and Lincoln. Lincoln had the most nominations, it has that Academy cred, and it could easily sway voters in the sentimental archaic way that The King's Speech beat out The Social Network in 2010. Argo, which has incredible momentum having won almost every major award this year, has only one knock on it: Ben Affleck's directorial snub. I think that the Academy will correct the snub and make Argo only the third film ever (and the first in 23 years) to win Best Picture without being nominated for Best Director.

Best Director: I had it down to Spielberg and Ang Lee, and there are good cases for both. Spielberg's steady hand produced yet another classic film, while Lee filmed a movie considered to be unfilmable. Both have won before and been nominated several times. Though I think Lee's film is the greater accomplishment, I think it goes to Spielberg this time, making him the only director in the modern era (after the Hollywood blacklist) to win three times.

Best Actor: This is one of the gimmes. Daniel Day-Lewis wins his third trophy for Lincoln.

Best Actress: Initially, I thought this was a competition between Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain, but the recent buzz has Emmanuelle Riva taking over the dark horse spot. I think Riva's nomination is her award, and Chastain's performance has not gained the momentum it needed; plus, there's a sense that the Academy will be able to award her later. Lawrence's Tiffany, however, is a singular entity, a whirling dervish of a character who owns and transforms her film and presents one of the most dynamic leading ladies in years (Juno might have been the last one.) I think J. Law will be taking it home this year.

Best Supporting Actor: It comes down to Tommy Lee Jones, the favourite, and Robert De Niro, the sentimental favourite. I tend to think that the power of Jones' performance will give him the edge, though I would not be surprised to see De Niro take it. My pick is Jones.

Best Supporting Actress: Despite the efforts of some media to make this more than a gimme, this category belongs to Anne Hathaway.

Best Original Screenplay: One of the most difficult categories to call this year, since it features three Best Pic nominees. Though I would love to see Wes Anderson up there, I think that Quentin Tarantino's accomplishment in Django Unchained was too strong for the Academy to ignore. Mark Boal won the WGA Award for Zero Dark Thirty, but I'm picking QT to beat him this time (Inglourious Basterds lost out to Boal's The Hurt Locker in 2009).

Best Adapted Screenplay: All five nominees are also up for Best Pic, and Les Misérables was left out! I cannot even narrow it down to two more likely nominees, as any one of Argo, Lincoln, or Silver Linings Playbook could take it and I would not be surprised. The WGA Award is usually a really strong predictor of both Screenplay awards, as the awards line up significantly, as the only time both awards have deviated in recent memory was in 2002 (The Pianist and Talk To Her). Since I'm picking against the WGA in Original Screenplay, I'm going to go with them here and pick Argo. But I would not be surprised if Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln win, either.

Best Animated Feature: This is another very difficult category to pick. The consensus seems to be oriented toward Wreck-It Ralph, but I could also see the Academy giving it to Tim Burton's Frankenweenie. I think this is one of the times that I'm going to try for the underdog, and I'm going to pick Burton to win. I'm probably wrong, but boy will it pay off if I'm right. Well, not really, but you get the idea.

I'm fully expecting to get only 4 or 5 of 9 correct this year. Here, quickly, are my picks for the other pickable (ie. non-short) awards:

Best Foreign Film: Amour
Best Original Score: Life of Pi
Best Original Song: Skyfall (though "Suddenly" from Les Misérables could make an upset)
Best Film Editing: Argo
Best Sound Editing: Skyfall
Best Sound Mixing: Les Misérables
Best Cinematography: Skyfall (I hope Deakins finally wins after ten nominations, mostly for the Coens)
Best Production Design: Les Misérables
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The Hobbit
Best Costume Design: Let's go on a limb and say Anna Karenina here.
Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi
Best Documentary Feature: I think Searching for Sugar Man will take it, but I wouldn't be surprised to see How To Survive A Plague win either.

A couple of other predictions for good measure: the show will run under four hours; Seth MacFarlane does not bomb, but he's kind of flat; the show-ending musical number flops; the tribute to the last decade of musicals leaves everyone wondering why they didn't include most of the last decade of movie musicals, including Moulin Rouge, Hairspray, Mamma Mia, Rent, or Sweeney Todd; and the most memorable presenters or personalities of the telecast are the Avengers (sans Hemsworth and Johanssen), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Melissa McCarthy, and Ted.

Life of Turner Snapshot: February 2012

It has been three weeks since I last posted anything here. As I look at my history over the past couple of years, I see that that's unfortunately not out of character for me, but I had just written in my goals for 2013 to blog more, so I feel that I needed to update somehow. It's not out of lack of desire that I have stayed away; I really have not been able to do much, other than thrift on a couple of Saturday afternoons, throughout which Macklemore x Ryan Lewis "Thrift Shop" repeated in my head - best hook I've heard in awhile. I have had to cancel most of my social engagements, including each of the past four weekends, from an unexpected variety of illnesses. So, in lieu of three weeks of absentia, I figured I would give a snapshot of ten things that I have accomplished in that time in the kind of style I had when I first started blogging in July and August 2004. This really is what has been going on in the life of Turner in the past month.

10. I have started three as-yet-unpublished blog posts, along with a few other as-yet-to-be-composed ideas for posts. My hope is to get most of those posts up within a week or so, but that may prove to be overly optimistic. I know I have to write at least one tomorrow before the Oscars, though.

9. I caught up on a number of TV shows and movies. I finally watched Homeland Season 2 (whaaaat?!), I am making progress on my goal of watching every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, and I have started to catch up more on some of the comedies I had let slip recently (Go On, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock). My wife and I also watched through Season 3 of MasterChef (US) on YouTube - it was strangely addicting. I have also been getting good use out of Netflix lately, as I have watched double my usual average of movies. Of course, I haven't been able to do much more than watch stuff most days.

8. I made one new bead sprite - Annie from Community's Season 3 episode "Digital Estate Planning". I wanted to make more, but I have not been able to focus well. I hope to make the rest of the Greendale Seven in the next few weeks.

7. Although I missed out on Gottacon (Victoria's annual board game convention) and I have not been able to play many board games, I have tried and thoroughly enjoyed three new games: Eclipse, Lords of Waterdeep, and At the Gates of Loyang, which is great as a solo game.

6. I finally read through the classic science fiction novel A Canticle for Liebowitz after almost six years of combined waiting to find it and delaying to read it. It is brilliant, but its heavy language and subject matter made it a challenge for me to make it through the text, especially with the sinus headaches I had going on. But I made it through, and it's onto the Foundation series next (I think), since I found them all for about $3 today at a thrift shop ("this is...awesome").

5. After finally buying a copy of Link's Crossbow Training for the Wii, I mastered every course within a week, much to my wife's consternation. Of course, there is still room to improve all of my scores, but I always have my new copy of Mario Kart Wii to keep me busy.

4. I played WiiU for the first time - mostly NintendoLand, but a bit of New Super Mario Bros. WiiU and Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. I can't wait to get one of my own - maybe in the fall I'll make it happen.

3. I was able to work for two weeks despite my generally unwell state. It worked out that the week that I had the nasty cold/sinus stuff going on that I didn't miss a call, so I was happy about that. I'm still hoping to add more schools, but that may have to wait until after our assorted spring breaks happen in March.

2. On Thursday, I vomited for the first time since high school - and it was not because I ate a black and white cookie (that reference was fresh the last time I honked). I figure it had been about fifteen years since I had experienced the vile bile smile, and I can only hope that it's another fifteen years before it happens again.

1. I realized that, sometime in the past week, I have set a new Turner record. I have lived in this house, at this address, longer than I have ever lived at any house in my life. My previous record was from halfway through Grade 8 until I moved out after Grade 12 - and that was the longest by well over a year anyway. It seems kind of surreal, since I never expected to live in Victoria this long, much less in one house, but I am happy I am still here, and that it looks like we'll be here for the foreseeable future. We are always looking at new ways to make our house more livable, and our recent efforts have focused on decluttering, especially in the kitchen. And I finally bought a toaster - it seems like an insignificant change, almost mystifying in how I had not truly recognized its absence years earlier by buying a new one - but now I have one, and that's what matters.

So that's what has been going on in the Life of Turner over the past month. Now you know.

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