Friday, January 20, 2012

Oscar Predictions, Part 2: Directing and Screenplays

Back again! Let's knock a few more categories off the predictions list, shall we? First up:

Best Director
To begin with, this category has three mortal locks: Michel Hazanivicius for The Artist, Alexander Payne for The Descendants, and Martin Scorsese for Hugo. None of these guys are going anywhere. That, in my mind, leaves four directors competing for two spots. They are:
-Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris-Admittedly, I should probably have Allen in the 'lock' category. People love this movie, and he's hit all the right precursor awards. Still, I'm having the tiniest bit of doubt about the Academy rewarding the director of something so light on its feet and seemingly effortless (no matter how hard effortless is to do) as Midnight in Paris. I'm sure he'll get in, but I'm not 100% sure, so he's not a lock.
-David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-Whether this nomination happens depends on A) just how sorry they are for The King's Speech, and B) whether or not enough voters stick up for more unorthodox choices, or if people just go with the previously established consensus. Not to say that Dragon Tattoo is conventional Oscar bait; it's just an easier choice than, say...
-Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life-This movie is, above all, a director's achievement, and I really hope the Academy will recognize that. Still, as I mentioned in my last post, The Tree of Life is hardly an Oscar-friendly film.
-Steven Spielberg, War Horse-I don't really think this is going to happen. I definitely could be underestimating War Horse, however, and if I am, then Spielberg could still slide in here.
-Other remote possibilities: if The Help becomes an Oscar juggernaut (god help us), then expect to see Tate Taylor here. Alternately, if the directors' branch feels really, really adventurous, we could see Nicholas Winding Refn show up here for Drive. While the directors used to give out plenty of left-field directing nominations, they haven't done anything this out-there since Fernando Meirelles and City of God in 2003 (...though I guess you could make an argument for Mike Leigh/Vera Drake in 2004 and Paul Greengrass/United 93 in 2006).
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Michel Hazanivicius-The Artist
Martin Scorsese-Hugo
Alexander Payne-The Descendants
Woody Allen-Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick-The Tree of Life
Alternates: Davind Fincher-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Steven Spielberg-War Horse

Best Original Screenplay
Man, this category is driving me crazy this year. So Midnight in Paris and The Artist are safe. Past that, I've really got no idea. On the comedy end of the spectrum, we've got 50/50, which has done surprisingly well at the precursors, Bridesmaids, which I expect to show up somewhere on nominations morning, and Young Adult, whose Diablo Cody/Jason Reitman pedigree is excellent, but it just hasn't performed the way it should have. Since Oscar voters rarely respond to comedy (although that happens most frequently in this category), we should look at the drama options: Todd McCarthy has had success in this category, so his new dramedy Win Win could show up. Asgar Farhadi's A Separation could've had this nomination locked if it released earlier, but their 'hold onto it until December 30th and then just hope' release strategy backfired, so now I'm not so confident. The Tree of Life is bound to be honored somewhere, but I can't see Screenplay being one of those places. Still, you never know. Finally, we've got some unlikely indie contenders: Beginners could make it in on the coattails of Christopher Plummer's Oscar campaign, ditto Take Shelter and Michael Shannon and Michael Fassbender and Shame, and maybe Martha Marcy May Marlene could still have gas in its tank, but I doubt it. And we haven't even mentioned Margin Call yet.
...Y'know, after writing out an embarrassing amount of options, I still have no idea what to predict. Good grief. This category is just ridiculous this year.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Midnight in Paris
The Artist
Win Win
Alternates: A Separation, Margin Call

Best Adapted Screenplay
Here's a category I'm much for comfortable with, because it's just stacked with Best Picture heavyweights, which means all I have to do is pick a few. The Descendants and Moneyball are definitely in. Meanwhile, Hugo and The Help get in on the strength of their Best Picture campaigns, despite not being praised for their writing. That leaves one slot. Conventional wisdom suggests The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo gets in because it's the next strongest Best Picture contender, but sometimes the writers will pick an outside choice like The Ides of March, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, or even Drive. I don't think any of those have enough support to distinguish themselves from each other, though, and when none of the smaller movies have passionate enough support, the consensus choice gets in.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
The Descendants
The Help
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Alternates: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Ides of March

That just about wraps it up for today. I'm going to leave off acting predictions for tomorrow, because by then I'll have finally gotten around to seeing Shame. So come back tomorrow for what's got to be the second-hardest (hardest? That'd be Sound Mixing) category to predict this year.

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