We made it! After an estimated 37,000 hours of Oscar chatter in the last few months, we are down to the Week Before the Ceremony, when everyone gets really serious and determinedly sets their predictions, which will be wrong.
Instead of working category-by-category up from the “below the line” techy categories to the Big Stuff, I’ve broken up this week’s Oscar coverage in order of certitude. Today we’ll be talking the categories that have been locked up for months, then a bit about the general narratives I expect to see (or not see) on Oscar night. In the next couple days we’ll work our way up the scale from “they’ve already got their name on the statuette” to “who the hell knows??” Hooray! You can’t wait, I know, so let’s get started with…
Things We Already Know and Things We Will Never Know:
Director: The Director’s Guild has huge predictive value. Since 1948, the DGA winner has gone on to win the Best Director Oscar all but eight times. One of those is because, in the very first year, the DGA calendar didn’t sync up with the Academy calendar; the 1949 DGA winner lost to the 1948 winner because they were both eligible for the 1949 Oscars. Another of those instances was last year, when Ben Affleck was famously not nominated for the Best Director Oscar (which makes it rather harder to win it). That all said, Alfonso Cuaron is this year’s DGA king, which means he’ll be this year’s Best Director.
Best Actress: I refer you to my Golden Globes predictions, or recap thereof, or my Oscar nomination predictions, or the entire Internet with regard to this category. Cate Blanchett. The fact that the whole Woody Allen story has only caused people to wonder mildly if it might affect her awards status and not declare that the race is actually open is one more sign it’s only ever been hers to lose. Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett. Cate Blanchett.
Supporting Actor: Ditto, except Jared Leto. “But!” you exclaim, “Barkhad Abdi just won the BAFTA! Maybe he is a dark horse for this prize!” To which I say: sure. Dark horse him all you want. But the only reason Jared Leto didn’t sweep that award show too is because he wasn’t nominated. Jared Leto. Jared Leto. Jared Leto.
Cinematography and Visual Effects: While it’s entirely unclear where one starts and the other stops in Gravity, it doesn’t matter because it’s going to take both of them. Gravity‘s the entire reason I made Visual Effects a category in my season-long competition with my friend when we drafted in September. It’s been a lock that long.
All of the Shorts: Last year I saw all 15 nominated shorts and still picked two of them wrong. This year I saw none of the shorts (though it sounds like I picked a good year to miss them) and I don’t expect it to hurt my predictions. I’m lumping in the shorts with the categories we already know because nothing I or anyone else writes in the next week will explain any more or less who’s going to win. So here you go: Animated Short: Get a Horse, Live Action Short: The Voorman Problem; Doc Short: The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.
Here are some general statements from the shape of the awards season you can use for your picks:
- It feels like 12 Years a Slave has swung back to being frontrunner. Getting shut out of almost everything at the Globes seems to have done it a lot of good; it was the Oscariest option when it premiered at TIFF and if it had rolled straight through the season, there would have been time for serious backlash that could have cost it the top spot. As it is, losing most of the Globes has allowed it to be the underdog and gave it a chance to come roaring back.
Gravity will probably sweep the “minor” awards because nothing else stands a chance. We’ll review each category when we get there, but when the defense for every other movie in each category is “Well, if Gravity doesn’t sweep, it could be ____” it means we’re feeling pretty confident that Gravity will sweep.
American Hustle feels very top heavy; while it’s nominated for a reasonable chunk of non-acting/non-script-related awards, it’s not the favorite in any of them. That leaves the acting awards, which are very divided. While it started strong, the sentiment has swung solidly to “meh” as it’s gotten drug through the mud in its giant face-off with The Wolf of Wall Street. It helps that while it won Best Picture at the Golden Globes, they award two of those. Something had to win there; if it had been Gravity over 12 Years (in the category where they were actually competing head to head), it would have meant something.
Stay tuned for tomorrow, where we’ll tackle things I’m less sure about. It’s time for the yearly question: What is sound editing, anyway?