Saturday, April 24, 2021

MY OFFICIAL 2021 OSCAR PREDICTIONS: Hopefully we'll never have another Oscars like this again....

So, Bill Maher did this little piece on his show recently about the Oscar nominees....

Now, I am a Bill Maher guy, but normally I kinda do dismiss most of his relative takes on entertainment. I think a lot of his criticisms in this regard often bleed subjectivity on art into media criticism as a whole. It's not that I totally disagree with him, but I just don't normally take them seriously. I've seen recent takes on this monologue of his as well that essentially dismiss this as nonsense. And I essentially agree..., except I don't fully. Actually, I kinda think he's right. He's right for the wrong reason; I don't blame the Academy or the movie-making industry for this collection of nominated films this year. 2020 is an extended, strange Oscar year, where the films that made the cut were the ones that managed to show up. Low budget indies that managed to circumvent the pandemic, as well as a random collection of Hollywood fare that managed to sneak in given the extended season, along with the addition and acceptance of streaming releases being eligible, for now. This combination leads to more independent and non-traditional voices, stuff that isn't made for the widest appeals out there. These films aren't necessarily, for the whole family. 

So yeah, you're gonna end up with some unconventional nominees and films in this most unique and unusual Oscar year. That said, yeah I'm gonna call it, Maher is basically right in this respect, this is not a good batch of nominees.  

I've been bobbling around similar inner thoughts like this too this Oscar season, and yeah, while I think he's wrong to blame Hollywood for not making more traditional entertaining or escapist fare when I don't think the literal situation of the pandemic, or the cultural situation of, literally everything else, called for it, but yeah, he's right. We needed escapism and we got depressed. I don't think these are bad films, but no, this is a very underwhelming bunch overall. And it is a depressing bunch of films, even the very good ones, and I'd be hard-pressed to say that it's even a good depressing feeling one could get from these films. 

I don't know how many of these films we're gonna keep returning to, even two years from now; you can hypothesize that about every Oscars, sure, but this year in particular, this is a year you can basically strike from the record books, not literally, but metaphorically. We're hopefully never gonna have another Oscars year like this, and I don't see any of these films or winners ultimately setting any kind of new precedent or standards; this is a one-off anomaly Oscars with a bunch of mostly good but underwhelming and forgettable nominees, that got into these positions by squeaking in and being the best out there in an understandably but unfortunately weak and diluted field.

Yet, somebody has to win. That's how these things work of course. So, I go through this traditional prognostication exercise. I put on my Carnac the Magnificent hat and try to figure out/guess who will inevitably win the gold statuettes this year. Why? (Shrugs) Cause we gotta get back to some resemblance of normal somehow, I guess. Let's go.


The Father - Pro.: David Parfitt, Jean-Louis Livi and Phillippe Carcassone
Judas and the Black Messiah - Pro: Shaka King, Charles D. King and Ryan Coogler
Mank - Pro.: Cean Chaffin, Eric Roth and Douglas Urbanski
Minari - Pro.: Christina Oh
Nomadland - Pro.: Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Jarvey and Chloe Zhao
Promising Young Woman - Pro.: Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell and Josey McNamara
Sound of Metal - Pro.: Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche
The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Pro.: Marc Platt and Stuart Besser

Quick reminder, these are predictions, not preferences. If I had a preference here, eh... I guess "Minari" would get my vote, and it's shown up everywhere, but it hasn't won much. Does that matter though, the Oscar ranked voting system has made this category a little less predictable over the recent years. Traditionally, a SAG win, or at least an Ensemble nomination was the biggest clue, with only "The Shape of Water"'s win a few years being the lone outlier in that. Only "Minari" and "The Trial of the Chicago 7" were nominated for SAG ensemble with the latter winning. Meanwhile, "Nomadland" has won pretty much everything else. It won the Globe, it won DGA, PGA, Critics Choice and BAFTA this year. Plus, "Nomadland" is one of those weird movies where it probably wouldn't do well at SAG, since it had mostly a cast of non-actors. Even still McDormand has been the most consistent Actress nominee everywhere, including at SAG. Neither of these films feel like traditional Oscar winners, which is what's throwing this off. Technically, "Minari" is currently in third place on the Gold Derby rankings, although in a statistical tie with "...Chicago 7" for second, and recently, whoever's been in second on those odds in these category has come out on top recently. Maybe if one of them went to 5/1 I'd take a shot at the upset here. There is a growing backlash to "Nomadland" out there, but I don't know how strong that whisper campaign is, and there is that campaign, what's going ahead of it? Like "The Trial of the Chicago 7" would make the most sense just based on what film seems the most universal, but I think if that was the case, it should've then been able to beat "Nomadland" at PGA. Still, the actors like it, but they also liked "Minari". The only place "Minari" didn't show up at all was BAFTA, but I'm gonna just throw BAFTA out almost entirely this year, since they completely changed their nomination voting structure this year, and probably for the worst in the grand scheme of things, but I'll get to that later. So, I guess there's only the other nominations to sort out. "Minari", "Nomadland" and "...Chicago 7" got six nominations, but "Chicago 7..." missed director. That's probably a key one, but "Minari" missed editing. They get the second acting nomination though, they all got into writing, "Nomadland" and "...Chicago 7" got into Cinematography, "Minari" and "Chicago 7" both got into Music though. Eh, I think "Nomadland" looks the strongest. 

PREDICTION: "Nomadland"

Lee Isaac Chung - "Minari"
Emerald Fennell - "Promising Young Woman"
David Fincher - "Mank"
Thomas Vinterberg - "Another Round"
Chloe Zhao - "Nomadland"

Congratulation Academy, you officially doubled the amount of women that's ever been nominated in this category in a year before, by going from 1 to 2.Although, two people-of-color. (Is that the term we're using now? I guess so.) Zhao and Fennell are the women, Chung and Zhao are the POC, both of whom are of Asian descent interestingly enough. Chloe Zhao has pretty much swept every important award coming into this, and there doesn't seem to be a groundswell for anybody else. Fincher's "Mank" is the most nominated film by a mile this year, but honestly I was somewhat shocked he even got in and I don't get the sense that "Mank" is that beloved outside of the craft categories. And I should've known that the Directors' Branch always through one completely outside the box curveball and they went with the Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg for "Another Round" the heavy favorite to win Foreign Language Feature. It didn't get nominated anywhere else, so that's just an anomaly nomination. It's still not as eclectic a group as it potentially could've been, and yes, the Academy does deserve heavy criticism there. There was potential for a lot more women and a lot more POC to get in here, and I might argue that more then a few of them deserved it over some of these nominees. That said, there's no real contest here. I can't see the scenario where anybody other then Zhao wins; she'll only be the first Chinese-born director to win and only the second woman behind Kathryn Bigelow. 

PREDICTION: Chloe Zhao-"Nomadland"

Riz Ahmed - "Sound of Metal"
Chadwick Boseman - "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
Anthony Hopkins - "The Father"
Gary Oldman - "Mank"
Steven Yeun - "Minari"

The Late Chadwick Boseman is the current favorite. He won Critics and SAG, although he was upset at BAFTA by Anthony Hopkins, so there's one possible outsider who hypothetically could beat him. The Academy never been known for sentimentality, but they have been more known for it lately and Chadwick Boseman's passing really seems to have hit the community harder then most. It's also a great performance for the record, however it's also nominated against four performances each of which are in Best Picture nominated films, and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" was surprisingly snubbed for Picture. This is important; it's been a long time, since 2009 when Jeff Bridges won for "Crazy Heart" that a BP nominee didn't win in this category, but a male actor winning against 4 BP nominees without having a BP nod for the film the actor's in.... it's happened, but not recently. You gotta go back to 1956, when William Holden won for "Stalag 17" over Marlon Brando for "Julius Caesar", Richard Burton for "The Robe" and both Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster for "From Here to Eternity". (And in hindsight, how did "Stalag 17" not get into Best Picture that year? Like seriously, "The Robe" over "Stalag 17"? I know they like their epics but really?) Anyway, it's a tall order, but I think he's gonna pull this off. It's the only opportunity they're gonna get to honor him; they've honored Oldman and Hopkins already, Ahmed will get his chances later, as will Yeun. He'll be only the second posthumous Oscar winner in this category after Peter Finch for "Network" back in '76. 

PREDICTION: Chadwick Boseman-"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"

Viola Davis - "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
Andra Day - "The United States vs. Billie Holiday"
Vanessa Kirby - "Pieces of a Woman"
Frances McDormand - "Nomadland"
Carey Mulligan - "Promising Young Woman"

Oh boy, welcome to what's most likely the most difficult category to predict. I feel sorry for Vanessa Kirby; she's probably the only one who doesn't really have much of a shot here, barring something really unusual and weird happening. The Critics went with Carey Mulligan, who didn't even get nominated for BAFTA, which was particularly weird since they seem to like "Promising Young Woman" the most of everyone else. That could just be an anomaly though. You see, BAFTA in particular change their voting procedure, and instead of a wider ballot for the nominees, they had a committee of about twelve people decide all the nominees, as they picked the Top five or six instead. Honestly..., like I get why you would might do that for say, the Emmys; I've been advocating a similar change to the Emmy voting structure for some time, (Although not entirely basing the nominees/winners on a selected board vote, 'cause that can also lead to some issues as well...) but for movies, I-, I don't really get this procedure. This doesn't feel like one of the major Oscar precursors, hell, the literal Oscar-equivalent in the UK, as much as it does, the Jury of a film festival. Honestly, it sounds like a downgrade, and more importantly to our focus, it makes the BAFTA, completely unreliable across many branches as an Oscar prognosticator. For the record though, the BAFTA went to Frances McDormand, who could win this. She's be only the 2nd woman to win this category three times, after Katharine Hepburn's legendary four Best Actress wins, and would tie her with Meryl Streep among living actresses with three Oscar acting wins. However, she's also a producer on the film, and she's won fairly recently in this category. That said, she is good in the film. The Golden Globes went with Andra Day for "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" which along with "Pieces of a Woman" have their only Oscar nominations in this category.  Andra Day is a bit of a wild card in particular. She won the Golden Globe in a shocking upset, against this exact lineup of nominees. She hasn't won a lot else though, she didn't get into BAFTA or SAG either, but the movie also kinda broke late; it easily could've missed both the eyes of SAG and BAFTA. That said, the movie also isn't getting particularly beloved reviews.... Everybody kinda thought this would be cleared up by SAG, but they pulled an upset and went with Viola Davis, and leads to another weird possibility. If Boseman's suspected lead on Best Actor holds, and Davis can pull off the win here, it would make "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" only the eighth movie to win Best Actor and Best Actress, and the only one of those films to not even get nominated for Best Picture! And btw, it hasn't happened at all since '97 when Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won for "As Good As It Gets". It'd also be amazing to have the two Lead acting roles go to two African-American actors from the same movie. It's only gone to two African-Americans in the same year once, back in 2001 when Denzel Washington and Halle Berry won for "Training Day" and "Monster's Ball" respectively. Halle btw is still the only African-American to win this award. If anything, this is why Viola might have a slight edge here, she has won an Oscar recently for "Fences" in Supporting Actress, but the Acting Branch loves her and I don't think it'd be that ridiculous for them to think now's the time to give Viola the lead. The damnedest thing though is that Viola and Andra have fairly similar performances, both are playing old blues pioneers in period pieces, but Andra's got a lot more work and screentime in her film that most people are ambivalent about at best, but against what could arguably be a supporting role mischaracterized as a Lead in a much more acclaimed movie. And then, I don't know how the hell the Academy is gonna react to Carey Mulligan's work here. It's a polarizing film and performance, but she's nominated and that movie did get Best Picture and Director nominations.... I honestly can't remember being this baffled by an acting category since the 2002 Best Actor race where Adrian Brody upset four past winners and everybody had a pretty strong argument that they could've won it based on the precursors and typical voting patterns of the Academy. I think I'm gonna just trust SAG here. 

PREDICTION: Viola Davis-"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"

Sacha Baron Cohen - "The Trial of the Chicago 7"
Daniel Kaluuya - "Judas and the Black Messiah"
Leslie Odom, Jr. - "One Night in Miami..."
Paul Raci - "Sound of Metal"
LaKeith Stanfield - "Judas and the Black Messiah"

Curiously, Leslie Odom, Jr. has fallen into third on Gold Derby's rankings. If you had asked me a few months ago, I would've thought for sure that he was the easy favorite to win this. Instead Sacha Baron Cohen has popped up as the second choice. Part of me thinks that's due partially due to "Borat..." as well as "The Trial of the Chicago 7". Anyway, things have changed. Daniel Kaluuya's only real misstep is not even his fault, it's the weird fact that the Academy decided to put him and LaKeith Stanfield both in Supporting Actor, even though Stanfield's role is clearly the lead (Although Kaluuya should've also been in Lead, but whatever...) and they're both the titular main characters of "Judas and the Black Messiah". Academy, I don't know what the hell happened here; I mean, LaKeith was campaigning in Lead; I know occasionally you've done this when you've appropriately thought the actor was in the wrong category, Kate Winslet for "The Reader" and Keisha Castle-Hughes for "Whale Rider" come to mind among others, but I'm sorry, I flat out think they just absolutely screwed this category up this year with this. If both of these actors are Supporting in the film, then I want to know who exactly is the Lead in the film. Anyway, assuming Stanfield doesn't take up too much of Kaluuya's vote, which it doesn't seem like he will, Kaluuya is probably the favorite. I don't really see Baron Cohen having that much of a shot honestly; if there's a spoiler here, I think Paul Raci would make the most sense, especially if the Academy voters want to pick a definitive great Supporting performance, but I think Kaluuya's safe here. 

PREDICTION: Daniel Kaluuya-"Judas and the Black Messiah"

Maria Bakalova - "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit of Once Glorious Nation of Kazahkstan"
Glenn Close - "Hillbilly Elegy"
Olivia Colman - "The Father"
Amanda Seyfried - "Mank"
Yuh-Jung YOUN - "Minari"

This acting category has also been confusing the entire way. Pretty much the only constant name that's repeatedly shown up at all the major award shows, is strangely, Maria Bakalova. She won the Critics Choice award, and "Borat" overall has been overperforming more and more as of late, and honestly, part of me wants to predict her; and I think she could win this, especially with the younger Academy demographic vote, I think she's the closest to winning this category for a comedy since Marisa Tomei won for "My Cousin Vinny", and yeah, she's shown up everyone. The only reason I'm honestly not predicting her is that, she hasn't won anything. Instead, the big favorite seems to be Yuh-jung YOUN for "Minari", which makes sense. I think it's the second choice for feature behind "Nomadland" right now, and if it doesn't pull off the Best Picture upset, there's not too many spots where it's likely to win much else. Also, to me these were the two performances where I think other actors would look at with the most amazement, in that I don't think they can imagine too many of themselves pulling off so well. I guess there's the possibility of a spoiler here, Olivia Colman's work in "The Father" is exemplary, but she won in Lead Actress just very recently, and is probably on track for an Emmy win soon enough. Amanda Seyfried's first long overdue nomination is for a good performance, but in a polarizing film, that I don't think is winning outside of the craft categories and speaking of polarizing, while Glenn Close has won a Critics Prize or two here and there, I doubt the Academy's gonna give the Oscar to a Razzie-nominated performance. Sorry Glenn; I really didn't want you to go 0 for 8. I also wish Bakalova had won at least one thing more then the Critics Choice though, but it's been YOUN who's swept SAG and BAFTA. 

PREDICTION: Yuh-Jung YOUN-"Minari"

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit the Once Glorious Nation of Kazahkstan - Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern; Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony HInes & Dan Swimer & Nina Pedrad
The Father - Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller
Nomadland - Chloe Zhao
One Night in Miami... - Kemp Powers
The White Tiger - Ramin Bahrani

WGA's not always the most reliable prognosticator in the Writing categories, they did however choose, "Borat..." over "The Father" and "One Night in Miami...". Definitely a curious choice, although maybe it shouldn't have been that surprising. The original "Borat" film got an Oscar nomination for Writing, and this film is arguably better and it doubled their total amount of Oscar nominations from the first one. Also, it's a great script. However, it's mostly improvised, which, I think the Writers Branch isn't particularly fond of... It's actually kinda unclear on this point actually. Everybody thinks they're not big on these non-traditional improvisational techniques, but they're actually more nuanced then that. On top of the "Borat..." nominations, they also seem to love Mike Leigh's films which also take a different kind of improvisational approach to writing. I wouldn't mind actually predicting "Borat..." if one of these had won before. The style's liked enough to keep getting nominated, but it's never beloved enough to win. So, what else do we have here? We've got "Nomadland" which won the Critics and the Scripter Award. "The Father" won at BAFTA, but that's a British film, so I don't know how seriously we can take that. "The White Tiger" has the annual "Cool-Movie-With-A-Single-Writing-Nomination" prize this year, although it's nice to see Ramin Bahrani get recognition from the Academy for something finally. "One Night in Miami..." really underperformed and Kemp Powers did adapt his own play and there hasn't been too many winners in this category who've done that recently. Well, okay "Moonlight", but Tarell Alvin McCraney only had a Story By co-credit on that, and before that, eh, John Irving winning for "The Cider House Rules" in '99, and "Moonlight" was also not nearly as stage-y in appearance as "One Night in Miami..." is. So, presuming, they're out of it,... um, you know here's the thing too, "Nomadland" was kinda improvisational as well, in a different way, had a lot of non-actors who riffed occasionally, but I still think that was a better adaptation. That said, "The Father" is also very stage and based on a stage play that's also co-written by one of the play's original writers, but it does it in a more clever way then other films do.... You know, the more I look at this, the more I'm talking myself into "Borat...". However, "Borat" didn't beat "The Father" or "Nomadland" at WGA as both were ineligible, and those two have split every award up 'til now. (Conflicted sigh) Maybe this is a year where the winner is adapting their own work...?

PREDICTION: "The Father"-Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

Judas and the Black Messiah - Will Berson & Shaka King; Story by Will Berson, Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas
Minari - Lee Isaac Chung
Promising Young Woman - Emerald Fennell
Sound of Metal - Darius Marder & Abraham Marder; Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance
The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Aaron Sorkin

Both writing categories I think are a little tricky to call this year. Basically, barring something unexpected here, I think the category's been narrowed to "Promising Young Woman" and "The Trial of the Chicago 7". All five of these are up for Best Picture, so that aspect's out. "...Chicago 7" won the Globe when both Original and Adapted were combined, but it's lost against "Promising Young Woman" most places where the Original Screenplay concept is brought out. It won WGA, Critics, BAFTA... and if the term, "Original" is what we're really gonna focus on, then yeah, "Promising Young Woman" probably has this in the bag. Sorkin's always tough to beat though. I could see, maybe "Sound of Metal" pulling off a mild upset, that script's also, fairly original, and possibly a more well-liked film... I don't know, I'm trying to build myself into an argument for somebody else, but it's not coming. I'm just playing this safe, the most interesting and unique script is the favorite, it's been winning, and it's probably gonna win here.

PREDICTION: "Promising Young Woman"-Emerald Fennell

Onward - Dan Scanlon and Kori Rae
Over the Moon - Glen Keane, Gennie Rim and Peilin Chou
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon - Richard Phelan, Will Becher and Paul Kewley
Soul - Pete Doctor and Dana Murray
Wolfwalkers - Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Paul Young and Stephan Roelants

I think there's competition here between "Soul" and "Wolfwalkers". "Soul" I suspect might just get Score and "Wolfwalkers" could play the surprise upset here, that's if enough people have seen it. I wasn't even that big on the movie myself, but the Academy does seem to really like Tomm Moore and his trilogy of Irish folktale animated stories, way more then I do. And I don't know if "Soul" is that beloved compared to other Pixar projects, but I'm not predicting an upset either. 


Collective - Alexander Nanau and Bianca Oana
Crip Camp - Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht and Sara Bolder
The Mole Agent - Maite Alberdi and Marcela Santibanez
My Octopus Teacher - Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster
Time - Garrett Bradley, Lauren Domino and Kellen Quinn

Well, tangentially I think we can eliminate "The Mole Agent" since that didn't get into Foreign Language Feature and "Collective" did. I mean, there's no real correlation between the Documentary and Foreign Language branches, but that still would just be weird if "The Mole Agent" won. This is a category that's always known for a few surprises. In the beginning, I think most people leaned towards "Time", but from everything I've been hearing lately, the main race is between "Crip Camp..." and "My Octopus Teacher". Both are readily available on Netflix and that's typically a good sign for this category. Eh, I'm just gonna go with the trendiest pick at the moment. 

PREDICTION: "My Octopus Teacher"

Another Round (Denmark)
Better Days (Hong Kong)
Collective (Romania)
The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia)
Quo Vadis, Aida? (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

If anything could play spoiler here, it's probably "Quo Vadis, Aida?" which is gaining a little bit of a groundswell in recent weeks. It's definitely the one movie that feels like it could pull of the upset here, but I think it's a longshot. "Another Round" seems to be the consensus of the bunch, and it's won basically everywhere at this point. There could be a spoiler here but I'm not really seeing it. It's one thing if a Foreign Language film does well in tech categories like a "Pan's Labyrinth" but getting a directing nomination, even as strange as that singular other nomination is, yeah, like if it's eligible in this category and gets into Directing, it's winning. 

PREDICTION: "Another Round"

Judas and the Black Messiah - Sean Bobbitt
Mank - Eric Messerschmidt
News of the World - Dariusz Wolski
Nomadland - Joshua James Richards
The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Phedon Papamichael

This is another tricky category this year. The Cinematographers' Guild is like, half-reliable as a predictor in this category. They went with an upset pick with "Mank" this year. They also nominated some odd films like "Cherry" of all things. BAFTA went with "Nomadland". Honestly, I can see, any of these nominees winning this year. The problem was that there wasn't anything really obvious as a standout groundbreaking work in cinematography to me; these are all just really well-photographed movies.  Oddly, I think if I were picking it, I'd be torn between "Judas..." and "News of the World" and I think I would go with the latter. I could also see "The Trial of the Chicago 7" winning this; Phedon Papamichael I suspect, and probably correctly so, that he probably deserved more credit directing the film then Aaron Sorkin does, and that might tip it towards "...Chicago 7". I think "News of the World" is out, because the only time in the last fifteen years the award hasn't gone to a BP nominee was Blade Runner 2049" and that was only because they were long overdue to giving it to Roger Deakins. Also, in years where it's just not blatantly obvious, there's also a slight trend where they will go with the movie among the nominees most likely to win Best Picture. Like, "La La Land" for instance won over "Moonlight" here, but as great as the cinematography for "Moonlight" is, yeah, "La La Land"'s was on another. The Academy also hasn't given a black and white movie this award in a long time, not since, "Schindler's List" in '93, which doesn't sound like a thing... "Like, no shit, most films are in color now," but actually, no, they've had opportunities. "The Man Who Wasn't There" was nominated, didn't win, "Good Night, and Good Luck.", nominated, didn't win, same with "The White Ribbon", "Nebraska" even "The Artist" lost to "Hugo", and most recently, "Cold War" and "The Lighthouse" lost. Maybe that means "Mank" might be due here, but I'm gonna play it safe. Until I see it happen, I don't think I should predict it. 
CORRECTION: "Roma" was B&W and won in Cinematography; can't believe I forgot that one. 

PREDICTION: "Nomadland"-Joshua James Richards

Emma-Alexandra Byrne
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom-Ann Roth
Mank-Trish Summerville
Mulan-Bina Daigeler
Pinocchio-Massimo Cantini Parrini

Another category that feels like a trap to just go with the Guild winners to me, but one where I also have a difficult time figuring out where to go exactly. The Costume Designers Guild gives out a few awards, their big winners were "Mulan" in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film, "Promising Young Woman" in Contemporary film and the BAFTA winner, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" in Period film. Obviously, "Promising Young Woman's win is irrelevant, so presumably this is between "Ma Rainey..." and "Mulan", but eh, the Academy, they do occasionally go in different directions here. Last year for instance, "Little Women" won without even getting a CDG nomination, which really is mind-boggling if you think much about it. Now there's no possibility of something like that happening here, but there's also not necessarily an obvious pick here. Normally I'd then go to the film where the costume's are the most intimately involved in the film, but I- I don't really see an obvious one of those here either. I mean, they're all period of fantasy films so obviously the costumes matter but nothing like "Phantom Thread" for instance where the costumes are intimately apart of the film's narrative. Well, maybe 'Mulan".... Hmm, Ann Roth has had four previous nominations over her decades-long careers; her first nomination was for goddamn "Places in the Heart" of all things, so she's probably also sentimental vote, but how many in the Academy know that? Also, while the costumes are amazing in "Ma Rainey...", there's a lot more costumes in say "Mulan" or even "Emma". I'm tempted to go with "Mulan" here, just 'cause I feel like I need to take some upset, but eh, I'm gonna play it safe and go with the one that screams "Costume Design: The Movie"

PREDICTION: "Emma"-Alexandra Byrne

The Father-Yorgos Lamprinos
Nomadland-Chloe Zhao
Promising Young Woman-Frederic Thoraval
Sound of Metal-Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
The Trial of the Chicago 7-Alan Baumgarten

Eh, interesting category this year. Normally when it comes to the editing categories, my first instinct is to look for action or chase scenes in these movies, which any legitimate editor will tell you are by far the toughest things to edit. There's nothing obvious here, so what else do we have? Well, the next thing that can kinda be a sign of editing is music, and that would lead me to think "Sound of Metal" as the favorite. That's how Gold Derby has it, but I'm wondering if they might look another way since that movie's almost guaranteed to win Sound. The Eddies didn't pick it, they went with "The Trial of the Chicago 7" over "Sound of Metal" but BAFTA picked "Sound...". I'm eliminating "Promising Young Woman" since that didn't even win it's category at the Eddies, losing the Comedy film Eddie "Palm Springs". "The Father" has pretty good editing as well and didn't get into the Eddies, but that doesn't mean it's out of it; "Whiplash" has shown you can win the Oscar without a Guild nomination but it's still a longshot, and "Nomadland" probably is more of a cinematography film. So, "Sound of Metal" or "...Chicago 7".... Um... well, the Eddies aren't always the best predictor of the Editing Oscar. Eh, yeah, I gotta go with the movie with the most focus on the Editing. 

PREDICTION: "Sound of Metal"-Mikkel E.G. Nielsen

Emma - Marese Langan, Laura Allen and Claudia Stolze
Hillbilly Elegy - Eryn Krueger Mekash, Matthew Mungle and Patricia Dehaney
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson
Mank - Gigi Williams, Kimberley Spiteri and Colleen LaBaff
Pinocchio Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli and Francesco Pegoretti

Normally I would just ignore the MUAHs, the Hollywood Makeup & Hairstyling Guild, but-eh, since the Oscars bumped this category up to five nominees, finally, I'm thinking that we're gonna get more correlation between them in the future. That said, I don't think that means that we can completely ignore the possibility of the Makeup & Hairstyiling just doing whatever the hell they want. They MUAHs gave two of their main prizes to "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and BAFTA honored them as well. Two of the other three MUAHs went to "Birds of Prey..." which I'm still kinda surprised didn't sneak in, but the third one went to, "Pinocchio". It was the Special Makeup Effects award, so part of me is kinda thinking, maybe "Pinocchio" can pull this off. I mean, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" makeup and hairstyling was really good, but I'm not sure how complex it was. There's nothing transformative in the makeup at least to my eye. You go back through the recent history, it's either the most makeup and/or the big transformative makeup job, and I don't see the transformative nominee, other then "Pinocchio" and "Ma Rainey..." is definitely not the most makeup, I don't think. I gotta imagine "Mank" or "Emma" had to have the most. Maybe "Hillbilly Elegy" has a little transformative in the work on Glenn Close, so maybe that one, but boy that looks like fairly nothing next to "Pinocchio" to me. Hmm... I'm picking too many favorites; I gotta take a gamble on something here, and I still remember not picking "Suicide Squad" even though I thought it deserved to win despite everybody talking about how offensively bad and preposterous the film even got a nomination, and it bit me when they won. WTH, I'm gonna take my gamble here.

PREDICTION: "Pinocchio"

Da 5 Bloods - Terence Blanchard
Mank - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Minari - Emile Mosseri
News of the World - James Newton Howard
Soul - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

Um, I guess there's a bit of a possibility of a split vote between "Mank" and "Soul" possibly leading to somebody other then Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross winning, but I think that's a stretch. If there is somebody who could spoiler, it might be "Minari" even though it did lose in the independent film category at the SCLs, the Society of Composers and Lyricists, which is the closest thing to a Music Guild in the field industry that gives out award. James Newton Howard's a bit of a sentimental choice for "News of the World" as he hasn't won yet despite now, nine nominations, but "Soul"'s basically won everywhere it's shown up. Won the Guild, won BAFTA, won the Golden Globe. It's also the movie where the music is the most intimately woven into the narrative. It's got way too much going for it for anything else this year in my view. 

PREDICTION: "Soul"-Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

"Husavik" - Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga - Music & Lyrics: Savan Kotecha, Fat Maax Gsus and Rickard Goransson
"Fight for You" - Judas and the Black Messiah - Music: H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric: H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas
"Io Si (Seen)" - The Life Ahead - Music: Diane Warren; Lyric: Diane Warren and Laura Pausini
"Speak Now" - One Night in Miami... - Music and Lyric: Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth
"Hear My Voice" - The Trial of the Chicago 7 - Music: Daniel Pemberton; Lyric: Daniel Pemberton and Celeste Waite

One of the criticisms that I've been hearing repeated is that, essentially all these songs nominees this year is that they're all too similar to each other, all except for "Husavik", the song from "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga". I think this criticism is actually really, really off, 'cause I think "Husavik (My Hometown)" sounds quite a bit like the other nominees as well. I'll concede that the song has the biggest role in regards to it's movie; it's the only song that's interwoven into the narrative and the rest of these nominees are all, essentially inspirational ending credits songs, with the same message, but yeah, "Husavik" is basically just a slightly comedic version of that as well, so I don't get that criticism. That said, it could still win. It won the SCL Award for Original song, so the musicians like it, plus it's definitely the closest to being an orange in a barrel of apples, but I don't know. Relistening to the songs again, I still kinda feel like it's the least impressive of the nominees. For the record, there's no bad song here this year, but yeah, "Husavik" it's a fairly innocuous song from a comedy film, which, eh, when's the last time one of those won? Probably "The Muppets"'s "Man or Muppet", that was a decade ago, partially a makeup Oscar for The Muppets never winning anything before and that was the year they only had two nominees and they finally decided to start revamping the category so that wouldn't happen again. (And I'd argue that wasn't even the best song from that movie; "Life is a Happy Song" is a much more memorable song) What was like the last one that wasn't from a kids/animated comedy? Eh, Stevie Wonder winning for "I Just Called to Say I Love You" from "The Woman in Red"? God that was decades ago and that's a less comedic song then "Husavik", and it was Stevie! Yeah, I'm just not feeling "Husavik", I think its this year's "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" and that song didn't win either. So, for me, I think it's between "Io Si (Seen)" and "Speak Now". "Io Si" marks Diane Warren's 12th nominations; she's yet to win, so she's the sentimental favorite, and it's a good song, but it's also in Italian and for a movie that didn't get any other nominations, but it won the Golden Globe. "Speak Now" was the favorite for that Globe and hasn't won anything, but I think it's still the best of the nominees. I also think they'd like to give Leslie Odom, Jr. something for having a helluva year. I'm fairly positive that he was the easy favorite to win Supporting Actor before "Judas and the Black Messiah" dropped late, so eh, Consulation Oscar for him? Eh, I'll be cheering for Diane Warren but if Randy Newman had to wait 'til his 15th nomination, I'm not sure why the Academy wouldn't tell Warren "No," for a 12th. 

PREDICTION: "Speak Now"-"One Night in Miami...", Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth

The Father - Production Design: Peter Francis; Set Decoration: Cathy Featherstone
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara and Diana Stoughton
Mank - Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
News of the World - Production Design: David Crank; Set Decoration: Elizabeth Keenan
Tenet - Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Kathy Lucas

Okay, something kinda interesting with the ADG this year, which went to "Mank" and "Tenet" respectively among the nominees. Well, there's a second Guild. The Set Decorators Society of America also gave out Awards this year for the first time. That changes the game a bit, 'cause while they are categorized together, they are two different skills. Like, I wouldn't necessarily think "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" was a great nominee here just based on the art direction, even though the production design is good, but the set decoration is really good. There's a lot of old music props and instruments that add to the story as much as the production design. So that could make a huge difference, hypothetically? Except they also went with "Mank" and "Tenet" so not really. Although I could see "The Father" playing spoiler here; it didn't get into either Guilds awards, and also quietly has some really good production design and set decoration to it. It did lose to "Mank" at BAFTA though and if it was gonna win anywhere, it probably would've been there. This is also the spot where "Mank" is the most likely to win, and I highly suspect the Academy wants to give something to the film. They gave it ten nominations, and usually when a movie goes 0 for 10, there's at least one or two others films with at least ten nominations against them, and the nearest any other film has is 6; "Mank"'s winning something. 

PREDICTIONS: "Mank"- David Crank and Elizabeth Keenan

Greyhound - Warren Shaw, Michael Minkler, Beau Borders and David Wyman
Mank - Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance and Dre Kunin
News of the World - Oliver Tarney, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller and John Pritchett
Soul - Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker
Sound of Metal - Nicholas Baksht, Michellee Couttolenc, Carlos Cortes and Philip Bladh

 Another category with two Guilds to look through now. I'll be honest, I know nobody else gives a damn or thinks there's any real difference, but I don't like the combining of the Sound categories. I mean, it's not the worst idea, the Academy's had to adjust their awards, but they really two different skills, they really should have two Oscars.... But, this is what we got and you know, if hopefully this ends up in something like, I don't know a Casting Oscar to be granted at some point in the near future, then sure, let's go back to one Sound category. Anyway, the MPSE Golden Reel Awards , who are the Sound Editors, they kinda surprised some by going with "Greyhound" and "Soul" in their respective categories. The heavy favorite "Sound of Metal" did win at the CAS also along with "Soul" which won for both Guilds Animation categories. This, honestly makes sense. Sound Editors are the ones who create and record the sounds, so something like "Greyhound" might more appeal to them, while the Sound Mixers are the ones who focus on Mixing the sounds appropriately onto the film tracks, so "Sound of Metal", which deals in both music, but also is a movie about a character losing his ability to hear, would appeal more to the Mixers. "Sound of Metal" also won at BAFTA where they've had this one category for years. I guess "Soul" could play spoiler here; animation does a decent record in the Sound categories, although they haven't won in a while. The last one to get a nomination in any Sound category was "Toy Story 3" over a decade ago, and the last one to win was "The Incredibles" in '04, unless you count Peter Jackson's "King Kong" as animated film, which, you shouldn't. Ren Klyce is also a sentimental favorite, a now nine-time nominee who's never won; he's up for both "Soul" and "Mank", but I think it's hard to figure a scenario where "Sound of Metal" doesn't easily take this. If you think Sound in a movie this year, you think "Sound of Metal", as I think you should as well.

PREDICTION: "Sound of Metal" - Nicholas Baksht, Michellee Couttolenc, Carlos Cortes and Philip Bladh

Love and Monsters - Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt and Brian Cox
The Midnight Sky - Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon and David Watkins
Mulan - Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram
The One and Only Ivan - Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez
Tenet - Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher

This is another category where I think the Guild Awards are kinda useless. Actually it's somewhat debatable whether or not the Visual Effects Society is actually a Guild or Union at all.... Anyway, eh, they have quite a few awards, although the presumed big prize they gave out for Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature went to "The Midnight Sky". That said, last year the Oscar went to "1917" and that film didn't get a single VES nomination, so based on that logic, "Love and Monsters" should be the favorite. The actual favorite is "Tenet" which didn't win a single VES Award, although it was nominated in the main category there and it won the BAFTA. Basically, the Oscar winner usually goes to the film that's got the Best Picture nomination, or the Best Picture nomination with the most obvious use of special effects, or in this case, the movie that among the nominees seems the most likely of the bunch of have gotten a Best Picture nomination. Except for 2015 when "Ex Machina" won over three BP nominees and a "Star Wars" film; that was weird. Really weird, like seriously, you gotta go back to 1945 to see a BP nominee lose this category to a non-BP nominee when "Wonder Man" beat "Spellbound! It was a little more common back then when they usually had like 5-10 nominees a year in the category, but man, people don't realize how truly weird that "Ex Machina" win was. Anyway, I'm still a little tempted to go off the board here, just because of how weird this year is. I mean, "The Midnight Sky" has split enough critics vote to at least make you think about it, even if the movie was universally panned everywhere and "Mulan" and "The One and Only Ivan" did win some Guild prizes as well. I think the big question really is, did the Academy voters even get around to watching any of these, like outside of the Visual Effects Branch? You'd think this being a pandemic would help, but-eh, with some of these titles...?

PREDICTION: "Tenet"- Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher

Burrow - Madeline Sharfian and Michael Capbarat
Genius Loci - Adrien Merigeau and Amaury Ovise
If Anything Happens I Love You - Will McCormack and Michael Govier
Opera - Erick Oh
Yes-People - Gisli Darri Halldorsson and Arnar Gunnarsson

I wasn't able to watch "Opera" before making this prediction, which is a shame 'cause I'm hearing a lot of people praising that one, it could play spoiler. Right now, the favorite in the category is "If Anything Happens I Love You", which, is really good and fucking depressing as Hell. Good lord, if that thing wins, then it won because it had the best name and not because people saw it; it's on Netflix if you haven't/want to see(n) it, but don't say I didn't warn you; I can't imagine something that depressing and horrofic winning in the animated short category. I'm just gonna take a shot and say that something else will win, but what...? Honestly I wasn't overly crazy about "Genius Loci" or "Yes-People" although they're both good little shorts. That leaves "Burrow" and "Opera". "Burrow"'s a Pixar entry, so I kinda think that has the edge, and I suspect the voters have seen it. That said, it's always the ones that you don't see that could pull the upset off, but eh, do I want to take a shot in this category on something I haven't seen.... With the short categories, I do think availability helps; sure the voters get the most ability to watch these, but if there's wide appeal, especially in this category where say their kids might've seen it, I think that helps. I gotta pick a couple upsets anyway. 


Feeling Through - Doug Roland and Susan Ruzenski
The Letter Room - Elvira Lind and Sofia Sandervan
The Present - Farah Nabulsi and Ossama Bawardi
Two Distant Strangers - Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe
White Eye - Tomer Shushan and Shira Hochman

I got around to watching all of these before I made this predictions; it's nice to see Netflix, HBO and eh, Topic...? What-the-...- what the hell is Topic?- Eh anyway, it's nice to see these streaming services giving these shorts an easy access to the greater public. My initial instinct is to go with "The Letter Room", because that's the one with the biggest and most recognizable stars, with Oscar Isaac and Alia Shawkat most notably. (It was written and directed by Isaac's wife, so...) but it's also a good film thankfully, so perhaps. The only one of these I thought was kinda hokey was "Feeling Through" about a young Black youth reluctantly helping a blind and death guy travel through the city. I think the two foreign films the Palestinean "The Present" and the Israeli film "White Eye", both of which are quite good emotional films that deal with important issues, but I think it's between the English-language ones and I'm gonna take "Two Distant Strangers". I think "The Letter Room" could take this, but I suspect if they saw "Two Distant Strangers" and I've heard that they have, it's the most timely, it's the most universal of the nominees, it's easily available.... It's probably the most of the zeitgeist of the films as well. I think it's gonna be close though.

PREDICTION: "Two Distant Strangers"  

Colette - Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard
A Concerto is a Conversation - Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers
Do Not Split - Anders Hammer and Charlotte Cook
Hunger Ward - Skye Fitzgerald and Michael Scheueman
A Love Song for Latasha - Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan

Unlike the Live-Action Short category, where I'm still watching some of the films, Documentary Short Subject I've actually seen all these films, and all the other films on the shortlist before the nominations came out; they're surprisingly easy to find nowadays believe it or not. When I was doing my predictions, I sat down and watched all the films on the short list and just ranked them by preference, and usually I actually do fairly well when I can do something like that. This time, I really screwed the category up, so I gotta rethink. Right now, the main debate seems to be between "A Conversation is a Concerto", which is the lightest and most enjoyable of the film, and "A Love Song for Latasha" which is the probably the most personal to the Hollywood crowd, the most timely politically I'd argue the best of the bunch as a film and as a piece of filmmaking. The only one I can't see possibly winning is "Hunger Ward", which is too just depressing. "Colette" is the Holocaust entry, I forgot there's always one, and I can't eliminate that one entirely, and "Do Not Split" was probably my favorite of the group. That one's pretty political too, and timely, but I think "A Love Song for Latasha" just hits the most notes right now. 

PREDICTION: "A Love Song for Latasha"

Alright, that's all there is this year; we'll see how I do tomorrow night.  

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