Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dave-El Does Hollywood: Oscars 2016 - The Picks

Hi there! Dave-El here and welcome to a special edition of I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You as I engage in one of my favorite sports, picking the winners for this year's Oscars (and this is the tricky part) without actually seeing ANY of the nominated films (except one).  

Now if this seems like a sad, pathetic exercise, well, it is. But I am nonetheless looking forward to this. 

These guesses are not based on my personal experience of seeing these movies but rather on my reading and research of various entertainment news sources. This is not about who should win but what the buzz is on who is going to win.

Each year I make picks based on 9 categories. 
I make a main selection and if I’m correct, I award myself 1 point. I do allow myself a back up pick and if that one wins, I give myself ½ point.  My goal is to do 90% or better.

Yes, I have a goal! Sad and pathetic? I know! But it's a goal! 

What happens if I make this goal? 



I make the goal! YAY! 

All right, as the finger said to the nose, let's get to pickin'! 
Best Supporting Actor                    
First Choice: Sylvester Stallone, Creed 
Back Up: Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
  • Sly was up for Best Actor playing Rocky 39 years ago and lost. There's a strong sentimental appeal to see Stallone finally win an Oscar for playing Rocky...even if it is for the only white role in the entire film. (Awkward!) I have absolutely no good reason to make Mark Ruffalo my back up choice other than he makes an awesome Hulk.   

Best Supporting Actress 
First Choice: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl                  
Back Up: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
  • This one is considered a close call but more often than not, Alicia Vikander seems to be at the top of various lists for winning this award. I think any push behind Kate Winslet is owing to a desire to see Kate and Leo together again back stage with the respective Oscars. But Steve Jobs really disappointed upon release and through the awards season. 

Best Original Screenplay
First Choice: Spotlight                                                            
Back Up: Straight Outta Compton
  • I mentioned before that Straight Outta Compton might win based solely on white liberal guilt. Except the screenplay was written by white people. Still, I'll give it a slight edge as a back up. But it looks like most of the momentum is going towards Spotlight.   

Best Adapted Screenplay             
First Choice: The Big Short                                                    
Back Up: The Martian
  • There seemed to be a lot of mainstream excitement for The Martian and it looked like come Oscar time, we might have a contender for Best Picture that had actually been seen by some people. Then Leo gets raped by a bear and The Martian gets relegated to Best Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes and any and all respect for this Matt Damon feature goes out the window and no sciencing the shit out of anything can save it now. I'm throwing it a bone as a back up choice but all the buzz is around The Big Short for getting the nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.   

Best Actress
First Choice: Brie Larson, Room
Back Up: Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
  • Jennifer Lawrence delivers one of those "actor gets to age and grow over time" performances that the Academy loves but been there, done that. Not a lot of joy for Jenn this year. But Brie has been cleaning up on the awards circuit this year for a very demanding and unique role. I think Brie should make room on her shelf for an Oscar.  

Best Actor
First Choice: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant   
Back Up: Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
  • Oh like we need a back up this year. Leo's name is already engraved on the damn thing.  

Best Director 
First Choice: Alejandro G Inarritu, The Revenant         
Back Up: Adam McKay, The Big Short 
  • Much like the man raping bear in the Revenant, director Alejandro G Inarritu is a veritable force of movie directing nature, collecting award after award leading up to the Oscars. He won this thing last year but will the Academy make it two in a row? It's hard to deny that what makes The Revenant as good as it is (so I've been told; remember, haven't seen any of these) is the Inarritu's work behind the camera. I will give the back up slot to Adam McKay because there does seems to be a bit of a groundswell for The Big Short.   

Best Picture    
First Choice: ?????
Back Up: ?????

OK, we've got a big problem here.  Because there appear to be three (yes, THREE!) contenders for Best Picture this year.   
Whoever is likely to win Best Director, odds were good that the director’s movie would win for Best Picture. It isn't always a lock but it happens more often than not.  Look at the last 10 years.

1. Best Picture: Birdman      
Best Director: Alejandro G Inarritu, Birdman   
2. Best Picture: 12 Year A Slave
Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity           
3. Best Picture: Argo
Best Director: Ang Lee, Life of Pi    
(Argo’s director, Ben Affleck, was NOT nominated at all)  
4. Best Picture: The Artist         
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
5. Best Picture: The King’s Speech 
Best Director: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech 
6. Best Picture: The Hurt Locker 
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
7. Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
8. Best Picture: No Country For Old Men 
Best Director: Joel and Ethan Cohen, No Country For Old Men                                     
9. Best Picture: The Departed
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, The Departed  
10. Best Picture: Crash 
Best Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain  

7 out of 10 times, Best Picture and Best Director lined up. Of the 3 times, they didn’t line up, one occurred where the director of the Best Picture wasn’t even nominated. And given Ben Affleck’s run of director wins at several awards prior to that year’s Oscars, there’s a good chance he would’ve won Best Director had he been nominated.

Lots of precogstinators have gone with this Best Director leads to Best Picture safe bet. And there's nothing wrong with that. Again, haven't seen the movie but everything I've heard suggests this is a powerful movie.  

But several sources I researched for this post did not seem to consider The Revenant a contender for Best Picture or even as a secondary choice. Most of the buzz for Best Picture seems to be flowing in the direction of The Big Short. This is a film about the financial crisis of 2007 to 2008 that was triggered by the overheated housing market and the overextended credit bubble. It would seem like a dry subject for a movie but it has some significant relevance. We are currently in a Presidential election cycle to elect a new President following a President at the end of his 2nd term, just as we were in 8 years ago. And concerns over the economy run particularly high during Presidential election years and indeed, recent downturns in the stock market owing the bottoming out of oil prices is creating a great deal of volatility and unease in the financial market. That bell you hear ringing is the same one that was clanging away 8 years ago. So The Big Short’s history lesson in high finance has caught the current cultural zeitgeist. (Oh, I love it when I get to work “zeitgeist” into a blog post.) 

But surely The Revenant would be a solid 2nd choice. But nipping at The Big Short is another film that addresses a scandal in recent history, the outing of the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by Catholic priests. 

So I've seen lots of predictions with no clear pattern. 
  • The Revenant will beat Spotlight.
  • Spotlight edges out The Big Short for the win. 
  • The Big Short goes long and beats the Revenant for Best Picture. 

There is no clear consensus from my various media resources. So I'm going to take this on the chin and roll the dice and stuff.  

Best Picture    
First Choice: The Revenant
Back Up: The Big Short  

Really, all the buzz seems to be leaning towards The Revenant for Best Picture. And when in doubt, use history as a guide. 

And that (sigh!) concludes my predictions for this year's Oscars. I'm hoping Chris Rock brings his A-game as host, particularly so he can tear into #OscarsSoWhite. That should be fun.  

Oh, I almost forgot...

Best Animated Feature Film        
First Choice: Inside Out    
I'm sorry, I seriously don't have a back up. This post has gone on too long and I've lost the will to live or to care about such things. 

I'll be back with a post tomorrow to see how I did. Until then, remember to be good to one another. 

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