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At The Movies: Oscar Predictions for the 79th:

Because this is a weekly paper, Oscar predictions are being written probably too soon.  Indeed, in as close a race as this one has turned out to be, often the week leading up to the awards reveals the elusive “buzz” that usually helps with predicting. In other words, the closer to the event you get, the easier it is to predict.

Nonetheless, there is nothing worse than a paper with predictions for the Oscars read the Monday after the Oscars.  So two weeks early it will have to be.

The Oscars have been too predictable in the acting categories, while the Best Picture prize is still anyone’s game.  The ad campaigns for all five films have been mostly going full steam ahead.  No frontrunner means lots of advertising dollars to be had.  Some believe Babel will be the ultimate winner, with Martin Scorsese winning Director.  Others think Little Miss Sunshine is too heartwarming to pass up.  The Academy often votes for the one that makes them feel the most.  But Little Miss Sunshine goes into the Oscar race with no directing nomination, and no editing nomination.  No film has ever won under those circumstances. 

If voters are sharply divided among all five nominees, whatever has that extra something to push it over the edge will prevail.  The trick is figuring out which film has it and why.  Could The Departed, the most popular film in the pack with the general public, become the first Scorsese film to win Best Picture?  Or will Babel, which has the most nominations going into the race and is the only sweeping epic, take the final prize?  Will The Queen prevail?  Or will Little Miss Sunshine, which is winning people over right and left, pull it out in the end?  Something tells me it’s between The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine, but nobody knows anything.  That is the only thing we do know. 

The branches, which individually nominate films, have rarely been less in sync than they are this year. None of the nominated five Best Pictures have a cinematography nomination; only two have editing nominations.  Dreamgirls, which missed out on the top award nominations, dominated in the tech categories.  Likewise, many of the pre-awards for Best Picture have differed dramatically from one to the next.  The Departed won by a landslide at the Critics’ Choice awards, but Babel and Dreamgirls won the Globes.  Little Miss Sunshine won the Producers Guild for Best Film and The Queen just won the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Awards).  Martin Scorsese won for The Departed at the Directors Guild.  There simply does not seem to be any consensus for Best Picture.

On the other hand, the acting categories seem as locked up as they ever were.  Unless there is an upset, these categories will go as planned.

Predicting must never be taken seriously by anyone.  It is to be taken, as most things involving film awards, as a brief distraction from the pain and suffering in our lives.  Here goes nothing.

 Best Picture

Prediction:

The Departed (but watch out for: Little Miss Sunshine)

Preference: The Departed

Should have been nominated:

Pan’s Labyrinth

 Best Director

Prediction:

Martin Scorsese, The Departed (but watch out for Paul Greengrass, United 93)

Preference:

Martin Scorsese, The Departed

Should have been nominated:

Guillermo Del Toro, Pan’s Labyrinth

 Best Actor:

Forest Whitaker, Last King of Scotland (but watch out for Peter O’Toole, who is long overdue)

Preference: Forest Whitaker

Should have been nominated:

Leonardo DiCaprio for The Departed

 Best Actress:

Helen Mirren, The Queen (but watch out for…no one)

Preference: Helen Mirren

Should have been nominated:

Toni Colette, Little Miss Sunshine

 Best Supporting Actor:

Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls (but watch out for Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine, who is overdue)

Preference:

Mark Wahlberg, The Departed

Should have been nominated:

Steve Carell, Little Miss Sunshine

 Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Judson, Dreamgirls

Preference:

Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

 Original Screenplay:

Little Miss Sunshine (but watch out for Pan’s Labyrinth)

Preference: Pan’s Labyrinth

 Foreign Language Film:

Pan’s Labyrinth (but watch out for The Lives of Others)

Preference: Pan’s Labyrinth

Should have been nominated: Volver

 Animated feature: Cars

 Documentary Feature:

An Inconvenient Truth

 The Oscars will be held February 25.  For more information, visit oscars.com.

Or you can visit my website, oscarwatch.com. 

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