Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Oscar Predictions

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85th Academy Awards - Predictions

The Academy Awards are just a few days away (this Sunday) but it’s that time for some prediction making. This is the first year I’ve seen all the nominees for Best Picture as well as a good deal of the rest of the nominees. My predictions will be based on not only my opinions of the films but also the more important critical opinion. Because in the end it doesn’t matter what/who I think should win, my predictions only count (and I only win the Oscar pool money) if I predict what everyone else thought was the best.

To differentiate between these two, for each category I will chose a “Most Deserving” and a “Most Likely” winner. The “Most Deserving” is what my vote would be and “Most Likely” is who I think will win the actual award. There will probably be overlap between the two but for some awards I’ll probably differ from the crowd. For all of the categories I’ll also be including a brief explanation to explain my reasoning. And one last side note, while I’ll mention this in the respective categories, I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees, not all nominees. So, for example, in Best Foreign Film my predictions will be based mostly off of critics reviews/predictions rather than my own.


BEST PICTURE

Film
Amour
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Most Deserving: Argo

Most Likely: Argo

Why: This is a major year for film with a lot of great nominees for the coveted Best Picture. I’ve been a major supporter of Argo from the beginning but had no hopes for it winning the Oscar especially because Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated for Best Director. Lincoln was the front runner for the longest time but then Argo went on a winning spree nabbing the Golden Globe, Producers, Directors, Writers, and Screen Actors Guilds awards. The two comparisons being thrown out are Driving Miss Daisy from 1989 which was the last film to win Best Picture without a Director nomination and Apollo 13 from 1995 which won all the Guild awards but failed to get Best Picture. While it certainly isn’t a guarantee by any means, Argo is by far my favorite and the prognosticators seem to agree.


BEST DIRECTOR

Director Film
Michael Haneke Amour
Benh Zeitlin Beasts of the Southern Wild
Ang Lee Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg Lincoln
David O. Russell Silver Linings Playbook

Most Deserving: Ang Lee

Most Likely: Steven Spielberg

Why: This is an interesting category this year, mainly because there were a lot of surprises/snubs. Without Ben Affleck nominated, chances are the Best Picture and Best Director awards will be split. Steven Spielberg had the big lead with Lincoln expected to take home all of the awards, but with recent developments, it’s not as sure of a bet. Lincoln was very well directed and is one of Spielberg’s best films in years. He also has past wins under his belt (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan) which should increase his chances. But my favorite would have to be Ang Lee with Life of Pi. Being able to film the unfilmable novel is no easy task and Lee does this flawlessly even when set primarily on a singular boat. It’s a more ambitious project and more gripping than Lincoln is but the Academy tends to go with more conservative and traditional approaches, ergo Spielberg will probably win with Lincoln.


BEST ACTOR

Actor Film
Bradley Cooper Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln
Hugh Jackman Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix The Master
Denzel Washington Flight

Most Deserving: Daniel Day-Lewis

Most Likely: Daniel Day-Lewis

Why: In what is probably the most uncontested category this year, Daniel Day-Lewis is almost guaranteed to win his third Best Actor Academy Award, the first person to do so. Jackman, Washington, and Phoneix gave extraordinary performances (Cooper has been getting a lot of praise; I though he did a great job, just not extraordinary) but Day-Lewis’ portrayal of our 16th President is unrivaled and would be the biggest upset of the night.


BEST ACTRESS

Actress Film
Jessica Chastain Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts The Impossible

Most Deserving: Jessica Chastain

Most Likely: Jennifer Lawrence

Why: The biggest puzzle to me is all the support Silver Linings Playbook is getting for the awards season. I thought it was a good film and it was very entertaining, but there was nothing about it that screamed Oscar-worthy to me. Regardless, chances are it will be Jennifer Lawrence who walks away with the Best Actress trophy this year. She’s already won the Golden Globe and the SAG awards and everything’s pointing to her for the Oscar. However, I think Jessica Chastain gives a much better performance as the woman behind the plot to kill Osama Bin Laden. She starts off slow, but her character builds and you can see her determination and desire to finish what she started in such a visceral way. Emmanuelle Riva is another strong contender who I think is more worthy than Lawrence, but alas, that’s not how the prognostications are looking.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Actor Film
Alan Arkin Argo
Robert De Niro Silver Linings Playbook
Phillip Seymour Hoffman The Master
Tommy Lee Jones Lincoln
Christoph Waltz Django Unchained

Most Deserving: Christoph Waltz

Most Likely: Tommy Lee Jones

Why: This is a tough one for me since I’m a fan of most of these performances and as an aside, all these nominees are previous Oscar winners. My choice would be for Christoph Waltz who brings both a seriousness and lightheartedness to Django Unchained that really helps make the film what it is. Waltz won Best Supporting Actor for his last performance in a Tarantino film, Inglourious Basterds, and his work in this latest is deserving of another win. But most people are pointing towards Tommy Lee Jones who played Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln. Jones was actually one of the best parts of that film (aside from Day-Lewis) and I remember him complimenting the President very well. Jones has already won the SAG Award and most are predicting the win for him and it’s not something that I’m opposed to; he very much deserves it. Waltz is just a personal favorite.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Actress Film
Amy Adams The Master
Sally Field Lincoln
Anne Hathaway Les Misérables
Helen Hunt The Sessions
Jacki Weaver Silver Linings Playbook

Most Deserving: Anne Hathaway

Most Likely: Anne Hathaway

Why: Like the Best Actor category, this is also an almost guaranteed win for Hathaway. I haven’t seen The Sessions so I can’t speak to Hunt’s performance, but of the others, none was nearly as memorable as Hathaway’s Fantine. She deserves it for “I Dreamed a Dream” alone but there was also more to her character than that one song which is why the win is almost a lock.


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Film
Brave
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

Most Deserving: Brave

Most Likely: Wreck-It Ralph

Why: This is an interesting category for me since I’ve only seen one of the nominees which is why Brave takes my spot for most deserving. There’s a good chance it will win Best Animated Feature, it is a Pixar film after all, and I would say it’s in the better half of their oeuvre. But my prediction needs to rely on outside information and after winning the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature, it looks like Wreck-It Ralph (my pick for the Golden Globes by the way, for which Brave won) is the new front-runner for the Academy Awards. I really wanted to see this film because it looks amazing, the trailer was phenomenal, and reviews are extremely positive. The only reason I’m no putting this as most deserving is simply because I haven’t seen it.


BEST FOREIGN FILM

Film Country
Amour Austria
Kon Tiki Norway
No Chile
A Royal Affair Denmark
War Witch Canada

Most Deserving: Amour

Most Likely: Amour

Why: I’m going to put this plain and simple: Amour was nominated for Best Picture, the first foreign film since Letters From Iwo Jima in 2006 and the first since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000 to be nominated for both categories. I haven’t seen the other nominees but I don’t think it’s necessary: Amour is another safe bet and I would be very surprised if it didn’t win.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Film Writer(s)
Amour Michael Haneke
Django Unchained Quentin Tarantino
Flight John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty Mark Boal

Most Deserving: Django Unchained

Most Likely: Zero Dark Thirty

Why: In case you couldn’t tell by now, most of my picks for the most likely categories are based off who’s won the award in the ceremony specific to the category. So my pick for Best Original Screenplay is Zero Dark Thirty because it won the WGA award. Also, Mark Boal did win for Best Original Screenplay for The Hurt Locker which was also directed by Kathryn Bigelow and was also about the wars in the Middle East. Similar to the Best Supporting Actor category, I don’t have any real aversion to Zero Dark Thirty winning and Boal did an incredible job, it’s just that Tarantino’s writing for Django Unchained was also very good.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Film Writer(s)
Argo Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
Life of Pi David Magee
Lincoln Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook David O. Russell

Most Deserving: Argo

Most Likely: Argo

Why: You know the saying “Go big or go home.” Well I’m pretty much going all in for my favorite film of the year Argo and I’ll probably get a lot of these predictions right, or there could be a lot of upsets and Argo wins hardly any. Either way, I’m still choosing Argo to win for Best Adapted Screenplay. Not only has it won the WGA Award, but it adrenaline-pumping story combined with witty exchanges between some of the characters made it an all-around great script with drama and humor,


BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Film
Anna Karenina
Les Misérables
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

Most Deserving: Les Misérables

Most Likely: Anna Karenina

Why: Now we start getting into the territory of the technical awards, were more of the non-Best Picture nominees win and my predications rely more on the prognostications of other journalists. My personal choice would be for Les Misérables, but Anna Karenina seems the more likely choice (probably because it’s more of a period piece than Les Mis is and the Academy loves period films for Costume Design).


BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Song Film
“Before My Time” Chasing Ice
“Everybody Needs a Best Friend” Ted
“Pi’s Lullaby” Life of Pi
“Skyfall” Skyfall
“Suddenly” Les Misérables

Most Deserving: “Skyfall”

Most Likely: “Skyfall”

Why: Another category with general consensus is Best Original Song. Adele’s “Skyfall” is not only my choice (I would go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite songs of the year) but many others like it as well. It’s safe to say the new James Bond film will be getting at least one win.


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Film
Anna Karenina
Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

Most Deserving: Life of Pi

Most Likely: Life of Pi

Why: I’m not that familiar with the scores for the films this year. Nothing really stood out to me (besides The Hobbit but that’s only because I really enjoyed the tracks with dwarvish singing - not necessarily because it really is the best original score). Trying to pick one of the best, Life of Pi sort of comes to mind. With vast chunks of the film taking place on the boat and with the big emotional ending, I have a feeling that the score probably had something to do with it. Some people are saying John Williams might win for Lincoln but this is a case where I think a previous winner doesn’t have an advantage.


BEST DOCUMENTARY

Film
5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man

Most Deserving: NA

Most Likely: Searching for Sugar Man

Why: A lot of these remaining categories I haven’t seen any of the nominees. My predictions are relying on Google searches of other critics. It seems the consensus for Best Documentary is Searching for Sugar Man.


BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

Film
“Inocente”
“Kings Point”
“Mondays at Racine”
“Open Heart”
“Redemption”

Most Deserving: NA

Most Likely: “Inocente”

Why: This looks to be one of the more wide-open short film categories but signs are pointing to “Inocente” as the winner. Although “Open Heart” and “Mondays at Racine” are other big names being tossed about.


BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Film
Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables

Most Deserving: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Most Likely: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Why: A big change with The Hobbit compared with The Lord of the Rings (which won this award twice), is that a lot of the makeup and hairstyling was done as CGI. Regardless, they still did a great job (Gollum looks amazing, and that’s not just the visual effects, the makeup/hair was well done too). Les Misérables is looking to be the runner-up. The reason I’m not choosing it: nothing was really stand-out compared to all the dwarves, orcs, elves, etc. in The Hobbit.


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Film
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln

Most Deserving: Les Misérables

Most Likely: Anna Karenina

Why: The technical awards are always hard for me to choose because these are probably the most subjective categories. When you watch a film you notice the acting and hear the writing being verbalized but you don’t really notice things like production design (mainly the props, set dressings, etc.) unless it really doesn’t fit in. My prediction here is relying mainly on outside sources who think Anna Karenina will win (it already has won the Art Directors Guild Award). Not having seen the film, I would go with Les Misérables instead because there were some elaborate sets filled with countless props that looked like French-revolution era. But I’m sticking with Anna Karenina for my actual pick.


BEST FILM EDITING

Film
Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Most Deserving: Argo

Most Likely: Argo

Why: This category seems to be split between two films: Argo and Zero Dark Thirty - both edited by the same person, William Goldenberg. I’m choosing Argo not only based on personal preference (I thought it helped build tension and suspense more effectively compared with Zero Dark Thirty), but Argo also won the Eddie Award which gives it the leg up for the Oscars.


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Film
Anna Karenina
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

Most Deserving: Skyfall

Most Likely: Life of Pi

Why: A few years ago Roger Deakins was nominated in this category for True Grit (this year it’s for Skyfall) and he was my pick for the win. The logic was that he is an aging guy who despite nine, now ten, nominations has never won. The Award ultimately went to Wally Pfister for Inception and Deakins lost yet again. This year, I’m still rooting for Deakins who did a phenomenal job on Skyfall and made it one of the best looking Bond films in years. He may still pull an upset for the same reason I thought he would win for True Grit but I’m calling Claudio Miranda as the winner for his equally impressive work on Life of Pi.


BEST SOUND EDITING

Film
Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

Most Deserving: Life of Pi

Most Likely: Life of Pi

Why: My logic behind choosing Life of Pi for Best Sound Editing is two-fold: (1) the winner is usually nominated in both sound categories (read more below); and (2) it’s looking like Life of Pi will pull a Hugo and win most if not all of the technical awards. More than that though, there was some amazing work done to get the sound of the tiger and the ever present ocean. More people think Zero Dark Thirty may win or even Skyfall by a slim amount, but I’m sticking with Life of Pi.


BEST SOUND MIXING

Film
Argo
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

Most Deserving: Les Misérables

Most Likely: Les Misérables

Why: My initial reaction to this category would have been to choose Life of Pi because I remember from last year that the sound categories are typically won by the same film (which is why Drive didn’t win last year). But I was reminded, as if I could forget, that Les Misérables recorded all the music live on set instead of recording in studio and lip-synching on set. It succeeded beyond my wildest expectations and as a result is my choice for Best Sound Mixing and I have a feeling the Academy will feel the same way.


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Film
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Marvel’s The Avengers
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman

Most Deserving: Life of Pi

Most Likely: Life of Pi

Why: In today’s day and age visual effects are almost second nature to many films. It’s something you see all the time and with technology advanced to the place it is, the same-old just doesn’t cut it as groundbreaking anymore. For that reason films like Marvel’s The Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Prometheus won’t be winning. It’s not that they have bad visual effects but we’ve seen a lot of them before. Life of Pi on the other hand has the amazing and impressive CGI tiger that not only looks real, but interacts with Pi as if he was there on the boat. The Hobbit made some impressive improvements to Gollum compared to The Lord of the Rings but Life of Pi is more revolutionary and that’s why it will win.


BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Film
“Adam and Dog”
“Fresh Guacamole”
“Head over Heels”
“Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’”
“Paperman”

Most Deserving: “Paperman”

Most Likely: “Paperman”

Why: This is the only short film category for which I’ve actually seen the nominees (all besides “Adam and Dog”). My choice of “Paperman” also seems to be the critics consensus. Premiering in front of Wreck-It Ralph, my pick for Best Animated Feature, this short has an interesting premise and the execution makes for strong characters and a strong connection through the paper airplanes - all without dialogue.


BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Film
“Asad”
“Buzkashi Boys”
“Curfew”
“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)”
“Henry”

Most Deserving: NA

Most Likely: “Curfew”

Why: The consensus for Live Action short film seems to be “Curfew” with “Death of a Shadow” or “Buzkashi Boys” being strong runners-up.