Yet Another Oscar Predictions Article/ My 2 cents
(My final article for CP blog, bowing out IIM Cal style :P)
Disclaimer: All the nominees this year have done wonderful work. This article does not intend to slight any of their work, but only aims to get into the Academy’s head(s?) to predict the probable winners.
It’s that time of the year again. The Oscars are just around the corner. And every expert worth his/her salt has already predicted wins for Oscar hopefuls. So, why this entirely pointless exercise of writing yet another article on the same issue, you may ask. Because, as a PGP2 I couldn’t resist upstaging PGP1s , coz that’s what we PGP2s do! (refer to Oscar poll that facchas have started). Without much further ado, let me begin my prediction.
First, the Academy Awards® for acting a.k.a the acting gongs. The way the awards season has progressed till now – Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo seem to be the outright favourites. It would take a very brave person to bet against Firth and Portman. The Best Actress category this year is filled with incredible performances, each of which could have easily won in a normal year. Despite that, my bet is on Natalie Portman – basically because she has won every single award this season. Christian Bale could be in for some competition from Geoffrey Rush, whose performance in TKS was as brilliant as Colin Firth’s portrayal of King George VI. But this could only happen if the Academy is on a total feel-good mode (more on that later). Also, the Academy loves to reward someone who has undergone an extreme physical transformation for a film (e.g. Charlize Theron for Monster), so Bale might be the winner. Similarly, another actor from The King’s Speech could pose a threat to Melissa Leo’s chances (apart from her own attempts at advertising herself, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/feb/23/melissa-leo-advert-celebrity-oscar ). Helena Bonham Carter takes a temporary break from psychopathic roles (her last outing as Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films will be later this year) to play a kind, loving wife to Colin Firth’s King George VI. In a film that is essentially a ‘bromance’, she holds her own against two of the best performances of the year. For that heart-warming performance, thank you , Ma’am (well, Ma’am as in ham not Maam as in palm 😉 ). Still, I am not going to sit on the fence on this one – drum roll, please…. Melissa Leo it is! And yes, I would like to take this opportunity to express outrage at the Academy for not nominating Andrew Garfield of The Social Network and Mila Kunis of Black Swan. Garfield brought heart and innocence to a film portraying a world of cut-throat competition and insincere relationships. Kunis was a better ‘Black Swan’ than Portman ever was. I suppose, it isn’t the Oscars if there aren’t enough omissions.
Now, it’s time for the Academy awards ® for Best Picture and Best Director. The King’s Speech Versus The Social Network. In the recent past, both these awards have gone to the same film (one of the reasons why critics and film journalists have been using the Best Director nominations to short list the 5 best films out of the 10 Best Picture nominations in the past two years). The last time this did not happen Crash took home the Best Picture award while Ang Lee was awarded Best Director for Brokeback Mountain. We may be in for a similar surprise this year. The King’s Speech has received much love since the Golden Globes which were, in a way, the high-point of the extraordinary amount of praise that The Social Network had garnered since its release. Until the DGA awards, TKS was considered a close second to The Social Network. The former’s win at the DGA has prompted many experts to revise their predictions for the film and director categories. If you haven’t heard about the DGA awards, let’s say it suffices to know that this was one award that Kathryn Bigelow won last year for The Hurt Locker that caused everyone to withdraw their bets on the mighty Avatar. A DGA winner wins the Oscar 90% of the time. That’s a fact. Yep, it’s an important award, despite its boring name. Maybe the early Social Network storm has subsided, because the British are already celebrating. Besides, the Academy has a tendency to vote for feel-good movies over relevant films that pass the test of time (e.g. Crash over Brokeback Mountain; the latter despite being set in a different time period is even more relevant today, IMHO). Moreover, we have on our hands a feel-good British film! The internet nerds don’t stand a chance. It is very rare that a film that has gathered such momentum has lost at the final hurdle. So, I think The King’s Speech would win Best Film and hope that David Fincher (The Social Network) would win Best Director.
Because while The King’s Speech is a wonderful film, it follows a fairly predictable and linear narrative. Compare and contrast that with a film which has a narrative that follows two lawsuits and a Harvard dorm, quickly pacing back and forth, with quick and witty dialogue and some fine acting from all of its actors. And the culmination of it all – the final scene, where the founder of facebook, the social networking phenomenon of a decade full of such phenomena, sits alone in a board room refreshing his FB profile page every few seconds, hoping that the ex-girlfriend who dumped him would accept his ‘friend’ request, having just alienated his only friend. As it is said in IIMC, whattay film. Its relevance to today’s world is unquestionable. However, its relevance to future generations is scary. This is why Fincher should win. Will he win? Considering the body of work he has done, he might just edge Tom Hooper of The King’s Speech. And this time, I won’t complain that a director’s past work has weighed in on his win.
At least these two films will not be competing in the screenplay categories. IMO, they will both win – TKS for Original Screenplay and TSN for Adapted Screenplay.
This is probably a good time to express more outrage – How can you ignore Christopher Nolan? Agreed, Inception is a popcorn flick. But it is very similar to The Social Network in many ways. Risky subject, non-linear narrative, quick pace, witty dialogue, fine lead acting by Leonardo DiCaprio and excellent support from the others. All this without confusing the viewer and warranting repeat viewings. This isn’t the first time the Academy has snubbed Nolan. Funnily enough, all these misses (The Dark Knight was not nominated for best film) might make him think that the Academy does not like him very much. He’s British too, so that’s all the more puzzling. Maybe, you have to be British and make very British films too. In this exceptional year, Inception might only win in the Visual Effects category.
Toy Story 3 is a shoo-in for Best Animation feature. As for Best Foreign Language Film, I have not seen any of the nominated pictures but the buzz is that In a Better World , a Danish film by Susanne Bier is the favourite. (Note: Do watch her previous films, Brothers and After the Wedding, of which the latter was nominated in the same category, but lost to The Lives of Others).
The best may not always win at the Oscars, but the Academy voters do follow a formula most of the time. However, they are known for springing a surprise every now and then, but I suspect I may be right in most of the categories mentioned. Come 27 February, we’ll see.
P.S. I have nothing against British films and soaps. In fact, I think the British audiences have a sensibility that is much more mature and receptive to subtlety than American ones. But sometimes the Academy goes too far in showing their trans-Atlantic cousins some love.