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Home » Culture and Criticism

Oscars Death Race: Conclusion and Pool Recs

Submitted by on March 7, 2010 – 5:11 PM12 Comments


Well, friends, I gave it my best, but I couldn't manage to watch them all. The final score is Sarah 50, Death Race 8 (86-ish percent) and 20 out of 24 categories completed (83 percent). I'd hoped to cram in another movie or two today, but I had to act in a music video (…I know), so that didn't work out.

In case anyone cares, I've listed my recommendations for your Oscar-pool picks after the jump.

Best Picture
Should win: Hurt Locker.
Will win: Avatar.

Best Actor
Should win: I'm told Firth was amazing, but I didn't get around to seeing A Single Man. Of the nominees I saw, Bridges and Renner did equally good work.
Will win: Bridges.

Best Actress
Should win: Tough call. Sidibe is excellent, but I have to vote Streep. Or, really, anyone but Bullock.
Will win: Bullock, much as it pains me.

Best Supporting Actor
Should win: Everyone in the category did great work; I'd like to see Harrelson rewarded for raising his game.
Will win: Christoph Waltz, which is fine with me.

Best Supporting Actress
Should win: Wildly different performances make "should" a tough call. Kendrick or Mo'Nique.
Will win: Mo'Nique.

Best Director
Should win: I said elsewhere that all these directors did achieve a great deal in different areas of directing (except Reitman, who was kind of average). Any other year, Tarantino might have gotten it for showing some mature depth at last. This year, it's between Bigelow and Cameron.
Will win: Bigelow.

Best Original Screenplay
Should win: Inglourious Basterds.
Will win: Inglourious Basterds.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Should win: In the Loop.
Will win: Woof, what a dog's breakfast this category is. If District 9 is winning anything, it's this, but I have no idea how this will go. In the Loop or Up in the Air.

Best Cinematography
Should win: The White Ribbon.
Will win: Avatar.

Best Editing
Should win: Hell, I don't know. The hallmark of good editing is often, but not always, that you don't notice it…but that doesn't help me narrow it down. Hurt Locker it is, I guess.
Will win: Hurt Locker or Inglourious Basterds.

Best Art Direction
Should win: In terms of absolutely, fully realizing the visual tone, Nine.
Will win: It's hard to say with some of these techier categories how willing the voters will be to just give Avatar everything. I tend to err on the side of assuming they'll think it through, which I shouldn't do. Avatar.

Best Costume Design
Should win: All extremely good. I liked Bright Star's version the best.
Will win: I really have no idea, because I have no background in fashion history and I have no idea whether that's something the voters use to judge this category. Nine or Coco avant Chanel.

Best Makeup
Should win: I don't know how this should be judged either. Let's use "had the furthest to go, and got there" as the metric, and call it for Star Trek.
Will win: Like I said, not sure of the metric here, but what the hell. Star Trek.

Best Original Score
Should win: Oh my god, Up by a landslide.
Will win: Up.

Best Original Song
Should win: I didn't care for any of these nominees and think the wrong songs from both Crazy Heart and Nine got nominated. "The Weary Kind" is slightly less boring than the others.
Will win: I feel like The Princess and the Frog wins here, I don't know why. "Down in New Orleans" is by-number gumboid dreck, but it probably wins. "The Weary Kind" is a safe choice too, though.

Best Sound Mixing
Should win: Hurt Locker.
Will win: Hurt Locker.

Best Sound Editing
Should win: Inglourious Basterds. The creaking in that opening sequence is unbearable.
Will win: Avatar.

Best Visual Effects
Should win: Avatar.
Will win: Avatar.

Best Animated Feature
Should win: Up.
Will win: Up, probably, but a vote for Fantastic Mr. Fox is not misplaced.

Best Foreign Language Film
Should win: I only saw three of them; all three are outstanding, in different ways. The most notable achievement is The White Ribbon's.
Will win: The White Ribbon.

Best Documentary Feature
Should win: I didn't see Which Way Home, but of the other four, I thought Daniel Ellsberg was the most effective and well paced.
Will win: I have no idea. Probably not The Cove, but any other vote would make sense to me. Based on the subject matter, Which Way Home.

Best Documentary Short
Should win: No idea. I only saw one; it was affecting, but doesn't necessarily seem like Oscar-winning material.
Will win: Krolik po berlinsku. I…think.

Best Animated Short
Should win: Logorama.
Will win: Wallace and Gromit.

Best Live-Action Short
Should win: Istallet for abrakadabra is my favorite; it has problems, but it also has spirit and great comic timing.
Will win: The Door, alas, but The New Tenants could surprise us.

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  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I'll hang on to my pool ballot and come back to compare my predictions with reality. The irony here is that it's easier to make cynical guesses — which are usually borne out — when you haven't seen most of the movies. When you HAVE seen most of them, you start letting trivia like quality and valid comparisons get in the way of the selection process.

  • Jenn says:

    Considering you only started a month ago, this is pretty dang impressive.

  • Todd K says:

    [It's hard to say with some of these techier categories how willing the voters will be to just give Avatar everything. I tend to err on the side of assuming they'll think it through, which I shouldn't do.]

    Agreed. There's more thinking through at the nominating stage, when the electorate is restricted to the branch that knows the craft being considered. When the actual winners are being decided, and the acting branch is helping to decide the result for sound mixing, etc., some juggernaut movie like Avatar usually just racks up more wins. Or else, a movie wins a category because "more" of something is deemed "better" (everyone's face is painted in an elaborate way = best makeup; really noisy = best sound; etc.).

    Randy Newman was amusing on that subject many years ago, when he had had a lot of nominations for scores and songs but had not won yet. He said the nomination really is the flattering part, because you know it's coming from your peers — in his case, composers. He noted that when he fills out his own Oscar ballot, he's often working in the dark. He liked The Talented Mr. Ripley, so he voted for it for "Best Makeup" that year, but "How do I know if the makeup on Jude Law was any good? Or wardrobe [gesturing at his own schlumpy clothes], as you can see."

  • Kari says:

    I have heard that the editing prize usually goes to the Best Picture winner. (I remember there was a big discussion about this the year Crash beat Brokeback.) So I always make those two the same on my ballot.

  • Rinaldo says:

    Ha! Those last two sentences are so very true. I always do better predicting when I haven't seen the movies and just go with my cynicism.

    You prefer "Cinema Italiano" to the NINE song that got nominated?

  • Catherine says:

    ha! True dat.

    I also have a double list… my picks and who I think the Academy will favor. Be interested to see how I do against you. Didn't see as many films as you did, but I gave it a bit of a go. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Mary says:

    D'oh! I just turned in my pool ballot before I read this post. Wish I could actually watch on TV tonight (boo on Cablevision and ABC).

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Rinaldo: Marginally. I didn't like that role, or Cotillard in it, is part of it.

    I wish we could find out how the votes break down — who voted for what, how many voted for what. I don't mean compromise the voters' anonymity, just see which demographics did what.

  • Douglas says:

    Music video?

  • OK. I wasn't gonna say anything, but now that it won, I need to unload a bit. I hate, hate, hated Logorama. Like bile spouting from my throat, shield my eyes, how could the Academy have let this one slip through hate. It's bad enough that the Academy screwed this up, but to find out that YOU actually fell for it… oh man.

    Sigh. OK. I'm sure I'm the only person reading this who actually cares about the animated short film category (unless my wife swings by the blog), but here's what an animated short CAN be:

    OK, I don't love the ending, but it's still a great piece, and worlds better than any of the shorts that got nominated.

  • Caitlin says:

    Well done! My boyfriend and I were inspired by you to see how well we could do–he had a head start on me, and got to 48/58, and I made it to 39. Way more than any other years, and the first time we'd delved into the short films. But you beat us both–well done!

  • Profreader says:

    Congratulations to making it as far as you did; I was exhausted just *reading* the list of Best Picture nominees (I'm staunchly against this ten-nominees business.) I used to try to see everything – this year the only reason I managed to see any at all was by borrowing friends' SAG screeners. (Well, "Up" I saw in the theater. I am one of the few remaining bipeds on this planet that has not been to see "Avatar.")

    I appreciated the reviews of everything — it's made me want to check out some of the lesser known films. But I agree that not seeing the movies makes it easier to predict the winners — I was rooting for a Streep win (I know she has a lot of awards, but only 2 Oscars, and they were over 20 years ago) but I knew a Bullock win was going to happen. However, I think Sandra Bullock, in her acceptance speech, proved herself to be a class act and someone who understands reality and the importance of a sense of humor about oneself. I loved her more after that speech.

    And I was appalled that they played "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" as Kathryn Bigelow's playoff music. Why not play "I Enjoy Being A Girl" while you're at it? (You could tell that they anticipated her win when Streisand rolled out there as the presenter … and she just didn't want to let go of that statuette, did she? Understandable.)

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