Fading out on the 2012 Oscars

25 February 2012

So it’s usually about this time of year that I wrap up a series of blog entries predicting (well, attempting to) the winners of the Academy Awards.  Last year, it ended up as three or four entries, probably about 10,000 words, complete with historical markers and rules of thumb for how each category tends to go.  I’ve had fun doing it, had some success as well (last year I picked 18 of the 24 winners correctly), and I hope people have had fun reading it.

This year … it’ll just be this one article.  A month or so ago, I was all revved up for doing a big showstopper franchise of columns, but it ended up as just this little indie production.

Now, I’ll grant that part of the reason was the depression I’ve been pushing through the last couple of months (see my previous post).  But another part of the reason was that it’s been a pretty blah movie awards season.  And much of the reason for that was that 2011 was a pretty blah year for movies — especially the type of movies that tend to win Oscars.

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What time is it? It’s movie awards time!

28 December 2011

It’s December 28, 2011.  The next Academy Awards will be held on February 26, 2012.  Which means … we are already well into the awards season!

Now you may be thinking, “whaaaa?  It’s two months away — whaddaya mean, we’re already into it?”  Well, what I mean is, we’re already into it.  Because the Oscars are only the culmination of a three-month-long orgy of the film industry and ancillary businesses patting each other on the back for another year of consistent profits and slightly less consistent artistry.  Plenty of awards have already been given, and numerous groups will be giving out more of them all the way up to the big Academy shindig 60 nights from now.  Heck, the screeners (special DVD copies of film) have been going out for weeks already, and sites like The Wrap and Gold Derby are currently festooned with enough “For Your Consideration” ads to choke Louis B. Mayer (and maybe even Oscar Mayer, no relation).

To date, trophies (real or metaphorical) have been handed out by the National Board of Review (the traditional first-awarders), the New York Film Critics Circle (this year’s first-awarders, as they bumped their announcement up to swipe some glory from the NBR), the International Press Association, and the film critics societies in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Florida, Indiana (!), Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego, the Southeast, Toronto, Utah (!!!) and Washington, D.C.  And there are plenty more to come as other critics’ group throw in their two cents, culminating in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe awards on January 15.  After that, the reviewers give way to the Hollywood (and elsewhere) guilds and a few independent groups, who’ll be passing out shiny baubles up to the eve of the Oscars themselves.

But already, a few trends have begun to emerge in the voting of the various groups, which give some indication as to who the Academy will nominate, and perhaps even who will win come 2/26/12 …

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Oscar post-mortem: better late than James Franco

2 March 2011

(Blogger’s note: this post should’ve been up Monday.  Unfortunately, I came down with a 36-hour something-or-other and was barely functioning.  But, to quote the not-dead-yet guy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “I’m getting better.”  My apologies for the tardiness regardless.  And look on the bright side: at least I’m not going to be writing about Charlie Sheen …)

Well, I made my goal.

Going into the Academy Awards this year, I had my predictions ready (see here, here and here if you missed them earlier) and had a goal in mind.  I correctly picked 16 out of 24 two years ago, 17 out of 24 last year, so this year I was hoping for 18.  And I got it — 18 out of 24, right on the money.  Which is pretty good, I think.  Steve Pond of the show-business website The Wrap, who’s historically very good at this sort of thing, apparently only got 17 this year.  If that’s the case, wow — beating Steve Pond in Oscar predictions is like edging out Kobe Bryant for the NBA scoring title.

I’ll get to the picks themselves in a little bit — but for starters, let’s go into the highlights of the ceremony.  Or maybe the lack thereof.

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Oscar predictions, part 3: the moments you’ve all been waiting for …

26 February 2011

If you haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2 of my Oscar predictions, you might want to check them out first.  But now it’s time for the big, high-profile awards, the ones people think about when they say “so-and-so is an Oscar winner!”  Ready?  Then let’s go!

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Mike Leigh (Another Year), Silver/Tamasy/Johnson/Dorrington (The Fighter), Christopher Nolan (Inception), Lisa Cholodenko/Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right), David Seidler (The King’s Speech)

Rule of thumb: Well, it’s complicated …

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Oscar predictions, part 1: The Special Categories

26 February 2011

As promised yesterday, it’s time for my annual Academy Awards predictions.  Again, these are for entertainment purposes only, so please, no wagering.  (And if you do wager and lose, don’t whine at me about it, I warned ya.)

The format will be a little more complex this year.  First of all, to keep from wearing you out, I’ll be splitting the prognostications over three separate blog entries — one of the “special” categories, one for technical achievement, and one for the big names (writing, directing, acting and Best Picture).  Also, in addition to listing the nominees, my pick, and the reasons for the pick, I’ll be including rules of thumb for how to pick each category, and possible upsets in categories where I don’t think my choice is a stone-cold lock (that’s half of them — 12 out of the 24).

Here’s a few general rules about how Oscars are won, before we proceed:

  • Oscar nominations are based on merit; Oscar wins are based more on politics. I covered that in yesterday’s post, so I won’t reiterate it here.  It’s the most important rule to remember — the people who complain that Oscars don’t always go to the most deserving candidate are just people who don’t understand how the Oscar system works.  Life isn’t fair, and neither is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.  Cope.
  • The juries of one’s peers are exceedingly important. Before the Oscars, there are the guild awards, given by various sections of the movie-making community.  The directors have the Directors Guild Awards.  The actors have the Screen Actors Guild Awards.  The editors, the cinematographers, the sound mixing wallahs … you get the picture.  Many of the people who vote for those awards are also members of the Academy, and are the ones who vote on the same categories at the Oscars (only Best Picture is voted on by everyone).  So the guild awards, even more than the Golden Globes or other awards given by film critics, are often good indicators of who will be coming up on stage come Oscar night.
  • Keep a sharp eye on who’s aging, who’s “overdue,” and who’s a previous loser. The Academy voters like to spread the wealth, and make sure as many people win as possible.  They also like to honor their longest-serving veterans who haven’t received a trophy previously.  So being a previous Oscar winner is actually a disadvantage, while being a senior citizen — in Hollywood, that’s anyone over 40 — can boost your vote totals (they want to make sure they say “we love you” before you croak).  And if you’re older, have been nominated several times before and never won … better have that speech prepared.  (This is especially true in the acting categories.)
  • The average age of an Academy voter is 57. Granted, some of them let their grandkids fill out the ballot (Jack Palance once admitted it to a reporter), but not all of them.  This tends to cause the winners to be slightly more conservative/traditional choices than those of the critics.

Finally, I’ll underline the films I’ve actually seen, so as to help screen out any lingering “I watched that, and it was really good/bad” bias.

Okay, on to the predictions!

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Oscar pre-predictions: is a little knowledge a dangerous thing?

25 February 2011

Well, Sunday night is Oscar night, and WE’RE INVITED! So that’s pretty cool.

I definitely will be watching the Academy Awards broadcast and expect it to be a load of fun, especially with two honest-to-goodness funny people like James Franco and Anne Hathaway hosting.  (Anything’s better than Ricky Gervais at this point.)  But it’s more to me than just being the first time I’ll spend three straight hours watching TV since the World Series ended.  ‘Cause if you don’t know it, I like predicting the Oscar races.

In the past, I’ve done okay at it — I got 17 out of 24 right last year, 16 out of 24 the year before that, 14 the year before that.  This time I’m hoping to build on previous successes, aiming for 20 but with 18 probably being more realistic.  However, there’s been a change in my prediction preparation this year that might adversely affect my picks, and I’m a little worried about it.

You see … I’ve watched a lot more films this year.

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Projecting 2011: One month in

2 February 2011

Back on January 4, I wrote about the projects I believed God was guiding me to work on for 2011.  What struck me about them at the time was how mundane they were — no grand public gestures or insurmountable obstacles, just stuff-around-the-house kinds of things.  I was a little put out, until I realized that a) part of the purpose was to focus me by getting me to concentrate on fewer activities than usual, and b) the underlying subtext was that I was right where God wanted me for now.

So that’s all right, then.  But how am I doin’ with what God has me doin’?  Four and a half weeks into the new year, that seems like a good question to ask.  So why don’t I take a look, and see how well I’ve been keeping up …

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