Well, here it is—Oscar weekend—and what had started out as a seemingly predictable year at the Oscars now looks a little less predictable, and has also become one of the most promoted ceremonies I can recall. It’s certainly evolved into the busiest Oscar season I’ve ever had since I’ve been Svengali’d into—along with Justin Souther—this Oscar party at The Carolina on Sunday night.
This is one of those things that started out innocently. There had been some talk about an Oscar party in the Cinema Lounge, which I hadn’t paid much attention to simply because Sunday is traditionally my busiest writing day. Then one of the Asheville Film Society’s most loyal members got involved in pushing the idea of it being a kind of AFS event—and nothing would do but that Justin and I be in attendance. Somehow all this mushroomed into a sort of major production involving The Carolina, the AFS, technical wizardy from the Xpress and Elitist Bastards Producer Steve Shanafelt—and Mr. Souther and I providing some kind of running commentary throughout the evening. Being deeply distrustful of technical wizardry, however, I admit this comes under the heading of something I will believe when I see it—or when someone else sees it. The theory—as I understand it—is that you will be able to watch us live through the Xpress site. (Personally, I think the whole thing involves Mr. Shanafelt meeting the devil at a crossroads at midnight.)
From the outside—if you exempt the fact that somewhere between now and then I have to come up with reviews of Drive Angry 3D, Casino Jack, Rabbit Hole, Casino Royale, The Old Dark House, I Am Cuba and Rembrandt—that may sound fairly innocuous. From where I sit, it sounds pretty darn daunting. Oh, I’m no stranger to talking. Clapton knows, that’s the truth, but I think the longest I’ve on unchecked is about 70 minutes for the commentary track on a Charlie Chan movie. By my reckoning—and assuming the Oscars don’t drag on till after midnight—this is going to be in the neighborhood if five hours. I fully expect to sound like Jimmy Stewart at the end of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington by the end of the evening. I also expect to be completely Oscared out.
What else do I expect? Well, I know there are games and prizes. And I’m hoping that someone—more than one someone—will have something to say over the course of the evening besides the two of us. I may even get religion for the duration and pray that happens. So if you have something to say about the Oscars, please show up and say it. We need all the help we can get.
As for the Oscars themselves, well, since the rush to proclaim The Social Network “the Citizen Kane of our generation” seems to have gone by the wayside a bit, it actually looks like The King’s Speech has a shot at Best Picture. Of course, the question is whether the hastily acquired luster of The Social Network started to dim before or after the actual voting took place. It may also depend on whether or not Oscar voters felt they could prove how relevant they are by plopping for “that Facebook movie.” We shall see.
In quick rundown form, here’s how I expect things to shake out—and how I’d like to see them.
Best Picture. It’s an iffy proposition, but I do expect The King’s Speech to take the big award. It’s also what I’d like to see. My second personal choice would be True Grit.
Best Director. I tend to think it’s ludicrous for Best Director and Best Picture to be different, but my guess is that it will. Tom Hooper—director of The King’s Speech—is a Hollywood outsider and a newcomer to most people. I’d like to see him win, but I strongly suspect that David Fincher for The Social Network is going to win.
Best Actor. This is Colin Firth’s award. Period.
Best Actress. My money’s on Natalie Portman in Black Swan. I might have a marginal preference for Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole, but it’s not going to happen. The film—worthy as it is in many ways—has scarcely caused a ripple,
Best Supporting Actor. Oh, it’s going go to Christian Bale in The Fighter. It hardly matters that I’d like to see it go to Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech. The Academy is just too in love with fussy, showy performances where someone glams down for it not to go to Bale.
Best Supporting Actress. For exactly the same reason that Bale’s the likely winner, so too is Melissa Leo the best bet for the same movie. In a just world it would go to Helena Bonham Carter, but if there’s one thing the Oscars rarely represent, it’s a just world.
In the less exalted categories (read: less cared about by the general public), we have some interesting possibilities.
Best Original Screenplay. I think David Seidler with get this for The King’s Speech—and I think he deserves it.
Best Adapted Screenplay. I suspect this will go to Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network, but they might throw the indies a bone by giving it to Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini for Winter’s Bone. Me, I’d give it to Coens for True Grit.
Best Animated Feature. I hope this goes to The Illusionist. I fear it will go to my least favorite of the three nominees, Toy Story 3.
Art Direction. I have a hunch that this will go The King’s Speech, and that’s fine, but I really think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is more deserving.
Best Cinematography. I really have no clue how this cat will jump, but it ought to jump for Roger Deakins and True Grit.
Best Costume Design. My guess is Jenny Beavan for The King’s Speech because it’s the type of costume design the Academy tends to like. I have a hunch I’d plop for Sandy Powell and The Tempest—if I could only see the damned thing.
Best Documentary. This would seem to come down to an interesting conundrum for the Academy. Do they want to show how serious they are and give it to Inside Job? Or do they want to show how hip they are and award Exit Through the Gift Shop. I really don’t much care.
Best Original Score. In a year where my main memory of film music comes down to the use of the second movement of the Beethoven Seventh Symphony in The King’s Speech, the use of existing music from a varity of composers in Shutter Island, the use of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in Black Swan, and the use of John Adams’ music in I Am Love, I’m virtually at a loss on this one.
Best Song. Always an Oscar wild card, but I’m going with my own choice—“I See the Light” by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater from Tangled. I don’t really remember the others.
Best Short Film (Animated). I think this will go The Lost Thing and it should.
Best Short Film (Live Action). I’d like to see Wish 143 win. I suspect Na Wewe will, though.
Best Visual Effects. This should be a no-brainer—Inception.
I’m staying out of the Foreign-Language entries. Biutiful is the only one I’ve seen, and it didn’t deserve a nomination. The make-up nominees seem peculiar or maybe just desperate. The editing award is always tricky. A film that requires “flashy” editing like Black Swan or 127 Hours is more immediately apparent to the average viewer. On that basis, I lean toward Black Swan, but I’m not sure that the more subtle editing of The King’s Speech mightn’t be better. I’d have to watch the film again with the editing in mind. Anyway, I’d have given it to I Am Love and it wasn’t nominated.
So there you have it. You can grade my guesses after the fact—or during it, if you’re that way inclined.