Spoiler alert: I'm going to ruin the Oscars for you.
I used to watch the ceremony on the edge of my seat- though I've always been an avid cinephile, I could never outguess the Academy: Why would Million Dollar Baby
beat The Aviator
after it won so many technical categories? How could Crash
possibly win anything
? But a few years ago I discovered
the cottage industry of blogs
that follow every Oscar precursor, every press release and For-Your-Consideration ad, know all the angles and can predict what will win most categories.
Basically these blogs do all the hard work for you, making charts of each Critic's circle award, the SAGs, the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and all of the individual filmmakers' guild awards that correspond to the technical categories. They work out which ones match up to the Oscars and predict accordingly — there are even Vegas odds for Best Picture.
The internet, like it does for most everything, can remove the wonder from the Oscars but give you the upper hand. It'll drain Sunday night of most of its inherent drama (you can bet on just how wacky host Billy Crystal will be!), but you'll win your Oscar pool if its full of casual moviegoers that don't know Hugo from a hole in the ground.
This year it's clear that The Artist has a deathgrip on Best Picture, as well as Best Director and Editing (the two most important Best Picture indicators). Star Jean Dujardin (the titular "Artist") has a slight edge on George Clooney for Best Actor, and since The Artist is a silent movie, composer Ludovic Borce had to carry so much weight that he's assured the Best Original Score statue. Plus it's a period piece, it can count on Best Costumes as well.
Use these in your pool, and if you win then let me know (that I haven't wasted my last three winters obsessing over the Oscar-guessing industry for no reason).
But the juggernaut ends there: The more colorful, expansive Hugo will beat it for Art Direction, and since it has no dialogue it'll lose Best Original Screenplay to Midnight in Paris (the screenplay category is basically Woody Allen's homefield).
The Help was the only Best Picture nominee that people actually saw, so it has to take home something: expect Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer to win Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. Christopher Plummer will win Best Supporting Actor for Beginners, in a classic "He doesn't have an Oscar yet?" move of respect.
Alexander Payne's The Descendants will have to console itself with Best Adapted Screenplay, and then we have some miscellaneous categories and techs: Rango is clearly the frontrunner for Best Animated Feature, A Separation the obvious Best Foreign Film winner and Hugo will probably take both Sound Mixing and Sound Effects Editing.
Paradise Lost 3 (about the recently released West Memphis 3) seems to have the edge in Documentary feature, the song from The Muppets will easily beat the song from Rio, and Meryl Streep's Thatcher-ization will carry The Iron Lady to a Best Makeup victory. The Tree of Life was incomprehensible, but beautiful, so it ought to take home Best Cinematography. Andy Serkis' motion-capture performance in The Rise of the Planet of the Apes should guarantee that film Best Visual Effects.
That just leaves the three short films: I'm not going to lie, these are nearly impossible to get right. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore seems like the most memorable of the animated shorts (though it has to beat La Luna from powerhouse Pixar). No one on the internet can agree about the other two, so I'm arbitrarily going with The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom because it's the most depressing-sounding Documentary Short, and Time Freak for Live Action Short because I love time travel.
The full list of picks is below. There are always surprises on Oscar Sunday, but if you're a nerd like I am, it's because Transformers inexplicably loses Visual Effects to The Golden Compass, not an upset in the big categories. Use these in your pool, and if you win then let me know (that I haven't wasted my last three winters obsessing over the Oscar-guessing industry for no reason).
Picture: The Artist
Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Actress: Viola Davis, The Help
Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris
Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
Editing: The Artist
Cinematography: The Tree of Life
Score: The Artist
Song: The Muppets
Art Direction: Hugo
Costumes: The Artist
Sound Mixing: Hugo
Sound Effects Editing: Hugo
Makeup: The Iron Lady
Visual Effects: The Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Foreign: A Separation
Animated Feature: Rango
Doc Feature: Paradise Lost 3
Doc Short: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Animated Short: The Fantastic Flying Books...
Live Short: Time Freak