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Want to Win Your Oscar Pool And Be The Envy of Millions? Try These Tips! (with selected shorts)

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Ms. Megawatt, Catwoman and Green Goblin, Wolverine… Next up, the Music Meister!


[No comics content here.  This falls under “pop culture” and general geekery. ]

So, your waistline (and gastrointestinal tract) has recovered from the Super Bowl.  You’re sick and tired of the weather.  You seek another diversion.  Well, tomorrow, Hollywood holds their soiree, handing out Oscar statuettes (“Academy Awards of Merit”, according to the rule book).

Situated right before March Madness, the Oscars allow for a warm-up to the office pools which proliferate during the NCAA tournament, and give the sports widows something to watch before hubby disappears into his mancave.

But… how to pick the winners?  The Academy has frequently been criticized for ignoring blockbusters, as most geeks realize when their favorite movies are relegated to the special effects category.  Sure, there is the glitz, the celebrity star power, but overall, the Oscars are a bit boring.  (But, then, so is football.)

So, unless you live in a major metropolitan area, the following nominees are probably the first time you’ve heard, let alone seen, of them. (Although, with the growing number of independent movie theaters, major studio sponsorship, and film festivals, it’s getting easier.  Gone are the days of waiting for Blockbuster to stock a copy!)

Here’s the technique I use, and my picks.  I don’t know what Nate Silver likes, and I’m not a cinema geek, so take the following with whatever disdain and cynicism you use when reading online.  Of course, feel free to share your comments below!

  • Consideration #1: Did Oscar snub a particular film which was later lauded by a guild?
  • Consideration #2: Which did the guilds select as winners?
  • Consideration #3:  What’s the buzz?  What did BAFTA and others pick?
  • Observation #4: If a movie is nominated for Best Picture, and Best Animated Feature or Best Foreign Film, the movie will not win Best Picture, but will win BAF or BFF.

But before we delve into the nominees…  The five films nominated for Best Animated Short Film:

The Bigger Picture

Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees

This won the BAFTA for British Animated Film.  It’s quite clever, using what could be described as 2.5-D animation.  The figures are painted on the walls, while in a 3-D environment.  The story is a bit bleak, and didn’t affect me.

The Dam Keeper

Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

These animators are Pixar alumni.  An interesting locale, a main character weighted with responsibility and harassment,  and a new friendship.  The setting is lush and the story a bit simple, but well worth a watch.  A possible spoiler, given the Pixar connection.

Feast

Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed

The front-runner and most-seen.  This Disney Animation short preceded “Big Hero 6” (nominated for Best Animated Feature), and tells the story of a dog, his stomach, and his heart.  Given the strong PR push before the movie, I was a bit disappointed in the actual story.  Maybe I’ve see it so many times from Disney/Pixar, and expect something more.  Overall, it’s a good film, and I won’t be disappointed if it wins.

Me and My Moulton

Torill Kove

Kove previously won an Oscar for “The Danish Poet” in 2007, and was also nominated for the biographical “My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts” in 1999.  This reminiscence deals with growing up with two unusual parents, the best friend who lives below, and how what seems perfect sometimes isn’t.

A Single Life

Joris Oprins

Pia plays a record, and discovers she can use it to time travel through her life.

I enjoyed this short (which it was…. only three minutes!), but it might not be meaty enough for Academy voters.   If you’d like to recreate the cartoon, you can order the single here.  I do hope they make a cartoon for the B side!

If you see the ShortsHD anthology in the theater, there are four “commended” films:

  • Sweet Cocoon  (with a predictable ending)
  • Footprints (Bill Plympton)
  • Duet (Glen Keane’s first directorial cartoon, and my favorite of all nine!  Funded by Google!)
  • Bus Story (A young woman dreams of being a rural bus driver.)

The Numberlys, Symphony No. 42and Coda were shortlisted along with the five nominees and “Footprints”, but were not included in the anthology.

— — —

And now for our feature presentation…

Best Picture:

American Sniper
Birdman   [Producers Guild, Screen Actors Guild cast]
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Best Director:

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman  [Directors Guild…strong predictor]
Richard Linklater, Boyhood  [BAFTA]
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Best Actor:

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything  [Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA]

Best Actress:

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice  [Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA]
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor:

Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash  [Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA]

Best Supporting Actress:

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood  [Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA]
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into The Woods

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game  [Writers Guild]
Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything  [BAFTA]
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice

Best Original Screenplay:

Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel  [Writers Guild, BAFTA]
E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Armando Bo, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Best Animated Feature:

Big Hero 6  [Visual Effects Society 5x, Cinema Audio Society, Motion Picture Sound Editors]
The Boxtrolls
How To Train Your Dragon 2 [Annies]
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

[Producers Guild, America Cinema Editors, BAFTA selected The Lego Movie.]

Best Documentary Feature:

CITIZENFOUR [BAFTA, Directors Guild, America Cinema Editors]
Last Days In Vietnam
Virunga
Finding Vivian Maier
The Salt of the Earth

Best Original Song:

“Everything is Awesome,” The Lego Movie
“Glory,” Selma
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
“Lost Stars,” Begin Again
“Grateful,” Beyond the Lights

Best Film Editing:

American Sniper
Boyhood  [America Cinema Editors]
The Imitation Game
Whiplash [BAFTA]
The Grand Budapest Hotel [America Cinema Editors]

Best Cinematography:

Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman  [BAFTA, ASC]
Ryszard Lenczewski and Łukasz Żal, Ida
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Robert D. Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Best Costume Design:

Colleen Atwood, Into The Woods [Costume Designers Guild: Fantasy]
Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel [BAFTA, Costume Designers Guild: Period]
Jacqueline Durran, Mr. Turner
Anna B. Sheppard, Maleficent
Mark Bridges, Inherent Vice

[Birdman won the CDG for Contemporary Film.]

[My gut says ItW deserves it, but wouldn’t be surprised if TGBH wins.]

Best Production Design:

The Grand Budapest Hotel [BAFTA, Art Directors Guild: Period Film]
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into The Woods
Mr. Turner

[Guardians of the Galaxy and Birdman won the ADGs for Fantasy and Contemporary movies.]

Best Animated Short:

The Bigger Picture [BAFTA]
The Dam Keeper
Feast [Annies]
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

Best Live Action Short:

Aya
Boogaloo and Graham
The Phone Call
Butter Lamp
Parvaneh

Best Documentary Short:

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Joanna
Our Curse
The Reaper (La Parka)
White Earth

Best Sound Editing:

American Sniper  [MPSE FX]
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Birdman [MPSE Music]
Unbroken [MPSE Dialogue]

[I’m picking Birdman on the expectation that there will be a run.]

Best Sound Mixing:

American Sniper
Birdman [Cinema Audio Society]
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash [BAFTA]

Best Visual Effects:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [Visual Effects Society]
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Foreign Language Film:

Ida (Poland)
Leviathan (Russia)
Tangerines (Estonia)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Wild Tales (Argentina)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel [BAFTA]  [2 MUAHS awards]
Guardians of the Galaxy [2 MUAHS awards]

[I think GotG deserves it, just because of sheer variety.  But TGBH will probably win it based on: its period research, aged AMPAS membership, consolation prize for getting trounced by Birdman.]

Best Original Score:

Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel  [BAFTA]
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner

4 COMMENTS

  1. It used to be so easy to win the oscar pool. i actually won 5 times in a row, by a large margin by doing one thing; reading and copying the predictions by Roger Ebert. If i could have met him to thank him for over $500 in prizes and to give him a hug, i would.

  2. The only post I’ve seen that shares my prediction of Big Hero 6 as the animated picture winner. Out of curiosity, what’s your reasoning there? I chalk it up to: not being a sequel, a widely favored reception, heavy technical department support (it won every award it was nominated for at the Visual Effects Society) which means it has appealing visuals for the Academy’s eye, quiet box office success, and a history of name brands succeeding more than unknowns here (meaning, fairly or unfairly, Disney and Dreamworks have the immediate advantage). But it’s one of my least confident predictions of all.

    It’s nice also to see someone sticking to Birdman for both Picture and Director. So many are predicting with a Boyhood/Birdman split, and don’t seem to be doing so for any real reason other than an uncertain fear that Boyhood will surprise and take both, given Birdman’s lack of an editing nod, so the split prediction hedges the damage.

  3. Big Hero 6… Other guild awards, no Lego Movie competition.

    Best Picture, Best Director… guild selections. DGA is a pretty solid predictor. Producers Guild? I don’t know… but I try not to overthink Oscar predictions.

    Boyhood lost editing, which was the big surprise to me.

    For the record, I scored 75% in the office pool. 18/24.

  4. Producers Guild Awards, since 1989:
    18.5 : 7.5 (One year there was a tie.) 71%

    Writers Guild (1985-present. Previous years had various categories)
    Adapted: 21:10 68% Original: 19:12 61%

    Directors Guild (1950-present)
    58 Yes, 4 No, 3 Not nominated for an Academy Award. 58:7 89%

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