Oscar Predictions 2.0

We now know who is up for each and every Oscar this year so it seems time to make another set of predictions as we stand right now. There are still times for the Director’s and Actor’s Guilds to come in and shake some things up, but we’re at a much more clear point than when I made my way too early predictions back in December. So here’s my updated picks:

Best Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

This one is secure, the performance capture technology is without a doubt the best example of visual effects in film this year. No contest.

Best Sound Mixing: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I’m sticking with the idea that action films have an edge in this field, although War Horse could be a threat here since it is set during World War I.

Best Sound Editing: Drive

Drive got snubbed with only one nomination, so a lot of this is bias that it gets recognized, but it’s not without merit as the sound in this film is excellent, it’s an action film to after all.

Best Make-Up: The Iron Lady

The Academy loves when characters age dramatically when it comes to make-up, best indication is La Vi En Rose winning her a few years back.

Best Costume Design: Hugo

Best Art Direction: Hugo

Sticking with Hugo here, it got the most nominations so it clearly has a lot of support in the Academy, and it is without doubt one of the best examples of these crafts this year.

Best Original Song: “Man or Muppet” – The Muppets

I’ve already made my anger with this category clear, The Muppets better take this one.

Best Original Score: The Artist

And so The Artist’s dominance begins, it’s been the clear front runner for some time now, and no other film has really done anything to change that. Even despite Kim Novak’s objections, the score has been a consistent receiver of awards.

Best Film Editing: The Artist

There isn’t another film this year whose editing is so spectacular that I can see it knocking this category of The Artist’s final tally.

Best Cinematography: The Tree of Life

This should be the easiest category to call this year, Tree of Life is stunning visual after stunning visual. It would be the biggest miscue of the night if Emmanuel Lubezki.

Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation (Iran)

It got a rare second nomination for a foreign film in Best Original Screenplay, so it seems that the voters know this not just the best foreign film but one of the great films of the year throughout the world.

Best Animated Film: Rango

With Adventures of Tin Tin not making the cut the path clears for Rango.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants

The Descendants has been the top dog in this category for all of the major awards so far, got to stick with it.

Best Original Screenplay: The Artist

Thought Midnight in Paris may be able to get some love, but The Artist I think will end up being just to strong for it not to come out on top.

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer – The Help

She’s been the frontrunner all along and hasn’t showed any weakness thus far so expect to see her take the stage at the Kodak come February.

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer – Beginners

Everyone else is sadly just an also ran.

Best Actress: Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady

This one is still a toss-up between Streep and Davis, with Michelle Williams lurking in the background, but in my opinion with an outside shot at best. SAG will give us the final inkling, but I’m going with Streep right now.

Best Actor: George Clooney – The Descendants

Clooney has been the man in this category and I expect that trend to continue, everybody loves him and this is considered his definitive performance as an actor to date.

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist

The man behind the lens of this years front-runner will ride the coattails of it to the podium. I’m not saying he isn’t entirely deserving, because he is without a doubt, pulling off an incredibly difficult task with a remarkable film. However, Scorsese lurks in the background as the threat to surprise like he did at the Golden Globes.

Best Picture: The Artist

If you didn’t think I was going with the Artist at this point I don’t know what you were reading. I think the fact that there were nine nominees in the Best Picture category show that there isn’t a lot of films that have absolute support in the industry, but this The Artist has been the consistent film all year long, it’s gonna win.

Who are your picks now that we now who’s competing. Let me know in the comments below.

Oscars Neglected Category

There are a lot of things from this mornings announcement of nominations for the Academy Awards that has me surprised, Albert Brooks, Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton, and even the inclusion of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in Best Picture after everyone thought it was dead in the water. But there is one thing that just has me irate, the Best Original Song Category. The Academy decided to nominate two, TWO, songs; “Muppet or Man” from The Muppets, and “Real in Rio” from Rio. What happened to songs like “Lay Your Head Down” from Albert Nobbs, “In Living Color” from The Help, “Star Spangled Man” from Captain America; all of these songs had been strong contenders before this morning’s announcement. And how does The Muppets not get another one of their songs in for the category to at least round out with three nominees!

But this is just a trend that the Oscars have no idea how to handle the Best Original Song category. This has been absolutely clear in the last few years. The mix of music and song is such an important part of film that I’ve always had a stronger appreciation for the category than the Academy appears to. The rules for what makes a song eligible or not by the Academy is ridiculous and prevented songs like Bruce Springsteen’s “The Wrestler” back in 2008, without doubt the best song in a film that year, but just because it played over black it was not eligible. The song that ended up wining in 2008, “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire, did play over images, but it was a pointless dance number during the credits of the film, that honestly does not have nearly a strong as an emotional tie with the plot of the movie than “The Wrestler”.

I’m not saying the nominations are always horrible, like this year, 2011 was a year where I had no complaints with the nominees. But the Academy has also slighted the importance of the Original Song category in many cases in the past few years by not allowing the songs to perform in their entirety. The justification is that they want to shorten the telecast, but you’re telling me there isn’t anywhere else in this bloated show that you can cut down? How about the useless montages you place throughout the show that honor the history of cinema? Guess what Academy, the Oscars are for honoring the films of that year, and the rest of the year you are responsible for honoring the past films that you have recognized.

This may be a moment of anger response, but I think the Oscar’s should stop nominating this category if things are to stay the same way. There clearly is something going on with the Academy and their understanding of the true best songs composed for films in a single year. There are only a couple of reasons that I can understand that only two songs got nominated this year, even though admittedly it has not been the strongest year for the category, but I truly see this as just another attempt to shorten the broadcast. Only two nominees means you only have to take two minutes out of the show for where these songs can to perform their brief little snippets of the original song.

Coming Attractions

A nice little surprise early in the new year is the first trailer for Wes Anderson’s new film, “Moonrise Kingdom”. This is a film that I put as one of my most anticipated for 2012, and the trailer looks like Wes Anderson up to usual bag of tricks, no complaints here. If you’re already a Anderson fan than you’ll enjoy this; and if you’re not, if you like quirky, witty comedies, than I highly suggest you take a look at some of his previous work, films like “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”, or “Fantastic Mr. Fox”. Here’s the like to the HD trailer at Apple, http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/focus_features/moonrisekingdom/, and it’s also embedded below. Enjoy.

Golden Globe Predicitons

Sunday is the official start of the Hollywood award season with the airing of the Golden Globes. While it is the second most publicized award show of the year, I think people give it a little too much credit when it comes to the Oscars. The Globes are selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, none of which are part of the Academy. In fact, out of the last 6 winners of Best Dramatic Picture at the Globes (the Comedy/Musical category has gone even longer without a winner at the Oscars), only one has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, “Slumdod Millionaire”. And yet we all still tune in, and enjoy to see how many we can predict. Well here’s what I got:

Best Original Song: “The Living Proof” – The Help

No Muppet songs were nominated for a Globe, so one (or three) of the favorites are absent. So I’m going to go with Mary J. Blige’s song “The Living Proof”. It will be one of many times I think the HFPA will choose to award “The Help”.

Best Original Score: The Artist

Despite Kim Novak’s opinions “The Artist”’ has had it’s score recognized quite a lot so far in the awards season making it a likely selection by the Globes.

Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation

It’s so tempting to pick the upset here and go for Angelina Jolie’s “In the Land of Blood and Honey” simply because she someone people would actually know, but how can the praise of “A Separation” not be recognized with the award.

Best Animated Film: Rango

This has been pretty much the consensus pick of the year for animated films, nothing else has really come close to knocking it off its pedestal.

Best Screenplay: The Descendants

This is a tough one to call. “The Descendants” was an early critics favorite, but hasn’t been making any real waves to speak of. Meanwhile, “Moneyball” just won the Critic’s Choice award over “The Descendants” on Thursday. I still am going to go with ‘The Descendants” here, I think Alexander Payne has more weight with the HFPA and will eek it out here, but I’m not overly confident in the pick.

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer

Not to take anything away from Spencer who is fantastic, but I thought Jessica Chastain’s performance in “The Help” was the deepest in the film outside of Viola Davis. However, it’s hard not to love Spencer’s portrayal of Minnie and no one really can complain if/when Spencer gets called up on Sunday night.

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer

The legendary actor will continue his dominance on his way to an Oscar nom, and probable win if all things remain the same.

Best Actress – Comedy/Musical: Kristen Wiig

The heavyweights are in the drama category with Streep and Davis, and while Michelle Williams is probably the favorite, and Charlize Theron a well deserved potential winner as well, however, I think “Bridesmaids” will get some recognition in the form of Wiig for her great performance. This is my upset pick of the night.

Best Actor – Comedy/Musical: Jean Dujardin

The second gear in the cog for the Artist being able to pull it off. If Dujardin wasn’t such a joy to watch, silent or not, the film would not have been able to be the success that it is. And he deserves at least one trophy for that.

Best Actress – Drama: Viola Davis

I think the time has come for Viola Davis’ campaign to really take off, whether this will carry over to the voters of the industry will be more clear when he see what happens with SAG in a couple of weeks, but “The Help” is the film more people like, and when it’s a dead heap between her and Streep, go with the better film pulling it out.

Best Actor – Drama: George Clooney

Like with adapted screenplay, I think it’s coming down to Clooney and Pitt’s performance in “Moneyball”. And again I think the Globes will go with Clooney and ‘The Descendants”.

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius

The steam roller that is “The Artist” will continue rolling as I would like everyone to remember that the F in HFPA stands for Foreign. Michel Hazanavicius, if the name didn’t give it away, is from France. But even without that little detail he was able to pull off one of the feats of the year by directing a silent film that was able to engage and please critics, and that is who is voting on it.

Best Picture – Comedy/Musical: The Artist

Compared to the last few years this has got to be the strongest group of nominees: “The Artist”, “Midnight in Paris”, “50/50”, “Bridesmaids”, then there’s “My Week with Marilyn”, oh well. But I don’t think any of these have what it takes to beat “The Artist” on this night, maybe down the line (I’m looking at you “Midnight”), but not Sunday.

Best Picture – Drama: The Descendants

I have not been confident with one pick from “The Descendants” and I’m still not on this one, but I’d feel even less confident in picking any of the other nominees right now, so by default it’s getting my bet simply on the fact I’d probably go as high to say I’m 70% sure it could win over everything else.

Top Ten: Most Likely Celebrities Ricky Gervais Will Make Fun of at the Golden Globes

Ricky’s back at the Golden Globes, hosting for the third consecutive year and the hype at a fever pitch after his stellar performance last year that brought some controversy on whether he went to far with some of his jokes. I’m in Gervais’ camp on this one, these are movie stars dressed up in designer dresses and tuxes, eating free gourmet food, on national television to have people watch them get even more praise, if you can’t take a few jokes about you than you need to lighten up. Now, who is going to be in Ricky’s cross sights this year. Here’s who I think might need to grow a sense of humor by Sunday:

10. Meryl Streep – This one’s a stretch. Not many people would dare go after Streep, she is one of the most popular movie stars ever, a legend, and even Gervais’ may find it hard to make fun of her. But still, she is always nominated at the Globes it seems, no matter what the film (she got nominated for “Mamma Mia!” people). So if there is a joke to be made about her omnipresence at the Globes, and maybe even her long drought at the Academy’s, Gervais would be the one to make it.

9. Michael Fassbender – Fassbender had a pretty busy year and is being recognized for his performance in “Shame”. That is his calling card on Sunday and it may be the avenue for any jokes toward him. He plays a sex-addict in the film, who is fully nude on several occasions in the film, a huge factor in the film getting an “NC-17” rating. Don’t be shocked if there’s a Fassbender penis joke at some point.

8. George Clooney – Clooney’s in similar situations as Streep, people have a hard time finding anything to make a joke about him for. And yet a shot at one of Hollywood’s golden boys who has more nominations than any other person at the ceremony (4) may be a very tempting opportunity for Gervais.

7. Ryan Gosling – He’s the reigning sexiest man alive and a double nominee this year for “Ides of March” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love”, plus he had one of the most talked about movies of the year with “Drive”. Making it on Ricky’s joke list could be a nice little feather in the cap to end the year for Gosling as a sign that his status as the next big star is such a lock we can make fun of it.

6. Woody Allen – Woody Allen is one of the most recognizable and often parodied Hollywood icon’s because he has such a distinct quirkiness to him that just leads itself so easily into jokes. Also, with “Midnight in Paris” being his biggest success to date, Gervais could throw something together about how it took him so long into this career to have suck a hit.

5. Jonah Hill – Nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “Moneyball”, Hill is a surprising presence at the Globes since he is nominated for a dramatic role when he is well known as one of the biggest comedy stars right now. However, the real area Ricky would probably go after is the huge weight loss that Hill has had in the last year, making some jest about how a strange, skinny man is here to accept on behalf of Jonah Hill.

4. Johnny Depp – I know he isn’t nominated and won’t even be at the Globes, but Depp was one of the topics that caused people to think Gervais had gone to far last year and made it seem that the Hollywood Foreign Press wouldn’t bring him back. Well, he is back, and Ricky is never one to forget one of his insults, and wouldn’t mind warming everyone up with retreading some familiar ground.

3. Madonna – Her directorial debut, “W.E.”, is nominated twice, both for music related awards. It’s Madonna, Ricky will be making fun of her in some way.

2. Alec Baldwin – The “30 Rock” star is nominated once again for Best Actor in a Comedy Series, and after his incident with American Airlines when he wouldn’t turn off his phone because he was playing “Words with Friends” is still just a little more than a month old, it is one of the more easily set-up current events that makes sense for Gervais to take a poke at. I don’t think Blue Ivy Carter is exactly a lingering topic on a night about film and television.

1. Angelia Jolie & Brad Pitt – The other half of “The Tourist”-gate last year and part two of Hollywood’s golden boy list (right up there with Clooney) are both nominated this year. Pitt is up for his role in “Moneyball” has said in some interviews that he may possibly retire in the next couple of years from acting. Jolie’s directorial debut, “In the Land of Blood and Honey”, is nominated for Best Foreign Language film. This is Hollywood’s premier couple, hosts with less controversy that Gervais have made small quips about these two, but I wouldn’t expect anything about the material Gervais may throw at them to be small.

And in case any of you somehow don’t know what I’m talking about as of Ricky Gervais’ performance last year at the Golden Globes, here’s a quick taste, his monologue from last year. If you enjoy it take a look at some of his other stuff, his jokes about Robert Downey Jr. were pretty good too.

Coming Attractions: January Releases

I’ve been a little lazy with my postings in 2012, this being my first official post of the new year. But, it is oddly fitting that I’ve been slow to start this year considering that the month of January is often the same for the film industry. The studios are busy pushing whatever film they have in the running for Oscar glory, and independent films that received good buzz, but never made it out of New York and Los Angeles finally spread further out, but it never seems to far unfortunately. Either way, January always gets a bad rap for not bringing any good movies to audiences. That’s not always the case though. “Taken” everyone’s favorite Liam Neeson movie, was a January film, “Cloverfield” also, and even David Fincher’s “Zodiac”. So, there is some hope that in all the presume garbage that will be released in the early days of 2012, we might find some movies that will actually prove the price of admission. Here are a couple that I think could be good:

The Grey – Ever since “Taken”, Liam Neeson has been one of the bigger action stars in Hollywood, not bad for someone who is 58 years old. “The Grey” has been getting pretty big buzz and was almost slipped in late in 2011 to possibly have Neeson make a run for Best Actor. It didn’t happen, but I don’t think it was for lack of quality over the idea of a smaller company not wanting to spend copious amounts of money on a dark horse Oscar campaign. “The Grey” has Neeson leading the survivors of a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness back to safety while be tailed by a pack of vicious wolves. Color me intrigued.

Haywire – This may have been a more highly anticipated film if director Steven Soderbergh hadn’t changed his once plan to retire from film within the next couple of years, but even so, the cast is superb, featuring Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, and Bill Paxton, with the wild card of first time actress, and former mixed martial artist, Gina Carano. On the positive side, being a female action star shouldn’t be the biggest stretch for her. It’s always interesting to see what big time directors can do with stories that without them may have been nothing more than a direct to DVD kind of film.

Those are the two big ones that I’ll be looking out for this January. And of course, do try and take advantage of the 2011 films that may finally be releasing around you. I still need to get to see “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” now that it’s finally in one of my local theaters.

Agree? Disagree? Is there a hidden gem coming out this January you guys think I missed?

Top Ten: Most Anticipated Movies of 2012

Happy New Years Eve. I’ve closed my book on 2011 in film with my top ten list the other day, so why not kick off 2012 with less than twenty-four hours till its arrival. Some big name franchises are returning to theaters in 2012, but while I’m looking forward to “Spider-man”, “Prometheus”, “The Bourne Legacy” and “The Avengers”, my interest is really high on these next ten films.

10. Lincoln

This may be one of the few times in the Steven Spielberg’s illustrious career that he is the second headline on one of his sets. But that’s the case here for me as he directs one of the greatest actors today in Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th President. Day-Lewis is spot on as Lincoln, and the picture above isn’t even him in full costume. While Day-Lewis is the big ticket, it doesn’t hurt that one he’s directed by one of the all-time greats in Spielberg.

9. Only God Forgives

The “Drive” duo is at it again. After making one of the most talked about movies of 2011 they reteam once again. Refn is an emerging talent that brings a unique perspective to film with his Danish sensibilities and Gosling is quickly becoming the biggest name in Hollywood after this year. Plus the logline of this is very intriguing: A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match.

8. Cogan’s Trade

Another second go around for actor and director after a successful first trip. Brad Pitt and Andrew Dominik follow-up “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” with Cogan’s Trade, where Jackie Cogan (Pitt), a professional enforcer, investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game. The only thing that would make this better is if they had the great Roger Deakins back on as Director of Photography.

7. Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson is a unique filmmaker, with some of the more out there films in the past ten years. But if you like him you’re always excited to see one of his next films, and I like Wes Anderson. He brings back some of his regulars in Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, but adds some new talent to his acting corp: Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Frances Mcdormand, and Edward Norton. Can’t wait to see how the new talent fairs in a Wes Anderson production.

6. Skyfall

Craig’s Bond is one for two in my books; “Quantum of Solace” was a let down after the shot in the arm “Casino Royale” was to the Bond franchise. But Craig is back and being helmed by Sam Mendes who is in new a bit new territory with this one, and this may have one of the best supporting casts that a Bond film has ever seen with Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem playing Bond villians. Word is also that Adele might sing the them song, icing on the cake if that ends up being the case.

5. The Great Gatsby

A trend in the movies that I’m really excited for that you’re probably getting at is that I get real excited by good casts and directors of films that I have liked in the past, and am more willing to be open to the stories if that is the case. Here’s another example of that, an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous work headlined by Leonardo Dicaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire, and directed by Baz Lurhmann, who is putting his sweat and blood into this movie (literally). http://www.nme.com/filmandtv/news/the-great-gatsby-director-baz-luhrmann-injured-during/256379

4. Great Hope Springs

This may be the biggest toss-up for me on this list, but the potential of a movie with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a married couple in trouble, and Steve Carell as their marriage counselor is really promising for not only great back and forth moments between the trio, but what I have a hunch may be a surprisingly fantastic performance from Steve Carell, standing toe to toe with these two legends.

3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth eight years after completing what is to me quite possibly the greatest trilogy of all-time… Yes, I think I’m pretty excited to see this one. Though I am not without my hesitations. Jackson managed to fit all three of the Lord of the Rings books into their own singular movies, so it isn’t unconceivable that he could have done it with “The Hobbit”; will the first part of this duo suffer a similar fate as to the first “Deathly Hallows” where everyone was pissed because there wasn’t a real ending? I hope not.

2. Django Unchained

One of the highlights of last summer for me was getting to read Quentin Tarantino’s script for his take on the Spaghetti Western. Not surprisingly, it’s good! There are plenty of opportunities for Tarantino to take his talents and make something supremely entertaining. We also get Christoph Waltz back in a Tarantino film after giving us one of the his best character’s in “Inglourious Basterds”, another Tarantino standard with Samuel L. Jackson, and Jamie Foxx and Leonardo Dicaprio as the hero and villain. This is an all-star cast if you’ve ever seen one, just check out the imdb page, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1853728/.

1. The Dark Knights Rises

I imagine this is a lot of people’s most anticipated movie of the year as Christopher Nolan returns one last time to the Batman franchise and promises an epic conclusion to what has been one of the biggest franchise in the past six years. It is my opinion that Nolan hasn’t made a bad film in Hollywood yet, “Insomnia” being my least favorite of his US releases, but its still a solid movie, so what can perhaps the most revered director today do to top not only what many consider the best superhero movie ever with “The Dark Knight” but 2010’s most popular movie “Inception”. And will this film be a big enough success to get the awards attention that everyone believed “The Dark Knight” deserved, but more importantly, the attention from the Academy Christopher Nolan has deserved as a director?

Is there anything I missed that you guys are looking forward to in 2012?