Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Handicapping the Oscars

OK, movie buff as I am, this when I take a break from politics and write about the Academy Awards.  I've probably done this before, but it's worth repeating (says me about me). 

If you are trying to tough out who will win what, here's a main rule to keep in mind:  A lot of the people who vote on the Oscars are people who either have been in the movie business a very long time or have been influenced by what we refer to as "old movies."  They like what they did and they vote for the movies that remind them of what they did.  Hence....

Which movie will win Best Picture?
Movies that cause nostalgia for movies of the Forties, Fifties, early Sixties etc. generally win this one.  So look for the film that has at least one if not multiples of these ingredients:

  1. War movies
  2. Epics
  3. Gladiator flicks, aka sword and sandal movies
  4. Film noir like detective/crime stories
  5. Star-crossed love stories
  6. Gangsters
  7. Spectacular Disasters (see: Epics)
  8. Message films
I've used this guide and I usually have successfully chosen the Best Picture Oscar every year with the exception of about twice - sometimes by seeing the movie, a couple of times just by the movie poster or description.  I called 'Titanic' on the way out of the movie theater (#2, #5, #7), 'Gladiator' just by the poster (#2, #3).  One category not listed here has made a comeback of sorts - the Musical - but they are still comparatively rare.

There is an exception to the above however, and you usually get plenty of warning beforehand when it's coming.  I call it Foreign Film Fever or Artsy-Fartsy-itis.  Those are the years the Best Picture goes generally to a British film set in the Victorian era or the overwhelming "importance" of a movie from say, India, gets "Slumdog Millionaire" the statuette to take home.

My prediction for Best Picture this year:  AVATAR (#2, #5, #7, #8)

Who will win the Acting Awards?

This is harder to call since so many factors come to play here, like:
  1. Did the performance really knock everybody's socks off?
  2. Did the actor or actress get passed over for an Oscar earlier and is this their make-up one?
  3. How many times has the actor/actress won or been nominated already?
  4. Is this an encouragement Oscar for someone seen as an up-and-comer?
Usually the rule for the acting awards is that the supporting actor/actress ones are for up-and-coming first timers and the main ones are for the stars - the rare exception is for performances like Jamie Foxx's turn as Ray Charles which was impossible to deny.  The Academy Awards like to spread the wealth with these - they may nominate someone year after year but rarely award that way.  Best Director pretty much follows these rules as well.

The rest of the Oscars tend to be for technical things - writing, art direction, music soundtracks, etc. - and I don't pay them much attention outside of the fact that seeing which movie picks up a lot of them is usually a good clue as to which one is going to be the Best Picture that year.

Granted, there isn't a thing important about any of this outside of the added box office a nomination and win gets for a movie company's profits and I probably won't have seen most of the nominated films by the time of the Oscar show on TV.  But hey, it's still fun to watch and I get to do shallow once in a while.

Oh, and one last thing:  Horror, Science Fiction and Comedy movies?  If your name ain't Clark Gable or Anthony Hopkins, y'all just keep movin' on down the road.  The Oscars just don't cotton to your kind.

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