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Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actor

You have to ask which storyline does an evenly matched Oscar contest best serve? That of the underdog, obviously.

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Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actor
Photo: Warner Bros.

If, as Ed pointed out yesterday, supporting means its own antonym in the world of Oscar, then a wide-open race also means the opposite. Maybe it’s just that full-time awards-circuit journos have the same rooting interest in the illusion of competition that bookies do—bookies who, despite acknowledging a frontrunner, still see this as the closest of the four acting categories. Sure, the myth of a nail-biter is likely to make the eventual four losers feel a lot better, but then again, so can a goody bag filled with a vaporizer, trips to Israel and Japan, the world’s most expensive toilet paper, and a blood-migrating breast lift.

Much as we’d love to see Mark Ruffalo finalize his transformation into beardom with a freshly plumped vampire rack, he joins Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight co-star Rachel McAdams as probably the least likely to win in their respective categories. It’s not problematic in and of itself that, as a pavement-pounding reporter, he gets the film’s one unabashed moment of Oscar-clip scenery-chewing as he rips his editor’s decision to sit on a story (a moment, having worked in newsrooms, I’d have to say Spotlight could have used plenty more of). But his righteous tantrum doesn’t mesh with a film that tastefully flaunts its cohesive ensemble.

At least Christian Bale, recalibrating his glass eye throughout Adam McKay’s Brah-ll Street, and Tom Hardy, spitting out slasher-movie threats ever more zealously as The Revenant devolves single-mindedly into a horse opera of vengeful machismo, operate within their film’s basic frames of reference. But Bale already has a still-fresh Oscar for The Fighter, and Hardy and Ruffalo will have many more opportunities down the line.

So back to the bookies and the Oscar bloggers’ inside track, who are both closely following the party line of a five-way race, a story plainly contradicted by empirical evidence. So you have to ask which storyline does an evenly matched Oscar contest best serve? That of the underdog, obviously. It shields the meek and the humble from the taint of self-promotion. And Oscar’s never cottoned to an underdog quite so conspicuously as they have Rocky Balboa.

Sylvester Stallone lost best actor the first time around with this character when his eventual defeater, Network’s Peter Finch, died on the campaign trail. Stallone, now nearly a decade older than Finch was at the time, works the same weary bulldog territory The Wrestler’s Mickey Rourke did eight years ago. We rightly guessed Rourke wouldn’t collect the trophy on pity alone, asking “Does Hollywood as a whole really feel it owes Rourke anything?” But to judge from the standing ovation Sly earned at the Golden Globes, and in comparing the inflation-adjusted revenue he’s brought Hollywood against what Rourke had circa 2008, it’s obvious that Hollywood not only feels it owes him this one. The underdog has finally earned their respect.

Will Win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Could Win: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Should Win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

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Awards

Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

If it were biologically possible to do so, both Ed and I would happily switch places with A Quiet Place’s Emily Blunt.

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First Man
Photo: Universal Pictures

If it were biologically possible to do so, both Ed and I would happily switch places with A Quiet Place’s Emily Blunt, because we’d much rather give birth in a tub while surrounded by murderous blind creatures than have to once again write our predictions for the sound categories. As adamant as we’ve been that the Academy owes it to the nominees to air every category, which they agreed to after an extended “just kidding,” it might have given us pause had the sound categories been among the four demoted by Oscar. But no, we must now endure our annual bout of penance, aware of the fact that actually knowing what the difference is between sound editing and sound mixing is almost a liability. In other words, we’ve talked ourselves out of correct guesses too many times, doubled down on the same movie taking both categories to hedge our bets too many times, and watched as the two categories split in the opposite way we expected too many times. So, as in A Quiet Place, the less said, the better. And while that film’s soundscapes are as unique and noisy as this category seems to prefer, First Man’s real-word gravitas and cacophonous Agena spin sequence should prevail.

Will Win: First Man

Could Win: A Quiet Place

Should Win: First Man

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Awards

Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Actress

Sometimes it’s important to just step back and pay your respects to a remarkable actress.

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Glenn Close
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Sometimes it’s important to just step back and pay your respects to a remarkable actress for having given a performance that, while not your, um, favourite nominated one, is still deserving of an Oscar victory lap. Now, if only others felt the same. Very early on in the awards season, there was already a sense that this award could become a career-achievement coronation for the six-time losing Glenn Close—and that people were going to have a problem squaring that with the fact that her Oscar would be tied to a film perceived to be a piffle. That’s not an inaccurate perception, but it’s difficult to remember a time when critics have used that as an excuse to not do their homework.

In short, have you seen The Wife? Indeed, until the awards-media system’s attention shifted full time into covering AMPAS’s A Series of Unfortunate Oscar Decisions, it seemed as if every day brought us a new article by some pundit about the Oscar race in which it strangely sounded as if the The Wife was still a blind spot for the writer. Which is shame, because Close gives good face throughout the film. Certainly, few Oscar-nominated films this year are as absurd as The Wife, but I’ll do battle with anyone who thinks Close is getting by on her legend alone. Close’s triumph is recognizing The Wife’s inherent ludicrousness and elevating it, and without condescension, with a kabuki-like verve that seeks to speak to the experiences of all women who’ve been oppressed by their men. It’s a turn worthy of Norma Desmond.

Today, the most reliable Oscar narrative is the overdue performer. And if you take stock in that narrative, then you’ll understand why I texted Eric, my fellow Oscar guru, the following on the morning of November 29: “I think Close is going to Still Alice at the Oscars.” After that morning, when the New York Film Critics Circle officially kick-started the Oscar season (and gave their award for best actress to Regina Hall in Support the Girls), no actress ran the table with the critics and guilds, but most of the cards that matter did fall into place for Close, and much as they did for Julianne Moore ahead of her winning the Oscar for Still Alice.

This was a done deal when Close won the Golden Globe, received a standing ovation, and gave the night’s most impassioned speech, immediately after which Eric conceded that my instincts had been right. Of course, that was no doubt easy for him to admit given that, by that point, the oxygen had already seeped out of A Star Is Born’s awards campaign, leaving only Olivia Colman in Close’s way. Colman has worked the campaign trail in spectacular ways, giving speeches that have been every bit as droll as this, but in the end, she doesn’t have the SAG, and as bold and subversive as her performance certainly is, it isn’t sufficiently big enough to convince enough AMPAS members that Close should continue waiting for Oscar.

Will Win: Glenn Close, The Wife

Could Win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

Should Win: Olivia Colman, The Favourite

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Awards

Oscar 2019 Winner Predictions: Film Editing

Sigh, can we just edit this whole Oscar season from our memories?

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Bohemian Rhapsody
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Sigh, can we just edit this whole Oscar season from our memories? AMPAS has officially brought more queens back from the brink than this year’s season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars. Now that the academy has reneged on its plans to snip four categories from the live Oscar telecast, after first attempting damage control and assuring members that it will still run those four awards as not-so-instant replays in edited-down form later on in the show, we can once again turn our attention to the other editing that’s so vexed Film Twitter this Oscar season. We yield the floor to Twitter user Pramit Chatterjee:

Very fuck! The academy would’ve been shooting itself in the foot by not airing what’s starting to feel like one of this year’s most competitive Oscar categories—a category that seems like it’s at the center of ground zero for the voters who, as a fresh New York Times survey of anonymous Oscar ballots confirms, are as unashamedly entertained by a blockbuster that critics called utterly worthless as they are feeling vengeful against those who would dare call a film they loved racist. Interestingly enough, the New York Times’s panel of voters seems palpably aware that Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is the nominee this year that’s going to go down in history as the “right thing” they’ll be embarrassed for not “doing.” No arguments from this corner. Lee’s film is narratively propulsive and knotty in ways that ought to translate into a no-brainer win here. (My cohort Ed recently mused that he’d give the film the Oscar just for the energy it displays cutting back and forth during phone conversations.)

We’re glad that the academy walked back its decision to not honor two of the most crucial elements of the medium (editing and cinematography) on the live Oscar telecast, but what we’re left with is the dawning horror that the formless flailing exemplified by the clip above might actually win this damned award. Guy Lodge sarcastically mused on the upside of Pramit’s incredulous tweet, “I’ve never seen so many people on Twitter discussing the art of film editing before,” and honestly, it does feel like Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody getting publicly dog-walked like this stands to teach baby cinephiles-in-training the language of the cut as well as any of the myriad montages the show producers intended on airing in lieu of, you know, actually awarding craftspeople. But only a fraction of the voting body has to feel sympathy for John Ottman (whose career, for the record, goes all the way back with Bryan Singer), or express admiration that he managed to assemble the raw materials from a legendarily chaotic project into an international blockbuster. The rest of the academy has their ostrich heads plunged far enough into the sand to take care of the rest.

Will Win: Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody

Could Win: BlacKkKlansman

Should Win: BlacKkKlansman

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