OFF THE CARPET: Heading into the home stretch

Posted by · 11:48 am · February 21st, 2011

I’m watching CNN’s report of the on-going situation in Libya as I write these comparably pointless words. The “real world” seems so unique, so foreign after having our head in the awards season clouds since September. Now, six months in, victory lane is a mere six days away. And man, it’s been a marathon.

So let’s dive in one more time.

The journey for “The Social Network” has been a fascinating one. And now, with wins for Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay and, potentially, Best Director coming, some are arguing an upset by the film in the Best Picture race is still in the cards. It would be delightful, but it would be considerably more surprising than the moment a number of pundits point to as a bellwether shocker in the Academy’s recent history: “And the Oscar goes to…‘Crash.’ Whoa.”

Most, however, seem to agree that “The King’s Speech” has it in the bag, and I think that’s sound. The only question is, to what extent has it won over the Academy? Anywhere from three to 11 wins makes perfect sense.

Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay. I feel we can take those to the bank. Best Original Score is on the next tier and I feel pretty good about that. Best Supporting Actress has become a talking point in the wake of Helena Bonham Carter’s blasé charm fest, and given that the category is so up for grabs, I’m leaning that way today (the only Oscar Guide entry I’ve officially changed so far).

Next up, the design fields. I mentioned a few stats in a thinking-out-loud post over the weekend, but let me restate them briefly…

The last Best Picture winner nominated for Best Art Direction to lose that award was “Gladiator,” which lost to fellow Best Picture nominee “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” The last time before that was “Forrest Gump,” which lost to period piece “The Madness of King George,” and before that, it was “Unforgiven,” which lost to period piece “Howards End.”

Similarly, the last Best Picture winner nominated for Best Costume Design to lose that award was “Braveheart,” which lost to period piece “Restoration.” Before that it was “Schindler’s List,” which lost to period piece “The Age of Innocence,” and before that, it was “Driving Miss Daisy,” which lost to…you guessed it, a period piece, “Henry V.”

Meanwhile, no Tim Burton film nominated for Best Art Direction has ever lost the award, while no Tim Burton film nominated for Best Costume Design has ever won it. I bring that up because “Alice in Wonderland” is largely considered formidable in both fields, though many are taking the BAFTA and ADG wins for “Inception” as a sign it’ll triumph (which just doesn’t compute to me for various reasons already mentioned here and on the podcast).

Finally, the only true fantasies to win Best Costume Design in the Academy’s history are “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and “Star Wars,” both respected blockbusters with 11 and 10 nominations respectively. It’s more common for a fantasy to win Best Art Direction, however.

Bottom line: With that information and given the nature of competition in the categories, I’m comfortable expecting “The King’s Speech” to win both. So if you’re keeping score, that’s seven wins, which is a fair number to me. It’s the same number “Shakespeare in Love” took home in 1998, perhaps the best template for “The King’s Speech.” And eight, if I’m being honest, begins to sound like too much.

But there are still other possibilities. First on that list, Best Director.

Tom Hooper won the DGA, voted on by a vast organization made up of various disciplines, not just film directors — kind of like the Academy. David Fincher won the BAFTA, voted on by that organization’s specialized directing branch, as in, film directors. He also dominated the critics awards circuit, which is beside the point but I’ll mention it anyway.

That’s a real conundrum. I’m currently predicting Hooper, which makes the most sense to me. But again, eight seems like too much. Maybe pulling back on that supporting actress call is in order. I’m just thinking out loud here.

The final considerations are Best Cinematography, which I think is entirely possible, especially when you consider this painstaking but interesting stat. Nevertheless, I put it on the penultimate tier with Best Film Editing (which may have taken a hit from ACE) and Best Supporting Actor (which has a few hopping off the Christian Bale train in favor of Geoffrey Rush following a surprising BAFTA win, but I find that ill-advised, considering how that organization clearly didn’t respond to “The Fighter”).

At the bottom, the one I think we can all chalk up as the nomination being the reward: Best Sound Mixing.

So, that’s where I’m at.  The Oscar Guide is on-going and only one, as mentioned, has been retroactively updated.  The Contenders section has been updated in full with “final” predictions (noted in the sidebar, as always), save for the remaining five categories.  Those will be updated throughout the week.  If I should change anything else (possibilities: Best Original Song, Best Documentary Feature and Best Live Action Short), I’ll be sure to let you know here, but all predictions will be really and truly finalized Friday and announced, with Anne’s, on this week’s Oscar Talk.

Feel free to go ahead and start chalking up your final predictions and/or thoughts on the race in the comments section below.  Six…more…days.

(A reminder: Tomorrow brings part one of our annual “top 10 shots of the year” column.)

[Photos: The Weinstein Company]

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61 responses so far

  • 1 2-21-2011 at 8:26 pm

    PaulinJapan said...

    I agree that this year does have a strange dynamic. If Best Pic is the lock Kris et al seem to think it is, then Director should also go to Hooper considering the relative rarity of a split. Sasha Stone does a good job of going into the nitty gritty of this paradox.

    I hope TSN gets it and while I will probably be disappointed I can imagine the scenario come Oscar night where TSN has won Editing & Screenplay, Fincher gets Director (all favored outcomes) and at that point its odds for triumphing must surely have narrowed dramatically.

  • 2 2-21-2011 at 10:28 pm

    j said...

    Hmm, supporting actress upset possibles:
    Arkin=Carter (Bafta vs. all other majors)
    Kline=Steinfeld (No Globe nom, Bafta lead nom)

  • 3 2-22-2011 at 5:55 am

    TWC said...

    I know I’m stubborn but I’m sticking with it and calling it now:

    Toy Story 3 for Best Picture

    History will be made!

  • 4 2-22-2011 at 7:08 am

    Phil said...

    Oh I know you’ve considered each category fully and deeply, Kris – I read all of your Oscar guides and find them to be some of the insightful analysis on the Net. I was just explaining my rationale for why I think The King’s Speech could be nominated for 12 awards, win Best Picture, and STILL only take home 3 statues.

    An interesting thing I found when doing research – not since “Saving Private Ryan” beat “Shakespeare in Love” for Sound Mixing have both films that were the leaders for Best Picture been nominated for Sound and the Best Pic winner lost to the runner-up. The only reason I mention this is because if The King’s Speech or The Social Network wins this category (which they give out early on, no?) I believe we will have our Best Picture winner.

  • 5 2-22-2011 at 7:12 am

    Maxim said...

    “HBC was charming at a luncheon? PLEASE.”

    I’d say she was. More than that, she seemed completely at ease and in control.

    “It’s actually not only for actors. They bewilderingly chose Roman Polanski under the impression it was somehow a “make up” Oscar and not one that was wholly deserved.”

    Thanks for reminding me why I don’t read EW.

  • 6 2-22-2011 at 7:16 am

    Maxim said...

    “An interesting thing I found when doing research – not since “Saving Private Ryan” beat “Shakespeare in Love” for Sound Mixing have both films that were the leaders for Best Picture been nominated for Sound and the Best Pic winner lost to the runner-up. The only reason I mention this is because if The King’s Speech or The Social Network wins this category (which they give out early on, no?) I believe we will have our Best Picture winner.”

    Phil, I don’t think anyone is predicting The King’s Speech to win Sound Mixing. In all fairness though, the same is probably is true for The Social Network.

  • 7 2-22-2011 at 7:19 am

    Phil said...

    I agree Maxim, it’s not likely, but I think there’s an outside shot it goes The Social Network’s way – and if it does you can mark it down for Picture.

  • 8 2-22-2011 at 7:31 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Maxim: I don’t think the “PLEASE” was meant to imply Bonham Carter was anything but charming at the luncheon — rather that said charm shouldn’t be a reason to vote for her performance.

  • 9 2-22-2011 at 7:37 am

    Sawyer said...

    My predicted wins for TKS:

    Art Direction

    I’m going to hold out for a Melissa Leo win. I don’t think she is the best of the nominees (Weaver by a mile), but she was the choice of actors before FYC-gate, and I think enough of them will stick with her, imagining that if the shoe were on their foot, they would want to be judged on the performance and not the game.

    I’m also thinking if Black Swan is awarded anywhere else besides Best Actress, it will be Cinematography. Although True Grit is a good choice too because it might be that film’s only award, and they clearly dug it. I’m still 50/50 on that one.

    I like TSN for Editing, and of course Inception to sweep the audio/visual categories – Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects.

    Picture – The King’s Speech
    Director – The King’s Speech
    Actor – The King’s Speech
    Actress – Black Swan
    Sup. Actor – The Fighter
    Sup. Actress – The Fighter (Leo)
    Adapted – The Social Network
    Original – The King’s Speech
    Art Direction – The King’s Speech
    Cinematography – True Grit
    Costume – The King’s Speech
    Editing – The Social Network
    Makeup – The Way Back
    Score – The King’s Speech
    Song – 127 Hours
    Sound Editing – Inception
    Sound Mixing – Inception
    Visual Effects – Inception
    Animated – Toy Story 3

  • 10 2-22-2011 at 7:38 am

    Maxim said...

    Oh, I certainly agree that it shouldn’t be a reason (though it probably provided a little bit of a boost to her at a time when likability became important). I was just reinstating my impression of her. Sorry it was a bit hard to understand what Andrea meant in that context.