No one needs final Oscar predictions this deep

Posted by · 3:36 pm · February 24th, 2012

Well, enough belly-aching over this nonsense. Pick something and move on. So I have.

This morning’s Oscar Talk let you into the bizarre, weird, obsessive head space of figuring out how 6,000 people are gonna vote. Sometimes it’s easier when you don’t have a dog in the hunt (and I certainly don’t this year — at least out of what’s plausible), but not this time around. The major categories seem relatively decided but it’s throughout the craft categories where you start to see potential scenarios popping up all over the place.

There were four categories still giving me pause when we wrapped up the podcast, areas that I felt I might just revisit and flip-flop to something else and yada, yada, yada. They were Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects. But, well, I didn’t. I’m sticking with what I called there and calling it a year. Let’s see what happens.

But in the way of final reflection and to just note some rhythms of the last few weeks of the season, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” for instance, started to lose some steam in the one category it seemed assured at the start of the season: Best Visual Effects. It could fall to Best Picture bridesmaid “Hugo” or BAFTA winner “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” but maybe it’s all a mirage. Still, there wasn’t a big presence over the last month for the film and you have to keep reminding the Academy why this or that should be considered, unfortunately. Maybe Fox figures you don’t need much reminding on a film like this. I hope they’re right.

Best Cinematography has had me at a loss all season. The temptation, of course, is to chalk it up to “The Tree of Life,” deserving as it may be and as dominant as it may have been on the precursor circuit. The Best Picture and Best Director nominations have made it easy for most to ignore how fragile this arena is this year and the potential for great photography to again get the shaft because of the divisiveness of a film. I’m going with “Hugo,” but its largely indoor setting has always given me pause. I really think “War Horse” could be in a position to upset here, while most who aren’t picking “The Tree of Life” are going with the black and white photography of “The Artist.” I see all the angles. But I’m springing for the 3D.

In the sound categories, I’m at odds with myself. When in doubt, pick the war film. And if you doubt that logic, let me just ask: Did you pick “Avatar” to win both categories two years ago? Ouch. There are stats and considerations and a lot of just cobwebby logic leaning me away from “War Horse” in the sound mixing category when my instinct is to pick it for both, but perhaps unwisely, I’m going out of my way to pick a split. Hey, if that or “Hugo” happens to win both, at least I get one right. And the history does indicate a desire to award one film in both fields. But I’m hedging a bit here.

(Speaking of which, I say this with a straight face: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” might have its best shot of the franchise at winning something in these fields, finally. That phase two campaign Paramount put together really turned some heads, mainly impressing members of other branches who were surprised the time and effort was taken to push. That just means they’re more aware of the film’s situation than they otherwise would have been, but I don’t know that it goes deep enough to matter.)

And then there’s the mess that is Best Costume Design. The consensus says “The Artist,” and that’s where I settled, but black and white does no favors for design elements, particularly costumes. If you look out across the wide swath of pundit predictions, you’ll see each of the five nominees getting picked. It’s a nightmare, but in the midst of such doubt, I’m just deferring to the likely Best Picture winner.

I have very little confidence this year in this stuff. I can see all the arguments for all the scenarios, so very little that actually happens (save something outrageous) is going to surprise me Sunday. I feel like I’ve dug in and considered things this year way more than usual, which probably just indicates the overall boredom of a season that has been decided for so long in the top categories (with only the Best Actor flutter of SAG and BAFTA to provide any real change in momentum).

But I’m done now. I’ve thought about this long enough. Probably (definitely) too much.

You can find my final predictions here. Guy’s are here. And Gerard’s are here. There’s also HitFix’s gallery of Oscar predictions, featuring my calls and Guy’s as well as those from Awards Campaign’s Greg Ellwood. Meanwhile, remember to join our Oscar pool to win a grab-bag prize here (as well as the site-wide HitFix pool here), and download the official HitFix Oscar ballot here.

And finally, one more time for the 2011-2012 season, the Contenders section has been updated in full.

Good luck to you on your predictions, which you can feel free to share with us in the comments section below.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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