Who is HitFix's top pundit in a tricky year for Oscar predictions?

Posted by · 6:08 am · February 25th, 2013

Well, we knew going in that this would probably not be our proudest year for predictions. While a number of categories had cast-iron frontrunners, many were considerably trickier, with two or even three plausible outcomes making for little consensus among pundits.

Some years you simply have stronger instincts than others, and even with no jaw-dropping upsets last night, uncertainty got the better of us in a number of categories. Between our three HitFix pundits, it was Kris who came out on top, calling 18 out of 24 categories correctly. Greg Ellwood was just behind with 17 predictions right, while yours truly brought up the rear with a lowly 16.

We were all beaten, however, by our regular In Contention guest columnist Gerard Kennedy, who nailed 20 out of 24, including all three shorts categories — hats off, Gerard!

That puts us squarely mid-field compared to Oscar prognosticators from other sites. Over at Gold Derby, our Oscar Talk cohort Anne Thompson distinguished herself with 20 out of 24 (including one very smart pick for “Lincoln” in Best Production Design, a win few saw coming), while Anthony Breznican and Scott Feinberg both went one better. 

Still, we all had our individual individual bright spots. Though I’m not sure why so many people insist on calling his win an “upset” — he had won the Globe and the BAFTA, after all, while his non-nomination at SAG was essentially a calendar issue — I was one of comparatively few pundits to plump for “Django Unchained” star Christoph Waltz in Best Supporting Actor. (Kris and Greg were both counting on a sentimental surge for Robert De Niro.)

Kris, meanwhile, went against the majority by picking “Brave” for Best Animated Feature, when most (including Greg) thought it would go to Disney’s whizzier Annie Award champ “Wreck-It Ralph.” Again, the signs were there — like Waltz, “Brave” was rewarded by BAFTA and the HFPA — and Kris was right to assume the Academy would respond to the gentler, more traditional storytelling of Pixar’s summer hit. (I, meanwhile, knew I was going on a dangerous limb with Tim Burton’s critically supported flop “Frankenweenie,” but I thought — or overthought, rather — that auteur affection might come through the middle in a tight race. It was not to be.)

Greg, meanwhile, gained points by not sharing my faith, or Kris’, in Michael Haneke’s “Amour.” Kris and I both thought the late-surging BAFTA winner Emmanuelle Riva could sneak ahead in Best Actress to become the oldest winner in Academy history, and that Haneke would benefit from being the more refined choice for Best Original Screenplay. Greg stuck by Hollywood, predicting on-paper favorites Jennifer Lawrence and Quentin Tarantino, and was right both times.

Greg was also the only one of us to half-call that wacky tie for Best Sound Editing, having predicted “Skyfall” for the win. Kris and I were evidently some way off in our joint “Life of Pi” prediction, as subtler sound showcase “Zero Dark Thirty” shared the trophy with Mr. Bond. This was widely agreed to be the night’s toughest category to call, and the tied result — the first at the Oscars in 18 years — was gratifying proof of that.

The other technical category giving most pundits trouble was Best Production Design — which, as mentioned above, resulted in that slightly surprising win for “Lincoln.” Tellingly, it was one of the few categories where Kris, Greg and I all went separate ways — for “Les Mis,” “Life of Pi” and “Anna Karenina,” respectively — yet we still all managed to get it wrong. Go figure.

On the other hand, on the 14 categories where we were united in our predictions, we were correct each time. That includes the not-at-all-certain Best Director victory for Ang Lee — a favorite among pundits whose win, to judge from the Twitter response I gauged, nonetheless seemed to surprise a lot of armchair observers. I guess the none-too-helpful message is: stick with us, but only when it’s all three of us.

How did you fare in your predictions? Which calls were you proudest of? And DID anyone call that Best Sound Editing tie? (Don’t lie to us, please.) Tell us in the comments!

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