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Khushrenada's Annual Oscar Thread. 2024 Edition.

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Oh no! It's that time again! Unlike last year's mad dash, I wanted to make sure to get this done a bit earlier instead of the constant last moment wild typing to get my predictions in before showtime. Despite having it on my to-do list all week, here I am still typing it the day of. And with Daylight Saving Time kicking in, time just keeps on further slipping ahead. Oh well, anytime ahead of the event is still a win so early Sunday morning can work out just fine.

Since I don't have to throw up my predictions and skedaddle, I can take a moment to talk about the Oscars, this year's nominees and my movie history. The Oscars have now passed the 600 mark when it comes to movies nominated for Best Picture. With this year's 10 nominees, the total number of films that have been nominated for Best Picture in its 96 year history is 601 or 604. Why two numbers? It depends how you want to count movies in the first Academy Awards ceremony. In the first Oscars event, three movies were nominated for the category Outstanding Picture and three movies were nominated for a category called Best Unique and Artistic Picture. Yet, that's kind of confusing to have two separate categories like that and the organizers seemed to realize it and did away with the latter category and just kept the Outstanding Picture category which has since been simplified to just Best Picture. The Academy has said they consider the Best Unique and Artistic Picture nominees from that first Awards night as not being part of the Best Picture category and past nominees but some people (like myself) still like to include those films as honorary Best Picture nominees. Thus, its either 601 or 604 films nominated depending on how you want to count them.

Of those 604 films that I count, I am currently at 541 for total number of nominees that I have watched leaving 63 to go. Who knows how low that number of films left to watch will be by the time I do next year's post. The 1930s still currently has the most movies I've yet to see in it at 17 nominees still to be seen in that decade. Every other decade is in single digits. The 1970s is the next highest with 8 nominees still for me to get around to watching. Last year, it was this current decade of the 2020s that was my second highest and it was in double digits of possibly around 14 or 15 that I still had to see. I've been making some progress in catching up on those past nominees after Covid disrupted theatres and my viewing habits. After the 2021 ceremony which awarded Best Picture to films released in 2020 and early 2021, I had seen none of the films nominated and that snapped my record of having seen every Best Picture winner, a list that will soon expand to 96 films by the end of Sunday. I believe it was around 2013 when I had finally seen every winner and kept that list complete during the rest of the 2010s. While I've been catching up the past nominees for the 2020s, I still have yet to watch CODA which win Best Picture at the 2022 ceremony (94th Academy Awards). Likely I've seen this year's winner already so I should get around to seeing that film and, once again, have the claim for having at least seen ever winner.

As for this year's nominees, I have seen all but one of the movies nominated for Best Picture so there is a chance that another movie is added to the Winner's List that I'll haven't seen yet but I think that chance is pretty low. I had hoped to see all of the movies nominated this year before the Awards show. It's been quite awhile since I was last able to accomplish that. Looking at my history, the last time I seem to have done that was for the 2017 ceremony which honored the films of 2016 so 8 years ago. I suppose I could always do a little downloading to quickly accomplish that but I'm ok with waiting a little bit to see the final nominee. The one picture I wasn't able to see in time was Anatomy of a Fall. I was hoping maybe a theatre in my area would bring it back for a week like some of the other nominees seemed to have happen for them in the past 2 - 3 months but it never happened for Anatomy. I was able to watch Past Lives a couple weeks ago while staying with my parents for a few days and I see that Amazon has Anatomy of a Fall available to rent but at this point I'll just wait for it to be made available to stream for free or wait for my library to get a copy and see it.

Past Lives and likely Anatomy of a Fall will be the two movies nominated that I didn't see in a theatre. The rest I all saw on the big screen and that's the way I like it. There was talk during Covid that movie theatres might be a thing of the past and they're likely still a business that will see some struggles with last year's writer and actor strike messing up the production pipeline. However, I still think it is the best way to see a movie. I'm a person that likes sitting closer to the front of a theatre as I want the screen to really fill up my eyesight and just have my full attention. Never understood the rush to sit in the back. As well, the sound mixing in the theatres always seems to work. The balance of dialogue, music and sound effects seems to always work out unlike home where I can be quickly turning down the volume because the music is too loud and then quickly turning it back up because the dialogue is now too low. It's pretty rare for me to feel I couldn't understand parts of dialogue in a theatre viewing. Perhaps one line from time to time whereas I feel I'm have to rewind a lot when watching at home. Glad theatres have been able to keep surviving to this point in time.

As for this year's nominees, here's a quick ranking of where I would place them from worst to best:

Unranked: Anatomy of a Fall

9 - Killers of the Flower Moon
8 - The Zone of Interest
7 - The Holdovers
6 - Maestro
5 - Barbie
4 - Poor Things
3 - American Fiction
2 - Past Lives
1 - Oppenheimer

In all honesty, I really think only Oppenheimer and Past Lives were favorites of mine from 2023. American Fiction and Poor Things were just lacking for me in a couple spots. And everything Barbie and below is kind of interchangeable and left me more shrugging my shoulders and feeling a bit meh on. I feel this will be looked back on as a weaker year for nominated pictures. Talking to a friend of mine who is also a big movie buff, he was commenting to me that he felt 2023 had been a weak year for movies. Looking back at it now, I can't disagree that much. There's a lot of stuff I watched that was pretty so-so. There's been much talk about Disney's struggles at the box office this year after dominating for much of the 2010s but, in general, I think most studios struggled to put out much that was great. In some ways, I feel The Super Mario Bros. Movie sort of sums up this year's output and it would have been pretty fitting if it had stayed as the highest grossing movie of the year. Familiar stuff that is doing the bare minimum to entertain and seems to exist more to keep the gears of the economy turning. As Mr. Burns once asked, "Where's the heart?"

Looking at movies that were released in 2023, I have seen 28 movies of that output. I've also made a list of 47 other movies I'd be willing to check out which were released this past year. There's a couple that could possibly help make the year look better but I don't have high expectations for the majority of them. If I had to make a top ten list, it would be a struggle. The only films I really feel are worth a watch, based on my opinion and sensibilities, are Oppenheimer, Past Lives, Godzilla Minus One, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Suzume and even that last movie I'm a bit mixed on. I'd throw in Poor Things and American Fiction at this point to try and get to ten and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was pretty decent. I did like the Wes Anderson short of The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar so I guess that can be added but I'm not going to worry about a tenth at this point. I didn't expect a Godzilla movie to win me over so much like Minus One did but I so thoroughly enjoyed that I actually went and saw it a second time while it was playing at the theatre which is a rare thing for me to do. I almost did it for Oppenheimer but never did in the end. Spider-Man was a surprise for me because I actually disliked the first Spider-Verse and did not have high expectations for this sequel. I didn't see it in theatres but now I wish I had. It was way better than the first and felt like one of the few ambitious movies released this year. If I was responsible for the Best Picture nominees, Godzilla and Spider-Man would have both made it this year.

That's enough commenting for now on my movie opinions. Let's get to predicting some nominees!

Let's start with what are considered the "locks" of the night. Much like a prescription drug ad, allow me to quickly whisper that all choices considered locks are not guaranteed and could lead to upsets in Oscar Predictions. Here's what I'm going with:

Best Picture - Oppenheimer

In the 2010s, there were a lot of tight races and some Best Picture upsets. It was a hard category for me to get right. Not so the 2020s. Lately, it has become pretty predictable with one movie dominating. The 2022 race (94th Academy Awards) was the only one so far this decade to be considered a close race with The Power of the Dog as the presumed front-runner only to fade to eventual winner CODA. This year, Oppenheimer has been dominating everything and it is expected to win out here as well.

Best Director - Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer)

Likewise, Nolan will get his first win for the film. Some have wondered if the Academy might give Scorsese a win here and make him a two-time winner in the category but I just don't see that happening. Personally, Oppenheimer was the first movie Nolan has done since Batman trilogy that I've actually wanted to see again right away. Aside from the Batman movies, I never rewatched any of his other films up to this point. Oppenheimer was finally a better blend of his mixed time style with an engaging main character and side characters and villain.

Best Supporting Actress - Da'Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers)

I'm not sure why this role has wowed voters but Da'Vine has been winning constantly in this category since Awards season started and is expected to end that winning streak with an Oscar. To me, there was nothing about the part or her performance that really stood out. Haven't seen Nyad or The Color Purple to know if anything was more deserving but I'd probably have voted for Emily Blunt and let the Oppenheimer sweep continue if I was voting.

Best Cinematography - Oppenheimer

I haven't seen El Conde which was a surprise nomination in this category. That said, I just don't see anything stopping Oppenheimer from this category. The Cinematography was another part of what added to my enjoyment of the movie and it should be claiming this award also.

Best Score - Oppenheimer

Another part of the expected sweep for Oppenheimer. I should look up the soundtrack and listen to it again. I can't really remember anything specific about it now that I reflect on the movie but my memory feels I was positive enough about it. That said, I wish Godzilla Minus One had been nominated in this category as that is the film I think should win it. The score was part of what made that movie so enjoyable for me and added extra depth to the whole thing.

Best Song - What Was I Made For? (Barbie)

I wish the Academy was more open to more lighthearted songs winning in this category. My vote would be for I'm Just Ken which came across as more what the Academy is looking for when it comes to Best Song. An original popular song in a movie that actually has an impact on the viewer and is used before the end credits. The I'm Just Ken musical number got a lot of buzz and was a highlight of the Barbie movie. Instead, it appears it will be going to this bland, forgettable snoozefest of a song because it seems more serious in its sadder vocals and ponderous lyrics. Would love to see an upset here.

Best Documentary Feature - 20 Days in Mariupol

Like usual, I've seen none of the Documentary Features. Partly because they rarely get released in theatres as the focus is usually more on fiction and partly because I just don't follow the Documentary scene that closely or care for Documentaries much. 20 Days is about the Ukraine War and was filmed during part of a real battle there. It seems to be an easy win here for the film as the Academy keeps doing their part to support Ukraine with gestures like that.

Best Film Editing - Oppenheimer

For awhile, this was an easier award to predict but then it got tricky in the past ten years. Before that, from 1981 - 2013 every Best Picture winner was at least nominated in this category with about two thirds of the Best Picture winners also winning this award. Now the pendulum seems to be swinging back to making it an easy pick but also because the Best Picture frontrunners clearly required good editing to succeed. Last year's winner of Everything Everywhere All At Once depending on editing for its multiverse hopping and plate-spinning of different stories at once while Oppenheimer is telling its story through different time periods and needs good editing to allow viewers to keep track of what's happening as it jumps in time through the story.

And that is 8 categories which feel like locks at this point. 15 more categories to go with. A lot of the others also feel pretty certain but with a bit of a chance of an upset. There's just very few anything is possible categories at this point but I'll get more into this after I get me some sleep.

Next up, categories that seem pretty certain but there's a chance for an upset.

Best Supporting Actor - Robert Downey Jr (Oppenheimer)

Based on other Award shows leading up to the Oscars, Downey has been consistently winning this award and seems to have a lot of industry love. That said, Ryan Gosling has had a few Oscar noms in the past and has yet to win an Oscar. The part of Ken was a big hit and kind of stole the show from the title character. Of course, after the discourse of the Ken role getting a nomination but the Barbie role didn't thereby illustrating the struggle of women that the Barbie movie was highlighting, the Academy may not want to add more fuel to the fire by then having the Ken role win. Also, as I've seen pointed out, the Academy usually favors drama over comedy. Plus Downey recently won the SAG award for Best Supporting Actor. Going back the past 10 years, the SAG awards overlap with the Oscar winners in acting very frequently. In the Best Supporting Actor category, there were two times SAG differed. One was 11 years ago with Tommy Lee Jones getting the SAG award for Lincoln while the Oscar went to Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained. SAG didn't have Waltz as one of their nominees. The other difference was in 2016 when SAG awarded Idris Elba Best Supporting Actor for Beasts of No Nation while the Oscars gave the award to Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies. Idris Elba was not nominated by the Academy for a Supporting Oscar. Aside from cases of single nominees causing a split like that, the SAG choice has lined up with the Oscar choice the rest of the time so I'll stick with SAG here.

Best Actor - Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer)

Again, Murphy seems the likely winner and like Downey has been winning the category in other Award shows. That said, he's a first time nominee and there's been chatter of Paul Giamatti winning in this category as both recognition of his work in The Holdovers and for his long career. It's possible but the role didn't really seem all that different from Giamatti's usual work of playing a curmudgeon that does care about others. When looking back at SAG vs Oscars over the past ten years, SAG has missed twice. SAG went with Denzel Washington for Fences over Casey Affleck for Manchester By the Sea and recently for Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom over Anthony Hopkins in The Father. The Boseman win was likely influenced by shock of his sudden death and probably led to the decision to save Best Actor for the end of the 2021 ceremony only for it to end awkwardly with Hopkins winning and not even being there to accept the award. I was kicking myself last year when debating between Brendan Fraser and Austin Butler on who might win and realized after the Awards started to check SAG. Saw they awarded Fraser and realized I'd likely got it wrong as I chose Butler thinking Elvis would do better than it did. Sticking with SAG this year.

Best International Feature Film - The Zone of Interest

Perhaps I should have put this among the locks I went through in my previous post. It definitely could have been a more interesting race if Anatomy of a Fall had also been nominated in this category. As it stands, The Zone of Interest is the only foreign film is this category to also garner a Best Picture nomination and usually that means it will be the film to win this category. Plus, a movie dealing about the holocaust usually wins at the Oscars. And yet... I feel like an upset could happen as I just don't think the movie was as strong as it thought it was. I do want to see Perfect Days which has been nominated in this category. Based on its trailer, I have hope that maybe it could be a hidden gem for 2023. Yet, it also doesn't have the "serious subject matter" that the Zone of Interest has and Glazer did get a Best Director nod so with Director and Best Picture nomination, yeah, this is most likely a lock.

Best Original Screenplay - Anatomy of a Fall

Fall has some drama related to it. You can read a bit about it by clicking here. The big gist of it is that the film won at the Cannes film festival and the director Triet made a speech a lot of the French considered rude which may have influenced France in submitting a different entry for the Best International Film instead of Anatomy of a Fall. Yet, Anatomy has still been so highly liked that The Academy ended up giving it a Best Picture nomination along with a Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominations anyways. With Best Picture and Best Director likely going to Oppenheimer, this would be the one place left for the Academy to give Anatomy of a Fall a win and the director Triet was also a writer on the script. Of course, there are other deserving nominees here as well. Celine Song's script for Past Lives is in this category which is also a Best Picture nominee although Song did not make the Best Director shortlist. I know I enjoyed the movie a lot but I'll admit that, when reflecting on the movie, there's a mood and vibe to it that I just don't think a script alone would have. There's also the script for The Holdovers which, again, is another movie that had some acclaim with the Academy this year. But the fact that Triet was nominated for Best Director suggests the Academy likes Anatomy quite a bit and based on other Award shows, it seems likely that it will win here.

Best Adapted Screenplay - American Fiction

This is a surprise to me. I'm always wary of not selecting the screenplay for what is likely the Best Picture winner as the BP winner usually will also win for its screenplay. In the past 18 years, there have only been three times when the Best Picture winner did not also win the Screenplay Award that it was nominated for. (Those three times are for The Artist, The Shape of Water and Nomadland). With all the awards that Oppenheimer is already poised to win, screenplay makes sense to be one of them. Especially as there was a lot of talk about how Nolan was able to take and condense American Prometheus into this film. Nolan's first Academy nomination came for the screenplay of Memento and he also got an Original Screenplay nom for Inception. The Academy has nominated his screenplays before. And yet, with all that in his favor, a majority of pundits are going with American Fiction because that's been winning over Oppenheimer when it comes to screenplay.

Perhaps a factor is because Nolan wrote the Oppenheimer screenplay in first person which is a very unusual choice. Maybe it's because he's already likely to win awards in Best Picture and Director. In 2021, Chloe Zhao wrote the screenplay for Nomadland but lost that category while still winning Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. It maybe that history repeats and the Academy decides to award someone else rather than have Nolan take all three categories. At the Critics Choice Awards, the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, Nolan won Best Picture and Director but lost screenplay at all three. The BAFTAs was considered a bit more telling since that's for British entertainment and Nolan's home turf and yet the BAFTA went to American Fiction. This category also ended up having Barbie put into it by the Academy which a lot of people disagreed with. It's also been seen as a way for Gerwig to win something after not getting a Best Director nom but I don't think it will upset here. I kind of feel that Poor Things has stolen some of Barbie's thunder at this point and, oh look, Poor Things is also nominated in this category. I think they'll cancel each other out and American Fiction will be the beneficiary as cerebrally, I liked the story, ideas, and topic discussion that movie had over Barbie and Poor Things and I felt it stuck the landing better than those films.

Animated Feature - Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

This category has also been seen as two film race between Spider-Man vs The Boy and The Heron. Some talk has been made of how members of the Academy may want to give Miyazaki another Oscar since Spirited Away when this category was first created and because it could be his last film. Yet, I have my doubts as to how much actual Academy voters care in that regard. There have been a couple other times that he could have won like The Wind Rises but it never happened. I think that's partly due to nothing he's done since Spirited Away has equaled it. Howl's Moving Castle may be the closest (and I still have yet to see Ponyo) but in my opinion everything that he's done since Spirited Away has been lesser quality. And to be quite frank, I found The Boy and The Heron a big disappointment. I don't understand the critical love it has received or this push by some for it to win in this category. Again, if it were my decision, I'd have given The Boy and The Heron's spot to Suzume. Some have wondered if Spider-Man can win for being half a movie or story. While it is usually odd for any film to win an award by not telling a complete story or being the beginning of a story (sometimes the ending film will get awards), it didn't stop Spider-Man from being one of the most positively reviewed films of the year and having won more recently with Into the Spiderverse, I think Across The Spiderverse will be able to repeat another Oscar win with a movie that outdoes the first one. (And add further irony with Sony winning Oscars for Spider-Man while Disney/Marvel continue to struggle to get noms and wins for their Marvel movies).

And now for the really tough stuff. Usually I say there are a dreaded 6 categories. This year, it seems there are a dreaded 9 categories. All the people saying this year's Oscars are going to be boring with Oppenheimer dominating are forgetting these categories.

Best Visual Effects - Godzilla Minus One

Admittedly, I'm partial in choosing this one. Godzilla did get some recognition by the Oscars although it was just for this category. Yet, it may very well win this category and get at least one Oscar. It's biggest competition is The Creator. In a funny twist of fate, Gareth Edwards is the director of The Creator and he's the director of the 2014 Godzilla movie which launched the current USA Monsterverse. But now Godzilla may be coming from Japan to ruin The Creator's chances of winning. Unlike Godzilla, The Creator has a second nomination which is the Sound category. Clearly, there was some technical love for The Creator. I know when I saw the trailer for The Creator, I was impressed with how it looked and it seemed like it could be really neat sci-fi story. The effects seemed pretty impressive. When it released, though, it just seemed to garner a shrug from critics and audiences so I put off seeing. It is on my list of movies to see from 2023 still. On the other hand, Godzilla Minus One got a very positive reaction from critics and audiences and became the highest grossing Japanese film in the USA so people did see it. It also has a bit of narrative with it in that high profile Academy members like Spielberg and Guillermo Del Toro have talked up in the press how impressed they were with the movie and effects and how Toho Studios accomplished that on a small budget of 10 - 15 million. A lot of Academy members listen to their recommendations. Guillermo won Best Animated Feature last year for his Pinocchio movie. I'm hoping Godzilla Minus One can pull off the win here.

Best Sound - The Zone of Interest

Ugh. This will probably be a mistake I'll regret after. After I watched The Zone of Interest, I pretty much thought to myself that this movie should win for Best Sound because the sound effects play such a heavy part in the movie's atmosphere, mood and putting you in that same... zone as the characters on screen. :rolleyes: It reminds me how I instantly felt Little Women should win Best Costume after I saw it which isn't something I'm normally considering in a movie but I was absolutely right on that one. The big issue is that most people seem to think that Oppenheimer will also claim this award as it sweeps along. Oppenheimer made a billion dollars. A lot of people saw it. Maybe a tenth of those people will have seen The Zone of Interest so I don't know how much voters will actually be aware of what a factor the sound is for that movie. There's also a weird stat that film editing and sound usually get rewarded for the same film. Until 2020, there were two Sound categories so sometimes a film that won Best Editing would win one or both of those sound categories. Going back to 2007, (17 years), there are 4 times that the winner for Best Editing didn't also collect an award for Sound. Three of those occasions happened from 2010-2012. The 4th was just last year. Everything Everywhere All At Once won Editing but Top Gun: Maverick won Best Sound. That makes sense as all the wooshing of jet planes stood out more in that movie. Also, it made a billion dollars so more voters were likely aware of its sound making it easy to award it separately. The rule is to usually go with what you think will win not what you think SHOULD win but, in this case, I just feel too strongly that Zone is the clear choice and I'm going with it.

Best Make-Up and Hairstyling - Poor Things

This category can be very easy or very tough. It's easy when a performer has been transformed to look like a real person and will likely win an acting award for their portrayal. Gary Oldman winning for Darkest Hour as Churchill also garnered a win in Best Make-up for Darkest Hour. The Eyes of Tammy Fay won for Jessica Chastain in Best Actress and in Best Make-up for helping her portrayal to look like her. Looking at the acting awards, Oppenheimer would seem like a good pick with two actors likely to win and for portraying real life people. But most people don't really know what those scientists looked like so the transformations may not seem that impressive. (Although I thought Einstein's look was on point!) Then there's Maestro which had a lot of discussion about Bradley Cooper's Make-up / Prosthetic use to look like Leonard Bernstein. The make-up had to help him depict different ages of his life. Yet, he seems unlikely to win in Best Actor plus there was some controversy about the nose being offensive to Jews. And there's Poor Things. Willem Dafoe's mad scientist look is flashy and stands out but is the rest of the cast that impressive? Although, there's a chance that Emma Stone wins Best Actress so perhaps Make-up ties into that possibility. And that's why this category sucks this year. I'm going with Poor Things on the basis that it getting more acclaim during Awards season while Maestro just kind of faded away. If Oppenheimer were to win here then it might be a big, big night for that movie.

Best Actress - Lily Gladstone

This is another one I've been ping-ponging back and forth on my opinion. It reminds me a bit of last year's Best Actress race. A possible historical first winner for the Academy in a highly praised role versus a previous winner putting in what's considered career best work. One difference, though, is that Cate Blanchett actually encouraged voters to vote for Michelle Yeoh and gave a less concerned attitude about winning a second Best Actress Award. I've seen nothing from Emma Stone along those lines so I think she's in it and hoping to win. Poor Things struck a note with the Academy to be the second most nominated film although Killers of the Flower Moon is right behind with one less nomination. Personally, I don't get the high praise for Gladstone. I didn't think there was anything that special or memorable about the role. On the other hand, Emma Stone's character is hard to forget. Likewise, Emma Stone was also highly praised for her work on a recent show called The Curse. It's not quite a one-two punch like Matthew McConaughey when he had Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective happening at the same time which created a lot of buzz on his acting ability. There's been a viewpoint that Gladstone is belongs more in the Supporting Actress category while Emma is clearly full main character in her film. Gladstone is a first time nominee. Sometimes the Academy is ok with that and sometimes they don't want to award someone on a first nominee. They may if the person has had a good body of work or well regarded resume but, looking at Gladstone's past work, I'm not sure that argument would work here. Gladstone did win the SAG award which indicates there could be a lot of support in the Academy for her to win but its no guarentee. Glenn Close won SAG and lost to Olivia Coleman who starred in The Favorite, Yorgos Lanthimos last film before Poor Things. Might he have directed another Best Actress win? Yet, the Academy may want to make history by giving Gladstone the win and sort of putting to bed it's 50 year old embarrassment with Sacheen Littlefeather although even that is debated on how much of a controversary it was not to mention it's fifty years old and many Academy members have probably forgotten it, know about it or care that much about it now.

By all accounts, it sounds like I should be picking Emma Stone based on the reasoning so far but I can't think of a time the Academy awarded someone an acting award for a role as sexual as Stone's. I've certainly seen a lot of comments from people thinking it was too much or made them uncomfortable. There's still a lot of older and traditional members in the Academy. Look at Green Book winning a bunch of Awards just six years ago. Gladstone's role is a bit safer in that regard. It's the possible divisive reception to Stone's role that I think may give Gladstone the edge which is why I'm choosing her to win. Obviously, I expect someone with the word stone in their to win tonight although that doesn't even touch on Sandra Huller who starred in two of the movies nominated for Best Picture this year and is a nominee in this category. Eye-yi-yi!

Costume Design - Barbie

The next two categories are considered coin flips between Barbie and Poor Things. No one seems confident in their choice for this category. I'm going along with the Critics Choice Award for Costume Design. In the past 15 years they've begun awarding this category, they've only missed twice with the Academy. It's a pretty good record and the designer of Barbie has won a couple times already so she may have some connections in the industry to drum up votes. The main argument seems to be whether the Academy will award the recreations of a lot of iconic outfits from Barbie's past or the uniqueness and originality of Poor Things costumes. Personally, I feel the outfits in Barbie registered with movie goers more with a lot of people wanting to recreate some of the looks in real life. To me, that strong reaction may also have occurred in the Academy so that might give Barbie the edge in voting.

Production Design - Poor Things

I've read some people say that this is the most wide open category where anyone could win but I still think it will come down between Barbie and Poor Things but maybe Oppenheimer plays spoiler. In a way, I'm hedging my bets by splitting Costume and Production between Barbie and Poor Things. Perhaps one will win both or perhaps I picked the wrong split. Barbie Land was a memorable world and set. A point in Barbie's favor is that it caused an international paint shortage for the color pink because so much was used on the set. That anecdote could seal the deal here. My problem is that Barbie Land was more an enlargement of various Barbie toys so it lacks a bit in originality although recreations can win in this category. The other negative is that aside from Barbie Land, the rest of film and it feels like half of it is spent away from Barbie Land in the real world where nothing seems that impressive about the set design. Poor Things on the other hand has a unique look and twisted fantasy setting that is prevalent throughout the whole movie. I think creating a complete fantasy like world from beginning to end might help Poor Things push it over the edge in voting for a win here.

I read someone arguing a stat that the winning film of Best Production usually gets a nom for Sound. I checked to see if that was true. Going back the past 14 years, there are three times in which a Best Production winner didn't have a sound nomination and a couple in which they only had one sound nomination between the two categories when there were two sound categories just narrowly keeping that stat a bit more relevant. It's definitely a stronger stat for the past 10 years. If it were to stay true now then Oppenheimer is the only Production nominee that also has a Sound nominee. Again, that could be a sign Oppenheimer will have an even bigger night than people are currently predicting but I'm going assume it doesn't quite put a complete chokehold on the proceedings. In one last tidbit, the Art Director's Guild does three Production Design awards so it makes it hard to assess who the Guild may favor. Yet for the category of Production Design for a Fantasy Film, it actually had Barbie face off against Poor Things in that same category and Poor Things came out on top as the winner. BAFTA also give it Best Production and though there record is spotty between their winners and Oscar winners, it could be a sign that international members of the Academy will favor Poor Things over Barbie in voting.

And now, for those last three killers of many an Oscar Prediction pool: The Short Films.

Best Animated Short - War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko

My most cursed category. Year after year, I think this is the category I do the worst at and have a very low correct percentage on. I've seen none of the films nominated here. I have no idea what they're like. Just have to go on hearsay. Oddly, there seems to be an actual consensus when it comes to the Animated Shorts this year. Practically everyone is selecting this entry as the likely winner. The feeling being that having Yoko Ono and Lennon referenced in the title may cause more voters to select it. Cynical name dropping for the win. The only other choice I've seen floated is Letter to a Pig and it scares me because it touches on the holocaust and is about an animal. Two things I've said often seem to be catnip to the Academy voters in the Shorts category. Betting against a holocaust movie always seems like a sure way to lose a prediction point but I'm hoping the majority rule is correct here. Perhaps if I saw more of a split between the two I'd change my mind it's late in the day and I can't keep debating this stuff within me.

Best Documentary Short Film - The Last Repair Shop

From what I see, people are divided between this film and The ABCs of Book Banning. I could see Academy voters going with ABCs because of it being a hot topic but I'm trying something new in this category which is looking up reviews that I can find on them and more people seemed to emotionally enjoy The Last Repair Shop. It's a topic on music which does well in Oscar documentary subjects and has to do with the city of Los Angeles so it may appeal somewhat to the home crowd voting as well.

Best Live Action Short Film - The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

I've seen almost every nominee here get chosen by someone. No one knows what's happening here. In a rare case, I've actually seen one of these shorts and it is the one I'm selecting to win. I think the fact that Netflix was behind it, it has big names attached to it and Wes Anderson's style works well with Roald Dahl's story (see Fantastic Mr. Fox) will give it an edge in voting. That said, Red, White and Blue has gained also been a popular pick with some pundits due to it dealing on the theme of abortion which may sway voters more as the Academy will sometimes use the Short films to select stuff with a current political message.

And that's my picks!


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