Results filed under: “oscars”

jesse
@ February 28, 2011


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We've had bad hosts before, and we've had predictable awards, but rarely have we had such a potent combination of those two elements in the same broadcast. After an enjoyable opening montage of the nominated films and, for some reason, Back To The Future, James Franco and Anne Hatheway gave us what would qualify as a middling, tolerable SNL opening monologue (complete with audience participation) to set the mood for the evening. For what seems like the 5th time in a row, the theme of the evening was "The History of the Oscars". The first few awards were accompanied by scenes from a classic film projected against an uneven surface that made it difficult to quickly identify what was happening, after which point it seems the concept was abandoned. Bob Hope's disembodied head made an appearance. Halle Berry eulogized Lena Horne to let us all know that, yes, there are black people in Hollywood, too, even though they didn't factor into a single award this year. They just weren't as good at their jobs as white people, but hey, there's always next year, right?

But I persevered through the evening, despite competition from what was, by all accounts, a fantastic basketball game between the Heat and the Knicks, so that I could give you the Oscar pool results in real time. The highlights:

For the first time since I've run a pool, there was a category where nobody got the correct answer (collectively we went 0/9 in Live Action Short).

There was only one category with across the board consensus: 9/9 picked Toy Story 3 for Best Animated Feature.

In the five categories where at least 8/9 agreed on an answer, the majority was right four times. The lone exception was the closest thing to an upset all night, with the majority liking David Fincher for Best Director (Tom Hooper walked away with the trophy). The Academy, in its infinite wisdom, held this award before the top two acting prizes, meaning that any semblance of suspense left the room 40 minutes earlier than it usually would have.

Here are the final standings (all scores are out of a possible 59 points):

The Suze, 18 points - the only entry to correctly predict "The Lost Thing" for Animated Short
Gopher, 24 points - the only entry to miss all four top categories
Daytrader, 26 points - respectable 5/6 in the top categories, but the only entry to miss both screenplay awards

Krista, 30 points
Jim, 36 points
Rose, 36 points

All three went 5/6 on the top categories, but did not do enough at the bottom of the ballot to remain competitive.

Elisa, 40 points

A solid performance by our defending champion, but key misses in Makeup (HOW DID YOU NOT PICK THE WOLFMAN?!?) and the two categories won by Alice In Wonderland (costume, art direction) dragged her ballot down.

The Wisdom of Crowds (ballot based on the most popular answers in each category - in the event of a split, half credit was given), 40.5 points

Runner-up: Jesse, 42 points

Keys to success: Only ballot to correctly name the winner in Best Director, one of only two ballots to correctly name the winners in art direction, doc short.

Failure in retrospect: Got too hung up on the Inception button to correctly identify The Social Network as the winner for Best Score; expected Hailee Steinfeld to pull a Marissa Tomei.

THE WINNER: Kevin, 43 points

Key to success: Correctly pointed out in an email to me that The King's Speech did not win the guild award for best original screenplay because it was not eligible, and was the only ballot to nail that category.

Death montage: NOBODY correctly predicted Lena Horne bringing the hammer, which was an egregious oversight given her status as the first woman of color to take home an award. Dennis Hopper, the most popular answer, was 4th from the end.


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jesse
@ February 24, 2011


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4
[Each year, Jesse and Jim offer our expert Oscar predictions leading up to the Annual ObscureCraft Oscar Prognisticate-Off. Email your picks in each category to craftj2@gmail.com to enter. Keep track of everybody's picks here. Part 4 is here.]

Original Score

The nominees: 127 Hours, How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, The King's Speech, The Social Network

Jim's pick

Remember that time when we were watching the Oscars and the 3-6 Mafia won for "It's Hard Out There for a Pimp."

I wasn't sure if that would ever be topped as "unlikely musicians to win Oscars."

I'm trying to figure out if the man who gave us "Head Like a Hole" and "Closer" and "Hurt" and numerous other industrial, angsty works winning qualifies as odder. "Academy Award winner Trent Reznor"

No, it's not odder. "Academy Award winners The 3-6 Mafia" is still the weirdest.

The pick: The Social Network

Jesse's pick

Ever since Disney stopped making classically animated films and thus ended their hegemony in the category, the Academy has been incredibly forward thinking when it comes to best song. Not even a joke. The aforementioned 3-6 Mafia stand alongside past winners Eminem, A. R. Rahman (Jai Ho), and those adorable Irish hobos that made "Once" (which is a great song to listen to while you look wistfully out the window while riding mass transit).

What? This is the category for best score? Well then fuck it, I'm going with THE OBOE.

The pick: Inception

Original Song


The nominees: Country Strong ("Coming Home"), Tangled ("I See The Light"), 127 Hours ("If I Rise"), Toy Story 3 ("We Belong Together")

Jesse's pick

Randy Newman is a 12-time Oscar nominee (including this year for "We Belong Together"), but has only a single win. I can't help but think that his participation in Cop Rock has something to do with that.

The pick: Toy Story 3 ("We Belong Together")

Jim's pick

If "Baby Merchant" was up for an Oscar, I'd totally be on board with your Randy Newman pick. I hope you saw Justified this week. Elisa and I were watching it, and we realized what was going on, and then I said "He's the baby merchant!" But it looks like the price of a healthy white baby has increased since the early 90s. $11,000 would certainly be a small price to pay for a toddler today.

Wait, this is an Oscar column? Oh ok.

The pick: Country Strong

Best Actor

The nominees: Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth, James Franco

Jim's pick


Well, Jeff Bridges just won -- so I don't think an eyepatch will do for him what it did for The Duke.

Given his win at the SAG awards -- and the fact that The King's Speech is totally an actor's movie -- I'm going with Colin Firth on this one.

The pick: Colin Firth

Jesse's pick


The major acting categories this year are snoozers. I don't know when Colin Firth became a seamstress, but he has got this award SEWN UP. For anybody wondering why, the answer is this: stuttering falls on the sweet spot of the "retard" performance spectrum, along with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Hanks.

The pick: Colin Firth

Best Actress

The nominees: Natalie Portman and four other women who are going to lose so who cares

Jesse's pick: Natalie Portman

Jim's pick

Crap. Remember that time we decided it would be a good idea to pay eight bucks each to see "V For Vendetta" and Natalie Portman was in it it and she was awful and then she said "I always wanted to be an actress" and we all thought it was funny?

Pretty soon, that line will have been delivered by Academy Award Winning Actress Natalie Portman.

Fuckity fuck fuck.

The pick: Natalie Portman

Best Director

The nominees: David Fincher (The Social Network), David O. Russel (The Fighter), The Coen Brothers (True Grit), Daren Aronofsky (Black Swan), Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)

I gotta go with Fincher here. The Social Network might not have been his best film -- not everything can be as Gruffalo as Zodiac or as Branorton as Fight Club or as Decapitated-Gwyneth-Paltrow as Se7en -- but it's in the discussion. And I think it's the best film I saw last year. And the Academy has been giving lots of love to directors of his type as of late -- the independently-minded auteurs who made some darker films that were quite popular but didn't get any critical acclaim but now they've gone more mainstream and they can win an Oscar. Ok, so maybe that's just Danny Boyle, but I can't forget how much of a love fest the Slumdog ceremony was for him, I just have a feeling that his year is the Fincher lovefest.

The pick: The Social Network

Jesse's pick


Seven, Zodiac, and Fight Club. Three of my favorite movies, and three of the best movies to come out in their respective year. What do they all have in common? No director nominations for Fincher (his one nomination, for Benjamin Button, I haven't seen). Honestly? I think the Academy doesn't like Fincher very much.

What the Academy does like is rubber stamping the selection of the Director's Guild. You have to go back to 2002, when the Guild award went to Polanski for the Pianist and the Academy selected Rob Marshall for Chicago, to find a disagreement (you have to go back to 2000 to find an instance that doesn't involve a child rapist - unless you have something you'd like to tell us, Ang Lee).

On the other hand, if there was a year to break with that tradition, it would be this year, as it seems like these two movies have been neck and neck during awards season with no clear favorite. But since we've agreed on so many awards, I'm going to disagree with you just to keep it interesting.

The pick: Tom Hooper

Best Picture

The nominees: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone

Jesse's pick


First, for the sake of argument, here is my hypothetical list of the "actual" Best Picture nominees, aka the movies that would have made the cut without this absurd 10-best nonsense.

Black Swan
Inception
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

The toughest call here is whether The Fighter or Inception would have made the cut. On the one hand, Inception is the big popcorn hit of the summer that had everybody talking. On the other, David O. Russell, and not Christopher Nolan, got the nod in the Best Director category. But since there was often at least one disagreement between the five directors and the five pictures, I say Inception would have made the cut.

And even though Inception might be my personal favorite, we know its not going to win Best Picture. Let's quickly narrow the rest of the top five down.

As great as True Grit was, the Coens are still in their five year grace period from No Country For Old Men. True Grit is out.

Black Swan just recently crossed the $100M mark at the box office, and was one of the most unexpectedly talked about movies of the year. Portman is getting her Oscar. Darran Aronofsky has resurrected his career after the killer that could/should have been "The Fountain". I think Darren Aronofsky could give a FUCK about winning.

Which leaves The Social Network and The King's Speech. The Social Network is a fascinating character study of one of the most influential men of our time. It features one of our best writers and best directors at the peak of their powers. It has a star making turn by Jesse Eisenberg, a breakout role for our new Spider-Man, and Justin "Dick In A Box" Timberlake turns in a quality dramatic performance. The King's Speech, on the other hand, is a fictional account of the royal family that glosses over some uncomfortable historical realities. The Social Network SHOULD be the winner.

I have a feeling you are leaning Social Network. I'm l-l-l-l-leaning another w-w-w-way.

The pick: The King's Speech

Jim's pick

Nope, I'm actually going to go with The King's Speech on this one. It seems like the classic Spielberg/Shakespeare in Love split. Too many people thought that they were voting for the football announcer when they saw John Madden's name on the ballot, so they voted for Spielberg. But somehow, enough of them remembered how much they loved Shakespeare in Love, so that got the best picture win.

I don't think people will confuse Tom Hooper with anyone -- well, maybe Hooper, the Greatest Stuntman Alive, or Hooper from Jaws, or Hooper X from Chasing Amy -- but probably not. I just think this is a split decision year for picture and director.

Death Montage

[This year, rather than use "number of awards" as a tiebreaker, Jim and I have decided to break the tie by identifying who will be at the end of the annual "In Memoriam" segment, aka the Death Montage.]

Jim's pick


The Death Montage will open with Blake Edwards and close with Dennis Hopper. No question in mind mind -- mark it down, son. The only X Factor here is Tony Curtis -- but I bet they put him smack in the middle.

Jesse's pick

I am not nearly as sure as you about the death montage. Not because I don't think Hopper or Edwards are good choices, but because this thing has been a crapshoot. Remember last year, where we were all so sure that John Hughes was bringing the hammer, and instead he got his own tribute and the screen went to black on Karl fucking Malden? Not Patrick Swayze, not Michael Jackson, and not Jean Simmons: Karl Malden. If it weren't for crosswords I never would have heard of the man. Quick, name a Karl Malden movie. Okay, Jim, I know you just named six, but that's not the point. The point is that I can't, and therefore he is irrelevant.

A thought: you may remember the mini-controversy when Bea Arthur was left off of last year's montage. Do they try to make up for it this year with an unexpected Rue McClanahan closing? Do they go with Irvin Kershner, the man who kept us from realizing what a total hack George Lucas was for another 30 years?

All possibilities. If this were an actual category, I'd go with a safe Hopper choice. But since its a tiebreaker, I'm going out on a limb. This year's montage closes on Leslie Nielsen.

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That's it, we're done! If you stuck with us this far, why don't you take a crack at beating our predictions? Email your guesses in each category to craftj2@gmail.com and I'll post the winners and losers (especially the losers) after the show.


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jesse
@ February 23, 2011


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4
[Each year, Jesse and Jim offer our expert Oscar predictions leading up to the Annual ObscureCraft Oscar Prognisticate-Off. Email your picks in each category to craftj2@gmail.com to enter. Keep track of everybody's picks here. Part 3 is here.]

Best Documentary - Short Subject

The Nominees: Killing in the Name, Poster Girl, Strangers No More, Sun Come Up, The Warriors of Qiugang

Jim's pick

Alternate Titles: Islamic Terrorism. US Soldiers with Iraq-induced PTSD. A School in Tel Aviv. Global Warming. Overcoming Industrial Pollution in China.

I'm going to go with The Warriors of Qiugang.

The pick: The Warriors of Qiugang

Jesse's pick

Hmmmmm. SO TOPICAL HOW CAN I CHOOSE. The Warriors of Qiugang is the one I would pick based on the name alone. On the other hand, a School in Tel Aviv is probably the most Holocaust-related. Hollywood is still run by Jews, right?

The pick: Strangers No More

Doc Feature

The nominees: Exit Through The Gift Shop, Gasland, Inside Job, Restrepo, Waste Land

Jesse's pick


A potential controversy. I haven't seen Exit Through The Gift Shop, but the number one question I have seen asked about this movie is: hoax or no hoax? And are people who are voting for the best documentary going to have a problem with that? These titles were selected by actual documentary filmmakers, so clearly THEY were fine with it (and preferred it to "Waiting For Superman", which may have committed the more egregious sin of factual inaccuracy).

I say that the best documentary must, in fact, be a documentary. The zeitgeist-tapping "Inside Job" is my pick.

The pick: Inside Job

Jim's take


I have seen Exit Through the Gift Shop -- in fact, I watched it the other night through the miracle of Netflix streaming in order to have an informed opinion on this category. I went in to it with no research on the controversy, nor have I done any since. But let's talk documentary and this absurd belief by critics who feel that they must be full of veracity above all.

The genre of documentary film covers such a wide swath of styles that it is unfair to say that a film should be ineligible because it fudges the truth. Yes, there are filmmakers who believe in a pure form of documentary -- The Maysles Brothers are the most famous examples. They used "Cinema Direct" to represent their subjects without sit-down interviews and without narration.

But even this "pure" form involves editing. Every decision made in the editing room changes the viewer's interpretation of the subject. Because of this, there is no true, pure form of documentary.

One of the films that defined the documentary genre -- Robert Flaherty's "Nanook of the North" -- is full of staged shots and other fabrications. Werner Herzog made a career out of melding documentary and fiction film.

So if Banksy decided to make shit up in Exit Through the Gift Shop, I'm fine with it. The purpose of the film was to bring the street art subculture to viewers via the medium of a feature film -- and Exit does a damn good job of that. The shots of the artists doing their work are real enough. So if the framing device is fiction, who cares? Editing a documentary is nothing more than writing a script from existing footage -- if you need to fudge some of the facts in order to make a better film, you do it.

The pick: Exit Through the Gift Shop

Visual Effects

The nominees: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter 7.1, Hereafter, Inception, Iron Man 2

Jim's take

You know what was cool? That part in Inception when 3rd Rock from the 500 Days of Summer was floating people around in that dream hotel.

The pick: Inception

Jesse's take

You know what was cool? That part in Inception when Paris folds over on top of itself.

The pick: Inception

Makeup


The nominees: Barney's Version, The Way Back, The Wolfman

Jesse's pick


Looking at this list, I have one thought: how did Eddie Murphy let a year go by without climbing into a fat suit? That wasn't him as the Wolfman, right? I know you've seen the ads for Big Momma's House (subtitle: I Think Martin Lawrence Owes the IRS Money). Couldn't they have released it in NY and LA back in December to get it eligible?

Here's why the Wolfman wins: its the one that, when you read this list, you can have not seen any of the movies, but imagine that there must have been some fancy wolf-man makeup in it.

The pick: The Wolfman

Jim's pick

Jamie Foxx also let us know that he and Martin are working on a Ronda and Shananae movie -- so if that drops this year, we could have a dueling drag Martin Lawrence makeup Oscar fight next year.

The Wolfman seems like a safe bet -- it's Rick Baker, and Rick Baker is good at winning Oscars -- he has six according to wiki-wiki-wiki-pedia.

And as much as I'd like to go out on a limb here with Barney's Version -- the makeup team did an amazing job of making me forget that Paul Giamatti looks exactly like John Adams -- I'll go with your gut.

The pick: The Wolfman

Original Screenplay

The Nominees: Another Year, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech

Jim's pick


Had I not taken the two minutes to Google and discover that Inception had won the WGA award for Best Original Screenplay, I would have said that this is a two-horse race between The Fighter and The King's Speech. I would have debated and pontificated and debated some more, eventually landing on The King's Speech as the winner. Because, as far as I'm concerned, it was a brilliantly written film... but you know, both it and The Fighter are actor's films, and this is a writer's category. So Inception it is. With its onion-like layers of dreams within dreams within dreams. Sounds like a safe bet to me.

The pick: Inception

Jesse's take

Jim, I checked your research, and you are on to something. As far back as I cared to check, which was back to 2005 (that covers the previous six awards), the winner of the WGA award for Original Screenplay was also the Academy Award winner for Original Screenplay. Add that to the fact that Inception should actually win, and this is a no brainer. It's like a taco inside another taco inside a Taco Bell that's inside a KFC inside a mall that is INSIDE YOUR DREAM!!

The pick: Inception

Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone

Jesse's pick


Continuing with the research: the WGA has NOT been a perfect predictor of Oscar success for adapted screenplays, with Preciousbasedonthenovelpushbysapphire swooping in last year to claim Up In The Air's prize. Still, 5/6 ain't bad: and, once again, this is all added to the fact that this year's WGA winner, The Social Network, should actually win based on my ironclad and irrefutable evaluation of the relative quality of these films. None of which excuses Aaron Sorkin for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

The pick: The Social Network

Jim's pick

I can't possibly see something other than The Social Network winning this category. It's the lock of the night, as far as I'm concerned. More of a lock than Toy Story 3 walking away with the animated feature trophy.

My Pick: The Social Network


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jesse
@ February 16, 2011


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[Each year, Jesse and Jim offer our expert Oscar predictions leading up to the Annual ObscureCraft Oscar Prognisticate-Off. Email your picks in each category to craftj2@gmail.com to enter. Keep track of everybody's picks here. Part 2 is here.]

Best Costume Design

The Nominees: Alice in Wonderland, I Am Love, The King's Speech, The Tempest, True Grit

Jim's pick

Colleen Atwood, who designed the costumes for Alice in Wonderland, also designed the costumes for My Chemical Romance's "The Black Parade" music video. "When I was.... a young boy... my father.... took me into the city... TO SEE A MARCHING BAND." She has won Oscars in this category for Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago.

Antonella Cannarozzi is Italian, and has never won an Oscar. I'm not sure what "I Am Love" is. Well, it's a metaphor. Because it doesn't use "like" or "as." But I'm not sure what the deal with the movie is.

Jenny Beavan, nominated for The King's Speech, won an Oscar for "A Room with a View." It should also be noted that The King's Speech is a period piece.

Sandy Powell won for The Young Victoria, The Aviator, and Shakespeare in Love. She is nominated this year for the gender-bending adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest."

Mary Zphres has worked with the Coens before -- according to Wikipedia they have frequent collaborations, but the only Coen film listed is O Brother. She also designed the costumes for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. She is nominated this year for True Grit.

This award usually goes to period dramas -- the last four winners were The Young Victoria, The Duchess, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and Marie Antoinette.

I looked at some pictures from The Tempest. Doesn't seem very period-y, probably due to Helen Mirren being past the age of menstruation. (Rimshot!)

So I'm giving this one to The King's Speech. Let's hope the Academy agrees with me.

The pick: The King's Speech

Jesse's pick

It is a common complaint among those who like to complain about such things that the Best Costume Design award is really an award for the Best Frilly Period Dresses And/Or Bodices. Am I the only one who thinks Joseph Gorden-Levitt's vest in Inception should win some sort of award? Yes, Jim, I've started wearing vests. But based on the last few winners they should just rename this category Best Corset and be done with it. As much as I loved Geoffrey Rush's pinstriped suit in The King's Speech, the protagonist did not wear a single corset.

The pick: Alice In Wonderland

Art Direction

The nominees: Alice In Wonderland, Harry Potter 7.1, Inception, The King's Speech, True Grit

Jesse's pick


Say what you want about his movies - say that they are empty, facile exercises in style over substance that have aged about as well as Al Davis - but Tim Burton is Mr. Reliable when it comes to this category. Behold his previous winners!

Sweeney Todd
Sleepy Hollow
Batman

I checked, with YOUR PRECIOUS RESEARCH, and found no other modern director whose movies have been so frequently honored in this category. Cameron has two for Titanic and Avatar, and Spielberg's got two for Schindler's List and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those are four of the biggest movies of all time. Burton won for Sleepy Fucking Hollow.

The pick: Alice In Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland? Well, it mad a hell of a lot of money -- that's for sure. But there's been a big backlash against the whole 3D thing as of late. Well, at least from Roger Ebert -- Roger Ebert hates 3D even more than I do, which is saying something.

I'm giving this to The King's Speech. Why? Because, Burton aside, shit like Howards End, The Madness of King George, The English Patient, and Shakespeare in Love win this category. And Tim Burton's wife is in the movie. And she was in Howards End.

Live Action Short

The Nominees: The Confession, The Crush, God of Love, Na Wewe, Wish 143

Jim's pick

The Confession: Quiet and sincere 9-year-old Sam is worried about making his first confession. His conscience is clear, therefore he cannot hope for any relief from the experience. He and his friend Jacob decide to remedy that situation, but their initially innocent prank turns unexpectedly tragic.

The Crush: An 8 year old schoolboy is so besotted with his teacher that he challenges her boyfriend to a duel...to the death.

God of Love: A lovestruck, lounge-singing darts champion finds his prayers are answered -- literally -- when he mysteriously receives a box of love-inducing darts.1994 or thereabouts.

Na Wewe. There is a civil war on in Burundi. A genocidal conflict opposing Hutus and Tutsis... We are witnesses to one of those sadly frequent episodes : the attack by the rebels of a minibus transporting ordinary passengers. A Kalashnikov bursts out. The bus stops, the passengers get off. There follows a selection separating Hutus and Tutsis. But who is a Hutu, who is a Tutsi? Na Wewe means You Too in Kirundi.

Wish 143: David, a teen-aged terminally ill hospital patient, is visited by the Wishman, who can offer him the opportunity to meet footballers or try something exhilarating before he dies. Sadly the Wishman cannot fulfil David's one desire, to lose his virginity. A newspaper advert does not have the desired effect but, thanks to the friendly and wholly unconventional hospital chaplain, David does indeed get his heart's desire in the company of warm-hearted working girl Maggie.

Sounds like Na Wewe to me. Na Wewe?

The pick: Na Wewe

Jesse's pick

You had me at genocide.

The pick: Na Wewe

Animated Short

The nominees: Day and Night, The Gruffalo, Let's Pollute, The Lost Thing, Madagascar carnet de voyage

Jesse's pick


Rather than looking up the plot summaries from IMDB, I am going to make up my own plot summaries based on the titles and select a winner from there.

Day and Night: The animated sequel to the 2010 Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz action smash hit "Knight and Day"

The Gruffalo: A sensual exploration of the love triangle between a griffon, a buffalo, and Mark Ruffalo, done entirely in pastels.

Let's Pollute: An internal BP training video on offshore oil rig operations.

The Lost Thing: An animated argument between two nerds about the ending to Lost.

Madagascar carnet de voyage: The movie "Madagascar", except in french this time.

I think, based on these entirely made up descriptions, we have a pretty clear winner.

The pick: The Gruffalo

Jim's pick

If your description of The Gruffalo isn't the actual story, I'll be quite disappointed. The questions I usually ask about Animated Short: "Are any of these by the Wallace and Gromet people?" "Are any of these by Pixar?" "Are any of these crazy French movies?" "Are any of these about the holocaust?"

That, coincidentally, is the order -- from least likely to most likely -- of the chances of each type of animated film winning the award. It's like rock, paper, scissors, except with a cartoon holocaust.

I'm tempted to give my vote to "Let's Pollute," but movies about the environment and global warming are so three years ago. Al Gore got his Oscar and now EVERYTHING IS BETTER. There can't be global warming because "there's so much snow, take that liberals." Global warming can't exist because there are still eight foot mounds of snow all around my town and you can't park on the streets and there's only one lane for traffic on two-way roads.

So, Pixar it is -- Day and Night for the win.

The pick: Day and Night

Animated Feature

The Nominees: How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist, Toy Story 3

Jim's pick


Wait, wasn't The Illusionist the crappy version of The Prestige with Paul Giamatti? They turned it into a cartoon?

Pixar always wins this category. Pixar always wins. There have been some years where Pixar didn't win -- because they didn't put out a movie, or the movie was so mind-numbingly bad that the only reason people went to see it was to see the Attack of the Clones teaser (I'm looking at you, Monsters Inc.) It doesn't matter if something like Persepolis or The Triplets of Belleville is nominated -- nope. Pixar.

So, Toy Story 3 is going to take this one home. And it will surprise no one.

The pick: Toy Story 3

Jesse's pick


I'm actually excited to see the Illusionist, which comes from the same studio that produced Triplets of Belleville, one of the first inductees into the Movie Night Movie Project. I'm sure you'll be interested to know, by the way, that there is now a RedBox a 3 minute walk from my front door, a RedBox from whose cursed depths I have extracted and viewed three movies. Those three movies are: Dinner For Shmucks, Easy A (which I only watched because the other movie Suzi brought home was Human Centipede), and the Karate Kid. My opinion on the Red Box and the movies that come out of it remains mostly unchanged (Karate Kid didn't even have karate in it, it had kung fu, a difference which is explicitly referenced IN THE MOVIE).

Toy Story 3 and its assault on socialism wins.

The pick: Toy Story 3

Foreign Film

The nominees: Biutiful, Dogtooth, In A Better World, Incendies, Outside The Law

Jesse's pick


I have seen none of these, so willy rely entirely on what the pundit industrial complex has told me. Biutiful is the favorite, having scored a nomination outside of the Foreign Language category (Best Actor for Javier Bardem, a fact which will allow Julia Roberts to continue to believe that there is justice in the world). But will Dogooth be the No Man's Land to Biutiful's Amelie? Remember that, Jim? Remember when I won the Oscar pool because I correctly predicted that upset? Remember when I brought it up every year when we talk about this category?

So here's your chance to try to get me back. I'm sticking with the favorite, Biutiful. Will you step out into no man's land with Dogtooth?

Jim's pick

Oh man, you are really big on bringing up that No Man's Land thing. One of these days I'm going to step into the street without looking first. My head will turn left and I'll see that bus barreling down towards me. The last thoughts to go through my mind will be "Jesse predicted that No Man's Land would win Best Foreign Language Film!"

I'll go with Biutiful. Because I've heard of it.

The pick: Biutiful



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jesse
@ January 31, 2011


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3
[Each year, Jesse and Jim offer our expert Oscar predictions leading up to the Annual ObscureCraft Oscar Prognisticate-Off. Email your picks in each category to craftj2@gmail.com to enter. Keep track of everybody's picks here. Part 1, in which you can see for yourself that Jesse correctly predicted 10/10 Best Picture nominees, is here.]

Film Editing

The nominees: "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "The King's Speech," "127 Hours," "The Social Network."

Jesse's pick

Jim, you and I both consider this a major category, so let's start here with what I consider to be the second biggest snub of the night - and both, by the way, involve Inception. You've already stated your ambivalence towards the film, which leaves me to play the role of fanboy against the critical backlash. Although critical backlash may be a strong phrase, because it implies there was a critical acceptance in the first place, and just about every critic was falling over themselves to be the first to declare that Inception wasn't all that great, actually. I just don't get it. I'll agree with you that Inception worked on a higher level as a technical achievement than as an emotionally gripping tale of a man struggling to get back home to his children, but as a technical achievement I found it to be thrilling. Whether or not it was the "best" movie I saw this year, it was certainly the most entertaining and was, in the words of South Park, awesome and trippy and cool. Or maybe the Academy doesn't like Leonardo DiCaprio's furrowed brow? After all, Shutter Island was completely shut out as well.

Which leaves us to pick a winner. I haven't seen 127 Hours, but I hear that the movie does a masterful job of handling the scene where James Franco cuts his arm off (which, to bring us full circle, is why I didn't see 127 Hours - gah!) But my bet is that The Social Network, with its juggling multiple time frames as we jump from deposition to deposition, brings it home. Movies that deftly thread together multiple stories and time frames in a cohesive and propulsive manner tend to win this award. Unless they are Inception, in which case they don't get nominated.

The winner: The Social Network

Jim's pick

Despite my lack of love for Inception, I do believe that it most certainly deserved an editing nod. Seriously, it was an extremely well constructed film -- which is what you expect from Christopher Nolan -- and the climactic sequence that took part along several different layers of dream, each with a different time scale, really drove that point home. But the Academy did not agree, so Inception has go to wee wee wee all the way home.

I'm going to go with The Social Network for this one. The film is masterfully structured and constructed -- who would have thought flashbacks structured around a deposition could be so gripping?

Cinematography

The Nominees: Black Swan (Matthew Libatique), Inception (Wally Pfister), The King's Speech (Danny Cohen), The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth), True Grit (Roger Deakins)

Jim's pick

This may be my favorite category. I've often loved a film more than I should due to great lenswork, and have lambasted a project that may have merits if it is lit or shot poorly. This is also the category where I've already seen four of the five nominees. So by that logic, I should very easily be able to pick a winner here. My heart says Black Swan -- visually, it was my favorite of the lot by a slim margin. My head says Roger Deakins always wins, but True Grit was not as visually striking as No Country for Old Men or The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

Inception was a technical tour de force, and was pretty visually striking. But it got shut out of editing, and directing, so you have to ponder if voters are going to stay away from it in other categories.

You have to wonder if the halo effect is going to come into play here. Is this going to be an all "The King's Speech" night or an all "The Social Network" night? If one of the two films starts rolling on technical and other miscellaneous categories, it could take those all the way to the best picture/director bank. (Although, as we'll see later, my early feeling is that this may be a year where picture and director are split -- but that's another blog post).

So, I'm going to go with The Social Network here. Maybe I should listen to my heart with Black Swan, but I just think that MovieBookFaceFaceMovie is going to pick up some trophies. It doesn't hurt that it was my second favorite film of the year from a purely visual standpoint. The crew race sequence was simply breathtaking what with its tilt-shiftness and crazy editing and random shots of people who are dressed like they should be living in the 19th century.

Jesse's pick

Set aside the crew race sequence for a moment. The Social Network looked and felt like every other David Fincher film. The same black-green color palette that dominated Zodiac, Fight Club, and AlienAlienAlien (that's Alien^3, if you were wondering). I'd forgive the Academy voters for finding it off-putting.

I mean, weren't you stunned at all the nominations and love for True Grit? 10 nominations? That's a huge number that basically came out of nowhere. I think there is alot more love for this film than you are giving it credit for, and, also, your head was correct: ROGER DEAKINS ALWAYS WINS.

Pick: True Grit

Sound Editing

The Nominees: Inception, Toy Story 3, Tron: Legacy, True Grit, Unstoppable

Jesse's pick

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATED FILM UNSTOPPABLE, STARRING ACADEMY AWARD WINNER DENZEL WASHINGTON AND ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE THE UNSTOPPABLE TRAIN AKA A MISSILE THE SIZE OF THE CHRYSLER BUILDING!!!! God I love the technical categories. And Denzel. I keep coming across Inside Man on one of those HD movie channels, and I start watching it every time, because I know I'm never more than a few minutes from "Thank you, bank robber" or "This ain't no bank robbery!" Is Inside Man the most underrated movie ever made in the history of all-time? Is there any conversation I will not derail to talk about Inside Man?

There is an inviolable rule of the sound categories: you always pick the cartoon or the musical. Therefore, Toy Story 3 is the winner. I dare you to defy me Jim!

The pick: Toy Story 3

Jim's pick

Oh man, I feel really bad that I missed seeing Unstoppable. It's going to be at the top of my Netflix queue when it comes out, and I plan on getting a little drunk and enjoying the hell out of that Unstoppable train. Speaking of Unstoppable, did you see that the trailer for this new Nic Cage movie? It's called Drive Angry and it's shot in 3D. Boo-yay.

As for Inside Man, I agree with you ten hundred percent -- it's the most enjoyable of Spike Lee's films. Great cast, tight script -- and yeah, Denzel -- and the always-enjoyable Chiwetel Ejifor too.

Ok, sound editing. It's interesting that you say that the cartoon or musical always wins this award. The last cartoon to win was The Incredibles in 2004. No musical has ever won. Perhaps you are confusing your sound awards?

I'm giving this one to Inception. Though a win by "Unstoppable" would make me giddy. "Academy Award Winning film, Unstoppable!" That's up there with "Academy Award winning musicians, the Three-Six Mafia" in my book.

The pick: Inception

Sound Mixing

The Nominees: Inception, The King's Speech, Salt, The Social Network, True Grit

Jim's pick

This is the category that typically goes to musicals (Dreamgirls was the most recent winner in that genre, and the trophy did go to The Hurt Locker last year). There's no musical nominated this year, so that makes me think we're going elsewhere. I wouldn't be half surprised if The King's Speech -- which I saw this weekend, finally -- walks away a winner. The audio plays a very important role in the film.

But I'm thinking that Inception, just like The Hurt Locker last year, wins both sound awards.

An aside, since this is a good category for asides, have you seen the trailer for "The Company Men?" It's full of academy award winners -- and it lets us know. Academy Award Winner Chris Cooper, Academy Award Winner Tommy Lee Jones, Academy Award Winner Ben Affleck, and Academy Award Winner Kevin Costner team up for this one. One minor issue, though. Two of the four winners won for acting. Two of the four. Costner only holds trophies for directing and producing, and Baffleck's hardware is for writing. It would make total sense if Costner directed the movie and Affleck wrote it, but from what I gather that is impossible. The movie is, sadly, not about a super-smart janitor who wanders around delivering mail in post-apocalyptic Boston.

Which, might I add, is a hell of an idea for a movie. Hell of an idea.

The pick: Inception

Jesse's pick

Jim, how DARE you do research to debunk my lazily tossed out rules of thumb. Have you already forgotten my expertiseness has been made official by my correct prediction of all 10 Academy Award nominated films, a fact which shall heretofore shield me from all incorrect prognostications vis a vis these Oscars and which I will bring up at any opportunity? Besides, this is the Oscars, where facts have no relevance. "The Company Men" is a great example. An Academy Award winning cast! Jim, we're going to make your movie about a post apocolytic genius janitor delivering mail in Boston - Good Postman Hunting In The Town Baby Gone - except I want it to be starring Roger Deakins, written by Marisa Tomei, and directed by Nicholas Cage. Maybe we can get Three Six Mafia to do the cinematography. So much Academy Award winning-ness!

As for the award itself: Inception wins this award because there is no category for Best Oboe.

The pick: Inception

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Amy Adams (The Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

Jesse's pick


I think we will both be shocked if the Academy doesn't fall over itself giving this award to Hailee Steinfeld, so let's instead talk about one of the few controversies in this year's field of predictability: what the fuck is Hailee Steinfeld doing in this category?

Or should we? I mean, isn't that what the Academy wants? Aren't they doing this to drive me crazy, just so we'll talk about it and therefore keep the Oscars relevant? She was in every scene, Jim! IN EVERY SCENE! EVERY!!! SCENE!!! GAAAAAAAAAAH THIS IS SO DUMB

Okay, I'm better.

Anthony Hopkins was in only 16 minutes of Silence of the Lambs and he not only was nominated for Bet Actor, but he won! 16 MINUTES!!!! Listen, this is simple. If you are in over half of the movie, you are a lead. Less, then you are supporting. Can you get behind these common sense reforms, Jim?

The winner: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)

Jim's pick

Look, I know research is evil. Global Warming is just a "theory" -- like evolution -- and blood libel is simply a compound word. But I'm evil, so I've got no problem doing research.

As for screen time, it's absurd that Steinfeld got a supporting nomination. Just as absurd as Hopkins, just as absurd as Brando's Best Actor nomination and win for The Godfather, just as absurd as Judi Dench's win for her eight minutes of screen time in Shakespeare in Love. If the acting categories have taught us anything, the category in which you are nominated is based simply on marketing. Silence of the Lambs is a film without a lead actor -- Foster is the only lead. Pacino is the lead in The Godfather, but Brando was the famous one at the time. And Steinfeld is simply not famous enough to qualify as a lead -- even though she is more of a lead than Bridges in The Big Gritowski.

I think this is Melissa Leo's award. She got some long-overdue recognition last year for Frozen River, and now she's got a good shot to win.

The pick: Melissa Leo

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Christian Bale (The Fighter), Geoffery Rush (The King's Speech), Jeremy Renner (The Town), John Hawkes (Winter's Bone), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)

Jim's pick


Well, I've seen two out of the five in this category. Geoffrey Rush was his usual awesome self in The King's Speech, and Jeremy Renner was batshit crazy in The Town. John Hawkes was pretty good on Deadwood, even though I've only seen the first half of the first season, and I really loved Mark Ruffalo in Zodiac.

That said, Christian Bale is going to win this. If he doesn't get an Oscar soon he's going to die. I'm serious. If he doesn't win, I predict his being cast as Stephen Hawking in a biopic. The twist? He's actually going to figure out a way to give himself ALS. It's the only way he can really get into the role. And after giving himself a crippling disease, wasting away to 85 pounds, and being required to speak with a computer voice, he's going to start bulking up for the next Batman movie. Somewhere along the way, all of these dramatic changes in body weight and diet are just going to cause him to keel over. And it wouldn't surprise me if it happens at Mary Kate Olsen's house.

What, too soon?

The pick: Christian Bale

Jesse's pick

For the love of god, we have to keep Christian Bale away from the Olsens until we get the next Batman movie. Everybody's fake-growly Batman accent would seem like a pale comparison, and then it would just sound SILLY. Today's fun Batman rumor: they do a fourth one where the bad guy is played by Robin Williams, at which point we all agree to pretend it never happened.

We are in violent agreement about this: Christian Bale will be given the award so that the other attendees have a fighting chance of making it out alive before Bale tears the room apart with his intensity. Remember that season of 24 when Jack Bauer got addicted to heroin so he could fit in better with the Mexican terrorist drug cartel? I bet Christian Bale did that for this role. I bet he got addicted to drugs, Jack Bauer style, so that he could actually be a recovering drug addict to better portray the part. I haven't seen the movie, but everybody who wasn't a former teen idol pop sensation apparently got nominated for their performance in it just by virtue of being within his sphere of ACTING.

Christian Bale is humorously dedicated to his craft.

The pick: Christian Bale


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jesse
@ January 24, 2011


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0
Before the 2011 Oscar Nominations are released Tuesday morning, Jesse and Jim share some thoughts on Oscar buzz and the year in movies.

----

Jesse: So what are you thoughts on some of the winners? Christian Bale for Best Supporting Actor, Natalie Portman for Best Actress, Colin Firth for Best Actor, The Social Network for Best Picture, David Fincher for Best Director?

What? The nominations haven't come out yet? That can't be right. Because it seems like all the major categories are already sewn up in what has to be one of the most predictable, boring Oscar seasons I have ever seen. Don't believe me? Watch me predict all 10 Best Picture nominees correctly:

127 Hours
Black Swan
Inception
The Fighter
The Kids Are Alright
The King's Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

DONE DEAL. And the worst part: there's nothing to get angry about! Is that the worst part about this 10 film nomination process we have now? I can't be infuriated because Inception got booted to make room for The Fighter. I can't make an impassioned plea that creating an Animated Film ghetto category is keeping the reliable brilliance of Pixar from being recognized year after year. I'm sure somebody, somewhere will get upset about Blue Valentine getting snubbed, but isn't me, because that shit looks DEPRESSING.

And I'm not the only one who thinks that this year's Oscar slate is already written in stone. Check out this Salon.com article about predicting the worst Oscar snubs.

If those are the worst snubs we can come up with, then what does that say about this year in film? Sorry if I don't get too bent out of shape by the Academy failing to recognize the brilliance that was Zack Galifianakis in "It's Kind of a Funny Story." Do you agree with me that this was an incredibly weak year for movies? I'm not just talking about the Academy baiting fare, either: the Suze and I went months without going to the theaters waiting for something worthwhile to come out. I saw Inception twice because I wanted to get out of the house. I saw something called "The King's Speech" with a cast of nothing but British people (okay, okay, I actually loved The King's Speech, but that's not the point; the point is that I would bring myself to see it in the first place).

Set me straight, Jim: what brilliance have I missed?

-----

Jim: You haven't missed anything. Except maybe the five hours of your life that you spent watching Inception. That one part where the guy from 3rd Rock was floating in the hotel hallway was pretty sweet, but I found the film to be pretty high on technical flash and devoid of substance.

I've barely been to any movies this year -- and I used to see everything. Off the top of my head, I only remember seeing Inception, Toy Story 3, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, True Grit, Black Swan, Harry Potter, The Expendables, and The Social Network in the theater this year. That's less than one a month.

Clearly, that makes me eminently qualified to opine on the Oscars.

I think your nomination list looks pretty good. But I want you to look back at last year. You are missing the movie that has no business being on the list. The random movie that comes out of nowhere and hits you from the blind side. Like last year when the black remake of My Giant got nominated. (Seriously, Billy Crystal must have been pissed about that one.)

So, I'm saying that Winter's Bone doesn't make it. In its place must be something feel good, something hackneyed, and something with no chance of winning. Seabiscetariat should fit that bill nicely.

I'm going out on a limb with that prediction, and that says a hell of a lot.

In a few hours we'll know for sure. But i have a feeling that this year's pool is going to come down to the little categories and the winner of the Portman/Benning race.

And that is the most depressing thing about this year in film-- Natalie freaking Portman just may win an Oscar.


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jesse
@ March 8, 2010


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2
Before the results, some quick hit observations from last night's show:

My side bet with Jim on who would be the last man in the "In Memoriam" package was lost on a technicality: John Hughes didn't get included because he got his own segment.

Although I don't think anybody had Karl Malden slotted into the final slot. That was the upset of the night.

One more "In Memoriam" observation: whither Farrah Fawcett?

Okay, one more "In Memoriam" observation: what does it say about the show that the most second-most talked about segment was clips of dead people? They should have added "Interest in the Oscar telecast" to the reel after last night's snooze-fest.

Literally. Suzi was snoozing.

The most talked about segment, of course, was the director of the winner for documentary short getting Kanye'd by his producer. The fascinating backstory: they ended up suing each other over control of the film, she took her name off of it, and they haven't spoken in two years.

That link via Roger Ebert's twitter feed, as are all links on the internet these days. Honestly, I don't think the man sleeps.

Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin as co-hosts was a seemingly good idea that went horribly wrong, like a fall season of "So You Think You Can Dance."

Speaking of which: was I the only one playing the "spot that SYTYCD alum" during the musical score dance montage? I was?

This year's pool had 15 participants. Some interesting trends I noticed:

There was one 0/15 category (doc short) and one 15/15 category (animated feature).

According to our group, the biggest upset of the night was a tie between Inglourious Basterds losing Original Screenplay to The Hurt Locker (12/15 picked Basterds, only 1 vote for THL) and A Matter of Loaf and Death losing Animated Short to Logorama (12/15 for Loaf, 1 vote for Logorama).

Awards for Special Achievement in Prognosticating are given out to anybody who is the only participate to get a category correct. This years winners are:

Steph for selecting Logorama in Animated Short.
Melissa for selecting The New Tenants in Live Action Short.
Greg for selecting The Hurt Locker in Original Screenplay.
Matt for selecting The Secret In Their Eyes for Foreign Film.

Enough foreplay! On with the winners!




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jesse
@ March 4, 2010


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[The thrilling conclusion! To participate in this year's ObscureCraft Oscar Pool, email your own picks to craftj2@gmail.com. The rules are here. Part one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here. And here's part four. And, for the love of Christ, here is part five.]

Jesse's take

Best Picture

Nominees: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Token, A Serious Man, Up, Up In The Air

Jim, I know nobody reads this blog, but the expansion of the Best Picture category from 5 movies to 10 almost feels like a direct response to our discussion last year. If I may briefly jog your memory of a time long, long ago in an email conversation far away: last year, the 5 nominees were The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, and Slumdog Millionaire. This group left what seemed to be an egregious number of snubs, including well-received box office smashes that people could root for like The Dark Knight and WALL-E, as well as smaller films that maybe didn't get the love they deserved like The Wrestler (I say maybe because I never saw it; I know you'll go to your death bed ranting about this snub).

I wasn't necessarily arguing for an expansion of the category; I was just lamenting that the list of worthy snubs was especially long. But when I first heard about the move from 5 films to 10, I was prepared to defend it. Think about it: the BAFTAs nominate 10 films. Every film critic on Earth publishes a Top 10 list at the end of the year. 10 seemed like a good change. And then I saw this list.

Much like how a sculptor can look into a piece of marble and see the shape he wants to create, I can look at this list of 10 and find the 5 "correct" Best Picture nominees and the 5 that are padding. Under last year's rules, here's how it goes down: Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Token, and Up In The Air are nominated; I bitch about Up getting snubbed because it was animated; and that's it. This category is more padded than a mall Santa.

So, which is it: right idea, wrong year? Or wrong idea in any year?


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jesse
@ March 1, 2010


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1
Jesse and Jim will be making their picks for every Oscar. To participate in this year's ObscureCraft Oscar Pool, email your own picks to craftj2@gmail.com. The rules are here. Part one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here. And here's part four.]

Jesse's take

Best Actress in A Leading Role

Nominees: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Token), Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia)

Remember when I said there was only one competitive acting award on the night? Well, this is it. I do not know what to make of this field. I'm trying to narrow it down, and here's what I keep coming back to:

If this was Best Supporting Actress, I would definitely pick Sandra Bullock, because that category is notoriously ridiculous. But the love for The Blind Side, which just looks awful, continues to baffle me. So she's out.

Helen Mirren is definitely a GMILF, but even if everybody in the entire country who had seen this movie, not just Academy voters, but EVERYBODY, voted for Helen Mirren, I still think she would get, like, 8 votes. So she's out.

Meryl Streep is a legit dark horse candidate. This is how every review of Julie and Julia went: "Half the movie was a wonderfully acted biopic about Julia Child with an incredible performance by Meryl Streep, and the other half was spent wondering why I give a fuck about some lady who had a blog and waiting for Meryl Streep to come back." Meryl, as always, owns. Also a GMILF, even if I'd only do it to make you jealous.

Gabourey Sidibe is just happy to be nominated.

Carey Mulligan... can you think of a reason why she can't win? True, much like Helen Mirren, not many people saw An Education, but it was more than 8. For some reason, I keep coming back to her, only because I can't think of a reason to eliminate her.

It's a wide open category, so I'm going out on a limb. And if Sandra Bullock wins for The Blind Side, then I guess we just chalk that up to the "career achievement" award category. She was, after all, great in Speed. And Demolition Man. And Speed 2. (Seriously, how is she nominated again?)

Winner: Carey Mulligan (An Education)


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jesse
@ February 26, 2010


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2
[Jesse and Jim will be making their picks for every Oscar. To participate in this year's ObscureCraft Oscar Pool, email your own picks to craftj2@gmail.com. The rules are here. Part one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here.]

Jim's take

Best Original Song

Nominees: Almost There (The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman), Down in New Orleans (The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman), Loin de Paname (Paris 36, Reinhardt Wagner & Frank Thomas), Take It All (Nine, Maury Yeston), The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart) (Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett)

Alright. I didn't see the Princess and the Frog movie, but I see that Randy Newman did the music. "Princess and a Frog.... they're in love... almost there.... princess and the frog, they're walking down the street, but one's hoppin' not so much as walking down in New Orleans..." That's how those songs go in my mind. Not winners. Loin de Paname? I don't trust anything with lyrics by The Big Hurt. That leaves the song from Nine and the song from Crazy Heart. I saw Crazy Heart this weekend. It's awesome. The song is awesome. And I'll eat my shoe, Werner Herzog style, if it doesn't win this one.

Pick: The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)


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jesse
@ February 16, 2010


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3
[Jesse and Jim will be making their picks for every Oscar over the next few days. To participate in this year's ObscureCraft Oscar Pool, email your own picks to craftj2@gmail.com. The rules are here. Part one is here. Part two is here.]

Jesse's take

Best Animated Feature

Nominees: Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, Up

This is a surprisingly strong group. When the category was created a few years ago, some people saw it as the permanent, institutional ghetto-ization of animated features to the kid's table to make more room for the adults in the Best Picture category. But is it possible that we're seeing more high-quality animated films being produced instead? In another year I would be pulling big for Coraline. You might think 3D is a gimmick, so I encourage you to see it in 2D. The flat version remains visually inventive; the animation is breathtaking, and yes, it even manages to be a little freaky to all-grown-up me.

But I think we can all figure out that if Up doesn't win this award after getting invited to sit with the big boys in the expanded Best Picture category, then it would be a major upset. So instead let me just implore you to get over your anti-Pixar bias and see this movie. Remember that seen in Blade Runner where they do that interview to see if somebody is human? Well, in the real post-apocolyptic future when we are fighting a war against synthetic dopplegangers, we won't need a complex moral fable involving turtles. We'll just screen the first ten minutes of Up to a room full of suspects, and anybody who isn't tearing up at the end will be immediately shot in the face. Because they were either robots or sociopaths, and we don't want either of those things.

Pick: Up




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jesse
@ February 11, 2010


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1
[Jesse and Jim will be making their picks for every Oscar over the next few days. To participate in this year's ObscureCraft Oscar Pool, email your own picks to craftj2@gmail.com. The rules are here. Part one is here.]

Jim's take

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Christopher Waltz (Inglorious Basterds)

Let's break this one down. Matt Damon gets a nod for the soccer movie that nobody saw instead of for The Informant!, which nobody saw but is supposed to be awesome. Woody Harrelson gets a nomination for a movie about Joan of Arc that came out 15 years ago -- why didn't they just nominate him for No Country for Old Men ("He's a psychopathic killer, but so what?") while they were at it? Christopher Plummer -- the old guy who has never won an Oscar (this is his first nomination, as they say) -- didn't get one in his last bid, as Nic Cage's grandfather in National Treasure. Stanley Tucci is happy just to be nominated. Christoph Waltz, who walked away with the Golden Globe and the SAG award, has to overcome the old-guy-who-never-won vote to walk away with this one. You know what? The old guy thing didn't work for Bill Murray or Hal Holbrook. On the other hand, it worked for Alan Arkin and James Coburn and Martin Landau... so does the old guy trump the breakout performance? Does Waltz have that Sean Penn/Javier Bardem mojo? That's the question in this two-horse race.

Pick: Christoph Waltz




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jesse
@ February 9, 2010


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1
[Jesse and Jim will be making their picks for every Oscar over the next few days. To participate in this year's ObscureCraft Oscar Pool, email your own picks to craftj2@gmail.com. The rules are here. On with the picks!]

Jesse's take

Jim, its our favorite time of year. Is this how Christians feel around Christmas? Or how Muslims feel around 9/11? We've been Oscar prognosticating for as long as we've known each other. There's something about the mixture of showbiz, art, and gambling that you can't get anywhere else. We're going to take turns picking categories and then we'll each pick a winner. In the past, our wager has been more than just a gentleman's agreement: care to make it interesting? You can let me know after we get through this first category.


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jesse
@ February 3, 2010


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2
Oscar fever is here, and I once again forgot to get my shots. Symptoms may include night sweats, an inexplicable attraction to an aged Meryl Streep, and an uncontrollable urge to praise movies about the Holocaust. And the only known cure is to participate in an Oscar pool.

Here's how it works: you send me your picks for the winners in every category. Points will be awarded for correct picks based on the following criteria:

Top prize (Best Picture): 7 points
Major categories (Best Director, Actor, Actress, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay): 4 points
Intermediate categories (Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Foreign Film, Animated Feature, Documentary Feature): 3 points
Minor categories: (Cinematography, Score, Original Song, Film Editing): 2 points
Random bullshit categories: (Everything else) 1 point

If you are anything like our prior winners Yaworm and Elisa, you can go ahead and send your picks now to craftj2@gmail.com. Or, if you are like last year's loser, Kevin, you'll want to get some expert advice. No, not from Yaworm and Elisa. From me and Jim! We'll be spending the next few days breaking down each race, and making our picks for winners and losers? Think you can beat us. Well, you are probably right. But you can't win if you don't enter!


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jesse
@ March 10, 2009


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8
I'm sure somebody on the internet has scooped me on this particular clip (what the Oscars being TWO WHOLE WEEKS AGO MOVE ON ALREADY), but in case you haven't seen it, make sure you take your irony medication before clicking play.



To recap: Kate Winslet guest stars in Extras, playing herself. "Kate Winslet" is starring in a movie about the Holocaust because she desperately wants to win an Oscar. And she has noticed (as have we all) that Holocaust movies win Oscars.

Fast forward to 2009: Kate Winslet actually wins an Oscar... for a (pretty universally unloved) movie about the Holocaust.

That sound you hear? That is the universe folding back on itself.


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jesse
@ February 23, 2009


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6
Before we get to our winners and losers, some winners and losers from last night.

Winners
Exploitation of Indian children by Hollywood
Adorable Japanese men
Homos
The Holocaust (again)
Cuba Gooding Jr.

Losers
Early bedtimes
David Fincher's patience for this shit
My boner (thanks, Sophia Loren!)
Anyone who listened to my predictions

Tier 1: Full Retard
Kevin: 26 points
Rose: 28 points
Greg: 29 points
Jesse: 32 points

Never go full retard. Collectively 1/4 on Best Actress, 0/4 on Supporting Actress, 0/4 on Foreign Language Film, 2/8 on the Screenplay awards. Jesus Christ, only one of us figured out that the costume drama would win Best Costume!

Tier 2: The Non-Contenders

Daytrader: 35 points
The Suze: 35 points
Krista: 35 points
Steph: 36 points
Jim: 37 points

Special props to Daytrader for being the only one of two players to nail the top 4 categories.  Which brings us to...

Tier 3: The Mother-Loving Champ

Elisa: 47 points

This was a beat-down like I have never seen in an Oscar pool.  This thing was over before we even got to the top categories.  4/4 on the top 4 awards, 7/8 on the top 8 awards (throwing in the supporting acting categories and the two screenplay awards).  Elisa, you truly are the Mistress of Media.

-----

Jim and I share some final thoughts on the ceremony, the winners, and the losers after the jump.





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jesse
@ January 28, 2009


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2
[Jesse and Jim are interrupting their conversation on the mid-season TV shows to talk about the 2009 Oscar nominations.  Now that we are done with our picks, go ahead and send in your own.  The scoring rules are located at the end of this entry.  Here is part one, part two, part three, and part four.]

Best Original Score
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Defiance, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, WALL-E

Jim's take

As you so astutely (and correctly) observed, Slumdog Millionaire is pretty close to being a musical. So it wins this one.

Jesse's take

Slumdog wins. Of course, I'm predicting that Slumdog will carry the night - if TCCOBB has more support than I thought, maybe it swoops in. Also, Slumdog was a musical, but WALL-E was a dialogue-free-but-not-silent-film, so maybe that score as some support... or maybe I just want to throw everyone off my trail so I win the pool...

Best Original Song
Down to Earth (WALL-E), Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire), O Saya (Slumdog Millionaire)

Jim's take

There was some technicality that kept Springsteen from getting nominated here, no? Because "The Wrestler" only played over the end credits of the film? The same kind of stupid technicality that kept Eddie Vedder from getting a nomination for the Into the Wild score?

Regardless, Peter Gabriel is no Phil Collins.... Jai Ho is my choice for this one.

Jesse's take

Nice, I love Genesis humor.

Springsteen was not eliminated due to a technicality. The song just didn't get a high enough score in the Oscar's convoluted song-nominating process.

Here is the reason I think you are wrong: Slumdog is going to split the difference in the Oscar voting. Am I supposed to listen to a song from Slumdog Millionaire and then remember if I just heard Jai Ho or O Saya? Or will I vote for "The Slumdog Song", resulting in a 50/50 split between the two that leaves the door open for WALL-E?

Best Director
Danny Boyle, Stephen Daldry, David Fincher, Ron Howard, Gus Van Sant

Jim's take


It's a travesty that Darren Aronofsky's name is omitted from this list. Travesty. His direction of The Wrestler perfectly complements Rourke's performance. The faded 16mm film stock, handheld camera work, and constant use of a wide-angle lens draw the viewer into the world of the film. There is a moment, late in the film, that is simply perfect. I have no other way to describe it. I'll simply say that it involves Guns 'n Roses, and that if the film speaks to you, it will be the image that you take away.

But, seeing as he's not nominated, Aronofsky isn't going to win this one. Apparently he only gets love from the Academy when he's making dull, depressing films about how heroin is bad for you...

My personal preference for this award, from those eligible, is Gus Van Sant. Milk was my second-favorite movie of 2008, and his direction was a big part of that. Van Sant hit my cinematography buttons, with a cinema verite approach to camerawork and a liberal use of high-speed/grain film stock

However, my preference is not in line with the voters. I'm thinking this is Danny Boyle's year.

Jesse's take

You are upset about the snub of the Wrestler. I am surprised by the snub of The Dark Knight. And here's why:

I think you and I long ago got over the pretension that this or any awards show will find "The Best Picture".  Defining the Best is subjective and personal and blah blah blah. Even last year, when a pretty great film, No Country For Old Men, won, I don't think there is any consensus that it was the Best Picture of last year.

Instead, I think of the Oscars as a culture-wide Movie Night Movie Project. And in order for that process to have any kind of legitimacy, people need to actually care. Who the fuck cares about a single film in this milquetoast field? Now here's an Academy Awards best picture roster that people would actually care about:

Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, The Dark Knight, The Wrestler, WALL-E

You know why? Because that list includes movies that are great and that people HAVE ACTUALLY SEEN.

Yes, we are talking about Best Director, but in this year (and most years) the correlation of Director to Picture nominees is one to one.

Now I'm done bitching about what a boring show this is going to be, and I'll make a pick already: Danny Boyle wins director.

Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire

Jim's take

Did I mention that The Wrestler should be nominated, and should win this award yet? Ad naseum, eh? Ok, let's move on.

You mentioned that you were surprised to see The Reader here. I am too, although I did enjoy the film very much. I certainly liked it better than Button. It was a nice little movie, a compelling story that was competently told, with great acting.... but best picture? Not in my eyes.

Having still not seen Frost/Nixon, this leaves us with Indian game shows and gay Sean Penn. My personal preference here is Milk. It's a good Van Sant film -- more in the vein of "My Own Private Idaho" rather than "Finding Forrester."

At the end of the day, though, Milk doesn't win this. I'm getting this odd sense of Slumdog momentum, after the Globes and the SAG awards... I'm going to fill that out on my pool, just so I can be disgusted and bitter when Benjamin Button wins. (My pick: Slumdog Millionaire)

Jesse's take

Jim, how DARE you badmouth Finding Forrester. How dare you. YOU'RE THE MAN NOW DAWWG!

You and I both agree that Slumdog is the night's big winner. Slumdog momentum. Slumdogmentum? Whatever.

Final Thoughts

Jim's take

Your dream Best Picture short-list is perfect. If those were the five nominees for the big prize, I'd be on the edge of my seat. As it stands, I can't remember the last time the five best movies of the year made up the field of nominees. Johnny Wikipedia tells me that it's 1975 (Cuckoo's Nest, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, and Nashville).

Trivia: One of the five directors of the aforementioned films did not get a Director nomination that year: Steven Spielberg. He was bumped in favor of Federico Fellini, for Amarcord. Now, *that* is a freaking field. Milos Forman, Stanley Kubrick, Sidney Lumet, Robert Altman, and Federico Fellini. Will we ever see that again?

I also wanted to congratulate both of us for writing ten emails about the Oscars with "Milk" being nominated all over the place, without making one "I.... DRINK.... YOUR.... MILKSHAKE" joke. Seriously, that's self-control.

Jesse's take

Maybe we are over-reacting, because this is a pretty terrible year for movies. Look at last year's list of nominees. Isn't that a pretty good list? A couple of blockbusters, an indie underdog, and at least two really fantastic movies. That's all I want. Everybody has something to root for. This year the only thing I have to root for is a nomination recount.

Well, Jim, its been fun. If anybody is still reading this, they should send me their Oscar picks and see if they can beat either of us, or last year's winner, Yaworm. And speaking of last year's winner: can you believe I've been doing this stupid website for almost a year already? But more on that another time.

Here are the rules:

Top prize (Best Picture): 5 points
Major categories (Best Director, Actor, Actress, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay): 4 points
Intermediate categories (Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Foreign Film, Animated Feature, Documentary Feature): 3 points
Minor categories: (Cinematography, Score, Original Song, Film Editing): 2 points
Random bullshit categories: (Everything else) 1 point

Most points = winner. In the event of a tie, I will pick a winner based on whatever random criteria I make up on the spot. Good luck, and I'LL SEE YOU AT THE OSCARS!!!!!


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jesse
@ January 27, 2009


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6
[Jesse and Jim are interrupting their conversation on the mid-season TV shows to talk about the 2009 Oscar nominations.  At the end of the conversation you will be invited to send in your Oscar picks, or you can go ahead and do it now. This is part four of five. Here is part one, part two, and part three.]

Best Sound Editing
The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Slumdog Millionaire, WALL-E, Wanted

Jim's take

Does anyone know the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing? I mean, aside from audio engineers and foley artists? This category, over the years, has been referred to as Best Sound Effects, Best Sound Effects Editing, and now Best Sound Editing. It is supposed to go to the film with the "finest or most aesthetic sound editing or sound design." It typically goes to big-budget effects movies with all kinds of whiz-bang noises and super surround sound type stuff.

Ben Burtt has won this award three times -- for Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and ET. As you so astutely pointed out in our last exchange, WALL-E is essentially a silent film. Well, it is in the sense that it does not tell its story through dialogue. Chaplin's "Modern Times" if often incorrectly referred to as silent, as well, and has a lot in common with our animated robot friend. Neither film is truly silent -- Modern Times, released in 1936, features an impressive synced soundtrack, chock full of effects and the occasional bit of dialogue.

So, with that pedigree in mind, I'm going to say that WALL-E rolls away with this one on his little tready things.

Jesse's take

Okay, all the bullshit awards are behind us, and its time to get serious with some SOUND EDITING MOTHERFUCKERS!!

Thank you for calling me out on my inelegant use of the word "silent film" to describe WALL-E. when what I actually meant was "dialogue free". THANK YOU SO MUCH JIM. Because the first part of WALL-E has no dialogue but is by no means silent so don't call it a silent film, any story that is communicated by the characters is with beeps and boops and blorps. And what blorps this movie had! Ben "I made the noises for the two most adorable robots of all time" Burtt wins.

Best Sound Mixing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire, WALL-E, Wanted

Jim's take

I'd be better able to explain this category if I had a better grasp on what sound mixing was. I think it has to do with putting different sounds on different tracks and making sure all the levels are right so that you can understand dialogue while music is playing in the background and things are exploding.

At least, I hope that's what sound mixing is. Regardless, I'm dumb when it comes to audio. I did see all of the nominated films, however... and from my understanding of what mixing is, Slumdog Millionaire was the best. The soundtrack was very much a part of the film, in the grand Bollywood musical tradition. So I'm just going to go with that.

Jesse's take

I remember the first thing I thought when I saw the trailer for Wanted: "Damn that movie looks like it has some nice sound mixing."

I don't know what this award is, or what sound mixing is, or, really, what movies are, but I know this: If there is a musical in the category, then it wins Best Sound Mixing. Slumdog was the closest thing to a musical, so that is your winner.

Best Film Editing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire

Jim's take

This is one hell of an interesting short-list for film editing. I'm kind of perplexed. Of the nominated films, only Slumdog Millionaire is jumping out at me. Yes, the others were edited competently, but the story structure of Slumdog lends itself to this aware, no? Cutting back and forth between the present day, the hot seat, flashbacks, Slumdog relies on a series of transitions to tie its story together. So, I guess that's my choice.

Jesse's take


Slumdog also picks this one up as it builds up steam for the big finish...

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Angelina Jolie (Changeling), Melissa Leo (Frozen River), Meryl Streep (Doubt), Kate Winslet  (The Reader)

Jim's take

Just wanted to say, that for the record, I loved Changeling with one caveat: Jolie seemed totally out of place in the film; it was as if her only job was to have really huge, shiny red lips and mutter "This is not my child. This is not my boy." ineffectually in muffled tones throughout. So I'm not going to pick her to win.

Melissa Leo, whom I've barely seen in anything since she left the cast of Homicide: Life on the Street, is a surprise for me. I know nothing about the nominated film, and I'm sure she's happy just to be invited to the Oscars. (Just looked it up, apparently she was in 21 Grams and The Three Burials of Tommy Lee Jones.)

Anne Hathaway. Yeah. Right. Next.

That leaves Meryl and Kate. The old (but still hot) guard and the newer (but also hot) bearer of that "Oh, she's such a wonderful actress torch." While Meryl will always be first in my heart (yes, even after Mamma Mia!), I think we all know who is walking away with this award.

Winslet, whose work in Revolutionary Road was ignored by the Academy, is the glue that held The Reader together. Her performance -- which is the lead, mind you, despite what the folks at the Golden Globes might think -- bridges the three major timelines of the film. You see her in Michael's adolescence, his college years, and his adulthood. As I said as I left the theater "Wow, Kate Winslet was so naked in that film... and SO GERMAN." Seriously. She's really, really German.

So, she's my pick to win the award, and deservedly so. Sorry Meryl, I might change my mind when I see Doubt, but it would take a lot. You'd really have to do a duet of Super Trouper with Philip Seymour Hoffman for me to change my mind on this one.

Jesse's take

This feels like it might be Kate Winslet's "Hey you've been nominated a bunch of times but never won an Oscar, so, uh, here you go" award al a Scorcese and The Departed. (And yes, I LOVE THE DEPARTED so calm down, but if you compare it against the rest of his filmography, you kind of look at it and go, THAT'S the one he won the Oscar for? Really?) Anyway: It feels like that until you remember that Kate Winslet is only 33 years old. Yes you read that correctly. Doesn't it feel like she is well into her 50s by now?

I say Meryl takes this one home.

Best Actor
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Sean Penn (Milk), Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Mickey Rourke  (The Wrestler)

Jim's take

Prior to the SAG awards, I was certain that I had this one figured out. Mickey Rourke all the way. And not just because he won the Golden Globe. Nope. The Wrestler is my hands-down pick for best film of the year, and Rourke is no small part of that. His performance as Randy "The Ram" Robinson is just heartbreaking on every level. Here's a man who (very clearly) once had it all -- money, fame, fast cars, skanky wrestling groupies, hell, even a daughter.

This is all gone by the time we meet him. The Ram is living in a trailer park in New Jersey, driving a beat-up conversion van with his action figure on the dashboard, and spending his free time playing a NES wrestling game in which he stars. Not on an emulator, but on a real-life NES. The only scene missing is the one where he has to spend ten minutes blowing into the game to make it work.

And he's self-destructive as hell. He's still wrestling on weekends -- small shows for little money, his days working for Vince McMahon are over, not being able to pay his rent, scraping by with a part-time job at the local supermarket, and spending all of his extra money on a stripper. And he lives in New Jersey.

This is all setup in the first fifteen minutes, and things don't pick up for The Ram after that. And Rourke sells the hell out of it. Seriously, I was tearing up during the whole film, just from the watching The Ram go through his daily life. He's a fuckup, he knows it, and he can't change. He's still grasping at his 1980's glory, despite the reality of his daily life.

So yeah, Rourke should win this. Easily. Without question. Nobody else is close.

But then Sean Penn wins the SAG award for Milk, and you have to start thinking about the fact that The Wrestler was snubbed in the Picture and Director categories. And then there's the fact that everyone loves Brad Pitt, that Frank Langella may actually be a clone of Richard Nixon, and that everyone raved about Jenkins' turn in The Vistor.

Penn was really good in Milk -- actually fun to watch. Sean Penn! Sean freaking Penn was FUN in a movie. And he was seriously gay. So very, very gay.

So, does Sean Penn win another one? Does Pitt walk away with a statue? Does Langella actually reveal himself to be Nixon's illegitimate son? Does Jenkins come out of nowhere to win this one?

I can't answer that. I just know that every fiber of my being wants to see Rourke win this one. So, he's my pick. Good luck, Ram.

Jesse's take

The most competitive award of the night. Rourke had mad buzz coming into awards season, but obviously the Academy wasn't as high on the Wrestler as we all thought they would be. Plus, Sean Penn wins the SAG, and as we all know, the actors make up the largest voting bloc for the Oscars. Not to mention every other scene in Milk features Penn ramming his tongue into some dude's mouth, which is SO BRAVE(tm). Langella was great as Nixon, but I also wonder if the fact that Hollywood is a bunch of communists works against Langella portraying Nixon as a sympathetic figure. If he had won at the SAGs I would have called this race ovah, because he was the only reason I was able to stay awake through that whelming movie.

I just flipped a coin, and it came up head. That means Sean Penn wins. GET IT?!?


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jesse
@ January 26, 2009


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2
[Jesse and Jim are interrupting their conversation on the mid-season TV shows to talk about the 2009 Oscar nominations.  At the end of the conversation you will be invited to send in your Oscar picks, or you can go ahead and do it now. This is part three of five. Here is part one and part two.]

Best Costume Design
Australia, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Duchess, Milk, Revolutionary Road

Jim's take

Just a reminder about The Dark Knight -- remember how pretty Aaron Eckhart is? Remember what he looks like after he is horribly scarred and turns into Two-Face? Was that CG or makeup? Etiher way, I'm standing by my Dark Knight makeup/effects predictions... and, from a purely technical standpoint, the effects of The Phantom Menace were years ahead of the Matrix. Years.

Silent movies have screenplays, you know. I hope that the people who work on movies and vote on these awards know that too. However, as you pointed out, I always lose Oscar pools. Always. Although it's generally by more than one point.

Anyway.  The Duchess is a costume drama, right? And everyone hated Australia? I hate this category. The Duchess.

Jesse's take

Yes, Aaron Eckhart was quite beautiful in The Dark Knight, but his Two-Face was pretty much all CGI. And also yes: *I* know that silent movies have screenplays, but I'm not an academy voter. If WALL-E wanted to win a screenplay award, then he should have been a sassy teenager with a hamburger phone.

The Duchess sure SOUNDS like a costume drama. I'm surprised that Poor Dead Heath Ledger's purple suit didn't get a nomination. People hated Australia, but that doesn't mean the costumes weren't FAB-U-LOUS. And didn't TCCOBB have all kinds of period dress? And why does the phrase period dress sound so filthy?

I'm going with TCCOBB. Why? Because the category is costume design, and his name is Benjamin Button. BUTTON. Case closed.  Closed with buttons.

Best Live Action Short
On the Line (Auf der Strecke), Manon On the Asphalt, New Boy, The Pig, Toyland (Spielzeugland)

Jim's take

I refuse to make an actual prediction until I see the 15-second clips during the ceremony. Two of these sound kind of German, I wonder if one is about the Holocaust? That said, I really like typing the word "Spielzeugland," so my early pick is Spielzeugland.

Jesse's take

I checked, none of these are about the Holocaust. Just to be safe, though, I'm going with Auf der Strecke, because it sounds like it might be about the Holocaust, and that's probably enough to push it over the top.

Best Animated Short
La Maison En Petits Cubes, Lavatory - Lovestory, Oktapodi, Presto, This Way Up

Jim's take

Wow, I've actually seen one of these. For that reason, and that reason only, I am picking Presto. That's how much I care about this category.

Jesse's take

I'll probably never vote against Pixar in an animation category ever again. Presto is the winner.

Best Foreign Language Film
Revanche (Austria), The Class (France), The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany), Departures (Japan), Waltz with Bashir (Israel)

Jim's take

Waltz with Bashir is the heavy, heavy favorite here, no? It's a true story, animated, and about Israel. So yeah, I'm going with that one. Not exactly out on a limb.

Jesse's take


Hmmm... The Baader Meinhof Complex sounds like the name of a winning Foreign Film to me. Either that, or the name of my new industrial rock band.  Und ze vinner iz...DA BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX!! That seems about right.

Best Animated Feature
WALL-E, Kung Fu Panda, Bolt

Jim's take

Does it matter who else is nominated? WALL-E.

Jesse's take

WALL-E wins, but this category raises an important question: how does an animated film get a nomination for Best Foreign Film (Waltz with Bashir from Israel), but fail to get a nomination for the Best Animated Feature category? Are you telling me that the very best film Israel could produce was not as good as Kung-Fu Panda? And, by transitive property of the Oscars, every film made in the entire world that wasn't nominated for Best Foreign Film was ALSO not as good as Kung Fu Panda? Wow, the rest of the world sucks at making movies. 


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jesse
@ January 26, 2009


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0
[Jesse and Jim are interrupting their conversation on the mid-season TV shows to talk about the 2009 Oscar nominations.  At the end of the conversation you will be invited to send in your Oscar picks, or you can go ahead and do it now. This is part two of five. Part one is here.]


Best Cinematography

Changeling (Tom Stern), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Claudio Miranda), The Dark Knight (Wally Pfister), The Reader (Chris Menges, Roger Deakins), Slumdog Millionaire (Anthony Dod Mantle)

Jim's take

We only drove three hours because we got lost.

The Reader was actually pretty good. I thought it was a better movie than, say, Revolutionary Road, but I was shocked to see it get picture & director nominations. More on that later. As for a potential Benjamin Button love-fest... it is pretty much a remake of Forrest Gump... and the Oscars love Gump. I expect it to do well in the technical awards because, despite being a rather blerg film, it was very well made. A technical tour-de-force, if you will.

As for this category: I must be reading this one wrong, Roger Deakins only has one nomination, and it's a collaborative one? Tsk tsk.

Changeling was really beautifully shot -- they did the whole "The Aviator" thing where they manipulated the look to match films of the period. Button was shot on video, and was overall kind of dark for my liking. I don't know if it was poor projection, or simply a false memory based on my general disdain as I watched the film.... The Reader was nice, but Deakins doesn't have that Sven Nykvist-like ability to create inspirational cinematography from what is, essentially, a straightforward drama.

That leave us with Batman and Slumdog. Slumdog was electric, through and through. Fantastic camerawork, a vibrant palette, an innovative use of mixed media.

Unfortunately for Mr. Dod Mantle, that just ain't enough. This award belongs to Mr. Pfister (The Dark Knight). It's not fair, because he has those IMAX shots on his side, but technically the photography is simply perfect.

Jesse's take

Slumdog is starting to rack up the awards (Golden Globes, Producers Guild), and is looking like the big winner on Oscar night. But will it sweep through hard enough to snatch this award out of Pfister's pfist? I say no - The Dark Knight wins.

Best Makeup
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Jim's take

Let's see, Hellboy is a pretty obvious choice here.... The Dark Knight, with all that Joker makeup, that was pretty crazy.... and then we have the Brad Pitt Button factor. I'm just going to say Button. Seriously, 13 nominations. It's going to win a few.

Jesse's take

I'm torn this year. Usually I just go with whatever movie has Eddie Murphy in the fat suit, but Meet Dave is conspicuously absent. He wore a fat suit in that movie at some point, right?

The Dark Knight getting nominated is kind of funny - it was like people wanted so much to vote for Poor Dead Heath Ledger's performance, that they also nominated his lipstick. Now here is the question you have to ask yourself: Hellboy and TCCOBB definitely had better, or at least MORE, makeup effects. I can't think of any makeup in TDK except for Poor Dead Heath Ledger's lipstick. But if Poor Dead Heath Ledger's lipstick wins this award, will either of us be surprised?

Still, this probably goes to TCCOBB and Brad Pitt's old age makeup.

Best Visual Effects

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Iron Man

Jim's take

I've always hated this category. I mean, The Matrix beat out The Phantom Menace, so it's not purely a technical category. You've got two superhero effects extravaganzas, and one Gumpish Brad Pitt vehicle. I'm going to go with The Dark Knight.

Jesse's take

Hey, guess what Jim? The Matrix had better visual effects than The Phantom Menace. And Iron Man had better visual effects than The Dark Knight.

Best Original Screenplay

WALL-E, Happy-Go-Lucky, Frozen River, In Bruges, Milk

Jim's take

Let me tell you how much In Bruges sucked. From top to bottom, an ill-conceived film. It's Golden Globeness and nomination here are a true shock to me. I barely got through it. So, clearly not my choice.

WALL-E was getting Best Picture nomination buzz, was voted the top film of many year-end critics' polls, and is a lock for this category. My personal preference would be Milk, but cute robots always beat gay people.

Jesse's take

WALL-E is a bold choice. If the academy hadn't made a Best Animated Film ghetto to stick it in, do you think it gets an actual Best Picture nomination? However, you are wrong about this category, and here is why: WALL-E was basically a silent film for the first half of the movie. There is no dialogue. And if there is anything we should have learned from Juno's win last year in this category, its that this award is actually for the screenplay that has the most words in it, regardless of whether or not those words are any good. Milk is the winner.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire, Doubt

Jim's take

This is a tough one. Slumdog Millionaire was kind of gimmicky, but it worked. We know what I think of Button at this point... The Reader was pretty good. Still need to see Doubt and Frost/Nixon.

My gut is telling me that Frost/Nixon is going to win this one. However, I'm not going to listen to it. Slumdog walks away with this one.

Jesse's take

When you lose the Oscar pool to me by one point, you'll regret not listening to your gut. Frost/Nixon has this one sewn up in a tight little sack.



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jesse
@ January 22, 2009


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2
[Jesse and Jim are interrupting their conversation on the mid-season TV shows to talk about the 2009 Oscar nominations.  At the end of the conversation you will be invited to send in your Oscar picks, or you can go ahead and do it now. This is part one of... probably five. There are alot of goddamn categories.]

Best Documentary Short

The Conscience of Nhem En, The Final Inch, Smile Pinki, The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306

Jim's take

Nothing like starting out discussion with an X-Factor of a category. I really wish there was an easy way to see these before the ceremony, or after for that matter.

My pick? The Conscience of Nhem En. My reasoning? Of the four nominated films, it is the only one with its own Wikipedia page.

Jesse's take

Remember when we drove three hours to see a concert, but ended up watching the Oscar's instead? Good times.

We're going to go category by category, but I need to make a couple of overall observations that I am sure you will agree with. First: I have not seen it, but the fact that The Reader got 5 nominations, despite the fact that I have stubbornly never heard of it until today, only goes to show (yet again) that the way to Oscar's heart is through his Holocaust. Second: I heard a good joke today when somebody called these the Oscarzzzzzz. This might be the most boring Oscars since the year Crash "won". I have only seen one out of the 11 movies going for the top 4 awards (picture, director, actor, actress), the whelming Frost/Nixon. Whelming, of course, means it was not overwhelming or underwhelming. Just whelming.

I have a hard time beating your reasoning behind picking documentary short. I, however, am going with The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306, because Oscar loves movies that have long, unwieldy names. (None of these are about the Holocaust, right? If they are, I reserve the right to change my vote).


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jesse
@ February 25, 2008


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2
The big winner of the night? We answer that question in rebus form:

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However, all those deported old men weren't the only winners on Oscar night.  That's right, here we have the results of the First Annual ObscureBlog Oscar Pool, aka There Will Be Wild Ass Guesses About Short Film Winners.

Before we get to the big winners, some observations from Oscar night:

Nobody picked Best Actress right (0/6). 
Nobody picked Best Supporting Actress right.
Everybody got Original Screenplay right.
Nicole Kidman would show you her boobs, but you had to throw diamonds instead of beads.

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Tier 1: Thanks for playing!

Greg P King, 15 pts (out of a possible 52)
Sister Rose, 17 pts
The Suze, 23 pts

You guys were 1/3 on best picture and 0/3 on best director.  If you are looking for a silver lining, though, you were the only three to correctly pick the winner of Achievement in Sound Mixing.  So, congrats on that.

Tier 2: The Contenders

James Paul Fisher III, 31 pts
Jesse, 33 pts

The differences between contending and winning were small this year, and the little mistakes came back to haunt.  JP3, not picking Ratatouille for Best Animated Film was a huge blunder that cost you second place.  However, it still wouldn't have been enough to topple the eventual winner of this year's Oscar derby...

Tier 3: The Champion

Yaworm, 36 pts

Congratulations on your win, and enjoy drinking my milkshake. 


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