By this point in the game known as Oscar predictions, a general consensus has formed as to most, if not all the categories. For those of us who consider ourselves “Oscar experts,” it can often be extremely difficult to abandon the consensus opinion and pick a so-called upset. After all, who wants to the person who didn’t correctly predict the category that 90% of others did. But you know what they say – no risk, no reward. There is only so much you can achieve by “playing it safe.” So with that said, let’s take a closer look at the categories where an upset may be brewing.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
“The Descendants” won the Scripter and the Writer’s Guild award, which usually means it’s a cinch for the Oscar, but this year there’s another formidable contender out there which is also a Best Picture nominee. “Moneyball” won the Critics Choice Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and it’s a memorable script that features such lines as “There are rich teams, and there are poor teams, and then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s us!” Don’t underestimate the number of people out there who really love this movie. The conventional thinking is that people will give this award to “The Descendants” since it won’t win anywhere else, but that reasoning didn’t work for “Gangs of New York” or “Up in the Air.” “Moneyball” has at least a 50/50 chance of pulling the upset Sunday. And that would be fitting for an underdog.
Purists will cry foul if “The Tree of Life” doesn’t walk home with this award. After all, it can be credibly argued that “Tree of Life” didn’t just have the best cinematography of the year, but possibly the past decade. There were so many memorable shots in the film from some incredible camera angles. The gorgeous shots of nature scattered throughout would also seem to bolster its chances. But how many Academy voters actually sat through this entire movie? Most people I know stopped watching after 20 minutes. Though the official name of this category is Best Cinematography, based on previous results, it could aptly be renamed “prettiest film.” That would explain why films such as “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” were past winners. There is a good chance that “The Artist” will upset in this category, thanks to its elegant black and white photography shining light on well staged scenes.
Best Sound and Sound Editing:
The general consensus here is that “Hugo” will triumph because it leads the field with 11 nominations and therefore voters will want to hand it a bunch of awards. But let’s think about this a little more carefully. Where exactly was the brilliant sound and sound effects in “Hugo?” This is no “Inception” or “King Kong.” Instead, it is a children’s fantasy film with some creative sets and a heartwarming story. There really are no special effects and no action scenes. It wasn’t even really a box office smash either, earning less than $80 million at the box office. So why all the love for “Hugo?” Common sense would dictate that a film like “War Horse,” with stunning and realistic battle scenes would tend to fare better in the sound categories, particularly in sound editing. After all, past sound category winners include war films such as “The Hurt Locker,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “Letters From Iwo Jima.” In the end, the mighty “Hugo” may end up with only one gold statue on Oscar night, for Art Direction.