Lito’s Oscar Predictions, Episode I: Minor Arcana

Lito’s Oscar 2016 Predictions, Part I

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Here we have my exclusive Oscar predictions seen here first on The Worst Show on the Web. I’m gonna see if I can give Chris a run for his money on predictions this year! Always fun to have more than one person to discuss with!

INTRO THOUGHTS ON PREDICTION & OSCAR PUNDITRY

Having been heavily into the Oscars for over twenty years now and been in the hardcore punditry and predicting game for well over a decade, I’ve learned some crucial things about predicting the winners and nominees. The main things:

  • The general movie-going audience does not vote for the Academy Awards.
  • While there stereotypically has been a typical “Oscar” movie, that trend has been shifting slowly and noticeably over the past decade and some change.
  • Oscar loves to see Hollywood in a positive light.
  • Pay ATTENTION to the films that win at the guild awards (e.g. SAG, PGA, DGA, ACE Eddies, Cinematography Guild etc) Lots of members from these respective guilds are crossover voters to the Academy. Unlike the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards (BFCA), which have no overlap, the guilds speak much stronger. Lots of times these can correlate, but Globes and BFCA aren’t always the strongest indicators presaging an Oscar victory. It’s the guild awards that tend to seal deals.
  • Liberal and humanitarian issues can go a long way.
  • What you think and what Oscar thinks can vary dramatically. Learning their mind is the name of the game. It’s never an exact science and often-times it surprises! This is a game where it can often be fun and more exciting to be wrong in what you predict. You’re either pleasantly surprised or learn a whole bunch.
  • Statistics matter, but always make room for possible surprises!

Now let’s get to business… In this first part, we will be covering the technical awards. Not included in this section are the Documentary and all the shorts categories, since like Jon Snow, I know nothing. When I post my final predictions after DGA and BAFTA Announce their winners, I will include my picks for these films as well. But for now, they will be omitted due to lack of knowledge.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Carol, The Hateful Eight, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Sicario                  

 LOWDOWN: With an arsenal of fantastic nominees on the table, it must be said that while many are truly deserving. The fact is, Emmanuel Lubezki will simply win his third Oscar in a row after Gravity and Birdman for his mesmerizing work on The Revenant. The only person who could challenge is the great, often nominated but has never won Roger Deakins for Sicario. However, the daunting challenge and ground-breaking brilliance that Lubezki delivered cannot be ignored and will be honored.

BEST FILM EDITING

The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Spotlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 LOWDOWN: This race boils down to two contenders. The Big Short and Mad Max were honored by the ACE Eddies. They’re running neck and neck. Spotlight’s inclusion here indicates a solid base of support, but the film’s minimalistic and seamless quality will probably cost it a win. The Revenant could ride the 12 nomination steamroller effect to a win, but more than likely it’ll come down to the two flashiest choices. The Big Short’s comically deliberate editing style has been toted as a front-runner, but I’m thinking that the dizzying and seamless electricity that Mad Max brought to an always engaging two hour thrill ride should be considered a feat worth honoring here and thus has the slight edge.

BEST SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

LOWDOWN: Once again, there is a worthy helping of contenders here. The Audio Guild hasn’t spoken yet, but common sense seems to indicate that it’ll be between the two Best Picture juggernauts: Mad Max and The Revenant. Either one could easily take this. Star Wars might be a dark horse, but Best Picture momentum really helps in this race, which it lacks. The Revenant’s raw beauty of a sound mix could be a cakewalk, but my gut says to go with the energy charged, rip-roaring Mad Max to assert dominance in the technical field.

BEST SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

LOWDOWN: This one probably comes down to a battle between Mad Max and Star Wars, two franchises with effects galore. The Martian might have better play if it wasn’t competing in a year when films of a technical level made such bold, unique achievements. The Martian looks somewhat humble in contrast. But the gear grinding, bone-crunching, high-octane beast that is Mad Max will likely be the victor here.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Bridge of Spies, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant

LOWDOWN: Another worthy field of nominees causes some head-scratching. This will likely be a toss up between The Danish Girl, a beautifully designed period piece or the innovative world of Mad Max, which in addition to being part of a high-nomination steamroller, would be such a vindicating moment to honor the visual world of the Mad Max universe that makes it so memorable in the first place. The work on Fury Road did not fail to deliver. I feel The Revenant could’ve been more of a threat if Mother Nature didn’t hog most of the credit here.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Carol, Cinderella, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant

LOWDOWN: Sumptuous pageantry strikes out in the category year after year. This would mean that the likeliest suspects to emerge victorious would be Cinderella and The Danish Girl. Mad Max would be fun, but genre films have a painstakingly difficult time being honored here. In a tough call, I’m going to predict that the eye-candy that was Cinderella should take further than the ball and to the podium on Oscar night. Even the film’s many detractors can’t deny those costumes… but don’t be surprised if The Danish Girl sneaks in.

BEST MAKEUP

Mad Max: Fury Road, The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared, The Revenant

LOWDOWN: This is a pretty straightforward two-way race between the two Best Picture contenders. The Revenant’s array of gory wounds and gritty, beaten-down men could go home lucky, but I’m thinking that the innovative and creative world of Mad Max will simply have to take home another one for the team. In this category, it particularly excels.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Bridge of Spies, Carol, The Hateful Eight, Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

LOWDOWN: Poor Thomas Newman… he just can’t catch a break. Like cinematographer Roger Deakins, Newman has been an oft-nominated composer who has been here time and time again, but Bridge of Spies just won’t be his avenue. No, this is a battle of the veterans. John Williams made a return to one of his most iconic contributions with his score for the new Star Wars and Italian maestro Ennio Morricone, well into his eighties and having composed some of the greatest cinematic music of all time has still never won an Oscar! Sentiment and an overdue card will push Morricone to the win for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s bloody Western, The Hateful Eight. The Globe win sets the stage. But if there are some who gripe that there isn’t enough original music in the film, it could go another way. However, don’t bet on it. Morricone’s time has come.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Earned It”- Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray”- Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3”- Youth

“Til It Happens to You”- The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s on the Wall”- Spectre

LOWDOWN: It seems that there are two real viable candidates here. The snub for “See You Again” from Furious 7 could make voters not want to go for what seems the default choice here… the Bond theme from Spectre which recently won the Golden Globe. If the Academy was in a Lady Gaga mood, they could honor the song from the documentary The Hunting Ground, but expect Sam Smith’s slick new Bond theme to continue its path to victory however tempting it may be to predict an upset.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

LOWDOWN: This may just be one of the toughest categories to call. All of these nominees exhibit a strong case for worthiness for the win. Ex Machina is too “small” and will likely be passed over. The Martian has its supporters, but Oscar has honored two space films in this category over the past two years. It seems a genuine three-way race between Mad Max, The Revenant and Star Wars. The Revenant has that bear scene that people can’t stop talking about although ultimately, the film effects are somewhat minimalistic. Star Wars is no stranger to this category as the original trilogy triumphed here. But, Mad Max, with its stunning visuals and strong application of practical effects vs. CGI reminded us what cinema can be like when people actually make things and still make you wonder how it was done. I think then, Mad Max will reign victorious, but very slimly. Let the nail biting ensue!

Okay, so that concludes part one! Stay tuned later on for part two: my picks in the major categories. Also, look out for my own personal list of “Best of” nominees, known as the Jade Dragon Film Awards. I will post the nominees. Winners to be announced soon!

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