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The Awkward Movie Challenge: Oscar Picks

March 05, 2010 By: Category: Movie Reviews, The Awkward Movie Challenge


According to Netflix, Mike and Jeffrey agree with each other on movies 84% of the time. In their ongoing feature, The Awkward Movie Challenge, they search valiantly for that sweet 16% that results in big arguments and big laughs. This week, they take a break from their usual shenanigans to help you win big money in your Oscar pools.


True fact: I have never missed an Oscar ceremony. Oh, I’m sure there were a few years before I came of thinking age that it wasn’t high on my priority list, but as long as I’ve loved movies, the Academy Awards has been appointment viewing. I was watching when Sally Field said, “You like me, you really like me!” I was there when Rob Lowe performed his infamous duet with Snow White. (Well, not there, but you know what I mean.) I’ve sat through Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin, David Letterman, Chris Rock, lots and lots of Billy Crystal, and more horrendous musical numbers than I can count.

I was a little bit of a late bloomer; I didn’t start to become cynical about what the Oscars represent until I was, oh, 32 or so. I mean, I recognize that in any given year, there are always great films that go completely unrecognized by the Academy. But of all the major entertainment awards, the Oscars are still the most consistent in recognizing works and performances of actual artistic merit. The Emmys are hit-or-miss, and any award show that gives prizes to Two and a Half Men is automatically disqualified from relevance. The Golden Globes are an also-ran. Winning a Grammy is practically an insult. And the Tonys? Please. As if Denis O’ Hare in Take Me Out could even hold a candle to Thomas Jefferson Byrd in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. You might as well give a Tony to Tom Wopat!

Having said that, this year I am less interested in seeing who wins than I have ever been before. As everyone who knows anything about anything knows, this year there are 10 best picture nominees instead of 5. Why? I don’t know. Every year there are at least two films that don’t have a chance in hell; this year there are 8. My favorite of the nominees — A Serious Man — doesn’t stand a chance. I quite liked Inglorious Bastards , Up in the Air, and An Education, but none of them are going to get it, either. The race to watch is between The Hurt Locker and Avatar. My views on Avatar are pretty well known to anyone who reads this website (no one reads this website), and I thought The Hurt Locker was well-made but ultimately unengaging.

But, it doesn’t really matter what the actual better film was, because there is a difference between good and Oscar good. And for some reason, this doesn’t bother me. The Oscar does not always (or ever) go to the best film of the year, but I think the Academy has a pretty damn good track record of recognizing the best films that are geared toward a mass audience. Was Crash a better film than Brokeback Mountain? Of course not. But was Crash a movie that might have a good chance of reaching a mass audience and possibly turning a percentage of that audience on to better films? I say it was. And that’s what an Oscar is: it is an award that goes to the film that has the best chance of teaching the most people that movies can be more than just chase sequences and explosions.

With all that having been said, here are my picks for the winners this year. I’ve included all the categories just to be a completist, but please be aware that I have no clue on things like Best Animated Short … for these categories, I’ve just taken Moviefone‘s predictions, mostly because it’s the first thing that came up when I did a Google search for “Complete Oscar Predictions.” I’ve starred the categories that I did not really pick myself – if you’re going to a party, please feel free to ignore this advice. For the rest of the categories, I am, without question, 100% correct, even if Segretto contradicts me, which he most assuredly will, because he’s a contradictory bastard. Also, please note that I am listing these awards in the order in which they’re laid out on the Official Oscar Ballot … I’m not certain if this is the order in which they’ll actually be presented. Are we ready, then? Here we go!

Leading Actor
Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart. Didn’t see it, but it seems to be Bridges’ year. Jeremy Renner could be a dark horse … if he wins, look for a Hurt Locker sweep.

Avatar. Avatar‘s going to sweep the visual awards. This one could go to the Hurt Locker, though, if voters decide to be traditionalists.

Foreign Language Film
The White Ribbon. The only nominee I’ve seen. It’s boring. I love Michael Haneke, though, so I’m rooting for him. And if his films are any indication, he’s a crazy bastard … I can’t wait to hear his speech. Expect to see at least one audience member stabbed in the eye with an icepick.

Sound Editing
Inglorious Basterds. No one makes better sounding films than Quentin Tarantino. No one.

Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds. Have you seen this dude’s performance? Fuck acting; he should’ve been nominated for Best Picture!

Costume Design
Coco before Chanel. I’ve never even heard of this movie, but it’s clearly about fashion. Ergo, an award for Costume Design. The Young Victoria may win because Oscar voters looooove movies about queens, even though I saw it and it was a piece of garbage.

Star Trek? Because there’s monsters? Your guess is as good as mine.

Sound Mixing
Inglorious Basterds. See above.

Leading Actress
Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side. Carey Mulligan was amazing, and Meryl Streep single-handedly made Julie & Julia worth a rental, but Sandra Bullock played a Southern white woman who was really nice to a black kid. Clearly she had the biggest stretch.

Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. My theory is that people in Hollywood think James Cameron is a giant prick, because he obviously is. A win for Kathryn makes a better story. Who doesn’t love an underdog?

Original Score
Up. Could be Avatar. But Up had that amazing wordless sequence in which the score took center stage, so I say it noses out the Na’vi.

Visual Effects
Avatar. Also known as the “duh award” for “no shit.”

Supporting Actress
Mo’Nique for Precious. Haven’t seen it yet, but this is the acting lock of the night.

Documentary Feature
The Cove. It’s about saving dolphins! And who doesn’t love dolphins?

Original Song
“The Weary Kind” from Crazy Heart. The Princess and the Frog songs cancel each other out, and no one’s ever heard the other two.

Visual Effects
Avatar. Also known as the “you deserve to be shot in the face if you don’t get this one right” award.

Animated Feature
Up. This is the real best picture race in my opinion, because Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox were better than almost all of the Best Picture nominees, The Princess and the Frog was a worthy entry into the Disney canon, and I hear excellent things about The Secret of Kells. Still, if it’s up for Best Picture, it’s Up for Best Animated Feature. (See what I did there?)

Documentary Short
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”. I was going to go with Moviefone on this one, but then I saw the list of nominees. Anyone who doesn’t vote for the anti-GM movie in this economic climate doesn’t deserve to call hisself an American.

Animated Short Film *
“A Matter of Loaf and Death”. Why not?

Original Screenplay
Inglorious Basterds. Not just a great script, it was great in 4 languages.

Art Direction
Avatar. No contest.

Film Editing
The Hurt Locker. I didn’t love The Hurt Locker, but it was definitely a tense film, and much of that tension came from the editing.

Live Action Short Film *
“Kavi”. If it can’t be the Na’vi, it must be the Kavi.

Best Picture
The Hurt Locker. For my money, A Serious Man was the best film of the year and the Coen Brothers are the greatest living American filmmakers, but the Academy already gave them their “shut up and stop bothering us with your artistry” award for No Country (an exceptional movie in its own right). Ultimately, I believe the voters will pick serious war drama over action film. Also, sci-fi movies have a poor track record with the Oscars.

And that’s it! As succinct as I can possibly be. What say you, Mr. Segretto?

Next page: Mike shows Jeffrey the life of the mind!

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