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Oscar Predictions 2017 February 22, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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oscar-falls-alseepI don’t think there’s been a year where I’ve cared less about the Oscars, but then there’ll always be next year.

When Hollywood was HOLLYWOOD! we’d have a bunch of films we loved contending for an award during the one evening of the year where awards were given out. Legendary stars like Humphrey Bogart, Myrna Loy, John Wayne, Jimmy Cagney, Jimmy Stewart, Liz Taylor, Bette Davis and so forth would either win, be nominated or present in festivities hosted by Bob Hope.

What do we have now? An endless award season where overpaid entertainment-biz royalty continually stroke each other’s egos over largely forgettable fare, with a few diamonds in the rough. I’m always reminded of that when I cull through the screeners I’m lent by bona-fide academy members to see what I actually want to watch. It’s usually pretty thin.

Much the way NFL ratings dropped like a rock this year partly due to overexposure of mediocre product (like having last-place teams play week after week on Thursday night primetime games), the Oscars now blur into the year-long promotional fest of Hollywood telling us how great it is. It used to be a rarity to see our favorite actors & actresses as themselves, commenting on their work. Now, it’s everywhere, every day. Why, then, would Oscar night be a big deal? It’s just another day at the self-congratulatory office now.

Whatever.

Did I mention the show itself is most often a colossal bore? A funny joke here and there, usually depending on the host… but mostly it’s like watching factory gears turning. Every year at the end, I’d find myself saying “I don’t think I can sit through another one of these” and this year, I am keeping that promise.

I will not be watching.

I’ll check winners online, yeah, I’d like to see how well I call the winners, but I can’t sit through the broadcast. Through the boring production numbers. Through behind-the-scenes people who’d have great things to say being played off stage to make time for…. more production numbers. Through painfully unfunny contrived comedy bits like Neil Patrick Harris’ “psychic” act from a few years ago. Through this year’s memorial reel, filled with far too many wonderful people who died this year, and inevitably sitting there annoyed at who they left out. One year they left out DeForest Kelly. Another year, they skipped over Patrick McGoohan. Who will get dissed this year?

And then, this of all years, will be the politics. Movies are a nice escape from real life, or a window onto reality by way of creative fiction. If actors broke character and the 4th wall and speechified during their films, most people would walk out.

Hence, my reaction to the show. I’ll be watching the Columbo rerun, prolly. I have no idea what Peter Falk’s politics were, and I don’t care. They don’t matter.

Anyway, here are my predictions:

Best Picture: La La Land (they love movies about themselves)

Best Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Actor: Even though Denzel Washington won the SAG award, I’ll go with Casey Affleck for Manchester By The Sea.

Best Actress: All signs point to Emma Stone for La La Land, but a dark horse upset would be an interesting barometer: voting on this took place just after Meryl Streep‘s highly publicized political speech after winning a Golden Globe for Florence Foster Jenkins, not exactly one of Streep’s “major” career roles, but if everyone who agreed with her speech voted for her on account of it, AND rationalized the vote since, after all, she’s Meryl-fucking-Streep-fer-godsakes…. well, don’t be too surprised if her name is announced.

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress: Rhode Island’s Viola Davis, Fences

Best Animated Feature: Zootopia

Best Animated Short: Piper

Best Original Screenplay: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Adapted Screenplay: Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Best Cinematography: Greig Fraser, Lion

Best Documentary Feature: OJ, Made In America

Best Documentary Short: The White Helmets

Best Live Action Short: Enemies Within

Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman

Best Editing: La La Land

Best Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Mixing: Hacksaw Ridge Swinging for the fences here… Kevin O’Connell finally winning after going 0 for 21!

Best Production Design: La La Land  

Best Score: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land this is getting monotonous….

Best Original Song: I’ll go for an upset here… “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Best Makeup: It’s always the one with he MOST makeup, so… Star Trek Beyond

Best Costume Design: La La Land

Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book

Well, there. My guiding principles in picking these was to pick movies that make Hollywood feel good about itself, either aesthetically (La La Land) or politically (the shorts, foreign film & documentary). We’ll see how I do.

 

Wagstaff’s Picks For 9/17/16 September 16, 2016

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football.
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Let’s all hear it for Jimmy G! Not only did he have a solid game against a highly-possible Superbowl team on their home turf, he gave the PERFECT Bill Belichick-approved postgame interview. They shoved a mic in his face and asked him how he felt about his showcase victory on national TV, and all he talked about was how it was a team effort, and how he wanted to watch the films to focus on the mistakes he made so that he’ll do better next time.

So, basically, take THAT Johnny Football, Ryan Leaf, and oh, JACKHAMMER-FUCK ROGER GOODELL while we’re at it.

Thus endeth my Patriots rant for the week.

I have NO NFL picks for this week. I don’t like any of the spread matchups, and as last week’s results proved, it’s just too damn early to outguess the oddsmakers on some of these things. Both my losing picks missed by 1 point, both winning ones did just fine, but you could’ve flipped a coin for the same results statistically speaking.

I think I have a little more to go on for college picks, so here we go: In probably the best game of the weekend, I’ll take Louisville to upset Florida State in a straight-up pick. Elsewhere, I’ll go with Auburn to cover 3 over Texas A&M, Ohio State to cover 1 1/2 over Oklahoma, and Nebraska to cover 3 over Oregon.

No underdogs this week.  And I don’t have to payoff the loan shark, whew!

593988-riffraff

 

Preakness Picks 2015 May 15, 2015

Posted by Jim Berkin in Horse Racing.
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preakness

So, will the Preakness basically be a rerun of the Kentucky Derby?

I mostly think so – American Pharoah, the favorite despite getting the rail position, seems (again) to be the one to beat. Dortmund seemed to fade in the stretch in the Derby, while Firing Line could only duel & keep pace at second. The way Espinoza & American Pharoah outran those next-best two down the stretch would lead me to give him the nod here, although if ANYTHING went wrong, a bad trip due to the rail, a stumble…anything, really….. I think Firing Line would sneak in there.

As far as runners who didn’t run in the Derby, the only one I can see mustering a challenge or maybe pulling off an enormous upset would be Divining Rod, whose speed figures are somewhat competitive with the leading horses in the field. Not a bad play to think about, since he’s 12-1 on the morning line, but I’m thinking that people will be wondering (again) if American Pharoah will win the Triple Crown after winning this race. Maybe simply betting Diving Rod to show up in the money is the play here, although I don’t even know if I’ll be betting on this one.

And, as usual, I’m sure the answer will be “No” thanks to whatever entry in the Belmont there is who will not have run in this one or the Derby and will be better rested. Same story, different year, and I’ll prognosticate that race when we come to it.

Reckoning: I wasn’t going to bet this one, and when the rain came a’pourin’ down, I was even more determined not to, even if it meant re-handicapping the thing throwing out Firing Line, since he was the likeliest leader to be most negatively affected by having mud thrown in his face. Even with the weather, I turned out to get the winner, and my longshot pick ran 3rd. Not too shabby, but the potential payoffs still didn’t make it worthwhile to me. We’ll see what happens in the Belmont in three weeks.

Belmont Stakes Predictions 2014 June 6, 2014

Posted by Jim Berkin in Horse Racing.
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mred

So will we finally have a Triple Crown winner after all these years?

The morning odds certainly think we will, with California Chrome a heavy favorite at 3-5. The racing world would love a big positive boost of publicity for the sport, especially as (sadly) the sport continues to wane in popularity, especially against other forms of gambling. I guess that means if you believe in conspiracy theories & the mob fixing everything, California Chrome is a certainty.

Despite the black helicopters over my house, I’d put California Chrome as a favorite, but not as the horse-to-beat-against-a-weak-field favorite he was in the Preakness. The Belmont field has a few legitimate spoiler horses who have the potential to take this race. With Chrome running hard to get the crown, barring any freakazoid reason for him to be pulled, I would put together a number of boxed combo bets with him & the following possible spoilers, which I’ll discuss in order of what I think is their likelihood of paying off as winners or merely in the money:

Tonalist ran a great Peter Pan stakes a month ago on a sloppy Belmont track and gained speed and power as he went. The biggest factor for me every year in the Belmont is the distance involved – a lot of route horses simply run out of gas when asked to run a mile and a half, so I always look for the ones who can keep pace and reserve the energy for at least a mile or so before turning it on at the end. Tonalist is a likely candidate for such a finish, and his last speed figures and speed figure potential for Saturday is in the same league with the amazing numbers of California Chrome. And he’s 8-1!

Right up there with Tonalist, I’d put the surprise of the Kentucky Derby, Commanding Curve. The late surge stretch run he did, almost catching Chrome, made me think he’d be the horse to watch in the longer Belmont since he would have passed Chrome on that Derby run if there’d be another quarter mile. All he’d have to do is rest up by skipping the Preakness (check) and keep in top form (check – his works at Belmont are the best out there, better than Chrome). He’ll also probably do better in a smaller field, and one where he isn’t all the way on the outside. With less traffic to negotiate & a better position for a late burst run…. well, it could happen. And he’s 15-1!

After those two, I think Wicked Strong, the #4 Derby finisher, will challenge again here. Well rested after skipping the Preakness, Wicked Strong also has the power to finish well at a mile and a half. The other wild card is Ride On Curlin, who ran a great Preakness and finished the Derby strong, but in each case,  I think the jockey had a lot to do with it. He’s got a new, third, rider this time, so who knows?

If I had to grade them, I’d give California Chrome an A, Tonalist and Commanding Curve A-, Wicked Strong B+ and Ride On Curlin B.

My ten cent superfectas, fifty cent trifectas  and one dollar exactas will be designed accordingly.

Preakness Predictions 2014 May 16, 2014

Posted by Jim Berkin in Horse Racing.
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marxbrorace

So close…. SO close on that damn Derby, where my 1-2-3 finished 1-3-4 thanks to a last minute surge by a 30-1 shot to sneak into 2nd.  I have to admit that even if I’d spread more money out to throw some longshots in to exotic bets, I don’t think I would have included the placer. Good thing I only bet on the cheap….. but a trifecta hit for what probably would have  been a few hundred bucks would have been very very nice.

After looking at the field for this year’s Preakness, it’s really Derby winner California Chrome‘s race to lose. None of the other horses in the field, I think, can really challenge the speed levels of Chrome, hence the 3-5 opening line.

But there’s always the “too soon after the last race” factor that figures into the Triple Crown cycle, and the way that Chrome faded a little bit towards the end of the Derby stretch, making me think as the races get longer (especially the Belmont coming up), Chrome could be overtaken by a late-surger.

I don’t see a late surger in this field, but if I had to pick a 2nd-likely-candidate to win in case Chrome has a bad day at the track, I’d go with the Baffert trained Bayern, also a nice price at 10-1 right now.

I can’t really put together any combo bets since the rest of the field feels so random to me. I think I’ll wait until the Belmont when some Derby performers return, rested, to see what some more predictable scenarios might be.

Kentucky Derby 2014 Predictions May 2, 2014

Posted by Jim Berkin in Horse Racing.
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horsedoc

It’s been a while, I’ve been away from this blog, spending far too much time annoying people on Facebook.

But since I did so well in my Oscar predictions, why not continue the psychic vibe into May with some prognostication over the Derby?

Unlike in recent years, this year’s field has a clear favorite, that being California Chrome. Since coming off a layoff, this horse has won a bunch of races in a row, with terrific speed figures and by several lengths. Another thing I like about this horse (and yes, I’ll go ahead and pick it as my most likely winner) is how he gains speed & power as he goes, a necessity for a mile and a quarter race.

The other horses I’d give a chance, or fill out some exotic combo bets with are Danza (and not because we all love Tony Danza) and Wicked Strong. Like California Chrome, they both pick up speed and power as they hit the stretch in a longer race, but their overall speed & form seems slightly below that of the favorite, and Wicked Strong drew the far outside post of the field, something that usually doesn’t help, although a skilled jockey can find ways to compensate in a long multi-turn race. I think both of these two will be in the running, but I figure that California Chrome can simply outrun and outlast them.

Churchill Downs also threw in a guaranteed million dollar pick 6, ending with the Derby, so even though I’m not familiar with the ins-and-outs and other subtleties of betting that particular track, I put together a very cheap ticket which I view akin to buying a Megabucks ticket and I’ll be spending about as much on it. Why the hell not?

 

Oscar Predictions 2014 February 23, 2014

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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criswellpredicts

Let me preface the following prognostications with a small caveat: the ONLY movie I saw in theaters in 2013 was Star Trek: Into Darkness.

Yup, that’s right. While I used to see anywhere around 35-50 movies annually, I’ve been so turned off by the entire experience of theatergoing that I’d rather wait for the things I’m  interested in to come out on disc & watch ’em at home, without the cellphones going off, the texting, idiots talking to each other or back to the screen, crying babies (I keep the ones I kidnap in a sound-proof room, so no problemo at home).

So I’m flying blind making these calls, relying solely on my gut feelings of how Hollywood gives out awards and what they give them out for: that wonderful blend of capturing the PC zeitgeist mixed with proper star power & convincing industry insiders you’re setting a trend.

Unlike in years past on this blog, I think I’ll predict the ENTIRE ballot with some commentary here and there…. we can see my batting average after next Sunday. Here we go!

PICTURE: 12 Years A Slave

DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity (another year where pic and director won’t match, I think… Cuaron’s been around for a while and made a big CGI epic, but they’ll go racial guilt big-time in picking picture, one to sneer in front of all the anti-Obama flyover folk they look down on anyway, and also to show up Oprah who tried to guilt ’em into letting her ram her own racial guilt movie down their throats. A twofer!)

ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupia Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Spike Jonze, Her

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: John Ridley, 12 Years A Slave

FOREIGN FILM: The Great Beauty, Italy

SCORE: This one is tough since they all sound alike except really for Thomas Newman’s score for Saving Mr. Banks. But I think they’ll give it to Steven Price for Gravity

SONG: “Let it Go” from Frozen

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Another tough one, but I’ll go with The Act of Killing

DOCUMENTARY SHORT: The Lady in No. 6 (it’s about music saving the spirits of a Holocaust survivor… Holy Oscar slam dunk, Batman!)

LIVE ACTION SHORT: Helium (it’s got the best visuals)

ANIMATED SHORT: Mr. Hublot (visually the most dazzling)

BEST ANIMATED FILM: Frozen

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gravity

EDITING: American Hustle (it’s gotta win something…)

COSTUME DESIGN: 12 Years A Slave

PRODUCTION DESIGN: The Great Gatsby

MAKEUP: Dallas Buyers Club

SOUND EDITING: Gravity

SOUND MIXING: Gravity

VISUAL EFFECTS: Gravity

The best I’ve ever done is 20/24, narrowly missing the Oscar party pool pot of several hundred dollars by ONE goddamn pick! This year I’ll be at a party where the pool is strictly for honor & glory, so the food better be good while I, once again, sit through one of the ABSOLUTE WORST, MOST BORING, SELF-CONGRATULATORY HEAPING PILE OF MOOSE SHIT SHOWS known to humankind.

And (sigh) I’ll be back again watching next year. I hear Carrot Top is hosting.

Kentucky Derby Predictions 2013 May 2, 2013

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horsedoc

It’s been crunch time for your humble Per-fesser lately… getting ready to move has meant signing my name to more documents than I ever thought I’d sign in my LIFE .

Well, except for the time I signed that pre-nup with Kim Jong-Un. We were going to be “The Odd Couple: The New Generation” next fall, but we tested poorly during pilot season. Alas, I’ll never be a sitcom star, I fear.

The idea of packing up Chez Wagstsaff’s numerous books & other chazerei has also been daunting… but thy will be done! A month or so from now I’ll be in new digs, with plenty of time off to acclimate the cat & get crackin’ on editing another book for publication as well as writing the next installment of the Professor Wagstaff mystery-thriller series.

EVEN WITH ALL THAT, I found the time to handicap this year’s Kentucky Derby. Let’s see if I can call the damn thing 2 years in a row, shall we?

I guess I’ll need Doug O’Neill to help me out on that one, since I picked his horse I’ll Have Another to win last year, and I’m going with him again this year. I think Goldencents has the best shot here. He’s flat-out faster than any horse in this huge field, his condition has been steadily improving has he moves up towards the length of this race, and I can easily see him reserving energy while keeping up just off the pace early on to burn up a late run and overtake the field. I think his current 5-1 odds will lower as we get closer to post time, and I would not be surprised at all if he became the post-time favorite.

My “B” group of possibilities, in order, are: Normandy Invasion, who at 12-1 is a nice bet & has the fastest stretch time of any horse in this race. If he’s near the front when they come into the homestretch and has an unblocked lane,  look out. His form has been improving, and even though he lost to my next B pick, Verrazano, I think Normandy could outrun Verrazano this time. Verrazano has been impressive, however, winning every one of his races by comfortable margins while leading or near-leading throughout. I can’t really count him out of this one. I also would place Mylute in this B group – great speed, and a great combo with Napravnik in the driver’s seat.

My two “C” picks, each long shots to win the thing but horses I’d include in any exotic combo bets, are Java’s War & Revolutionary. They’re 15-1 and 10-1 respectively right now, but they’re nearly as fast as any of the entries in my B group, are in decent shape, and either one have the potential to be the “it was just their day!” type of horse, especially with Leparoux and Borel riding, respectively. Java’s War might be way on the outside, but that hasn’t stopped him before in a large field, and Borel always does amazing at Churchill.

Not sure what sorts of betting combos I’ll be going with, to be honest. It’s tempting to put Goldencents as the key winner to a superfecta or trifecta box with the rest, but I might have to sleep on that. A wuss exacta box of ’em all might be one way to buy all my picks.  Like I said at the outset of this post, between wrapping up the academic year & designing two new courses & moving & planning two novels, my head is spinning. I’m not sure if I’m clear enough to do anything other than a few $2 win bets, to be honest.

The answer, clearly, is: more red wine. I’ll have some film blogging up after a few more bottles, promise!

Spring Is Here, And Young Wagstaff’s Thoughts Turn To Baseball (2013 Edition) March 31, 2013

Posted by Jim Berkin in Baseball.
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2013Topps

Here are my fearless predictions for the upcoming baseball season which just kicked off with a Rangers/Astros game this evening. I kept forgetting that the Astros have migrated to the American League after 50+ years in the National. I miss those happenin’ 1970s psychadelic uniforms they wore well into the non-psychadelic ’80s. They’ve got a better look now, but they’re certainly at the bottom end of what’s generally considered to be this year’s possible contenders. The Houston team is a multiyear rebuilding project with a roster of mostly-unknowns and a new manager who is way younger than me. But more power to them all – I’d love to see a team build itself up from within with young players who then become stars together.

Kind of like the Yankees in the early to mid 1990s before they began an amazing run of post-season seasons that, as much as it pains me to say, is now over. My first prediction for 2013 baseball is that the Yankees will NOT be in contention for the first time since 1992 or so. It’s been interesting to watch various prognosticator shows on MLB or ESPN where the boys simply cannot bring themselves to count the Yankees out.

I can, and I’ve been a fan of that team for more than – Good GOD – 40 years.

Look how much talent the Angels had last year, and how despite all of it they could not recover from a horrible April by the end of the season, and sat on the sidelines in October. Now look at the injury-riddled aging Yankees, missing much of the meat of their line-up until mid May, with the Biogenesis shoe ready to drop on A-Rod and a possible money-saving salary-cap ducking contract voiding… the Yankees will struggle to get to .500 by June and will never recover in a hotly competitive AL East where it might only take 90 games to win, but I can’t see them getting there.

I can, however, see Baltimore getting there. Or maybe Tampa Bay. Or everyone’s favorite on paper, Toronto, who will probably do just fine, although I think they have last year’s Marlins and all their expensive signings looming over their shoulders.  What I think will happen is that the Orioles will take the division, the Blue Jays will get one of the wild cards, and both the Yankees & Red Sox will battle not to be last.

The AL Central will be more fun because of who I think will be this year’s Cinderella team – The Kansas City Royals. Yeah, the Royals have sucked since the late ’80s, but they’ve put together a solid group of young players who had an amazingly impressive spring, and I think they are poised to be in 2013 what the Orioles were in 2012 and what the Nationals were in 2011 – the team-formerly-known-as-suck that’s clearly on the way up. I don’t think they’ll make the post season, but I think they’ll have wins in the high 80s and fall short of the Tigers, who I can see winning the division unless Justin Verlander breaks his schvantz with Kate Upton. The Royals will get back in the post-season in the next few years if they keep this up, though.

The AL West is an interesting mix – the Angels have a hitting line-up as good as the great slugging teams of all time, but beyond Jered Weaver very little pitching. The Rangers have lost a lot of talent but made some nice replacements and will certainly be competitive. And the A’s have some great pitching. All in all, I’d think the Angels & Rangers will be at the finish line, although I’m not sure which will win the division and which will be the other wild card.

Over in the NL East, it’s easy to pick the Washington Nationals – this time they’ve got more experience, they’ll have more Strasbourg, and they are loaded with good young talent. The Braves will compete as they always so, and fight with the Phillies for the wild card.  The Marlins & Mets will fight for the cellar.

NL Central: I still like the Reds, who ought to go further in October this time. I think the Cardinals have run out of last-minute heroics and luck, and the Brewers will be the main challenge to the Reds, with a rejuvenated Pirates team playing spoiler, along the lines of the Royals in the AL. When the dust clears, I think the Reds take it.

NL West: The Dodgers went on a spending spree and put together a very impressive line-up, although they have some weak spots in their pitching staff and are vulnerable to injuries. Still, it’ll be them & their rival Giants fighting it out, and I think both of them will wind up in the post-season, with one winning the division and the other getting the wild card. The Diamondbacks will compete & play spoiler here.

I hope I’m wrong about the Yankees and that everything magically comes together, but I’m too much of a realist. I’m sure Pettite & Rivera will have wonderful farewell seasons.  Having Gardner and Joba back ought to be a positive. Jeter ought to come back from his injury decently, but I worry about that after seeing him this spring. Texiera & Hughes remain injury prone and they’ll miss Granderson’s bat. I just don’t see it happening this year, and with most of that team aging, they’d better start beefing up the farm system the way they did in the early ’90s and patiently grow the core of a new Yankee team that could start its run in another 5-6 years or so. But I doubt it – it took nearly 10 years of suck & disappointment & (temporarily) taking the reins from Steinbrenner  before the Yankees learned to patiently grow a team, and the successful run they had didn’t reinforce that lesson but probably undid it due to the way affluence breeds complacency. Bummer.

Welcome back, baseball… it’s been a long winter.

Oscar Predictions 2013 February 22, 2013

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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oscarmadison

Is everyone all set for the 3+ hour annual borefest known as OSCAR TIME???

I know I am! And this is a very special year for me, since I grew so disgusted with the overall moviegoing experience in the age of nonstop ads, audience members using cellphones, and the never-ending conveyor belt of drek emanating from the studios that I stayed away from the theaters all year. In these predictions, I’m totally flying blind – I haven’t seen any of these movies yet!

Oh, I will… eventually. In the privacy of my home, on my flatscreen, with kitty alongside. The only way to fly.

I actually got invited to attend the thing in person this year (long story), but I’d have to rent a tux and sit through the entirety of it (a) without eating and (b) without being able to vocalize any of the endless stream of snark, insults and flat-out derision that overwhelms me in every Oscar telecast. I must admit if the invite had also included the Governor’s Ball afterwards, I’d have gone, but for just the awards… Well, I thanked them immensely but passed.

Anyway, after reviewing movie descriptions, the buzz, the campaigns, and everything I know about motion picture academy behavior, here are my predictions for most of the awards and a little about the show:

Let’s start with the acting categories: These are fairly easy to call this year. Daniel Day-Lewis seems a shoe-in for Best Actor & Tommy Lee Jones a lock for Supporting Actor, both for Lincoln. I think Anne Hathaway will win the “we love your career trajectory lately” Best Supporting Actress for Les Mis even if the movie fell short of expectations. Best Actress has been strange the past few years, and I think the backlash against the politics of Zero Dark Thirty will sink Jessica Chastain’s odds and give it to Jennifer Lawrence from Silver Linings Playbook.

In writing, I think we’ll get one of those years where best script and best picture do NOT coincide. I think Lincoln will win adapted over Argo because they’ll want to reward Tony Kushner’s politics. And I think Amour will win Best Original because it’ll match up with my predicted win for it in Best Foreign Film as well.

Best Picture will go to Argo – it’s the easy favorite, and was helped immensely by the snub of Affleck for director. It’s also about filmmaking to some degree, something the Academy always loves. Without Affleck in the category, Ang Lee will win Best Director since they probably feel like they still owe him something from Brokeback Mountain losing out to the inferior Crash.

Life of Pi will also win a lot of tech awards – Cinematography, Sound Editing, Visual Effects… possibly even Musical Score.

Editing? Argo.

Animated Feature? Wreck It Ralph

Seth MacFarlane? At least he was honest enough to admit that no matter what he does, the critics will savage him. He’ll get to sing, perhaps a show-tune type thing. Maybe he’ll even sing to Snow White at the Copacabana with a reanimated Merv Griffin. I’m sure there’ll be some suck-up political digs in his jokes, but one thing I’d like to see is him actually hit the thin-skinned Hollywood crowd with some joke, ANY joke, that makes them amazingly uncomfortable. He’s got the capability to do it, even if it’s on the immaturity level of the stuff on Family Guy. He’ll go up a lot of opinion points in my eyes if he makes some crack about Hollywood that makes some of ’em absolutely cringe.

Please, God, ANYTHING to save us from the usual boredom of this thing.

And yes, Jack Klugman better make the memorial reel. And Ernest Borgnine too. Or there’ll be HELL to pay!!!