Well, folks, the lesson learned this year is that you should not, under any circumstances, ever, ever pay attention to my Oscar predictions. Man, did I bomb this year! Just terrible. I shouldn't even be allowed to think about awards again, let alone try to predict them. Just sit back and watch the show like everyone else. Any claim I've ever laid to recognizing quality in film or having a feel for the thought process of Academy voters is apparently wrong, and I should be ashamed to have presumed otherwise. The end.
But wait. No. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself. I mean, my reasoning was sound, wasn't it? My guesses made a lot more sense than the Academy's votes. Yeah, that's it. It wasn't I who was wrong, but them! Nice try, Academy, but I'm not taking the fall for your mistakes. You're the problem, not me. Why am I running myself through the ringer when it's you who ought to be ringed?
Here are some things that I did right and the Academy did wrong...
Technical awards. Oh, silly me! I thought Dragon Tattoo and Planet of the Apes deserved an award or two. Little did I realize that the Academy was so ashamed about not giving Martin Scorsese the director or picture awards, that they would backload Hugo with as much as they could. My mistake.
Short films. You know, I first started attending screenings of the short films three years ago. I thought it would make me better at predicting Oscar winners. Instead, it's made me worse. (Go ahead, check my record.) Whose fault is this, mine or the Academy's? I remind you, I've actually seen the short film nominees. Do you think everyone in the Academy saw all the short film contenders? Or do you think they just dashed off a few checkmarks so that they could get their ballots in the mail?
Original screenplay. This award came down to no dialogue versus all the dialogue. I erred on the side of no dialogue (The Artist), thinking the Academy would pat themselves on the back for acknowledging that there's more to screenwriting than just telling actors what to say. I should have known that they'd rather pat themselves on the back for liking Woody Allen. (In fairness, I truly did love Midnight In Paris.)
Best Actress. All right, Academy, I know I've got The People on my side with this one. Everybody knows this was supposed to go to Viola Davis. Yes, we love Meryl Streep. Clearly. And I know that Ms. Streep had -- what was the number? -- 11 losses in a row? But you know you're going to regret not giving this to Viola Davis, right? 20 years from now, you're going to give Ms. Davis an Oscar for Scent of a Woman 2: Sniffing Out a Man, and everybody's going to be thinking, "Wait, this is her first Oscar? How did she not win for The Help or Doubt?"
Best Actor. Sigh. Okay, I'll take the blame for this one. If I had gone with my heart, I would have picked eventual winner Jean Dujardin. Instead, I let other analysts convince me that the Academy really wanted to give this one to Clooney. That's on me, okay? But this is the only loss I'll take the blame for. You done me wrong, Academy. My reputation for awards predicting has taken a major hit after last Sunday.
All right, what else happened?
Angelina Jolie's leg. Deserving of all the ridicule it got. The well-rehearsed pose that she was doing on the red carpet was silly, but that's what red carpets are for, so who cares? But when she walked out on stage to present awards and struck the exact same pose? Come on! To recap: she walks over to the microphone, pauses, then methodically juts out the leg and puts her left hand on her hip. The audience reacts in a way that's not completely clear through our TVs, but sounds an awful lot like derisive laughter. This causes Angelina to chuckle too, but not in a self aware or self deprecating way; more in a self satisfied way. You know, Angelina of ten years ago would have cut each and every audience member who laughed at her. And that's why we loved her. But then again, Angelina of ten years ago wouldn't have preoccupied herself with all that posturing in the first place.
And finally, Billy Crystal. Did a nice job. It wasn't mind-blowingly great, but it was good. Some jokes were clunkers, but some were out of the park. Isn't that the way it always is? He leaned on some old schtick and some of his jokes were old man-ish, but a lot were surprisingly fresh and biting. Unfortunately, the press seems to be focusing on the negative. I think they're all forgetting how absolutely dismal James Franco and Anne Hathaway were last year. Crystal was funny, and he kept the show moving along - it went at a pretty brisk pace, and ended only a few minutes late! If you disagree, then tell me who's been better in the last ten years.
My Score Sheet
Of the 24 categories I placed guesses in this year, I only got 10 right. 10! Obviously, I'm not happy. I'll give myself a week to rest up, then I need to start training hard for next season.
If there was a problem with the Oscars this year, it was because of the nominees. I remember, the day the nominations were announced, looking over the Best Picture list and thinking, "Oh..." That's it. Just... oh. Kinda boring. No Avatars or Inglourious Basterds or Hurt Lockers to shake things up.
That being the case, I think the awards ceremony itself actually came through pretty strong. This year's Oscarcast was a nice middle-of-the-road endeavor which, again, was a welcome change after last year. I enjoyed the show. And I watched it with a good crowd of funny people, which always makes things better. I give this year's Oscars a B+