Sunday, March 2, 2014

Obligatory Oscar Predictions

Cultural commentators have already flooded the internet and newspaper with predictions as to who will take home the major prizes this Sunday night at the Oscars.   While the top accolade’s recipient appears to be a toss-up between 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, and American Hustle, with the entire cast of the last contender expected to win everything else, there has been relatively little speculation surrounding the winners of the categories just introduced this year by the Academy, largely due to the lack of empirics off which analysts can base their conjectures.  Although viewers won’t see these figurines distributed on the air (interested parties can go online to watch the announcements that were cut from the broadcast for commercial space, not including best foreign-language film, best documentary – short subject, best live-action short film, or other regular events that stretch the show past three hours), we at the Files deem it important to shed light on these unappreciated but exceptional films or filmmakers and to share our thoughts on which will ultimately bring home gold.

Blackest Picture – 12 Years A Slave, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Fruitvale Station, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas 

Will win: At first glance, 12 Years seems like a really safe pick, especially considering its standing for all the other awards, but indignation over international posters heralding the involvement of Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, both white men, in the feature has thrown the legitimacy of its African-American identity into dispute.  It remains to be seen whether it can recover from these turbulent waters and overtake Butler, which inspired national conversations about race after star Oprah Winfrey was snubbed on the basis of her color and the film’s portrayals of real people were revealed to be total fantasy, or Fruitvale, which asked viewers to consider what the value of a young, unarmed, black man’s life is and followed in the wake of George Zimmerman’s widely criticized acquittal by a jury of his white hispanic peers.  Those two pictures are positioned as front-runners at the moment.

Should win: 12 Years’ brutal and nearly unwatchable reminder of how evil the white bible-thumpers were in the Civil War-era pulls no punches in its realistic depiction of the horrors of black slavery and comes at a potent time in American history, when big banks and Wall Street fat cat corporations have clearly declared their intent to put y’all back in chains.  As The Butler director Lee Daniels shrewdly noted on Piers Morgans’ lately retired CNN program, the election of an African-American to the White House has only exacerbated American racism, and with ongoing debates about such discriminatory policies as photo I.D. requirements, school choice, unemployment benefits cuts, food stamp cuts, housing aid cuts, Obamacare cuts, and Planned Parenthood cuts, we currently walk a delicate line between civil rights and return to the days of legal oppression and dehumanization.  12 Years A Slave is not just the best black movie of the year or the best movie of the year, period, but it’s also the blackest movie of the year.

Gayest Picture – Blue Is The Warmest Color, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Kill Your Darlings, The Lone Ranger 

Will win: If it was subject to a more analytical panel of judges, Her might have a greater competitive advantage with its subtly allegorical narrative of a man who enters an unorthodox and socially derided relationship with an artificial intelligence, but the metaphorical dimensions of this plot point likely eluded the majority of 90-year-old Oscar voters.  For now it will come down to either Dallas Buyers Club or Blue Is The Warmest Color.  The former may have a slight edge because of Jared Leto’s supporting actor nomination and expected win for playing a transgender… well, for playing a transgender character, but on the other hand there’s nothing much gayer than sneaking a 15-minute lesbian sex scene into your kinky French film and passing it off as “art”.  DBC is also handicapped for what many LGBT activists perceived as the inappropriate casting of Leto, a plain-old, no-frills dude, in the role of Matthew McConaughey’s constantly confused companion, a proud s/he.

Should win: Although the Academy will probably honor either of these more obvious choices, the most deserving picture is undoubtedly the one that sponsors homosexuality on a more discreet and subliminal level, that being The Lone Ranger.  Up until Gore Verbinski’s transformative Disney dramedy, all the heroes of western mythos were paragons of manly strength and Arthurian chivalry.  Then along came Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer.

Actually, on reconsideration, their traits are more characteristically pegged as metro than homo.  Whatever they are, the two of them made a pretty offensively stupid movie.

Most Relentlessly and Obsessively Idolized by the Media – Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, 12 Years A Slave, August: Osage County, The Fifth Estate, The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug, Star Trek Into Darkness, and just that), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), Lena Dunham (that HBO show nobody watches except unmarried, left-wing elitists) Lorde (Royals), Lupita Nyong’o (various awards ceremonies and everything else) 

Will win/should win: There’s not even a real contest here.  The Author vowed that if he sees the name Lupita Nyong’o one more time, he may instinctively slip into a Lindsey Stirling coma and drown himself in music videos to cope with the depression, thus falling drastically behind in his work.  We inscribed the Mexican-born, Kenya-reared Yale graduate’s name* twice in this post for good measure.  Have fun, Mr. Editor!

Most PC Picture – Carrie, Elysium, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, The Heat, The Lone Ranger, White House Down

Will win: This category is more difficult to decide.  The Academy could just as easily reward The Heat, which was loaded, like Bridesmaids, with feminist tropes about women saying obscene things or doing masculine things just as well as men, as it could reward the more recent and relevant Mandela biopic starring Captain Janek, which only coincidentally happened to align with the passing of the South African socialist president.  Carrie’s odds are hindered by the realities that it’s a blood-and-guts CG-enhanced remake and that Chloe Grace Moretz kind of sucked as a replacement for Sissy Spacek**.  Come to think of it, everyone agreed the whole movie kind of sucked as a replacement.  The other three nominees would all have strong shots at victory if they had been released later in the year, but as they were all dropped in the summer to box office grosses that would horrify even Hannibal Lecter, it’s doubtful that enough Academics will remember their contributions to political correctness in order to secure them a trophy.

Should win: Hands down, The Heat.  All the “humor” of its script derives from watching a fat lady swear herself sore.  And everyone else, for that matter.

Preachiest Quasi-Christian Picture – Man Of Steel, Prisoners, The Conjuring 

Will win: Much like the ill-fated Fifth Estate, Prisoners was released as Oscar bait but unfortunately got shuttered out of the ceremony’s conventional slots because of the overwhelming number of great films in 2013.  Though Prisoners didn’t receive recognition for either Hugh Jackman or Jake Gyllenhaal’s acclaimed performances and will probably cede the best cinematography prize to Gravity, Oscar will compensate the filmmakers for their loss with this coveted trophy commending them for their condescension and preachiness.

Should win: The Author and other critics have already documented Man Of Steel’s cheesy Christ symbolism in extensive detail.  It’s easily the most Christian secular entertainment of this last year.  Or is it the most secular Christian entertainment?

Best English-Language Picture That Might As Well Have Been Foreign – After Earth, Despicable Me 2, Much Ado About Nothing, Pacific Rim, TPD: The Marine Natural Resources Policies, The Counselor

Will win: So written that M. Night Shyamalan and Will Smith, a.k.a. Cypher Rage, are the two human beings who have any clue what it’s about, After Earth may just be the most esoteric science-fiction movie ever made, littered with Scientology allusions, incoherent plot points, unexplainable actions by characters, and sci-fi gibberish about graviton vibrations and mass expansion.  It would be an astonishing upset if it didn’t win this new distinction, especially given the average age of the Academy’s ballot-casters.  The Counselor may be a close runner-up because of critics’ mostly negative response to the cast’s stilted readings of Cormac McCarthy’s poetic dialogue that he forgot to convert into prose.

Should win: Half of Despicable Me 2’s lines are delivered in an unintelligible, minion dialect understood only by the series’ creators and the other half are delivered in plain English that makes even less sense.  One could watch it in Spanish and still leave with the same appreciation for its screenplay.

Best Use Of CGI Chaos In A Picture – After Earth, Ender’s Game, Epic, Gravity, Man Of Steel, Oblivion, Pacific Rim, World War Z
Will win: Gravity is already slated to pick up the traditional FX awards, both aural and visual, so the Academy will probably try to spread the wealth around with this secondary distinction.  Pacific Rim and Man Of Steel both seem like natural contenders with their ludicrous envisionings of entire cities getting leveled by giant monsters, giant monster-punching robots, giant space drills, and not-so-giant, neck-snapping space aliens, and Epic dazzled many viewers young and old with its incredibly realistic CG houses, CG trees, and CG human faces, but expect World War Z to run all over the competition.  Its hordes of viral zombies were so lifelike, detailed, and numerous that audiences struggled to pick apart the CG monsters from the uninfected human actors.

Should win: Oblivion.  Like, come on, people.  Star Trek Into Darkness gets a nod over this?  Omg. America is sooo messed up.  This is why we hate these awards shows.

Best Actor In A Dying Role – Cory Monteith, Paul Walker, Peter O’Toole, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Will win: This will all boil down to whether the Academy prioritizes honoring awesomeness, prestige, youth, drug addiction, or a combination of the latter two.  Of all the stars, Monteith evoked by far the most media hysteria while doing by far the least work, and it is the state-controlled media that decides these things in the end.

Should win: Paul Walker deserves a prize more than any of the others, if only to cement the failure of the Illuminati to intimidate the Resistance by executing their leader.  We shall not tremble before the New World Order, but boldly stand together for freedom, steadfast and furious in our unity and our conviction!

Best Picture they assured us was going to be one, but ultimately wasn’t – All Is Lost, August: Osage County, Fruitvale Station, Inside Llewyn Davis, Rush, The Spectacular Now
Will win/should win: Do you remember the media drumming you over the head with any of these films, pleading for you accept the hypothesis that they would be front-runners at the end-of-year awards, only to eventually see them pick up but acting or technical nominations or in some cases nothing at all?  You don’t?  Lucky you.  Anyway, Fruitvale Station has this in the bag.  Never before do we think we have seen such a disproportionate hype-to-actual achievement ratio.

* We don’t know what the heck that makes her either.  We only repeated it because the Author saw that phrase in the USA Today weekender and thought it was hilarious.  That Claudia Puig says the darnedest things...
** Get it?  Sucked?  Like a vampire?  Like the part she played in Let Me In?  Aha!  Hahaha! #ObscureMoviePunsFTW
*** Disclaimer: The staff of the Files collectively has seen all but eight of the nine films nominated for Best Picture.  Hence we are making these predictions primarily off of the hundreds of articles and associated directors’/writers’/actors’ comments we have read about said pictures.

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