My Completely Blind Oscar Picks (And The Wines That Go With Them)

So The Oscars are tonight.  I’m sure you’re going to a fabulous party or hosting one yourself.  Billy Crystal is back, too; which is good, ’cause that guy knows how to host stuff.  And he looks good in an Armani tuxedo.

The Rib and I love the Oscars, even though we aren’t much for going to the movies.  In fact, the last movie we saw in a theater was Spider-Man 2.  I know!

So I thought I’d put my general awareness of the entertainment business to the test and give you my picks for tonight’s Oscars, having seen NOT EVEN ONE of the nominated films—like most things in my life, I’m making this up as I go.  I also suggest a wine to pair with each of my winners.  If you want, play the “Scorsese Game” the cast of Bridesmaids introduced at the Golden Globes: every time you hear (or in this case read) “Scorsese,” take a drink of the beverage of your choice (I hope it’s wine).  Here are my picks:

 

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

THE ARTIST

Written by Michel Hazanavicius

BRIDESMAIDS

Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig

MARGIN CALL

Written by J.C. Chandor

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Written by Woody Allen

A SEPARATION

Written by Asghar Farhadi

The Artist:  I’m not sure you can give a “writing” award to a film with no dialogue.  That’s like changing your name to an unpronounceable symbol.  Crazy.

Bridesmaids:  I’m sure this was a fun comedic romp, and I like the cast of actors.  I even like the idea of this movie—’cause who doesn’t enjoy a bunch of bawdy, foul-mouthed broads?  This guy does!  But the Oscar CANNOT, under any circumstances, go to a movie comprised of fart jokes and double entendres.  If it did, every 4th through 11th grade boy in America would be in line for one of these coveted statuettes, which would then be relegated to a participation trophy.  And you know some idiot parent would sue all the way to the Supreme Court so their boy could get one.

Margin Call:  I haven’t even heard of this one.  No.

Midnight In Paris:  Paris, magic, and quirky relationship struggles?  I feel like I’ve seen this one before.  It looks cute enough (those damn Wilson boys are oddly charming), even though the girl is NOT Dax Shephard’s wife.  Think Seinfeld with a message.

A Seperation:  Couple wants to leave their homeland but doesn’t want to leave ‘Papa’ behind.  I feel like this would have more impact it if was subtitled—subtitled films always seem more important and impactful (I hope this one wasn’t subtitled—it would appear I had no idea what I was talking about if it did).

And the winner is…

Midnight In Paris by Woody Allen

I feel like this guy needs a break.  He’s been kicking around Hollywood for years without any respect or recognition for his work.  Plus, I’m sure this movie hit on universal themes regarding the human condition in a way that everyone can relate to.  Pair with a whimsical California Zinfandel.

 

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

THE DESCENDANTS

Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

HUGO

Screenplay by John Logan

THE IDES OF MARCH

Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon

MONEYBALL

Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY

Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

I don’t like the idea of giving out an award for “adapted” anything.  “Good job, my man!  You’ve successfully re-did someone else’s work!”  I think I deserve an Oscar for my 4th grade book report on “Where The Red Fern Grows,” ’cause I successfully summarized the story and said I liked it.

And the winner is…

The Ides of March by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon

I know this is for “writing,” but you can’t NOT give the award to a movie “written” by Clooney and “starring” Clooney.  Lock.  Pair with a serious Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson

HUGO

Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning

REAL STEEL

Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

And the winner is…

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I love a monkey.  Case closed.  Pair with Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

 

SOUND MIXING

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson

HUGO

Tom Fleischman and John Midgley

MONEYBALL

Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin

WAR HORSE

Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

And the winner is…

War Horse

This one’s about World War I, right?  Had to be hard to mix sound for this period piece, being that the Victrola was a new technology then.  They didn’t even have the benefit of “hi-fi” yet.  Pair with a vintage Port.

 

SOUND EDITING

DRIVE

Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

Ren Klyce

HUGO

Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON

Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl

WAR HORSE

Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

And the winner is…

War Horse

Re-carving wax for the Victrolas (see Sound Mixing above) must have been tedious work.  Those guys deserve that statue!  Also pair with a vintage Port.

 

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

PENTECOST

Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane

RAJU

Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren

THE SHORE

Terry George and Oorlagh George

TIME FREAK

Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey

TUBA ATLANTIC

Hallvar Witzø

And the winner is…

Tuba Atlantic

Like all of you, I had no idea these films existed before the nominations were released; so I went with my gut on this one.  Plus, there isn’t enough of anything with “Tuba” in the title, and I love a low note.  Nothing delicate here: Pair with a Red Rhone Blend.

 

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

DIMANCHE/SUNDAY

Patrick Doyon

THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg

LA LUNA

Enrico Casarosa

A MORNING STROLL

Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe

WILD LIFE

Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

If Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby would have spelled “life” with a “y,” they’d have gotten the call.  Short-sighted, ladies; the Academy loves quirky.

And the winner is…

La Luna

The title means “The Luna;” so it’s got to be good.  Pair with a light Oregon Pinot.

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

Man or Muppet

THE MUPPETS Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie

Real in Rio

RIO Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

And the winner is…

Man or Muppet

            This is strictly a pick for nostalgia’s sake.  I hope Kermit at least sang a verse.  I can’t, in good conscience, pair a wine with this one—Muppets should never drink.

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN

John Williams

THE ARTIST

Ludovic Bource

HUGO

Howard Shore

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY

Alberto Iglesias

WAR HORSE

John Williams

Sad to say with regard to the three guys in this category that aren’t John Williams, but when you’re up for a composition award against this guy, you’re probably going to lose.  He’s the John Philip Sousa of our time (albeit with less impressive facial hair).

And the winner is…

The Artist

He’s no John Williams, but Mr. Bource pretty much wrote the “dialogue” for this film.  You win, sir.  Duh: Pair with a Bordeaux.

 

MAKEUP

ALBERT NOBBS

Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin

THE IRON LADY

Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

And the winner is…

Albert Nobbs

Convincing gender-bending is always impressive.  Didn’t the makeup crew from “Tootsie” win this one back in the day?  Pair with an unconventional red blend.

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

BULLHEAD

Belgium

FOOTNOTE

Israel

IN DARKNESS

Poland

MONSIEUR LAZHAR

Canada

A SEPARATION

Iran

Admit it: none of us have seen any of these films, right?  Right.  I’m also a little worried that the Academy is stoking the real-world tensions between two nations in the Middle East by putting Footnote and A Separation in the same category to compete.  I don’t think either one of them can win.

And the winner is…

Monsieur Lazhar

I picked this one for no other reason than to comically mistype the name of the country of origin: Canadia.  Pair with a Canadian Ice Wine.

 

FILM EDITING

THE ARTIST

Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius

THE DESCENDANTS

Kevin Tent

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

HUGO

Thelma Schoonmaker

MONEYBALL

Christopher Tellefsen

And the winner is…

Hugo

This thing was in 3D and Scorsese did it, right?  I’m guessing ol’ Marty doesn’t go hiring hack editors for his first foray into 3D.  Pair with an Italian Sangiovese.

 

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

THE BARBER OF BIRMINGHAM: FOOT SOLDIER OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin

GOD IS THE BIGGER ELVIS

Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson

INCIDENT IN NEW BAGHDAD

James Spione

SAVING FACE

Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

THE TSUNAMI AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM

Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

And the winner is…

God Is The Bigger Elvis

I have no idea what this film is about, but taking on Elvis is risky in this day and age, and the Academy likes edgy, controversial films.  Pair with a Southern Strawberry, Cherry, or Watermelon wine.

 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

HELL AND BACK AGAIN

Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner

IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman

PARADISE LOST 3: PURGATORY

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

PINA

Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel

UNDEFEATED

TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Man, I am totally out of my depth here.  I had no idea that any of these films existed until yesterday.  Here’s what I am assuming each one of these films is about:

Hell And Back Again:  This follows the film crew for the Jersey Shore season in Italy.  Sort of a “film within a reality show”-type thing.  While that crew may deserve a medal, any audiovisual evidence of that train wreck of an idea doesn’t deserve accolades.

If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front:  I think it’s obvious that this film is about some hippies running around chaining themselves to vegetation, most dramatically, vegetation in the destructive path of emission-spewing, earth-killing heavy equipment driven by some dude named Joe that’s just trying to put food on the table for his family.  In an interesting twist, the film actually follows the guys that suffer the protestations of above-mentioned hippies, as once filming of this one started, the filmmakers realized that Jack Donaghy’s advice to Liz Lemon was good: “Never go with a hippie to a second location.”

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory:  The first installment of the short story I had to read in high school was difficult to understand.  I’m sure the film version of this sequel is, too—especially as a documentary.

Pina:  Is about the waning pineapple industry in Hawaii and how it affects indigenous peoples.  This is the type of film the guys that did “Tree Falls” set out to make.

Undefeated:  The story of a random 1972 Miami Dolphin’s struggle with the latent effects of traumatic head injury.

And the winner is…

If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

The Academy gives these guys the nod for “letting the film make itself” in this collision of art and life (at least in my made-up subject line).  Pair with an organic Argentine Malbec.

 

DIRECTING

THE ARTIST

Michel Hazanavicius

THE DESCENDANTS

Alexander Payne

HUGO

Martin Scorsese

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Woody Allen

THE TREE OF LIFE

Terrence Malick

This is a tough one.  Scorcese is a favorite (maybe not of the Academy, but of people), but he only directed computer machine graphics in this one.  I mean, how hard could that be for the guy who directed Taxi Driver?  Terrence Malick had the talents of Mr. Angelina Jolie and the 1st Ex-Mr. Madonna to work with—it’s not like he was directing a feature length film with the cast of What’s Happening!/What’s Happening Now!

And the winner is…

The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius

This guy (really—he’s a guy—the French have unisex names, which makes you think a little harder about that Beatles song you like so bad, doesn’t it?) directed a film with NO dialogue and premiered it to rave reviews.  In a time when attention spans are shorter than Eddie Murphy’s (multiple choice) A) Singing career or B) Stint as 2012 Oscar host, this man made people not only pay to see, but sit through a dialogue-less movie.  Bravo, monsieur!  Pair with a White Burgundy.

 

COSTUME DESIGN

ANONYMOUS

Lisy Christl

THE ARTIST

Mark Bridges

HUGO

Sandy Powell

JANE EYRE

Michael O’Connor

W.E.

Arianne Phillips

Sorry, Hugo, but how does an animated feature get a nom for costume design?  It would be like Emmy recognizing FX’s Wilfred as “Best Reality Show.”  Odd.

And the winner is…

Anonymous

It’s the one set in the oldest time period, and the Academy loves period costuming. Congratulations, Lisy Christl!  Just for fun:  Pair with a wine you’ve never heard of.

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

THE ARTIST

Guillaume Schiffman

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

Jeff Cronenweth

HUGO

Robert Richardson

THE TREE OF LIFE

Emmanuel Lubezki

WAR HORSE

Janusz Kaminski

And the winner is…

War Horse

It’s hard to compete with a Spielberg-directed film about war in the amazing camera work department.  Like Scorsese, this guy doesn’t hire hacks to shoot his epic films.  Pair with a German Riesling.

 

ART DIRECTION

THE ARTIST

Production Design: Laurence Bennett Set Decoration: Robert Gould

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 Production Design: Stuart Craig Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan

HUGO

Production Design: Dante Ferretti Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Production Design: Anne Seibel Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil

WAR HORSE

Production Design: Rick Carter Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

And the winner is…

Hugo

I’m not 100% sure what elements are judged for the purposes of awarding the Art Direction statue, but I gotta think (at least from what I’ve seen on trailers) there’s no beating Scorsese perfecting 3D.  Pair with a Nebbiolo.

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

A CAT IN PARIS

Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli

CHICO & RITA

Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal

KUNG FU PANDA 2

Jennifer Yuh Nelson

PUSS IN BOOTS

Chris Miller

RANGO

Gore Verbinski

I think the inclusion of this award since 2001 has given “The Mouse” license to make more and more animated features that it wants you to think are somehow based on a classic Disney story you haven’t thought about in years.  I’m not against animated features, but I haven’t seen one in the theater since Aladdin.

And the winner is…

Chico & Rita

In an attempt to not appear “animalists,” the Academy picks the only film in the category about peoplePair with a Tempranillo.

 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Bérénice Bejo

THE ARTIST

Jessica Chastain

THE HELP

Melissa McCarthy

BRIDESMAIDS

Janet McTeer

ALBERT NOBBS

Octavia Spencer

THE HELP

Think about this: you’re so good in a movie starring Glenn Close—as an actress playing a man no less—that you’re nominated for an Academy Award.  That’s a great day at the office, right?  Too bad you’re not winning it in this strong category.  I’m sure everyone in The Artist should be (if they weren’t, ’cause it seems the list of noms for this movie runs long) nominated for something, so congrats for the “also-ran” status, Bérénice Bejo!  The big story here, at least to me, is Melissa McCarthy.  She got a nod from the Academy for an R-rated “Raunch-Com.”  That must have been one amazing performance.  I like her on Mike and Molly, and she’s pretty funny in person on the late night talkers.  And she’s adorable.  Good job!  Maybe you’ll get another nod for Bridesmaids 2:  Bouquet Boogaloo for 2013.

And the winner is…

Octavia Spencer, The Help

            She’s got a cool name; her accent is authentic; and she’s just so darn cute and endearing.  And her performance (at least in the trailers and clips on the late night talk shows) was ah-mah-zing!  Pair with any wine that makes you happy.

 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Glenn Close

ALBERT NOBBS

Viola Davis

THE HELP

Rooney Mara

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

Meryl Streep

THE IRON LADY

Michelle Williams

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN

Glenn Close played a dude; Viola Davis captured our hearts and emotions; Rooney Mara creeped us out a bit, and Michelle Williams became Norma Jean.  Too bad those performances come in a year when Meryl Streep decided to do a movie…

And the winner is…

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

I think this pick pretty much speaks for itself.  The only thing that would be surprising here is if, in her acceptance speech, she announces her next project—directed by Scorsese—where she will play every single character (not just main, but backgrounds, too) in a real-time big-screen retelling of the entire history of humankind to the present, after which the entire rest of Hollywood retires.  Pair with a chilled Seyval Blanc.

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Kenneth Branagh

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN

Jonah Hill

MONEYBALL

Nick Nolte

WARRIOR

Christopher Plummer

BEGINNERS

Max von Sydow

EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE

Interesting lineup in this category.  I’ve heard Moneyball was a fine enough film, but who can take Jonah Hill seriously quite yet?  Kenneth Branagh is probably not as recognized as he could (or should) be.  We know (even if, like me, we haven’t actually seen any of these movies) that Nick Nolte can play a role, too.  To me, this one comes down to two well-seasoned actors—one you know well and one you see on a screen (large or small) and say “oh look, it’s that guy.”  On a side note: I’m a little shocked that the dog from The Artist wasn’t nominated in this category.

And the winner is…

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Who doesn’t know this guy can act?  Apparently, The Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t for about 134 years.  Righting many past wrongs, the Academy bestows the Oscar on Plummer this year for two reasons: 1) A great performance in Beginners, and B) For never having nominated him for anything else EVER. Glückwünsche, Captain von Trapp!  Pair with an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.

 

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Demián Bichir

A BETTER LIFE

George Clooney

THE DESCENDANTS

Jean Dujardin

THE ARTIST

Gary Oldman

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY

Brad Pitt

MONEYBALL

And the winner is…

Jean Dujardin, The Artist

How can the Academy not like this guy?  He may seem to be the “flavor of the month” at the moment, but I bet he gets a few cherry roles over the next couple of years.  He’s like a handsome Gerard Depardiue.  Pair with a Crémant de Bourgogne.

 

BEST PICTURE

THE ARTIST

Thomas Langmann, Producer

THE DESCENDANTS

Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers

EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE

Scott Rudin, Producer

THE HELP

Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers

HUGO

Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers

MONEYBALL

Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers

THE TREE OF LIFE

Nominees to be determined

WAR HORSE

Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

There are a ton of movies in this category, all of which I’m sure I’ll at least intend to watch when they hit cable.  It’s hard to compete with (or choose between) films produced by Scorsese or Spielberg; or films with a cast anchored by Hanks or Clooney.  But one film did…

And the winner is…

The Artist

The Academy loves fresh approaches and creativity in filmmaking—even (especially) if that ‘fresh approach’ dates back to the beginning of moviemaking itself.  This movie has it all:  a handsome leading man, a swooning woman, and a cute dog.  What was the best part of this movie, though?  A pretty lady that doesn’t speak!  (insert rim shot here).  Seriously, this was a great risk of a film that paid off big time and reminded us that even in moviemaking, everything old is new again.  Pair with the best bottle of Champagne you can find (or afford)!

Cheers from the Media Lounge at CorkEnvy,

Stub