Alleged Leaker, Nate Silver, Carpetbagger, and Runnin' Scared Pick the Oscar Winners!
Yes, Carly Simon won an Oscar, but not for Costume Design. Photo by Alan Light.
The Oscars are tomorrow night, and an alleged leak of the winners is making it more interesting than usual. The Academy has denounced the list as a "complete fraud." If so, it should be exposed tomorrow, though the ever-increasing hype and analysis accompanying this competition makes guessing all the winners more likely than usual, which is probably what the obviously knowledgeable author is counting on.
Other have taken a hand at predictions, including Nate Silver, the genius sabermetrician who called the 2008 electoral college results and has handicapped the top six categories in New York magazine, and the Times' David Carr, aka The Carpetbagger, whose admission that his minor-category choices are "semi-educated guesses" just means his list is no less likely to pan out than the alleged leaker's.
We won an office pool once, and this post comes to late to tempt you to ruin yours, so Runnin' Scared is putting its terrible reputation on the line by putting our picks against the Leaker's, Silver's, and Carr's.
Picture. Leak/Silver/Carr/RS: Slumdog. Its mo and mojo are just too strong.
Actor. Leak/Silver/Carr/RS: Mickey Rourke. Ditto.
Supporting Actor. Leak/Silver/Carr/RS: Heath Ledger. Young, gifted and dead.
Actress. Leak/Silver/Carr/RS: Kate Winslet. They tell us it's her year.
Supporting Actress. Leak: Amy Adams. Silver: Taraji P. Henson. Carr: Viola Davis. RS: Penelope Cruz. Woody Allen films have won three Supporting Actress awards in the past. And comedy performances usually do well in this category, especially when the Best Picture favorite is dramatic.
Adapted screenplay. Leak: The Reader. Carr/RS: Slumdog. There's no contender strong enough to break up the traditional directing/writing victories won by most Best Pictures since the screenplay awards were broken out like this in 1956*.
Original screenplay. Leak: In Bruges. Carr: WALL-E. RS: Milk. The big gay biopic's gotta get Oscar love somewhere.
Animated Feature. Leak/Carr/RS: Wall-E. The complaints when Kung Fu Panda swept the Annies show that even the toon buffs are with this choice.
Art Direction. Leak: The Dark Knight. Carr/RS: Benjamin Button. Oscar loves multiple eras and milieus.
Cinematography. Leak/Carr/RS: Slumdog. Anthony Dod Mantle won the American Society of Cinematographers' award. Also, Best Picture winners with no acting nominees traditionally do well in the craft categories, and this is the only category where it's a clear favorite.
Costume Design. Leak/Carr: Button. RS: The Duchess. As last year's award to Elizabeth: The Golden Age showed, Academy voters are mesmerized by period costumes, and the further back they go the better they like them.
Documentary Feature. Leak/Carr: Man on Wire. RS: Encounters at the End of the World. Here's our sucker bet! The Academy is getting hipper to famous documentarians. Man on Wire is high-profile, but maybe a lot of voters will like the idea of giving an Oscar to Werner Herzog.
Documentary short. Leak: The Conscience of Nhem En. Carr/RS: Smile Pinki. Oscar voters must see the same save-a-kid-with-a-cleft-lip ads we all do, and will appreciate evidence that some of them get fixed.
Editing. Leak: Milk. Carr: Slumdog. RS: The Dark Knight. Hyperkinetic cutting plays well with Oscar voters. Some people found The Dark Knight's smash-'em-up scenes hard to follow, but Lee Smith's mix of serious and action movie credits may encourage voters to take him seriously.
Foreign Language Film. Leak: Departures. Carr/RS: Waltz with Bashir. Has a large following outside Academy screener recipients.
Makeup. Leak/Carr/RS: Benjamin Button. People came out humming the makeup.
Music (Score). Leak: Defiance. Carr/RS: Slumdog. This was the alleged leak author's canniest counterintutive stroke -- James Newton Howard is much-nominated, has never won. Of course you could say the same of Thomas Newman (WALL-E) and Danny Elfman (Milk). But people who like Slumdog always talk about the music. Maybe they think A.R. Rahman wrote "Paper Planes."
Music (Song). Leak: "Down to Earth," Wall-E. Carr/RS: "Jai Ho," Slumdog Millionaire. We have no idea and want some company if we lose.
We used a Ouija board for these -- Short film (animated). Leak/Carr: Presto. RS: La Maison en Petits Cubes. Short film (live action). Leak: Auf Der Strecke (On The Line). Carr: The Pig or Toyland. RS: New Boy. Sound Editing. Leak: WALL-E. Carr/RS: The Dark Knight. Sound Mixing. Leak/Carr: The Dark Knight. RS: Slumdog. Visual effects: Leak: Iron Man. Carr/RS: Benjamin Button.
That's it! See you in the Losers' Circle.
* In researching this fact we came across a fascinating piece of Academy Award history: "Edward Bernds and Elwood Ullman, the authors of this Bowery Boys quickie, respectfully withdrew their own names and the nomination, aware that voters had probably mistaken their film with a 1956 MGM release with the same title [High Society] written by John Patrick and starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra."