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Friday, February 25, 2011

My 83rd Academy Award Predictions And A Few Reasons Why I'm Going to End Up Disappointed.

What do you think? 

Oscar is 83 years old but still rockin' that Mr. Clean look. 

If there's one thing we could derive from the Oscar win of the drama How Green Was My Valley over the bold and legendary cinematic feat that is Citizen Kane back in 1941, it is the impression that the Academy Awards will choose heartstrings over brain cells any year.

Citizen Kane trailer (1941)

This only goes to show that Oscar snags don't necessarily equate to cinematic and historical greatness. While Orson Welles' Citizen Kane failed to get the Oscar, it has since then been etched in the pages of cinematic history as one of the greatest movies of all time,  as opposed to How Green Was My Valley, a drama which would, throughout the 21st century, be followed by countless other dramas with the same tear-jerking film format.

In fact, How Green Was My Valley is so obscure that one would more likely take the movie title as a She Hulk porno rather than an Oscar Best Picture winner.

Now the question is: Which Oscar-nominated film this year will be the next How Green Is My Valley?

The 83rd Academy Awards will be on February 27, 2011, just three days from now.

One of my frustrations when making these annual Oscar predictions for myself is that I always end up rooting for the losers. Predicting Oscar outcomes was never my strong suit but I don't lose hope. I will always look forward to that fateful year when I will get at least a handful of predictions correct.

But don't think of it as inaccuracy on my part. I think the issue is that people just have different artistic tastes. I have love for a lot of films that have not even been nominated in any major awards ceremony.

Another problem I see is how inflexible the Academy is. The thing I've noticed about the Oscars since the time I began to invest interest in it is that there seems to be no room for edginess and bravura. When there's an inspirational film about a person overcoming personal struggles in the nomination lineup, just like this year with The King's Speech as a Best Picture nominee, then that movie is surely bound to win.

Don't think I'm making this up.This has happened before. Some Best Picture winners with story lines that revolve around struggling characters beating insurmountable personal challenges are The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, Million Dollar Baby, Forrest Gump, Schindler's List and many others.

Don't get me wrong. I love watching movies like this. The only thing that bugs me is that groundbreaking and cerebral movies which I happen to adore like this year's Black Swan, Inception and The Social Network don't stand a chance against films that appeal primarily to the viewers' heart and soul such as The King's Speech.

This is why the Oscars and I don't see eye to eye all the time. While I'm all up for cinematic ingenuity and new styles in film direction, the Academy seems to be required to give the award to an inspirationally uplifting film every time there is one. If that's the case, then they should just call the whole thing the Chicken Soup for the Soul Awards.

So this time, I'm going to give you my Oscar predictions AND films that I personally think should win in their respective categories.

Best Picture Nominees:
Black Swan
The King's Speech
Winter's Bone

    The Fighter
    True Grit
    Toy Story 3
    The Social Network
    127 Hours
    The Kids Are All Right
    The Oscar will most likely go to: THE KING'S SPEECH. It's classic Oscar gold. Everything about this movie was designed to get an Oscar win. From the story of personal triumph of the stuttering  King George VI to the cinematography to the screenplay, all screams Academy Award for Best Picture. At this point, The King's Speech has a slim chance of NOT winning. It is disappointingly predictable, as a matter of fact. Not that I hate the movie. In fact, I really loved it. It's just that, I think this time around, the Oscar should go to a film that pushes the envelope, provides a fresher take on life, something that does not adhere to the standards of the Academy, something like...
    In my opinion, they should give it to: BLACK SWAN, THE SOCIAL NETWORK or INCEPTION.  Black Swan was a marvelously crafted take on the polar tendencies of man. It was bold, artistic and disturbingly fresh. The Social Network, on the other hand, is a cerebral take on the life of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. It is fast-paced and intelligent. Inception is personally my favorite film of the year. It has everything that I could ever ask for in a movie - action, suspense, a mind-shattering story, larger-than-life special effects, ideas that will make you think for days and an interesting cast. Too bad action and sci-fi movies rarely win Best Picture.

Best Director Nominees:

  • Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan

  • Ethan Coen and Joel Coen – True Grit

  • David Fincher – The Social Network

  • Tom Hooper – The King's Speech

  • David O. Russell – The Fighter

The Oscar will most likely go to: TOM HOPPER. It's a common trend for the Academy to give this award to the director of the Best Picture. In fact, the last time a director has won this award for a movie that did not win Best Picture was way back five years ago. In 2006, Ang Lee won Best Director for Brokeback Mountain which lost the Best Picture award to Crash that year. This year, since The King's Speech has practically the Oscar Best Picture award in the bag, they might as well be taking the Best Director award with it.

In my opinion, they should give it to: DARREN ARONOFSKY. Darren Aronofsky is a master of surreal direction. What I like about Black Swan and Requiem For A Dream, which he both directed, is that these movies explore the unchartered regions of the human psyche. Aronofsky's films challenge reality as we know it. Black Swan lets us see ourselves in a different light and redefines the boundaries of the human soul. Aronofsky does all this in such a stylized manner that his films become not only a reflection of humanity, but also a blood-splattered masterpiece.

Best Actor Nominees:

Jeff Brifges (True Grit)
James Franco (127 Hours)

Colin Firth (The King's Speech)

Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)

Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
The Oscar will most likely go to: COLIN FIRTH. You think it's hard giving an Oscar-worthy performance throughout an entire movie? Try deliberately stuttering your lines while you're at it! Firth as the stuttering King George VI deserves the Best Actor award.

In my opinion, they should give it to: COLIN FIRTH. For the same reasons.

Best Actress Nominees:

Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)

Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)

Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

Annette Benning (The Kids Are All Right)

The Oscar will most likely go to: NATALIE PORTMAN. Portman portrays the fragile and sweet turned emotionally aggressive and delusional Nina Sayers in Black Swan. Portman executes the transition of Nina Sayers in the film as would a ballerina would turn from a white swan to a black swan in Swan Lake. Her bold performance in the film is riveting and scary at the same time. Portman gives deliriously spellbinding portrayal of a complex character while at the same time leaving us all on the edge of our seats as she danced in the film.

In my opinion, they should give it to: NATALIE PORTMAN.

Best Supporting Actor Nominees:

Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)

Jeremy Renner (The Town)

Christian Bale (The Fighter)

Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)

John Hawkes (Winter's Bone)

The Oscar will most likely go to: CHRISTIAN BALE. It doesn't get any rawer than Christian Bale's portrayal of Dicky Eklund in The Fighter. Bale's performance was gripping and affective and audiences will  both love and hate his role in the film.

In my opinion, they should give it to: CHRISTIAN BALE or JEREMY RENNER. Jeremy Renner also gives a breakout performance in The Town. 

Best Supporting Actress Nominees:

Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech)

Melissa Leo (The Fighter)

Amy Adams (The Fighter)

Jacki Weaver (Animal Farm)

Jackie Steinfeld (True Grit)

The Oscar will most likely go to: MELISSA LEO. I think The Fighter is an effective avenue by which actors and actresses could play meaningful and memorable characters. The story brings out the best in all the characters, including Leo, in  a way that all of them could chip in. The brilliant performances of each cast member owes a lot to the synergy and emotional connection that the actors and actresses have among each other throughout the film. And clearly, Leo is a shoo-in for the award.

In my opinion, they should give it to: MELISSA LEO. Who else?

This concludes my Oscar predictions for 2011. The contenders are pretty stronger this year than in any other year so I strongly suggest that you watch an Oscar-nominated film or ten. 

Hope you had fun reading and obrigados a todos!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Grammy Predictions for 2011

What do you think? 

The 53rd Grammy Awards is only a matter of hours away and it's that time of the year again when I predict who's going to win and who's going to disappoint.

My accuracy level in predicting Grammy outcomes is pretty okay. I've managed to correctly predict roughly 50% of the major award winners from last year's and 2009's Grammy Awards. Fingers are crossed that I'll be able to predict more accurately this year.

Here goes:

Record of the Year Nominees:
  • "Nothin' on You" - B.o.B & Bruno Mars
  • "Love the Way You Lie" - Eminem & Rihanna
  • "Fuck You" - Cee Lo Green
  • "Empire State of Mind" - Jay-Z & Alicia Keys
  • "Need You Now" - Lady Antebellum

Prediction: I'm putting all my money on "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum, just because it's the most lightweight of all the contenders and probably one of the least obvious as well. Last year, "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon took home the Grammy, beating pop giants such as Lady GaGa, Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift and Beyonce that night. In 2009, "Please Read the Letter" by Robert Plant and Allison Kraus won Record of the Year which beat huge pop and rock acts such as Coldplay, Adele, M.I.A and Leona Lewis.

If the trend of virtual dark horses winning the Record of the Year continues this year, it's most likely that Lady Antebellum will win the Grammy. Personally though, I'd choose "Nothin' On You" by B.o.B feat. Bruno Mars. It became a huge summer anthem back in 2010. But knowing the Grammys, summer anthems, or any other anthems for that matter, NEVER WIN.

Song of the Year
  • "Beg Steal or Borrow"
    • Ray LaMontagne, songwriter (Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs)
  • "Fuck You"
    • Cee Lo Green, Philip Lawrence & Bruno Mars, songwriters (Cee Lo Green)
  • "The House That Built Me"
    • Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin, songwriters (Miranda Lambert)
  • "Love the Way You Lie"
    • Alexander Grant, Holly Hafferman & Marshall Mathers, songwriters (Eminem featuring Rihanna)
  • "Need You Now"
    • Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott, songwriters (Lady Antebellum)

Prediction: This is a tough one. I couldn't see a pattern based on the songs that have previously won Song of the Year. Back in 2008, it was "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse who snagged the Grammy for Song of the Year. In 2009, it was "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay and last year, it was "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" by Beyonce. The lack of any musical trend in terms of Song of the Year winners make this one a doozy. But since the only common thing among the three previous winners is the fact that they're all Billboard Top 10 hits, I'm going to have to go with "Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum again.

If you're wondering what's the difference between Song of the Year and Record of the Year, here's a fun factoid: Song of the Year awards are awarded to the songwriter for the song's songwriting and lyrics, while Record of the Year is awarded to the artist and producer for the recording of the track itself.

Album of the Year
  • The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
  • Recovery - Eminem
  • Need You Now - Lady Antebellum
  • The Fame Monster - Lady Gaga
  • Teenage Dream - Katy Perry

Prediction: This is another difficult one. Again, there is no pattern that will allow me to discern which album will come out victorious. Last year, it was Taylor Swift's album "Fearless" (a pop/country album) who bagged the Album of the Year award. In 2009, it was "Raising Sand" by Robert Plant and Allison Kraus which was a country/folk rock album and in 2008, it was "River: The Joni Letters" by Herbie Hancock, a jazz compilation. See? No patterns.

Based on critics' reviews alone, safe to say that "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire will succeed. The album has already received worldwide acclaim and critics everywhere seem to love this Arcade Fire album. On the other hand, if "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry wins, I will lose all faith I have in the Grammys. I'm not even sure why it's nominated in the first place. The latest Katy Perry album, apparently, is too lackluster to be nominated in any award category.

Best New Artist
  • Justin Bieber
  • Drake
  • Florence & The Machine
  • Esperanza Spalding
  • Mumford & Sons

Prediction: At this point of my prediction, I will break it to you now and say that THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT JUSTIN BIEBER IS GOING TO WIN.  Not even the media allure that Justin Bieber uses to control an army of fans worldwide could secure him the Best New Artist award. Think I'm crazy? Think again. Back in 2009, a little band called THE JONAS BROTHERS also got nominated for Best New Artist. Well, guess what, legions of crazed preadolescent girls, ADELE WON THAT YEAR. Last year, it was Zac Brown Band and in 2008, it was Amy Winehouse.

This goes to show that the Grammys recognize artists, not primarily on their market value, but also for their MUSIC after all. This is bad news for The Biebs then.

Music-wise, I'm betting on Mumford and Sons to win. If Bieber, the most overrated artist in recent history, wins, I'll have to slit my wrist in protest.

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance
  • "King of Anything" - Sara Bareilles
  • "Halo" (Live) - BeyoncĂ©
  • "Chasing Pirates" - Norah Jones
  • "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga
  • "Teenage Dream" - Katy Perry

Prediction: This is a relatively easy one. I think "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga will come out triumphant. But "Chasing Pirates" by Norah Jones and the live version of "Halo" by Beyonce aren't trailing behind far either. 

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance
  • "Haven't Met You Yet" - Michael BublĂ©
  • "This Is It" - Michael Jackson
  • "Whataya Want from Me" - Adam Lambert
  • "Just the Way You Are" - Bruno Mars
  • "Half of My Heart" - John Mayer

Prediction: The future looks good for "Half of My Heart" by John Mayer. John Mayer is an annual favorite in the Grammy circle and his songs like "Daughters", "Belief" and "Say" have been nominated for and/or won Song of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal already in different Grammy Awards night in the past. This year, he will probably take home a Grammy yet again.

Those are the major awards I have the ability to predict the outcomes of. Tune in to the 53rd Grammy Awards tomorrow and let's see if I'm right there in that neighborhood or I just wasted your time with inaccurate predictions.

Obrigados a todos!