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The Gurus o' Gold collective of Oscar dorks (yours truly included) at Movie City News have offered up final-ish predictions. I imagine David Poland will give us all an opportunity to change this or that, and certainly, my own picks aren't final until the Friday or Saturday before the show, but for the most part, these are where the chips lie.
No one is betting against "The Artist" winning Best Picture and Best Director at the moment. The only George Clooney holdouts in Best Actor are Grantland's Mark Harris, Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger and The Wrap's Steve Pond, three smart guys in this game so that raises my eyebrow. Karger's colleague Anthony Breznican, though, is way out on a limb for Demián Bichir. The rest of us are picking Jean Dujardin.
The Toronto Star's Peter Howell and the LA Times' Greg Olsen seem to think Meryl Streep will pull off the Best Actress win over Viola Davis, while everyone agrees Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer will triumph in the supporting categories.
In Best Adapted Screenplay, things get slightly more interesting. Poland and Karger are springing for "Hugo" while Harris is springing for "Moneyball." The rest of us are sticking with "The Descendants," but something tells me "Hugo" might wind up on top there. Everyone is betting on Woody Allen to steal the Best Original Screenplay win away from "The Artist," which is actually interesting. Well, not everyone. Howell somehow thinks "A Separation" has more than a snowball's chance.
Speaking of "A Separation," everyone but HitFix's Greg Ellwood is banking on the film to win the Best Foreign Language Film prize. (Ellwood is putting his chips on "Monsieur Lazhar," which is not at all a bad guess.) And "Rango" is the expected animated feature victor across the board.
As for Best Documentary Feature, things are all over the place. Seven of us are picking "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory," which is surely a mixture of anticipating timeliness to play a part and the fact the film really is a great distillation of everything the series has offered. No one is picking my current back-up in the field, "Hell and Back Again," but Deadline's Pete Hammond is currently betting on "Undefeated" (as good a pick as any). The rest are banking on Wim Wenders's "Pina" to take it. The lesson here is that this category could go any which way. More in the doc feature Oscar Guide next week.
In the below-the-line categories, things get even more spread out. The only category we all agree on is Best Art Direction, which each of us foresee going to "Hugo."
In the cinematography department, most are naturally picking "The Tree of Life," but Hammond, Awards Daily's Sasha Stone and I are going with "Hugo." But that's not the second-place film in the predictions: "The Artist" is, though that's just because it's just about everyone's back-up pick. Only USA Today's Susan Wloszczyna is currently betting on the black and white to seal the deal.
Best Costume Design is also rather all over the place. Most are expecting "Hugo" to pull it out, but a few of us have doubts. Ellwood, Movieline's Stu VanAirsdale and I are currently picking "Anonymous" (though I am by no means locked in), Stone is picking "The Artist" and Karger and Poland are picking "Jane Eyre."
"Hugo" is coming out on top, just barely, for Best Editing. It's almost an even split between that and "The Artist," which I, along with Ellwood, Karger, Pond and EW's Breznican are predicting. The only peripheral pick is VanAirsdale's choice of "Moneyball."
Best Makeup is mostly "The Iron Lady," though Breznican, Karger and Poland are all picking "Albert Nobbs." Hammond and Pond are (interestingly) going with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2." Meanwhile, Best Original Score is all about "The Artist" (with Breznican's "Hugo" pick being the lone holdout).
Best Original Song is also largely decided, with almost everyone expecting "Man or Muppet" to prevail. But Stone is somehow on a limb for "Real in Rio." (It's not a terrible call or anything, mind you, as I could see it happening. Nevertheless, knowing Stone's well-documented anti-Muppet thing, I wonder if she just couldn't bring herself to join the consensus there.)
As usual, the sound categories are all over the place. "Hugo" came out on top in both fields, though. In Best Sound Editing, though, Breznican, Ellwood, VanAirsdale and Wloszczyna are bravely picking "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." (This is actually the category I think it would win of the two, if any.) Hammond, Harris, Poland and I are on the "War Horse" train here, while Stone is picking "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."
Stone is also the only one picking "Dragon Tattoo" for Best Sound Mixing, while VanAirsdale and Wloszczyna are going with "Transformers" (each of them, then, banking on it to win both categories). Things are more of an even split between "Hugo" and "War Horse" here, though, with Breznican, Howell, Karger, Olsen, Pond and Thompson on Hollywood's Anne Thompson taking the former, the rest of us taking the latter.
And finally, Best Visual Effects. Most of us are sticking with "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" here, but Karger, Poland and Stone are opting for "Hugo." Something tells me they could be right, as this category feels ripe for an upset.
So, in a nutshell, these are the Gurus' calls:
Best Picture: "The Artist"
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist"
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, "The Artist"
Best Actress: Viola Davis, "The Help"
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, "Beginners"
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, "The Help"
Best Adapted Screenplay: "The Descendants"
Best Original Screenplay: "Midnight in Paris"
Best Art Direction: "Hugo"
Best Cinematography: "The Tree of Life"
Best Costume Design: "Hugo"
Best Film Editing: "Hugo"
Best Makeup: "The Iron Lady"
Best Music (Original Score): "The Artist"
Best Music (Original Song): "The Muppets"
Best Sound Editing: "Hugo"
Best Sound Mixing: "Hugo"
Best Visual Effects: "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
Best Animated Feature Film: "Rango"
Best Documentary Feature: "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory"
Best Foreign Language Film: "A Separation"
So, five wins for "Hugo" to four for "The Artist." I guess all of this isn't a bad way to go if you're wanting to enter an idle pool, but the Gurus are neve 100%, obviously, so some of these will certainly be off.
We'll continue to analyze each field as best we can via the daily Oscar Guide series (which as of Thursday's Best Documentary Short entry has reached the half-way point). Follow those for more insights along the way to Oscar's big night on February 26.
Which of the Gurus' picks do you think they have wrong? What needs to be tweaked from that list of predicted winners? Have your say in the comments section below!
For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.
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