Oscar guesses: Anglophilia versus Yankee ingenuity
BY DENNIS KING
Each year, we begin our obligatory pre-Oscar guessing game with the same disclaimer:
In our 20-plus years of babbling about movies in print, we confess to a pretty paltry track record at predicting Oscar winners.
The average popcorn Joe predicting in the average Oscar office pool probably has as much success at picking winners as me. In fact, we have one acquaintance that once won his office pool with 100 percent correct guesses, even though he hadn’t seen a single film that was nominated. The expertise of complete ignorance!
Guessing Oscar winners is not a function of movie knowledge, keen insight, analytical prowess or anything like that. And idiosyncratic tastes in movies often lead to quirky predictions when it comes Oscar time (I’d much rather cast my lot with the low-budget underdog than the fabulous front-runner). That, and the fact that reading the tea leaves on how 5,700 or so official Oscar voters will vote (they are indeed an insular bunch) is sheer folly.
My favorite axiom on Oscar expertise is drawn from that brilliant screenwriter and two-time Oscar-winner William Goldman (“All the President’s Men,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”), who famously wrote, “In Hollywood, nobody knows anything.” And he should know.
So, that said, here’s what I know (guess!) about the 83rd Academy Awards to be presented Sunday evening in an overstuffed ceremony airing on ABC from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre.
Best actress in a supporting role: Melissa Leo, “The Fighter.” The Academy’s actors’ branch is the largest and most politically fragmented voting body, and it’s often in supporting categories that upsets and surprises occur. But Leo wowed everyone with her tough presence as the controlling ring mother in this tough movie. So barring an upset by Helena Bonham Carter due to a “King’s Speech” landslide or a sneak-in by the precocious “True Grit” youngster Hailee Steinfield the statuette should go to the deserving veteran Leo.
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