Friday, March 8, 2024

Is this Oscar's most predictable year?

  Oscar looms and the suspense is ... well... minimal.
  Film critics usually make Oscar predictions, but this year the exercise seems superfluous. There's so much agreement among prognosticators that the evening -- should it unfold as expected -- may be one of the least surprising in Oscar's 95-year history.
  Peruse the work of Oscar's many mavens and you'll find consensus in most categories. In this case,  I see no reason to dissent.
   So here's what's likely to happen Sunday night (March 10):
   Oppenheimer will win the Oscar for best picture.     Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer) will win best director. Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer) will win best actor. Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon) will win best actress. Robert Downey Jr. (Oppenheimer) will win best supporting actor. Da'Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers) will win best supporting actress. 
   Best original screenplay will go to Anatomy of a Fall, and American Fiction should land the prize for best adapted screenplay.
   For me, the only mild surprise can be found in the best-actress category. Until Gladstone won the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) award for best actress, I thought Emma Stone (Poor Things) was the frontrunner.
   I suppose Stone's insanely courageous performance in Poor Things still could carry the day. Am I hedging? A bit.
   Another question nags. Could Paul Giamatti's popularity bring an upset in the best-actor category? Giamatti created a memorable character in The Holdovers, and the Academy might want to honor an established pro who always delivers and who seems to be one the most unassuming people in show business.
   I hope that doesn't sound condescending. Giamatti is a terrific actor, as are the rest of the nominees in this category: Bradley Cooper, Colman Domingo, and Jeffrey Wright.
   Aside from hoping that the show, again hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, won't break the three-hour mark, I have no rooting interests. There's no need for the Academy Awards broadcast to take as long as it took Nolan to tell the story of the invention of the atomic bomb.
  One footnote: Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong on all counts. What an Oscar telecast that would be.
  Happy viewing.

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