My Prediction of the Academy Awards: Results

Well yesterday the Academy Awards Ceremony commenced and the winners were announced. Over a month ago I posted my predictions on the Studycove forums, which you can find here. I like to play a game called the Oscar Prediction Game, which is a score based game where you have to predict the Oscar Winners to get the lowest score. To get the full rules, Rocketboom made this video for the 2009 Oscars:

So now here I’ll tally up my scores, I’ll give my prediction, the actual winner and maybe a few comments on what I thought of the winner.

Best Picture:

Prediction: The King’s Speech

Winner: The King’s Speech (Score: 1 Point)

The film is actually brilliant, I don’t see why some people think it’s an OK film that has Oscar Bait.

Best Director:

Prediction: David Fincher (The Social Network)

Winner: Tom Hooper (Score: 3 points)

While I liked The King’s Speech over The Social Network, I felt that The Social Network was really well created, and since Fincher won a Golden Globe for directing he deserved an Oscar.

Best Actor:

Prediction: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)

Winner: Colin Firth (Score: 1 point)

I didn’t really know much about Colin Firth outside Bridget Jones’ Diary, although seeing him in the King’s Speech reminded me that he kicked a dog into a Lawnmower in St Trinian’s, I hope he didn’t have that role on his CV during casting.

Best Actress:

Prediction: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Winner: Natalie Portman (Score: 1 point)

My god that was the most predictable winner in this whole award.

Best Supporting Actor:

Prediction: Christian Bale (The Fighter)

Winner: Christian Bale (Score: 1 point)

Best Supporting Actress:

Prediction: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)

Winner: Melissa Leo (The Fighter) (Score: 3 points)

While this was a predictable award to some, I still wish Steinfeld won this award, she did a good job.

Best Original Screenplay:

Prediction: The King’s Speech

Winner: The King’s Speech (Score: 1 point)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Prediction: The Social Network

Winner: The Social Network (Score: 1 point)

Best Animated Feature:

Prediction: Toy Story 3

Winner: Toy Story 3 (Score: 1 point)

Bring the nomination count up to five PERMANENTLY NEXT YEAR!

Best Foreign Film:

Prediction: Biutiful

Winner: In a Better World (Score: 2 points)

I’m surprised with this one, I heard so much about how good Biutiful was and it didn’t win.

Best Documentary Feature:

Prediction: Inside Job

Winner: Inside Job (Score: 1 point)

This was entirely a guess, even Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop was my least likeliest choice.

Best Documentary Short:

Prediction: Poster Girl

Winner: Strangers No More (Score: 4 points)

Best Live Action Short:

Prediction: The Crush

Winner: God of Love (Score: 2 points)

Best Animated Short:

Prediction: Day & Night

Winner: The Lost Thing (Score: 3 points)

I really wanted Day & Night to win, I loved watching it when at the cinema for Toy Story 3.

Best Original Score:

Prediction: The Social Network

Winner: The Social Network (Score: 1 point)

I will never in my life, forgive the Academy for this treachery, where the hell was Tron: Legacy in the nomination list? Wasn’t it considered the most original and creative soundtrack of the year or something?

Best Original Song:

Prediction: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3)

Winner: We Belong Together (Toy Story 3) (Score: 1 point)

Best Sound Editing:

Prediction: Tron Legacy

Winner: Inception (Score: 2 points)

Best Sound Mixing:

Prediction: Inception

Winner: Inception (Score: 2 points)

I know I predicted Social Network, Hans Zimmer should’ve deserved another Academy Award.

Best Art Direction:

Prediction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Winner: Alice in Wonderland (Score: 3 points)

Why did I predict Harry Potter? I never saw that movie.

Best Cinematography:

Prediction: Black Swan

Winner: Inception (Score: 3 points)

Best Makeup:

Prediction: The Way Back

Winner: The Wolfman (Score: 2 points)

Was The Wolfman actual makeup? Not CGI like it looked?

Best Costume Design:

Prediction: True Grit

Winner: Alice in Wonderland (Score: 2 points)

Ah of course, why didn’t I predict the Tim Burton movie for Costume Design?

Best Visual Effects:

Prediction: Inception

Winner: Inception (Score: 1 point)

I know in the post that it says Best Film Editing, but the nominees I predicted were for Best Visual Effects and I forgot to put down a prediction for film editing and got mixed up, silly I know but I’ll give myself a 5 point penalty for missing a prediction.

Results: So the lowest possible score is 24 points. My score is…

42!

Not to mention 11 out of 24 winners predicted accurately!

Wow I didn’t expect to improve that much! I’m ready to play next year then!

The JesuOtaku Dilemma

OK I need to come clean with this for those readers that haven’t guessed already. I am a fan of an anime reviewer known as JesuOtaku. She is a member of a group of anime reviewers called the DesuDes Brigade (or D2Brigade for short) who has reviewed a range of anime such as Cowboy Bebop, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Midori Days and has been doing Digimon Retrospectives. I enjoy watching her reviews and it’s because of her that I’ve tried out some anime shows I normally wouldn’t, such as Star Driver and Midori Days, obviously some I now enjoy and some that annoy me.

So when I first decided I would try reviewing Studio Ghibli movies, I wasn’t really sure on what was the best way for me to review it. So I “took” JesuOtaku’s style, changed it slightly, added a section for development history, because I think it’s good that readers can understand a bit more than what someone thought of a movie, and since I got more comfortable using that style I stuck with it. It’s kind of embarrasing to admit and I give my apologies to JO for being the plagiarizer that I am.

Now when I first heard of it being considered for the Acadamy Awards, I preordered a copy of Maramou Hasada’s newest hits Summer Wars in the interest of seeing what it’s like and wanting to review it. Then only last week I found out from watching JO’s Anime Review of Chobits that she was going to review the exact same movie. So now I’m worried that whatever I say in my review, it’s going to be compared to hers. So now I’m wandering if I should still review it and just hold of watching hers or simply not do it at all.

Since being in the UK, I will have to wait for a little over a month before getting to see it myself, it’s gonna be a long wait, but if it means being fair and not a complete copycat then I guess it’s time to be patient.

In the meantime for everyone else, check out her page here and her review of Summer Wars is currently on ThatGuywiththeGlasses.com but I expect it’ll be up on D2Brigade soon.

Review: The Illusionist

My review of The Illusionist is up on Studycove! I did plan on having this as part of my Oscar Nominees month, but since the award ceremony hasn’t happened yet I decided not to count it and reviewed Jimmy Neutron instead. But if I didn’t review it for an Oscar special doesn’t mean I can’t review it at all so here it is! Click the poster to head straight to the review.

My Problem with: Animation and the Awards

As many movie goers know, and those who’ve read my most recent reviews would tell, the 83rd Academy Awards is arriving and less than a week, the awards ceremony will begin and the awards will be announced and given to people who worked hard to create the best movies they can produce. I’ve mentioned before that despite it’s predictability and artistic views, I enjoy the Academy Awards, and being a fan of animation, one of my favourite awards is for Best Animated Feature.

For this year, there are three nominations: Toy Story 3 (2010’s highest grossing film and what is considered the greatest conclusion to an animated trilogy), How to Train Your Dragon (A Great Fantasy film about the relationship between humans and dragons and in my opinion, Dreamworks best movie since Shrek 2) and The Illusionist (a story about a struggling performer who decides to give her supporter a happy life). Some of you maybe asking “Wasn’t there five nominations last year? Why are there three?” or “How come there are three nominations and sometimes five?”

This is because there’s an upper and lower threshold of the amount of considered animated feature films that effects the amount of nominees. If there are 8 animated features that are accepted into consideration, then the Award is given, if there are 16 or more , then the amount of nominees is increased from three to five. For the 2009 Awards, the Academy accepted 20 films including the nominees as well as 9, Battle for Tera, Ponyo and others, so for the second time they increased the nominees to five. However this year, the amount of accepted animated features was 15, (Nominations + Alpha & Omega, Cats & Dogs 2, Despicible Me, The Dreams of Jinsha, Idiots and Angels, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, Megamind, My Dog Tulip, Shrek Forever After, Summer Wars, Tangled, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue).

As far as I’ve researched, no other Academy Award or Award Ceremony has this kind of threshold, and it is the most unfair rules the Academy has. My guess is that the threshold is there incase there aren’t enough animated films to be worthy of being nominated to deduct to five, but why is the threshold so high, why do they require 16 and not 10 films for instance? The main reason I hear from people is that basically, the Academy hates animated films, and while I can point the finger to what’s wrong with modern animated films, it still means they are missing out on some of the most artistic, visually stunning, story driven or even creative films of the year, and not give enought limelight to the ones that do. But despite that, animated features didn’t have much credit in the awards ceremony until recently.

Since the beginning of the Academy Awards, only animated shorts were given it’s own award treatment since 1932. While it’s true that some animated films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and An American Tail got at least one nomination, it was only for music related awards such as Best Original Song, Best Music or Sound Mixing/Editing, except when they give a special award. To be honest, I always thought especially in the early days they would’ve nominated animated films for Best Visual Effects, since it can be considered an artistic achievement but the closest films were Mary Poppins and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which intergrated with live-action. It wasn’t until 1991 when Beauty and the Beast got nomiated for four awards including Best Picture, and won two for its music, that animation was considered on par with live-action films. Even between that gap, the Academy missed out on some great animated features from Disney, Don Bluth, Paul Grimault, Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata and others.

None of these were even nominated an Oscar

The Academy finally made the Best Animated Feature in 2002. Due to their popularity in 2001, the two obvious choices for nominees were Pixar’s Monster’s Inc and Dreamworks’ Shrek, and despite considerations towards Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, Pokemon 3: The Movie (Yes even Pokemon was considered for the awards) and others, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius was given the third nomination. I guess they were chosen for their financial success more than whether they were artistic achievements or their great story, since the three nominations made loads of money at the box office while Vampire Hunter D had a limited release, Atlantis only broke even, Final Fantasy Bombed, Pokemon 3 didn’t make as money as the first two films and who actually remembers Monkeybone. Yet despite that, the Academy missed some of the foreign releases from France, Spain and Germany.

Later years had recognition for the foreign animated films for the award, 2003’s winner was the Japanese Spirited Away, 2004 had it’s first French nominee (Triplettes of Belleville), 2005 had it’s first British winner (Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) and 2009 had it’s first Irish Nomination (The Secret of Kells). But there were still problems. In the 81st Academy Awards there was controversy regarding Wall-E, a critically acclaimed film that was considered the best film of 2008, recieved six nominations, yet no Best Picture. People believed that the Best Animated Feature award was an excuse not to nominate an animated feature for Best Picture, this isn’t true as the Academy Award treats Best Picture as the award for the best overall film, and that includes animation, both Toy Story 3 and Up have been nominated for both for example.

The Golden Globes on the other hand have a rule that states that no film nominated for Best Animated Feature can be nominated for any Best Picture Award, including Best Picture for Musical & Comedy, and vice-versa. I can see why because the Golden Globe separates there major awards into Genres, so more films have a chance to win a top award, but it does get people confused and annoyed since there have been animated films nominated for Best Picture, but aren’t allowed to be nominated for Best Animated Feature.

I wonder why I never hear much of the Annie Awards, it’s an entire award ceremony dedicated to the international achievements of animation in Films, TV and even Video Games. All voting is done by an international association of animation (ASIFA), a board which includes Professionals, students and even fans of the world of animation, I would join if I could afford the membership fee (it’s $100/year for non-US members). Yet I never hear it on the news and I never find out when the next ceremony or there nomination announcements.

EDIT: I’ve just found out from quite a few video discussions that the Annie Awards are accused of being rigged/biased towards Dreamworks and Nickolodean. This is because last year and for previous years, both companies were major sponsors of the awards, while other companies such as Disney and Pixar weren’t. Coincidentally, Dreamworks last year won half of the 24 categories and Nickolodean won a good amount too, while Disney only recieved 7 nominations and only won one award. Therefore its unreliability probably is the reason why they don’t recieve much attention. I’d like to refer to ElectricDragon505’s video below for the full info.

If people in the movie industry see how well the animation industry is doing, especially since Pixar made 2010’s highest grossing film, I don’t see why they can’t give their awards more recognition. I would want to see the nomination number increased to five permanently, and if not, decrease that stupidly high threshold. I would also want to see more animated films from other countries get submitted because I do believe there is real gold to find in places other than the US and Japan.

So I went to a local music store and…

…for £35 I bought this:

What went through my mind was “8 animated features by the greatest American animation studio, plus a collection of their award winning shorts and a documentary for £3.50 a disk?” I’m sold!

I haven’t had a look at the films yet, but since the only one I haven’t seen is Cars I know what they are like, I’m more intrigued about the Documentary and the Shorts Collection. Sadly for an Ultimate Collection, it doesn’t have Wall-E, Up or Toy Story 3, not to mention the shorts related to those including Day & Night, so I’ll have to find a way to get those without paying a ludicrous price.

My Problem with CGI Films

As readers of Studycove will definitely know, I rarely review CGI films. So far I’ve only reviewed two, one of which was for my “Oscar Nominations Month”. Considering that CGI films have been around for almost twenty years now, people may be wondering why I have avoided films done by Pixar, Dreamworks and others, and have been doing films by Madhouse, Ghibli or more recently, Les Armateurs and Cartoon Saloon. Well mainly it’s because I haven’t actually watched as many, and for a lengthy reason.

I’m guessing if you watched TV in the 1990s you’ve at least heard of Animaniacs, it was a Warner Bros animated TV show consisting of several mini-shows, most famous of which involved the Warner siblings Yakko, Wakko and Dot, Pinky and the Brain and Slappy Squirrel. It’s main style of humour and entertainment was satirising the more older Warner Bros cartoons, pop culture references and gags, the occasional puns and risque jokes. It’s predecessor, Tiny Toon Adventures, did it first but Animaniacs did it better in many people’s opinion.

Then fast forward to 2001 and despite making the commercially successful features Antz (which I actually think is criminally overshadowed by Bug’s Life) and Prince of Egypt, Dreamworks Animation finally gains international recognition with Shrek, a film which satirises classic Fairy Tale Stories, uses pop culture references and risque jokes, does that sound familiar? In fairness, Shrek was a fun movie. You had Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy at their best, there were good jokes and the whole idea that you don’t have to be a handsome prince and a beautiful princess to have fairy tale romance was a change of pace and a twist on the fairy tale formula.

Since it was clear that CGI films are gaining more interest and the structure they had works it was inevitable that a sequel was in the works. Like the original, Skrek 2 was also a fun movie because it still had tricks up its sleeve, had other great actors like John Cleese involved. It’s only flaw, not a glaring one at this point however, was that it’s main entertainment value was the exact same as the first. Then came Shark Tale which did the same instead using fish and city life, the Madagascar with Zoo Animals stranded on an island, Over the Hedge with forest animals in modern day suburbia and so on. Basically, what made me gave up on Dreamworks was that outside of characters and plot, there was nothing really unique or special about what we got on the table, and it had gotten to the point where it was really predictable. While I did watch Flushed Away and had a “meh” reaction, and I found Kung Fu Panda enjoyable when I saw it one year after it’s release, my view on Dreamworks animation made me initially skip later releases and sequels, one of which unfortunately was How to Train Your Dragon which I was glad to see that it moved away from the typical satire and pop culture.

What bothered me was that it wasn’t just Dreamworks that was using this. Blue Sky Studios made Ice Age, which had lovable characters, good humour and even a fun sidestory that added to the original plot. Then you had Ice Age: The Meltdown which for reasons which still baffel me why there was unnecessary pop culture references at all, then came Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs which I swear went too far with pop culture and risque humour. Then there barely remembered Robots had the same thing with mild success. Despite the good things I’ve seen from Horton Hears a Who I hope they don’t go the same route with their upcoming title Rio.

So you might be asking what point am I trying to make? What do I think these CGI films need to be like? What about studios that don’t do these? Or simply, what about Pixar?

Well since it’s impossible for one person like me to change an entire industry, I will at least make some points.

  1. Stop Relying on Popular Culture: If animation wants to be taken as seriously as it did several years ago, it should stop going to the lowest denominator of humour entertain audiences. If watching foreign animated films has taught me something, you don’t need to have humour in a film in order to make it worth watching, and even if you want humour, pop culture isn’t the only way, so why do several CGI films have so many of them?Now I know why they are used, it’s as simple as adding two small numbers, this is something everyone knows about, make it funny so everyone will get it. I’m not saying to remove it altogether, since if it can fit well into a scene and there is effort in it to make it worthwhile, it works. A good example is the Anime Parody Scene in Horton Hears a Who, everyone I knew who saw the film mentioned it as being one of the funniest scenes in the movie.
  2. Tone down the Risque Jokes: Is there this mental stereotype in America that animation is just for kids and the only way for adults to be entertained by them is to add mature jokes every now and then. If they are subtle, so only those who actually get it can have a chuckle at it knowing other people couldn’t, then it’s not a problem. If it isn’t however, it’s makes a movie more immature than funny.
  3. Don’t Repeat, If Not Needed: At the end of the day, not every film can be or has to become a franchise. If you want to set up your film to at least have an open ending for the possibility of a sequel, go ahead because I won’t hurt you for it. If you do make a sequel, make sure it is a sequel. By this I mean nake sure it follows on from the original, make sure you add further development to the characters and show that the two films link together tightly. You can even get a third film to work if you keep up the process but if you want it to be positively remembered in the long run outside of making lots of money, make sure that when it’s clear that it has ended, IT HAS ENDED. After that, move on to something new so your audience has something refreshing to look forward to.

Now with good CGI films such as ones from Pixar studios. Yes I watch them, yes I enjoy them, yes I can see what they don’t do and I’m glad for it. Will I review them? Maybe but for the time being, no I won’t.

As a reviewer or critic, I’m a hobbyist. I don’t get paid to watch a movie and tell people why they should or shouldn’t watch this, and whether I will or not will depend if my small viewer base is good enough for someone to hire me. I watch movies because I enjoy watching movies and I write reviews because I like finding what I find good and bad and trying to explain it in a way so someone who has never seen the film before might understand if they should watch it. However, if I want to achieve that goal I’ve got to be original, give a differing opinion and bring up points that several critics don’t bring up. This was why I found it difficult to write a review on Spirited Away, it’s a film everyone knows, everyone knows how great it is and why it’s practically the only Anime film nowadays that BBC shows during the day time. This goes into the same way with Pixar movies and films as good and recognised as it, they are brilliantly animated, each new film shows a new level of CG animation and the stories are timeless, memorable and relatable no matter what the context is, so what’s new?

One day I will review more CGI films that come to me, and maybe I will find something unique to say about them when they arise. Tell me what you think of what I said and if you do have suggestions for animated films I should review, tell me in the comments.