The smartest advice I've gotten about betting on the Oscars is: Don't put your money on what you like best. You're just begging to lose.
The trick is to project yourself into the head of the average Academy voter, who – wanting you to keep buying tickets – is trying to project him- or herself into your (the average moviegoer's) head. So, it's a nutty feedback loop.
Some people have said, "Why would they nominate junk like 'Joker'?" No one has a clue, especially me! But I do know "Joker" won't win Best Picture, which is fine. I thought it was one unpleasant note hit harder and harder. But Joaquin Phoenix will take Best Actor, because he's the best unhinged movie actor in the world, and he's never had a part with fewer hinges.
Cementing the idea that borderline personalities are "in" is the lock for Renée Zellweger in "Judy." She nails Judy Garland who in the end was torn between sashaying onstage or jumping out the nearest window.
The best supporting turn was by Joe Pesci in "The Irishman" in a non-Joe Pesci role – conflict-averse. But I'll still be thrilled when Brad Pitt wins for "Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood."
Laura Dern has won every other award as a calculating divorce lawyer in "Marriage Story." But the twice-nominated Scarlett Johannsen could sneak in as the classiest character in the slapstick Nazi weeper "Jo Jo Rabbit," a hodgepodge that's well-liked in Hollywood.
Best Director? I predict Bong Joon-Ho for "Parasite," with its surreal metaphor for income inequality – beautiful people on top, underclass below – and underclass under the underclass waiting to pop out and say "Boo!"
But Best Picture? "1917," the kind of movie Hollywood adores: state-of-the-art, wedded to old-fashioned, lump-in-the-throat anti-war melodrama. New and old … that's what they like. That's what they think you'll like.
I'll be watching for the edgier stuff – the complaints about the president (don't forget him!), and also to see how presenters address ., ,
You will see a longing for change, side-by-side with a dread of change. Bet on it!
For more info:
- David Edelstein, New York Magazine
- oscars.org (Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences)
- oscars.com (Official site of Oscar telecast)
- Complete CBSNews.com coverage: The Academy Awards
- Complete CBSNews.com coverage: Movies
Story produced by Robbyn McFadden.