The Olympic Sport of Oscar Predicting

For years, Tom O’Neil’s Gold Derby has been the cyber watercooler to gather around and catch the buzz about who’s a shoo-in to get nominated–unless their film tanks, they come out with a sex tape, or someone better comes along.

I happen to be one of the professional prognosticators who give their educated guesses to the site’s Buzzmeter section, and though I don’t actually know much of anything about the inner workings of Hollywood, neither do a lot of the Oscar voters, so that works out just perfectly!

This year, I’m betting my grandmother’s life on the fact that the supporting trophies will step to the dark side and go to Christoph Waltz for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and Mo’Nique for PRECIOUS, even if the latter seems to have actively campaigned to lose the award.

Other categories have been harder to predict because when Gold Derby first asked for our lists in November—ranked in order of likelihood, mind you–some of the films hadn’t even screened yet. But again, that totally works out. Some movies like NINE happen to have an Oscar glow around them (not to mention a huge push) from the second they’re announced, and that usually stays with them even after people see the finished product and deem it a three.

And though the Best Actor category made me dizzy for weeks, it’s now clearer than the look in Sean Penn’s eyes when he stepped to the podium last year. George Clooney was the frontrunner for UP IN THE AIR until Morgan Freeman came around with his awesome Mandela impression in INVICTUS, but then he was booted to the curb by Colin Firth in A SINGLE MAN. (Oscar loves open straights playing woebegone gays). But now all three of those guys can spend Oscar night downing bitters at a local pub because Jeff Bridges gives a textured performance in CRAZY HEART that elevates the film from the routinely cornball. Besides, he’s never won! And he sings! And he mumbles a lot! Bottoms up, George, Morgan, and Colin.

Best actress will be surely pit newcomers Carey Mulligan (AN EDUCATION) and Gabourey Sidibe (PRECIOUS), against old timers Meryl Streep (JULIE & JULIA) and Helen Mirren (THE LAST STATION), not to mention Miss Congeniality Sandra Bullock for her noble white lady in THE BLIND SIDE. Mulligan is the type of pretty young thing Oscar generally adores, but I’m guessing Meryl is long overdue for another trophy, and if anyone beats her this time, they‘ll be roundly despised all over the world. Don’t mess with my Meryl. Anyone who de-bones a duck, marries a fox, and rolls around with Alec Baldwin all in the same year deserves the award.

As for Best Picture, the 10—count ‘em, 10–nominees will surely include UP IN THE AIR, UP, PRECIOUS, HURT LOCKER, AVATAR, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, and oh yeah, you can probably throw in NINE, and…ugh, I’m getting exhausted. Even I don’t care anymore. Catch me by the cyber watercooler on February 2, when the nominations come out, and let’s share a silent scream of relief that it’s over. Until the actual awards on March 7!