MCN Blogs
Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

It’s the Oscar Countdown!

It’s almost Oscar night, and you can almost, but not quite, feel the excitement all the way up here in Seattle. Everyone’s dying (yes, dying!) to know which designer’s dress their favorite actress will wear, who will show up looking like their mother dressed them for prom, who’s going to be voted Cutest Couple, and who has the brightest, toothiest grins … and the worst outcomes of plastic surgery. Then Justin Bieber gets the Oscar for Best Documentary and we all go home.

See, I’m being snarky there because watching the Oscars is for losers who don’t have anything else pressing to do with their time, like making homemade goat cheese or baklava or playing Dungeons and Dragons, right? The cool kids don’t know what movies are nominated for the Oscars, don’t read about the Oscars, don’t wonder who will win the Oscars, and they most certainly do not watch the Oscars. Or at the very least, they don’t own up to watching the pre-show red carpet festivities.

The rest of us, whether we (admit we) care who wins or not, are waiting with more or less bated breath for Oscar’s Big Day. Other people have been writing about this year’s Oscars since last year’s Sundance, thinking seriously about who will win and who will not for months now. Even if you don’t agree with them, you at least appreciate that someone has been carefully weighing these matters with gravitas since this time last year, moving this nomineee up a slot one week, then down two the next, so that all you have to do is comment vociferously on how stupid the pundits are and how much you disagree with them.

I, on the other hand, haven’t given it much thought at all, so my guess is about as good as yours.

I used to do a column here called Oscar Outsider, which I kind of miss now that I don’t do it anymore. I particularly enjoyed exploring things that not everyone was writing a lot about — contrasting the then Oscar-nommed Slumdog Millionaire screenplay with its fairly obscure source material, for instance. It went on to win the Oscar for Simon Beaufoy, and whether you still like the film, or are now in the camp of “I hate that movie,” the screenplay, as an adaptation, was pretty brilliant.

Last year’s Adapted Screenplay winner was Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire (one of the most unwieldy film titles ever, but whatever … the title “Push” got usurped by that lousy Dakota Fanning flick, so they had to do something). I can’t particularly argue against the Precious screenplay winning this category, because if you’ve read the source novel, well … it was a challenging book to adapt to a screenplay, and Geoffrey Fletcher did a fine job of it.

Of all the Oscar categories, the screenplays are my favorites, probably because they speak to my own interest in writing and because the nominees and winners sometimes feel random, and every now and again winning a screenplay Oscar can completely change the winner’s life (see: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck). On the other hand, I see a lot of independent films in a year, many of them with better screenplays than some of the nominees, and those writers will never get any love outside of maybe the Independent Spirits. But even those awards feel like they’ve gotten more and more big-name and studio driven. Bah.

Anyhow. So I’ve done Oscar predictions in various random ways over the years, on the theory that just about any method of picking Oscar winners that the average person could come up with would hit, on average, just about the same percentage of accuracy as the predictions Oscar pundits spend months fine-tuning. And for the most part, these various prediction methods have been surprisingly accurate.

(As an aside, one of my favorite random prediction methods — aside from using a Magic-8 Ball, which is always fun — was James Rocchi’s Ernest Borgnine predictor. James has the theory that to accurately predict the Oscars, all you had to do was think like Ernest Borgnine, and you’d mostly be right. And I think he had the highest accuracy percentage among Cinematical writers when he did that, so maybe he was onto something.)

All this doesn’t make it any less fun and profitable for pundits to spend months every year talking about Oscars and trying to predict Oscars and getting into sometimes hilarious arguments about who should win versus who will win. I mean, yes, it’s hard to take the Oscars seriously sometimes, but on the other hand they are deadly serious business in Hollywood, so what are you going to do but watch them anyhow?

This year, I decided to actually given the nominations some carefully considered thought before making my own Oscar picks — who I think will win, and who I think SHOULD win. Then I polled my daughter Neve, who turned 14 yesterday and has actually seen most of the nominated films with me, on her picks, just to get a perspective from the teen demographic. So without further ado, here they are

Best Picture


WHO WILL WIN: The King’s Speech

POSSIBLE UPSET: The Social Network

AND NEVE’S PICK … I think The Social Network has a good chance of winning. Or maybe Black Swan.

Best Actor

WHO SHOULD WIN: Javier Bardem

WHO WILL WIN: Colin Firth

POSSIBLE UPSET: Mark Zuckerberg. Er, I mean Jesse Eisenberg

AND NEVE PICKS: … Jesse Eisenberg

Best Supporting Actor


WHO WILL WIN: Geoffrey Rush

POSSIBLE UPSET: Christian Bale

AND NEVE PICKS …Christian Bale

Best Actress

WHO SHOULD WIN: Michelle Williams

WHO WILL WIN: Annette Bening

POSSIBLE UPSET: Michelle Williams (I really hope this is this year’s “Holy crap!” moment …)

AND NEVE PICKS … Annette Bening

Best Supporting Actress

WHO SHOULD WIN: Hailee Steinfeld

WHO WILL WIN: Helena Bonham Carter

POSSIBLE UPSET: Melissa Leo … although I’d kind of like to see the Greek Chorus of sisters from The Fighter storm the stage and get into fisticuffs with Helena Bonham-Carter. That would be an awesome Oscar Moment.

AND NEVE PICKS … Melissa Leo

Best Director

WHO SHOULD WIN: Darren Aronofsky

WHO WILL WIN: Tom Hooper


AND NEVE PICKS … David Fincher

Best Adapted Screenplay

WHO SHOULD WIN: Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

WHO WILL WIN: The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin. I hate that he will likely win for this.

POSSIBLE UPSET: True Grit … but don’t hold your breath for an upset on this one.

AND NEVE PICKS … Toy Story 3, which would be pretty awesome.

Best Original Screeplay

WHO SHOULD WIN: Inception, Chris Nolan

WHO WILL WIN: The Kids Are All Right, Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg

POSSIBLE UPSET: The King’s Speech, David Seidler

AND NEVE PICKS … Inception, Chris Nolan

Best Documentary

WHO SHOULD WIN: Exit Through the Gift Shop. Inside Job is brilliant, but the sheer creative genius and daring of Exit puts it at the top for me.

WHO WILL WIN: Exit Through the Gift Shop


AND NEVE PICKS: Exit Through the Gift Shop. I think it definitely has a fair chance of winning.

That’s it folks. Carry on with arguing amongst yourselves up until show time, and then we can pick apart all the fashion choices, good and bad — and the winners, for better or worse. See you after the Oscars …

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon