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How I Won the Oscar Pool

2011 was the first year in many years (since "A Beautiful Mind" won Best Picture) that I participated in an Oscar Pool. Everybody puts in some money and fills out a ballot, and whoever gets the most right wins all the money in the pot. It was a lot of fun!

But how, exactly, did I win? Where did I pick right, and where did I pick wrong? Here is what I picked and my thoughts on why I picked what I picked. Have I said picked enough? Picked. There.

Who won: Melissa Leo in "The Fighter"
Who I picked: Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit"
Why: I was really confident about this one; I couldn't see any other winner. I don't even know who Melissa Leo is! Hailee's nomination as a Supporting Actress seemed like a throw-a-bone award because she is actually the star of the entire film. Like when George Clooney won Supporting Actress for a film of which he was the main character.

Who won: Christian Bale in "The Fighter"
Who I picked: Christian Bale in "The Fighter"
Why: I thought that Geoffrey Rush was another possible for "The King's Speech," but then I thought that "The Fighter" got really good buzz and wasn't likely to win Best Picture, so they were probably going to throw it a bone in a Lesser Award. Christian Bale seemed a likely throw-a-bone candidate.

Who won: Robert Stromberg & Karen O'Hara for "Alice in Wonderland"
Who I picked: Eve Stewart & Judy Farr for "The King's Speech"
Why: I know that the Academy has this habit of picking really detailed historical art direction over really imaginative but unrealistic art direction. And since "The King's Speech" was destined for Best Picture, I figured a couple of artistic awards would help it look more legitimate. That said, I'm really, really happy that I was wrong; "Alice" completely deserved to beat "The King's Speech."

Who won: Colleen Atwood for "Alice in Wonderland"
Who I picked: Jenny Beavan for "The King's Speech"
Why: See my entry on Art Direction; I thought for sure "The King's Speech" would win at least one of the artistic awards.

Who won: Rick Baker for "The Wolfman"
Who I picked: Rick Baker for "The Wolfman"
Why: Rick Baker. I will always vote for Rick Baker. He basically always deserves to win. The other nominees were for old-age effects and crap like that. Rick Baker made a damned wolfman. 'Nuff said.

Who won: Wally Pfister for "Inception"
Who I picked: Danny Cohen for "The King's Speech"
Why: Again, I figured (erroneously) that "The King's Speech" would probably win at least one artistic award, so I voted for it in all three just to cover my bases. I'm once again glad that I was wrong; "Inception" was visually breathtaking, and was extra challenging because of its extreme variety of settings. Good job, Academy!

Who won: Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter for "The Social Network"
Who I picked: Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter for "The Social Network"
Why: I just had a feeling; the film had such a dynamic feel to it, and much of that was due to the editing. Just a hunch, but it paid off.

Who won: Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, and Peter Bebb for "Inception"
Who I picked: Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, and Peter Bebb for "Inception"
Why: Because the special effects were seamless and (except for the folding city) not flashy. They looked realistic, you know? And I actually thought "Alice" had some pretty crappy special effects.

Who won: Richard King for "Inception"
Who I picked: Richard King for "Inception"
Why: Both sound categories stupefy me. I have no idea what the criteria is for winning. But sound was so essential to "Inception" that I figured they'd probably use these Sound awards as throw-a-bone awards since it wasn't going to win Best Picture. I was right.

Who won: Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo, and Ed Novick for "Inception"
Who I picked: Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo, and Ed Novick for "Inception"
Why: See Sound Editing

Who won: "The Lost Thing"
Who I picked: "Day & Night"
Why: Because it's the only one I saw, and it was fan-frikkin-tastic. It played in front of "Toy Story 3" and it had just a phenomenal blend of 2D and 3D animation. I'm really surprised it didn't win.

Who won: "Toy Story 3"
Who I picked: "Toy STory 3"
Why: Because it was the only animated film to also be nominated for Best Picture, therefore it HAD to be better than the other Animated Feature nominations, otherwise they would have also been nominated for Best Picture. Really a no-brainer.

Who won: "Strangers No More"
Who I picked: "The Warriors of Quigang"
Why: I hadn't heard of any of these movies, but I liked the Chinese name of Quigang, so I picked that one. Yup.

Who won: "Inside Job"
Who I picked: "Exit Through the Gift Shop"
Why: It was the only documentary I'd heard of, though "Restrepo" sounded vaguely familiar. It got good reviews. But the Academy has a historically bad record with the Documentary Feature, so it was really just a stab in the dark.

Who won: "God of Love"
Who I picked: "God of Love"
Why: I'd seen stills from all of the films, though nothing in they way of clips, and "God of Love" looked like the goofiest of them all. And so it was, especially when the director, Luke Matheny, accepted the Oscar and his first words were, "I should have gotten a haircut." Very funny moment.

Who won: "In a Better World"
Who I picked: "Biutiful"
Why: It starred Javier Bardem. Ebert gave it a glowing review. It was the only one of the five that I'd actually heard of.

Who won: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for "The Social Network"
Who I picked: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for "The Social Network"
Why: Honestly, I didn't think they were going to win. I just picked them because I thought they deserved it, damn it! Their score was brilliant.

Who won: "We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3"
Who I picked: "Coming Home" from "Country Strong"
Why: I thought, "They can't pick Randy Newman again, can they?" I figured they've given the Oscar to a couple of hip-hop songs in the past few years, so why not a country song?

Who won: Aaron Sorkin for "The Social Network"
Who I picked: Aaron Sorkin for "The Social Network"
Why: I was pretty positive that this was going to be "The Social Network's" big consolation prize for not winning Best Picture. The only other one I could see winning was "True Grit," but the Coens won a bunch a few years ago for "No Country for Old Men," so I could see the Academy shying away from them.

Who won: David Seidler for "The King's Speech"
Who I picked: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, and Eric Johnson for "The Fighter"
Why: I could tell pretty early on that "The Fighter" probably wasn't going to win very many awards, so I thought that Screenplay would be its consolation prize (turned out it was Supporting Actress, though). I didn't think "The King's Speech" needed it to be legitimized. I should have realized they wouldn't want to give it to a screenplay with three writers.

Who won: Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"
Who I picked: Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"
Why: This seemed the most sure-thing to me of any award. She had all the buzz going in, and as one of the only films I'd actually seen, I wanted to support "Black Swan." Plus she said if she won she'd go on Conan O'Brien's show and drop and F-bomb, and I really want her to join Conan's Oscar Winner F-Bomb Club.

Who won: Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"
Who I picked: Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"
Why: This really came down in my mind to a race between Colin Firth and Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network." Once I had decided that "The King's Speech" was going to win Best Picture, it seemed to me that it would have to win at least one of the other Big Awards in order to give its win some legitimacy. So it seemed likely that Mr. Firth was going to win.

Who won: Tom Hooper for "The King's Speech"
Who I picked: David Fincher for "The Social Network"
Why: I really thought the Academy would split its Directing/Best Picture award this year, which was probably foolish of me. But since "The Social Network" was unlikely to win any major award other than Adapted Screenplay, I thought for sure David Fincher would win the consolation prize for Directing rather than Best Picture. Now I feel like a couple of years down the road they'll give him a consolation award for a much lesser picture (like how Ridley Scott won a Directing award for "Gladiator").

Who won: "The King's Speech"
Who I picked: "The King's Speech"
Why: There was so much initial buzz for "The Social Network" that it seemed like it was very likely to win. But "The King's Speech" is an uplifting historical drama about British royalty, and "The Social Network" is a damning tale about socially reprehensible young nerds. The more I thought about it, the more clear it seemed to me that the Academy would award a film that seemed more timeless and staid rather than an edgy movie that might be seen as a flash in the pan, knee-jerk "popular" pick a couple of years from now. Turns out I WAS RIGHT.


So "Inception," "The Social Network," and "The King's Speech" turned out to be big winners for me with 8 of my 13 points coming from being right about them. Of course, "The King's Speech" also cost me 3 points for not winning in any of the artistic categories. I did very well in the Big Awards, getting Actor, Actress, Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture right, but missing out on Direction and Original Screenplay.

In the end, though, what with today's ticket prices, I only really won enough money for my wife and I to see one film together.

What do you think about this, Ocean Shores Pirate?


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