84th Academy Awards Tonight! Are We Good to Go?

If you're anything like us here at the SSMB, come 6PM CST tonight, you'll be glued to your television harder than most any other day of the year. That is of course because tonight is that special night when all of Hollywood gathers to put on the most elegant and esteemed award show of the year - The Oscars.

There isn't much else to say at this point. Our predictions have been made, favorites are preparing their speeches for their award receptions, and we even have printable ballots for your own Oscar parties are available here. Now it's just time to sit back and watch the show!

Or is it?

Most people believe that the majority of the races are already over. After tonight, we'll find out if that was true or not of course, but before that happens, I wanted to run through a couple of the smaller categories that still have some pundits guessing. These are some of the categories that we didn't go through in our most recent CinemaCast (mostly as a time-saving maneuver), so I wanted to hit some of them now.

One of the biggest debates of the night is whether or not "The Artist" will win Best Original Screenplay. On one hand, it's likely to win Best Picture, and many times, the winner of this award also takes Best Screenplay (whichever one it may be). But that being said, we have to remember that this is a SILENT film. Not to say that a silent film doesn't have a screenplay - because it does - but does it truly deserve to win over some of the most original and thoughtful writing of the year? That's the question. Are voters going to just pencil it in because of the love going around for this movie right now? Some people truly believe so. Personally, I'll be blown away if it takes this award. When it comes down to it, I can't imagine that it actually takes this away from something like "Midnight in Paris". The writing is very good in that script. I think Paris deserves the win, but it could really go either way. I'll be full with anticipation waiting for this award to be announced though.

Another big question for tonight, which is actually a trio of categories that I'll lump into one block here and break-down as we go, is Art DirectionCinematography, and Film Editing. The reason I lump all of these together is because they share common nominees (generally speaking; a few differences throughout) and an idea that the same movie could win all of them or none of them. Let me explain. Many would say that for all of these categories, the conventional wisdom would be to go with your presumed Best Picture winner, "The Artist". If what I mentioned in the previous paragraph does happen, then it's completely reasonable to believe that they could blanket these categories as well. If "The Artist" wins all of these categories though, I'll honestly be a stunned. It seems like a good choice for Art Direction, but all in all, for me, I expect that "Hugo" is probably the real film to beat in all of these categories. Is that a film that can sweep this block? Other than these, if I were to pick an "upset" for each, I'd say "Midnight in Paris" for Art Direction, "The Tree of Life" for Cinematography, and "Moneyball" for Film Editing. All of which, by the way, would be the way I would hand these awards out if I had my choice. And even as I'm writing this now, I really want to go with all of those films as my final predictions. It seems silly to leave "The Artist" and "Hugo" out completely though. You'd almost have to assume that one or both of those films takes at least one award..

Then there's the pair of Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. First of all, what the heck is even the difference between the two?! Once we figure that out, these categories again carry most all of the same nominees. I did some interesting research on these categories (which, as you'll see below, actually ended up getting us nowhere), and found that over the past 20 years, the same film took both of these awards ten times; and likewise, ten times it was a split decision. What does that say? Flip a coin and make your pick.. It does say though that predicting it one way or the other isn't a sure thing on either side. Again, like I talked about earlier, "Hugo" would be probably be the choice if you wanted to pick that one film that could take both. It has the budget and that charm to win over the Academy. There are two huge other players in this race though: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "War Horse". One is a special effects blockbuster extravaganza, and the other is a finely tuned period war film - two things that generally do very well in these categories. And, another (mildly) interesting thing of note: of the same 20 year period we're playing with here, a war film has taken Sound Editing seven times and Sound Mixing four times; while a big summer blockbuster has won Sound Editing nine times and Sound Mixing nine times. Which means that in a year when Transformers wasn't old news, I'd be flipping a coin between that and "Hugo" for one of the two. But since Transformers has already received its dues in the past, the Academy will probably go with "Hugo" for one of the categories. And since war films usually play better in the editing department, I'll go with "War Horse" to win that category. Playing by the numbers, "War Horse" for Best Sound Editing and "Hugo" with Best Sound Mixing.

And that just leaves one more debatable topic: Visual Effects. For anyone who saw "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" this year, this seems like a no-brainer. Regardless of what you think of this film, it LOOKED amazing! Andy Serkis again provided his talents for the motion-capture effects, and it's some of the best stuff we've ever seen in film. Now, that being said, how much did the Academy love this film? And again the common theme in this post: what did they think of it compared to Martin Scorsese's period adventure film "Hugo"? Scorsese really embraced the use of 3-D in this film and even campaigned strongly about how much it enhances the medium. There's no question that after you saw this movie, the visuals were what you appreciated and remembered the most. So is that fact enough for it to steal this one from Apes? Ultimately, I think I'm predicting Planet of the Apes to win, but I'm really unsure about it. I think "Hugo" might end up with this. From all I read and hear, the Academy really loves this film. It will get rewarded somewhere.

Anyway, that's about all I have to add before we jump into the show. Some of these might not be quite as complicated as I made them sound on here, but hopefully it will help to provide with a little more intrigue and drama as the awards go on. While I don't think any of the main categories offer anything in line of an upset, I think there definitely still is some question with these. I'm excited to watch and see how it all plays out!

As you're watching the awards tonight, follow along with us on Twitter for updates and commentary throughout the show. Then make sure to check in on Tuesday for our newest edition of the Slackers Selection CinemaCast, when we'll go over all of the winners and discuss our feelings on tonight's events. Should be a pretty fun episode!