By Tanner Smith
The nominations for the 86th Annual Academy Awards, which represent the best in 2013 for film, were announced January 16th, 2014. People all over the Internet have expressed their glee and outrage, bringing up both pleasant and unpleasant surprises related to which were nominated and which were not. But now, nearly two weeks later, it seems that is done, meaning it’s time for print and electronic media to write about a popular subject in relation to the Oscars: Oscar predictions.
It’s the time of year when the general moviegoing public loves to state who/what is going to win which award. There are two reasons for this. One is, they like to think like the Academy and think they can enhance their knowledge for what the Academy may call art. The second is, they can make a game out of it. Certain Oscar parties are thrown and they have a contest: those who can come close to predicting correctly what’s going to win what award, they get a prize.
To me, it seems that people who post Oscar predictions are becoming a little overconfident nowadays. They seem to really like to state to their peers (or film students as well) that they’re absolutely positive that this actor or actress is going to win that award or that director or producer is going to win that award and so on. It’s to the point where they seem to be a little overzealous on the subject.
I am not one of those people who like to predict who/what’s going to win which Oscar. For that matter, I’m not particularly fond of Oscar predictions either. I can understand that predicting the winners can lead to some entertainment come Oscar night (which is March 2nd, 2014). But on the other hand, it can also make people seem somewhat full of themselves. Maybe I read too much into Oscar predictions when I notice them posted in magazines such as Entertainment Weekly or online websites such as RichardRoeper.com. Maybe they really like to predict the Oscars just to see what they can get right. That’s fine. But I think the main reason I’m not particularly fond of Oscar predictions is because I feel like something is missing from those magazines and websites. That is the lack of explanation for why they believe which is going to what award, as well as lack of statement for opinion, meaning most of these predictions aren’t who they would pick if they were part of the Academy and got to vote. There’s also a lack of acknowledgement for technique and skill and mainly it seems to be all about popularity.
That is why what I would like to see is something that would be considered “old-fashioned.” That would be something that the late film-critic duo Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert used to do on their television programs “At the Movies” and “Siskel & Ebert”: not predicting who will win, but announcing who they each thought should win. Their annual show was entitled “If We Picked The Winners.” That was a definite accurate title for this special show, because they went against what was popular in pre-Oscar times. They stated their own opinions. They stated why they would choose this. They were not members of the Academy, as most film critics aren’t, so this was like wish-fulfillment for them.
This is something I would like to see more of nowadays: people not predicting the Oscar winners, but stating their opinions of who they think should win. Who would they choose if they got a voting ballot for the Oscars? Why can’t I read more posts/stories about why they would like this or that to win? Oscar predictions are not my thing; I’d rather write or talk to people about my personal opinions regarding the Oscars, and I would read or listen to their responses and their opinions as well. You can learn a little about the person that way, you have something to discuss, and you’re not trying to think like you know the Academy’s mindset. Nobody knows for sure what’s going to win the Academy Awards except possibly for members of the Academy. Let it be.
My favorite “If We Picked The Winners” Siskel & Ebert special is their 1986 show. Check it out: Siskel & Ebert: If We Picked The Winners 1986