By Matt Singer | Criticwire February 25, 2013 at 10:01AM
Q: Finish this sentence: "The biggest surprise at this year's Academy Awards will be _______"
"...the Academy's refusal to award a Best Director prize, in response to their own, already legendary snub of Ben Affleck. In related news, Ben Affleck will be awarded a lifetime achievement award in 2014."
"...Phil Donahue throwing up in a tuba."
"...'Argo' leaving empty-handed."
"...the moment when the collected Academy take to the stage and reveal that 'The Master' omission is some kind of 'I'm Still Here' prank. Seriously though, and I'm not actually sure this would even count as a surprise at this stage, what with the relatively unpredictable nature of this years awards, but I'm fairly confident that Haneke will take Best Director, and Emmanuelle Riva Best Actress, the latter of which would make for quite the upset."
"....if more than half of my predictions end up being accurate."
"...that 'Searching for Sugar Man' doesn’t win Best Documentary Feature. Or will that remain only true in my dreams?"
"...'Argo' winning Best Picture but with a total of only 2 wins overall."
"...'Life of Pi' winning Best Picture or Ang Lee for Best Director. Fingers, toes, and shoe laces crossed!"
"...me actually staying awake for the whole thing."
"...how badly comedic 'jack-of-all-trades' Seth McFarlane flunks out as Oscars host."
"...Joaquin Phoenix still acting like his 'I'm Still Here' persona, much to the confusion of the Hollywood establishment."
"...that Seth MacFarlane's approach to hosting is so lame and tepid that you won't be seeing him asked back for the festivities next year. Let's face it: MacFarlane's brand of humor isn't geared towards those who get to pat themselves on the back repeatedly on the industry's biggest night. If anything, it's built to poke fun at them, and the Academy doesn't take too kindly to that. Remember how pissed they got at Chris Rock for trying to bring some edge to the ceremony? I expect MacFarlane to get the balls cut off his attempts to make the Oscars young and hip again (Isn't that why he got picked in the first place?), and it'll be another example of the Oscars taking themselves far too seriously on a night that should be both fun and entertaining for everyone involved. There's a reason they keep trying to bring safe old Billy Crystal back as much as possible."
"...Ang Lee winning Best Director for 'Life of Pi' over Spielberg."
"...Anne Hathaway not winning. (Probably won't happen, but hey, I can dream a dream too.)"
"...me being sober or coherent by the end of it."
"...that people won't hate Seth MacFarlane as much as they were anticipating/hoping."
"...when Seth MacFarlane somehow makes Tommy Lee Jones smile."
"...Emmanuelle Riva winning Best Actress over Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence."
"...Sean Connery showing up to take part in the tribute to James Bond. The show producers have claimed there won't be a reunion of all six 007s, but I'll bet they've got the first, Connery, and the latest, Daniel Craig. Oh, and also Ang Lee for Best Director!"
"...Seth MacFarlane as host. A lot of people hate him, but he's coming off a massive debut film with 'Ted' and I think he'll use his hosting duties as a real introduction to the widest possible audience he can. As long as he doesn't constantly break into the 'Family Guy' voices I think he'll show the one side he hasn't shown anyone throughout all of his endeavors -- himself. He'll be a strong host despite his shortcomings and try to key his entertainer-side to the classic hosts of old like Bon Hope or Johnny Carson. I may be completely and utterly wrong though."
"...the amount of cut-to's and non sequiturs added into the show to make it appear more entertaining than it actually is. Daniel Day Lewis will slay a vampire town car, something along those lines."
"...me actually watching it, since it airs in the middle of the night in Iceland, which is where I'll be at."
"...who won't mention Ben Affleck not getting nominated for Best Director. It seems like even Kathryn Bigelow is talking about it."
"...BALLOONS! (I really hope there's balloons.)"
"...Seth MacFarlane will not suck as host. The dude's clearly a born showman, and my theory is he will lean heavily on the song-and-dance and less on the awful 'Family Guy' hyper-offensive shtick. I'm assuming someone pulled him aside after the nomination ceremony to tell him that Nazi jokes don't fly in the Kodak, and that, in the interest of his future mega-blockbuster movie career, he will dial it down for the big night and be, shall we say, not himself. Which will be no big loss -- it's not like he had that much integrity to begin with, anyway."
"...if my TV doesn't melt from the glare of Seth MacFarlane's teeth."
"...Emmanuelle Riva beatboxing her acceptance speech, but by the time you publish this everyone will have seen it already."
"...the monster at the end of the broadcast turns out to be Seth MacFarlane all along."
"...when Emmanuelle Riva performs Jack Palance-style one-armed push-ups upon winning Best Actress."
"... a theme: there won't be. Many of us have predicted extra wins for 'Argo' or 'Silver Linings Playbook,' but this appears like the year where the love will get spread around. So I suppose as a secondary choice, the most surprising thing could be that 'Skyfall' ends up winning more Academy Awards than any of the other nominees."
"...when Seth MacFarlane cracks an inappropriate joke about Quvenzhane Wallis, causing a gallant but misguided Joaquin Phoenix to storm the stage and punch him out, all while Michael Haneke tweets about the incident from his seat, lol. Either that or the Academy coming to its collective senses and realizing Naomi Watts deserves to win Best Actress for 'The Impossible.' I'd be cool seeing either one happen."
"...will be a 'Lincoln' sweep. Its about time that man was allowed a good day at the theater. The Dolby will do just fine."
"...will be Seth MacFarlane does a great job hosting the ceremony. He's got the chops to be wildly entertaining!"
"...all the 'Argo' hype falls short. This might just be a bit of wishful thinking, but I feel like its going to lose in a majority of categories. There isn't any field where I think it's the best of those nominated and while I know I'm in the minority with that opinion I still think the awards love is going to be very spread around. Above all I think it's going to lose Best Picture and we will be exposed to two weeks of new snub articles about Affleck. I'm fully prepared for the egg on my face by the time you read this, but all I can say is 'Argo'... can enjoy its plethora of other awards."
"...when Anne Hathaway forgets to thank: 'Victor Hugo, Victor Hugo's wife, Adèle, the other Adele because she's so fantastically awesome and she reminded me of Victor Hugo's wife, Tobe Hooper, Sally Field's enduring inspiration as 'The Flying Nun,' dolphin songs, orange crayons, the super sad but super inspiring lives of dying prostitutes, Easy Bake Ovens, Jill Clayburgh's performance in 'I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can,' the Pro-Ana community, Richard Simmons, Russell Simmons, Gene Simmons I mean, J-E-A-N Simmons (gosh golly oh my-goodness-I'm-so-nervous!), Baby Peggy, Adderall, Dr. Sapirstein...'"
"...when Emmanuelle Riva out Jack's Jack Palance."
"...that the number of cutaway jokes centering on Stalin and Megan Fox eating bacon on a tandem bicycle will be limited to 5."
"...a clean sweep for 'Modern Family,' WHAT WHAT??!"
"...'Frankenweenie' winning Best Animated Feature or Joaquin Phoenix pulling out a stunning surprise in the Best Actor category. Or maybe both! What can I say? I’m foolishly optimistic."
"...if any of it is genuinely entertaining"
"...if Emmanuelle Riva does not win the Oscar on her 86th birthday."
"...'Zero Dark Thirty' winning Best Documentary Feature."
"...Emmanuelle Riva for Best Actress. I’ve often said, the worst thing an Oscar handicapper can do is ACTUALLY SEE THE MOVIES. One’s heart should never get in the way of the clear-eyed political calculation that is Oscar prognostication. That being said: Did you SEE that performance? So moving, so nuanced, so delicate, so heroic. Much as I love Jennifer Lawrence, I’m hoping the 'not so fast, whippersnapper!' factor will come into play and Riva will walk away with the upset win."
"...'No' winning Best Foreign Film instead of Michael Haneke's 'Amour.' I simply have no faith in the Academy to ever give Haneke's a statue, not least because he will never make a film that panders for one. 'No' doesn't pander either, unless you are comparing it on a scale where the baseline is any Haneke film."
"...if I can get through the whole thing without saying, 'This is fucking bullshit.'"
The Best Movie Currently In Theaters on February 25th, 2013:
The Most Popular Responses: "Zero Dark Thirty"
Other Movies Receiving Multiple Votes: "Side Effects," "Amour," "Django Unchained," "Like Someone in Love," "Lincoln," "No."