Episode 33: Oscar Predictions Across Alternate Universes

The Overthinkers tackle Joaquin Phoenix’s bizarre Letterman interview, Monster Ballads, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the new Friday the 13th movie before moving onto their Oscar® predictions.

Mark Lee hosts a panel consisting of Peter Fenzel and Jordan Stokes who, before they get to Oscar® predictions, overthink Joaquin Phoenix’s bizarre Letterman interviewMonster Ballads, Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the new Friday the 13th movie.
Comments? Rants? Raves? Call 20-EAT-LOG-01 (that’s (203) 285-6401).
After the jump: The list of Oscar® pics that the panel chose during the podcast. All of the author’s predictions are of course correct for the alternate universe for which they infallibly see the future, but check back next week to see if any of these lined up with reality as we purportedly perceive it (Note: before you rip Lee’s predictions to shreds, either listen to the podcast to determine his criteria, or just look for the pattern).
Best Picture
Lee: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Fenzel: Frost/Nixon
Stokes: Slumdog Millionaire
The Reader
Best Director
Lee, Fenzel, Stokes: Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry – The Reader
David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant – Milk

Best Actor
Lee: Richard Jenkins – The Visitor
Fenzel: Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon
Stokes: * Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
Sean Penn – Milk
Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Actress
Lee: Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married
Stokes: Meryl Streep – Doubt
Fenzel: Kate Winslet – The Reader
Angelina Jolie – Changeling
Melissa Leo – Frozen River

Best Supporting Actor
Lee: Josh Brolin – Milk
Fenzel Stokes: Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Robert Downey, Jr. – Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt
Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actress
Lee: Amy Adams – Doubt
Fenzel, Stokes: Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler
Penélope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis – Doubt
Taraji P. Henson – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Best Original Screenplay
Fenzel: Milk
Lee: Frozen River
Stokes: WALL-E
In Bruges
Best Adapted Screenplay
Lee: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Fenzel: Frost/Nixon
Stokes: Slumdog Millionaire
The Reader
Best Animated Feature
Lee: Bolt
Fenzel: Kung Fu Panda
Stokes: WALL-E
Best Foreign Language Film
Fenzel: Waltz with Bashir (Israel)
Stokes: The Class (France)
Lee: The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)
Departures (Japan)
Revanche (Austria)
Best Animated Short
Lee: La Maison En Petits Cubes
Stokes, Fenzel: Oktapodi
Lavatory – Lovestory
This Way Up
Best Art Direction
Lee: Changeling
Fenzel: Revolutionary Road
Stokes: The Dark Knight
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Duchess

Best Cinematography
Fenzel: Slumdog Millionaire
Lee: Changeling
Stokes: The Dark Knight
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Best Costume Design
Lee: Australia
Stokes, Fenzel: The Duchess
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Revolutionary Road

Best Documentary Feature
Lee, Stokes: Encounters at the End of the World
Fenzel: Man on Wire
Nerakhoon (The Betrayal)
The Garden
Trouble the Water
Best Documentary Short
Lee, Fenzel: The Conscience of Nhem En
Stokes: Smile Pinki
The Final Inch
The Witness
Best Film Editing
Lee: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Stokes: The Dark Knight
Fenzel: Frost/Nixon
Slumdog Millionaire
Best Live Action Short
Lee, Stokes: Manon On the Asphalt
Fenzel: The Pig
On the Line
New Boy
Best Makeup
Lee: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Fenzel, Stokes: Hellboy II: The Golden Army
The Dark Knight
Best Original Score
Lee: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Fenzel: Milk
Stokes: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Original Song
Lee: “Down to Earth” from WALL-E
Stokes: “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire
Fenzel: “O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire
Best Sound Editing
Lee:The Dark Knight
Fenzel, Stokes: Wanted
Iron Man
Slumdog Millionaire
Best Sound Mixing
Lee: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Stokes: WALL-E
Fenzel: Wanted
The Dark Knight
Slumdog Millionaire
Best Visual Effects
Lee, Stokes, Fenzel: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man

13 Comments on “Episode 33: Oscar Predictions Across Alternate Universes”

  1. fenzel #

    To justify myself a bit – I think that Frost/Nixon is going into this Oscar season underestimated. I suspect it will get more Oscars than you might expect – but I’m not sure where those will be. So, I’ll make a broad play on Frost/Nixon and try to pick up some upside that I wouldn’t be able to get with a more passive Oscar-picking style.


  2. Gab #

    _Confessions of a Shopaholic_: I can completely understand why it’s a bad choice for a movie right now. SPOILER- the main character doesn’t actually become fiscally responsible, she ends up with a rich man that can pay her bills for her. It says that it’s ok to spend money you don’t have because there will always be an easy way out. I haven’t seen the movie, but I read the book- and I don’t CARE to see the movie because the reviews with enough “spoilers” I have read tell me that no, she doesn’t change her habits in the movie- and that was why I hated the book, so why waste my time? I had been holding out with the hope that maybe they’d change it around for the screen, but since it seems like they didn’t, that’s reason enough to steer clear.

    And fiscal success isn’t fodder for comedy or drama like fiscal failure, hence why you don’t see movies about people being successful from the get-go. Sure, you’ll see movies where it’s hard at first and THEN they make it, but they don’t START OUT successful because that doesn’t really involve any conflict- it wouldn’t build up (or down) to anything.


  3. MIke from LA #

    In my alternate universe, the Dark Knight wins best picture.


  4. jhc #

    dear mark,my favorite podcast moderator. you seem to be a bit pessimistic about the whole oscar thing. what’s up with that? Is it because the ben button movie gets nomination for every single category? i hear you….

    but over all, i enjoyed listening to your podcast again as always. i am your faithful listener.
    thanks guys.


  5. Rob #

    Is it possible to have a “Monster Ballad Without Words”?
    If so, then surely the archetype is Yngwie Malmsteen’s Concerto Suite in E-flat minor for Electric Guitar and Orchestra, and a close second is Metallica’s “Call of Ktulu” (more monster, but less ballad).

    Meanwhile, I am sure that there must be at least one “monster ballad” written by a black artist. Between Prince and Lenny Kravitz and Darius Rucker, surely there’s at least *one* example…


  6. fenzel #

    I think “Purple Rain” is the test case that really brings our point on the podcast to the fore – that the “Monster” in “Monster Ballad” is as much the monster singing it as the song itself.

    If “Purple Rain” were sung by Whitesnake, it would be a ridiculous monster ballad. And it wouldn’t have to be _that_ different – although because of the persona of the singer (which is very present in these sorts of songs), there would be subtle differences in interpretation that would make it quite the Monster Ballad indeed.

    But it isn’t sung by Whitesnake, it’s sung by Prince.

    And, by Prince, it has a totally different character – a different “feel” to it. I wouldn’t say it’s a Monster Ballad at all. It’s a power ballad, I guess, but even that definition feels off. It’s certainly a ballad, though.


  7. stokes #

    I’m guessing Rob is right… if we looked hard enough, we’d probably find at least ONE. Probably several. But that doesn’t take away from the more basic point, which is that the monstrousness of the ballad depends on the singer’s persona. (That race plays a big part in our concept of an entertainer’s persona is unfortunate, but not particularly surprising.)

    Purple Rain is the *perfect* test case. I mean, musically, it SHOULD be a monster ballad. Listen to that reverbed snare drum hit! Those synth strings. And yet, when I do the Potter Stewart on it (that’s the “I know obscenity when I see it” guy), it’s NOT a monster ballad. Would I feel the same way if I didn’t know that Prince was singing it? Impossible to tell.

    There are probably some other pop music genres where an operation of this kind goes on. For instance, while it is possible to talk about the musical qualities of “J-Pop” and “K-Pop” and “Canto-Pop” and so on, I don’t know that it would be possible for Justin Timberlake to write a song in this style, unless he used lyrics in Japanese/Korean/Cantonese. We’d just experience it as an American pop song, wouldn’t we?


  8. lee OTI Staff #

    “…The monstrousness of the ballad depends on the singer’s persona.”

    In other words, monster ballads are sung by monstrous, hairy white guys who normally sing metal/hard rock: Winger, Guns N Roses, Aerosmith, Warrant, Poison, etc. Prince is not a monstrous, hairy white guy; he’s a svelte, stylish black dude.

    Re: K-Pop, It’s interesting that you brought up K-Pop and Justin Timberlake; the reality is that Justin Timberlake can’t do K-Pop because a lot of K-Pop is derivative of Justin Timberlake and American R&B writ large. Which in turn is derivative of Stephen Colbert’s influential K-Pop styling:



  9. Equinspire #

    For some reason I expected one of you to mention that Isla Fisher is engaged to Sacha Baron Cohen… the future “Mrs Borat” if you will. I suppose she’s not as well known in parts of the world that don’t get Australian TV shows. Aussies just know her because she used to be on a soap opera here.

    From what I’ve seen in interviews she’s smart and funny as well as being attractive, so I’m surprised her movie career hasn’t taken off more than it has. Not sure this shopaholic movie is going to improve anything for her though…

    I just realised I haven’t seen a single Oscar nominated film… that’s pretty bad. I’ve been meaning to see Slumdog for a while but I’ll probably have to catch it on DVD now. Oops.

    PS. Loving the podcast :)


  10. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    I’m sure Wall-E will win for Best Animated. However, I’d just like to say that Kung Fu Panda is a great little flick. I’ve got a three-year-old, and we’re both big fans. Computer-animated martial arts is actually damn cool – it’s exaggerated and stylized, like Crouching Tiger. Watching these hyper-choreographed epic battles is almost enough to make me rent some anime.

    And it gets a lot of bonus points from me for casting David Cross.


  11. Gab #

    Only almost, Belinkie?


  12. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @Fenzel – Nice call, predicting Rourke would get snubbed. You didn’t predict who he’d get snubbed FOR, but still, way to buck conventional wisdom.

    @Gab – I rented Vexille a while back after seeing it advertised on this blog. Not bad. Kinda neat. Not ready for another one quite yet.


  13. cat #

    So I have to wait another 11 years for the behind the scenes of OTI?

    We don’t use “troubadation” enough.

    I would enjoy it if you went through the Oscar ballot again this year.


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