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SYBIL THE SOOTHSAYER’S OSCAR PREDIX

by Dennis Cozzalio Feb 03, 2020

Well, the most wonderful time of the year is upon us yet again, and if you’re thinking I’m about 30-days-and-change late in going on about Christmas, well, you obviously don’t live in Los Angeles. For around these parts, the time in between the announcement of the Academy Award nominations and the awards ceremony itself—this year a much shorter gauntlet of days for campaigning nominees and their studio backers to run—is Christmas redux, a month-long-or-so orgy of adulation when everyone loves everyone else’s work (except all the stuff they forgot about, naturally) and the spirit of lavishing career-honoring praise and statues permeates the air like thick, throat-thrashing smoke from a nearby wildfire.

This year is no different, of course, but maybe the usual sense of inevitability about who’s gonna win what is a bit more pronounced, simply because for awards show after awards show the same handful of winners have been seen trotting to the stage to accept the acting, directing and technical achievement awards. This is encouraging a dangerous sense of security among office Oscar pool participants (and by office Oscar pool participants I am referring, of course, to myself) who may think they’ve got a better handle on what whims Oscar will indulge next weekend than usual. That know-it-all-and-then-overthink-it impulse sinks my Oscar pool chances almost every year.

And if you’ve read this column over the years, you’ll have a sense of just why my Oscar pool ballot typically takes on water pretty early in the show. There’s no need to provide links to my doomed Oscar predix of the past—just trust me, I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about when it comes to second-guessing the nebulous and fickle AMPAS voting body. Of course, that shocking admission shall be no hindrance to my carrying on as usual and making public my guesses as to what might transpire next Sunday night at the Dolby Theater in beautiful downtown Hollywood.

But this year I’ve recruited some help.

With a great expenditure of time, effort and a goodly percentage of my savings account, I went in search of the one person whose psychic energy might actually enhance my odds of reigning supreme at my Oscar party, the woman whose predictive powers and all-around acumen with the crystal ball would shame Sylvia Browne and Jeane Dixon, both of whom have sloughed off this mortal coil anyway, so it’s not like they’d do me any good— I’m even worse at contacting the dead via séance than I am at picking Oscar winners. No, the woman I’m referring to is, perhaps surprisingly, still alive. I discovered that she’s been living in a convalescent home just outside Chicago, Illinois, which caters to fringe TV personalities, for the past 26 years and, after several long telephone conversations which were scattered in their subject matter, to say the least, I convinced her to help me in my quest to win this year’s Oscar pool.

Her name is Gladys Meyerowitz, and you will be forgiven if that name doesn’t quite ring a bell, because you probably only know her from the name by which she appeared briefly on the UBN Television  Network in 1976, on the roster of regular contributors to that network’s wildly popular (until it suddenly wasn’t) The Howard Beale Show. I’m referring, of course, to Sybil the Soothsayer.

During our conversations, Gladys made me call her Sybil. She says that hearing herself referred to by that name again helped focus the psychic energy which, she admits, has been a little spottier in her old age. But Sybil remained supremely confident in her ability to interpret that energy and accurately prognosticate about what’s going to happen when all of Hollywood gathers together next Sunday night. Even though she claims she hasn’t been out to a movie since 1986 (“That Blue Velvet put me off watching pictures in public for good!”), she’s still got a DVD player and, of course, her own feisty, sometimes spiritually enhanced opinions, which I have included alongside her picks in each category. And since this is my spot behind the velvet curtain and not hers, I have indicated who I believe should win from all the nominees in each category, as well as who I would pick if I were not restricted to just the five or so choices winnowed down by the Academy.

So, let’s get to it. Straight from The Howard Beale Show, via the Bob Bell and Beverly Braun Convalescent Home for the Semi-Famous, here are Sybil the Soothsayer’s picks to win big at this year’s Academy Awards. Adjust your expectations and your Oscar pool ballot choices accordingly.

 

PICTURE

SYBIL SAYS: 1917 (“I picked this over Parasite because I don’t like to think about maggots and leeches and things like that.”)

DESERVED WINNER: Parasite

MY PICK: Parasite

 ACTRESS

SYBIL SAYS: Renee Zellweger, Judy (“I knew Judy Garland, and lemme tell ya, Renee’s no Judy Garland, but Vincente Minnelli told me a couple weeks ago she was gonna win, so…”)

DESERVED WINNER:  Um… Scarlett Johansson?

MY PICK: Mary Kay Place, Diane

 ACTOR

SYBIL SAYS: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker (“The Academy likes a comedian.”)

DESERVED WINNER: Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory

MY PICK: Antonio Banderas

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

SYBIL SAYS: Laura Dern, Marriage Story (“That young lady has a coltish charm about her, don’t ya think? She’s gonna go places.”)

DESERVED WINNER: Laura Dern

MY PICK: Yeo-jeong Jo, So-dam Park, Hye-jin Jang, Jeon-eun Lee, Parasite (so sue me)

SUPPORTING ACTOR

SYBIL SAYS: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (“He should’ve won for Oceans’ Twelve. This will be a make-up win for that.”)

DESERVED WINNER: Joe Pesci, The Irishman

MY PICK: Joe Pesci

DIRECTOR

SYBIL SAYS: Sam Mendes, 1917 (“Such a good boy, making a movie about his grandpa like that. And I have it on very good authority that the old man liked the picture a lot, though he did say he thought Benedict Cumberbatch sucked.”)

DESERVED WINNER: Bong Joon Ho, Parasite

MY PICK: Bong Joon Ho

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

SYBIL SAYS: Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time.. in Hollywood  (“Hasn’t he won before? Who does he think he is? Woody Allen?)

DESERVED WINNER: Bong Joon Ho, Han Jin Won, Parasite

MY PICK: Bong Joon Ho, Han Jin Won

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

SYBIL SAYS: Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit (“How could the academy vote against an anti-Nazi bunny?”)

DESERVED WINNER: Steven Zaillian, The Irishman

MY PICK: Steven Zaillian

ANIMATED FEATURE

SYBIL SAYS: I Lost My Body (“I can relate, and have several times.”)

DESERVED WINNER: I Lost My Body

MY PICK: I Lost My Body

CINEMATOGRAPHY

SYBIL SAYS: Roger Deakins, 1917 (“At my age, I prefer long takes. Plus, how the hell did he do that?!”)

DESERVED WINNER: Jarin Blascke, The Lighthouse

MY PICK: Kyung-pyo Hong, Parasite

COSTUME DESIGN

SYBIL SAYS: Jacqueline Durran, Little Women (“Don’t you think I should have won one in 1976 for my STS garb in Network?! They would’ve had to give it to me and not Theoni V. Aldredge too, ‘cause that sucker came right out of my closet!”)

DESERVED WINNER: Sandy Powell, Christopher Peterson, The Irishman

MY PICK: Ruth Carter, Dolemite Is My Name

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

SYBIL SAYS: American Factory (“Maybe Michelle Obama will show up!”)

DESERVED WINNER: Honeyland

MY PICK: Honeyland

FILM EDITING

SYBIL SAYS: Yang Jinmo, Parasite (“I heard just now they apparently edited all the actual parasites out of the final cut, and that’s good enough for me, so…”)

DESERVED WINNER: Thelma Schoonmaker, The Irishman

MY PICK: The Irishman

INTERNATIONAL FILM

SYBIL SAYS: Parasite (“Enough already!”)

DESERVED WINNER: Parasite

MY PICK: Parasite

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

SYBIL SAYS: Joker (“They give an Oscar for this, but not for stunt people? Jeez…”)

DESERVED WINNER: Bombshell (better a win here for prosthetics than a Best Actress win for prosthetics)

MY PICK: N/A

MUSICAL SCORE

SYBIL SAYS: Hildur Gudnadottir, Joker (“Give it to the kid from Iceland. Everybody else sounds like they’re stealing from themselves.”)

DESERVED WINNER: Thomas Newman, 1917

MY PICK: James Newton Howard, A Hidden Life

ORIGINAL SONG

SYBIL SAYS: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”, Rocketman (“They wanna see Elton John on stage more than they do Michelle Obama even!”)

DESERVED WINNER: None

MY PICK: “Love Theme from Uncut Gems

PRODUCTION DESIGN

SYBIL SAYS: Barbara Ling, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (“Production design so good, why, the made Hollywood look like it was a real place!”)

DESERVED WINNER: Lee Ha Jun, Chon Won Woo, Parasite

MY PICK: PARASITE

SOUND EDITING

SYBIL SAYS: Donald Sylvester, Ford v Ferrari (“Those cars are goddamn loud!”)

DESERVED WINNER: Wylie Stateman, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

MY PICK: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

SOUND MIXING

SYBIL SAYS: Paul Massey, David Giammarco, Steven A. Morrow, Ford v Ferrari(“Goddamn, those cars are loud!”)

DESERVED WINNER: Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler, Mark Ulano, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

MY PICK: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

VISUAL EFFECTS

SYBIL SAYS: Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Matt Aitken, Dan Sudick, Avengers: Endgame (“Volume counts in this category, plus I have a bit of a crush on Thanos. No, not Josh Brolin. Thanos.”)

DESERVED WINNER: Pablo Helman, Leandro Estebecorena, Nelson Sepulveda-Fauser, Stephane Grabli, The Irishman

MY PICK: The Irishman

 

Thanks to Sybil for soothsaying her way onto that rickety Oscar predix limb for me this year. If you use her picks as your own and you lose, well, I predict… you won’t ever do that again! Good luck, and happy Academy Awards!

About Dennis Cozzalio

DENNIS BIO PIC

Dennis Cozzalio has been writing his all-purpose, agenda-free film criticism blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule since 2004. Cozzalio studied film at the University of Oregon in the late ‘70s and currently resides in Glendale, California where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He spends his (precious little) free time writing, cooking and trying to reconcile himself to a new reality weighted more toward catching up on movies at home, where distractions abide, and less in the overpriced, chatter-infested environs of 21st-century cinemas. His favorite movies include Nashville, The Lady Eve, Once Upon a Time in the West, Fellini Roma, His Girl Friday, Dressed to Kill, Amarcord and 1941, and he thinks Barbara Stanwyck can do no wrong.