First, the rules, then a bit of commentary....
1. One entry per person.
2. You must answer all the questions in the survey to compete (in other words, predict a winner in each of the Oscar categories, and provide your name and e-mail address*).
3. The contest is open to anyone, though winners who reside outside the United States might have to wait a bit longer to receive the prize.
4. Each correct guess is worth one point. If more than one person ties for the number of most correct guesses, those names will go into a hat and the winner will be drawn from there.
5. The contest closes on Feb. 26, the day before the Academy Awards presentation.
6. The winner will be announced here on the website on Feb. 28.
7. THE PRIZE: From my personal DVD collection, a gently-used** boxed set of Criterion's Great Adaptations, which includes Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, The Most Dangerous Game and Lord of the Flies. Since this is a blog about books, I tried to find an appropriate prize.
I am an Academy Awards fanatic. Just as some people go crazy for Super Bowl Sunday, donning jerseys, lining up the Heart Attack Buffet of chips and dips, and wearing foam cheese wedges on their heads, so I too get a little crazy-eyed when the Oscars roll around. I don't weave my hair in the shape of film canisters or paint my body Statuette Gold, but I do print out multiple checklists and impose the Rule of Silence on my household as the envelopes are being opened. My wife, God bless her, has borne this behavior with minimal eye-rolls and snorts over the years. But hey, was she complaining when I won a newspaper contest several years ago and earned us an all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood? Was she? Huh? Huh? I thought not.
This year, the Academy Award lineup is, for us book-lovin' types, a pretty exciting one. The Social Network, 127 Hours, True Grit, and Winter's Bone are all book adaptations up for the Oscar in Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). The latter two novels are especially loved by readers and have generally been praised for the way they've been brought from the page to the screen. Both feature young girls on hard, determined quests--Mattie Ross tracking down her father's killer, and Ree Dolly tracking down her fugitive father--and both books open with unforgettable paragraphs:
People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band.I'll confess I haven't read either True Grit or Winter's Bone, but based on just those two opening paragraphs alone, they deserve a high spot near the top of my To-Be-Read pile of books. Come Oscar night, I will be happy to see either of those novels get some recognition by Academy voters (and, indeed, it's been nice to see increased sales traffic for those books since the movies were released).
--True Grit by Charles Portis (1968)
Ree Dolly stood at break of day on her cold front steps and smelled coming flurries and saw meat. Meat hung from trees across the creek. The carcasses hung pale of flesh with a fatty gleam from low limbs of saplings in the side yards. Three halt haggard houses formed a kneeling rank on the far creekside and each had two or more skinned torsos dangling by rope from sagged limbs, venison left to the weather for two nights and three days so the early blossoming of decay might round the flavor, sweeten that meat to the bone.
--Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell (2006)
So, here's where I'll throw out my predictions for this year's Academy Award winners. One caveat: as of this writing, the only nominees I've seen are The King's Speech, Black Swan, Animal Kingdom, The Kids are All Right, True Grit, The Social Network, Inception, Toy Story 3, The Town, Day and Night, Tron: Legacy (Lord, it pains me to mention that borefest in the same breath as "Oscar nominee"), Iron Man 2, The Wolfman, and Salt. So, my predictions are based on a mixture of dice-throwing, hunches, and cynicism regarding Hollywood politics.
Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Actor: Colin Firth for The King's Speech
Best Actress: Natalie Portman for Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech
Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit
Best Director: Tom Hooper for The King's Speech
Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Foreign Language Film: Biutiful
Best Cinematography: True Grit
Best Editing: The Social Network
Best Art Direction: The King's Speech
Best Costume Design: The King's Speech
Best Makeup: The Wolfman
Best Original Score: The Social Network
Best Original Song: "If I Rise" from 127 Hours
Best Sound Mixing: The King's Speech
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Visual Effects: Inception
Best Feature Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Short Subject Documentary: Killing in the Name
Best Short Film, Live Action: God of Love
Best Short Film, Animated: Day and Night
Think you can beat my predictions? Well, then....
*Rest assured, I will never sell or share your information with anyone else. What happens at The Quivering Pen stays at The Quivering Pen.
**The boxed set has been opened but the discs have only been watched once and are in fine condition.