February 20, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Media Rare #14

I Don’t Know, But I’ll Oscar

"...what we want to win and what does win are almost always two different things"

By Casey St. Charnez

Media Rare

Casey St. Charnez has been video editor for Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide since 1986 and buyer for Lisa Harris' Video Library since 1981. He likes Lisa, cats, crosswords, and the Metropolitan Opera, probably in that order.

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This is the week when Oscar pundits and Vegas bookies handicap who and what will win how many, if any, in print and on the telly, and at all stops beyond.

That includes radio, and Lisa and myself, announcing our annual predictions with Honey Harris on "The Big Show" the morning of Feb. 24, a mere two days before they hand out the statues.

Honey goes through the ballot with us, coaxing both opinion and prognostication. Lisa voices the vox populi, based on what she hears on the counter at the Vid, while I represent the research end of things, based on studying the trades, the Web, and industry history and trends. She qualifies and I quantify. We try not to let our personal preferences enter the picture, since what we want to win and what does win are almost always two different things.

We've been doing this for a startling number of years now, and as usual we will open by saying, "Nobody knows anything."

And it's true. There's absolutely no second-guessing the Academy Awards. But with assiduous study, from "Entertainment Tonight" to Entertainment Weekly, a degree of accuracy may be achieved.

For just as the Republican spotlight over the months has shifted from Huntsman to Perry to Romney to Gingrich to Paul to Santorum, with side spots briefly shining on Bachmann, Palin, and even Gary Johnson, so has the 2011-12 Hollywood Zeitgeist Machine first championed "The Tree of Life," then "Midnight in Paris," followed by successive 15 minutes of fame for "Moneyball" and "Dragon Tattoo" (which didn't get a nom, after all), and a few weeks later the predictable critics' showdown between "The Artist" and "Hugo," and finally in the last few days a big push for "The Help."

Of course, every year someone has a lock on a win. This year, at least at this moment, it looks like it's definitely Best Actress for Viola Davis. But that could change by the time we're chatting with Honey. Everything is down to the wire.

Some things are certain. There will be an upset (Goldie Hawn...really? Really?). There will be an atrocity ("It's Hard Out There for a Pimp"), an embarrassment (Jack Palance's one-arm push-up), a sweet moment (Louise Fletcher signing to her deaf mother), a sour moment (Vanessa Redgrave's "Zionist hoodlums"), plus the assorted red carpet jaw-droppers.

But, still, who can say? There was a time when I prided myself on being able to pick the winners. Best I ever did was 22 categories out of 24. As I had been posting officially on Variety's Web site, they named me an "Oscar Oracle." I printed that out.

(I also printed out their list of participating seers, because for the first and perhaps only time, "St. Charnez, Casey" was right above "Spears, Britney," which pleased me even more than being oracular, if you get my drift).

Nevertheless, as I keep saying, no one but the Delphic can foresee the future, and that means me, too. The truly best movie I saw last year was "My Own Love Song" with Renée Zellweger, Forest Whitaker, and Nick Nolte, and nobody's ever heard of it.

Ah, my point exactly, and it does make me wonder what we're going to decide to say come Friday morn.

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