For the past nine decades, the Academy of Motion Pictures has been giving awards to the best films and filmmakers of the past year.  For almost as long, we’ve been doing kinda the same thing here on ToughPigs dot com.  And also totally gaming the system.

Here’s our broken logic: Academy Awards go to the best movies and celebrities, and only the best celebrities get to work with the Muppets.  So naturally, this means that we can predict the winners of the 90th Academy Awards by deciphering which nominees have the best Muppet connection.  You’re welcome in advance for giving you all the answers to your Oscar pools.

Not to brag, but our track record is pretty solid.  For example, we got three whole categories correct last year.  So yeah, our strategy is nothing to balk at.

Here are our picks for this year’s Academy Awards!

Actor in a Supporting Role

Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer for All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Well, we’re off to a great start, as none of these five gentlemen have ever worked with the Muppets.  Personally, I’d love to see Willem Dafoe bring his intensity to a Sesame Street Word of the Day moment, or for Rowlf’s Tavern to hire Woody Harrelson as a bartender.  This award will be going to Sam Rockwell, who made not one but two appearances in films that feature Jim Henson Creature Shop creations.  One of his first films was the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and later starred as Zaphod Beeblebrox in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Mary J. Blige for Mudbound
Allison Janney for I, Tonya
Lesley Manville for Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer for The Shape of Water

Octavia Spencer comes close to winning this award just for showing up at the BAFTA Awards in 2012, where she met Miss Piggy, who confused her film The Help with the Beatles film Help!  But this Oscar goes to Allison Janney, who met Red Fraggle at a benefit event, appeared on Sesame Street during an updated version of “Dance Myself to Sleep”, and even appeared in an episode of the forgotten Henson sitcom Aliens in the Family.  Oh, and she hung out with Big Bird on The West Wing, culminating in one of the greatest shots of any TV show ever.

Actor in a Leading Role

Timothée Chalamet for Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis for Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya for Get Out
Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington for Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Last year, the race in this category was between two actors, both of whom had about the same level of Muppet connection.  We ended up awarding it to Denzel Washington, who happens to be one of our contenders again this year.  So in the spirit of not repeating ourselves, let’s give this one to Gary Oldman, who met Miss Piggy at the aforementioned BAFTA Awards, and called Piggy “the most sincere person I’ve met on this line so far.”  That’s sweet.

Actress in a Leading Role

Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie for I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan for Lady Bird
Meryl Streep for The Post

It’d be easy to give this one to Meryl Streep for her Sesame Street spoof character Meryl Sheep, but she didn’t actually work with the Muppets (save for a red carpet photo with Piggy).  Saoirse Ronan comes really close for her appearance in Muppets Most Wanted, but I’m still a little butthurt that we didn’t actually get to see her full Irish-themed episode of The Muppet Show teased in the film.  So the surprise winner is Frances McDormand!  Frances starred in a 1998 Sesame Street special called “Big Bird Gets Lost”, in which she helps Big Bird to not be lost anymore.  Clearly, this is the work of a professional thespian.

Animated Feature Film

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

Ferdinand is a movie about a talking bull, which is sort of Muppety.  And Boss Baby is about some talking babies, which is particularly topical these days in the Muppet world.  But the biggest Muppet connection goes to Hollywood Star Vincent Van Gogh, whose work has been seen in Muppet coloring books, on Muppet Babies, in Sesame Street storybooks, in Dorothy’s fishbowl, on Kermit’s living room wall, and more.  Sorry Pixar-movie-of-the-year, but this one goes to the painter.

Best Original Song

“Mighty River” from Mudbound
“Mystery of Love” from Call Me by Your Name
“Remember Me” from Coco
“Stand Up for Something” from Marshall
“This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman

“Remember Me” co-writer Robert Lopez has some pretty strong Muppet connections, having written several songs for Bear in the Big Blue House as well as the music for the Sesame Street Broadway spoof Avenue Q.  But we’re gonna have to give this to the Greatest Showman‘s “This Is Me”, written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.  Paul wrote five(!) songs for Sesame Street between seasons 42 and 44, one of which (“Lever Lover”, sung by Sutton Foster) he wrote with his Academy Award nominee partner Benj Pasek.  Obviously, their practice writing about levers led them straight to the red carpet.

Directing

Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water
Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird
Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk
Jordan Peele for Get Out

Everyone who appeared in an episode of the 2015 The Muppets TV series take a step forward.  Not so fast, everyone-except-Jordan-Peele.

Best Foreign Language Film

A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
Loveless (Russia)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)

From what I understand, it’s hip to be a square.  And in this case, being hip might be enough to bring home a little gold statuette.

Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
War for the Planet of the Apes

Listen.  When a movie featuring Frank Oz performing a puppet is nominated, you give that movie an Oscar.  Especially when it’s for Visual Effects, when we all know that puppetry is the ultimate in effects.

Best Picture

Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Dunkirk
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Here we go: The most difficult category, especially since none of these movies starred Muppets or contain any Muppet references, and they’re a bit too recent to have been spoofed by the Muppets yet.  Darkest Hour features some intense makeup for Gary Oldman’s character, similar to what John Hurt wore for his role in The Storyteller.  The titular bird of Lady Bird isn’t a bird at all, but the recent Sesame Street special “The Magical Wand Chase” featured Elizabeth Banks as the “Bird-Lady”, so that’s kinda close.  The Post is about a crisis at The Washington Post, but as I learned in The Muppets Take Manhattan, most dogs prefer the rubber Wall Street Journal to the rubber Washington Post.  Honestly, this would be much easier if one of these films starred Kermit the Frog, so we’ll just have to go with the movie that features an amphibian in an inter-species relationship.

Host

Jimmy Kimmel

Kimmel hosted last year too, so we already argued all we needed to justify his success as host of the Oscars.  But beyond the Muppet guests on Jimmy Kimmel Live, his appearance on Sesame Street, and hanging out with The Count in an episode of Dancing with the Stars, he’s actually done more since the last Academy Awards.  In the Muppets’ recent live show at the Hollywood Bowl, Kimmel is seen in a couple pre-taped bits, as Fozzie Bear runs through the Jimmy Kimmel Live set.  Kimmel’s love of the Muppets just keeps on going, so he’s gonna do great in his second run as host.

Be sure to tune in to the 90th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, March 4th to see how many of our Oscar picks come true! Or don’t bother, since you already know all the winners.

Art credits: Golden Oscar courtesy of Matt Wilkie; Creature from the Black Lagoon courtesy of Danny Beckwith.

Click here to accept this award on Van Gogh’s behalf on the ToughPigs forum!

by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com

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