Raya Abirached (a.k.a. the person who has the most wanted job on the planet) has been covering the Oscars for movie channel MBC2 for more than a decade. She spends her days watching, talking, and breathing movies. Hence us consulting her on arguably the most anticipated film award show of the year, The Oscars. Abirached is known for making the best Oscar predictions in the Middle East every year, sometimes announcing her predictions on her weekly show, Scoop with Raya to her mesmerized millions of viewers.
When did you start anticipating the Oscars so well?
Even since I started covering the Toronto Film Festival, about five or six years ago. This is basically the festival where you start seeing the movies that will be highlights throughout the award season. It’s from that starting point, from the Venice Film Festival, to the Toronto International Film Festival and all the festivals leading up to December that we start having a bit of an idea of the movies that are shining.
What’s your secret to be so accurate every year?
Simple mathematical calculation. Whoever wins the Golden Globes plus the SAG Awards plus the BAFTAs is likely to win the Oscar because a lot of them are the same voters, especially when it comes to the SAG awards and the BAFTAs. The buzz in Hollywood is very accurate. So for instance if Viola Davis is the front-runner to win Best Supporting Actress and she’s won all the awards before, you know…it makes it 100% sure she will.
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Do you ever get surprised by the results?
Surprises are possible but if you are following very closely all the awards, the buzz, what journalists are talking about, what actors are winning, and how they’re campaigning, you become quite certain about the results.
What is the Oscar “buzz”?
Some candidates are clear front-runners. They know when they’re coming that they are going to win. Viola Davis is the best example this year. She won all the awards before. Everyone is talking about her as being the sure winner of best supporting actress. You hear it everywhere from private conversations with other journalists, to all the newscasts, or personal preferences, it just all builds up to the Oscar ceremony.
Do you ever watch a performance and know coming out of the movie that it’s Oscar material?
Yes. The best example was seeing Helen Mirren a few years ago in The Queen. I saw her at the Venice Film Festival and I knew from then that this would be a performance that would win. Kate Blanchett a few years ago in Blue Jasmine. I just knew it from the start. Eddie Redmayne in the Theory of Everything. In Toronto everybody was already saying he’s going to win the Oscar.
What about this year?
This year is a boring and tricky one at the same time. On the one hand, I’m sure Viola Davis is going to win. It looks sure that Emma Stone is going to win although Isabelle Hupert might be a surprise.
Up to recently Casey Affleck was the sure front-runner, but in the last few days the buzz is shifting towards Denzel Washington especially ever since he won the SAGs.
In Best Movie, it’s most probably going to be ‘La La Land’ that won everything and that everybody loves but ‘Moonlight’ is a strong contender. Best Supporting is probably Mahershala Ali, just because he doesn’t have any competition in the category. All those who won the previous awards are either unlikely to win the Oscar or are not even get nominated – like Aaron Taylor-Johnson who won the Golden Globe is not even on the list of nominees. So again, sometimes it’s simple mathematic calculation. The buzz is on him, but again who knows.
Some people like to think that the talents know before-hand the results. What are your thoughts on that?
It’s very unlikely that they would know. Especially not the Academy Award. It’s very sealed. It’s a consultancy that counts the votes. For the Golden Globes as well. It can’t be. It can’t be for legal reasons.
There was a scandal a few years ago that the Oscar envelopes disappeared. So they had to seal them and there was a fun story. I mean funny for journalists, probably not for The Academy.
WE SAID THIS: We’re with Abirached on this one and do believe Viola Davis is going to win big this year!