OK, so wow, France is doing much better than expected, and my US team is looking like their number 1 rank is deserved. I am relieved and will go forth being overly optimistic for them because I love them so much.
So, my predictions for the rest of the group games.
France and Germany are tied on points, but France has a much better goal differential, meaning that all they have to do is tie Germany to move forward as the winners. Germany is the favorite, but France has looked much better on the field — something I definitely did not predict. I’d like France to win and that, more than anything, is leading me to say that France will win the group, and Germany will be second.
Japan is definitely going forward, so the competition is between Mexico and England. England is well ahead in goal differential, so they can lose to Japan and still move forward, which is exactly what I think is going to happen. Japan first, England second.
This is as fun as Group A, because the US and Sweden are literally fighting for the number one slot. Like France, all the US has to do is tie to win the group. I think they’re going to outright beat Sweden, or at least that is my hope. US number 1, Sweden number 2.
I simply cannot see Brazil not creaming Equatorial Guinea, which may be very fun to watch, so the competition is now for second place between Australia and Norway. Norway has not been impressive, but Australia’s defense has been lax. Australia just has to tie Norway to move on, and I think they’ve got that in them. I’m saying Brazil 1, Australia 2.
So if the games followed this prediction, we’d end up with the following matches.
France vs England
I’m tempted to say France, as surprised as I am by that. This seems like a very close match to me.
Japan vs Germany
Should be a great game as well, but I think Japan is going to be tough to beat.
US vs Australia
This should be an easy win for the US.
Brazil vs Sweden
This should be an easy win for Brazil.
France vs Japan
I think this is Japan’s.
US vs Brazil
Man, this is tough. I don’t know. They are my two favorite teams. I think Brazil is weak in their defense and the US could exploit it, but sometimes it seems like the US barely even shows up. I’m going to say the US, but I would be thrilled to see either one of these teams in the final.
France vs Brazil
US vs Japan
First, here’s the link to the spreadsheet on Google Docs should you want to play.
Basically what I did is make a spreadsheet predicting the winners based solely on their FIFA rank. It should be immediately noted that, in the past, FIFA rank has meant nothing. The World Cup is high stakes game playing, and injuries, travel, exhaustion, and carding are all important. So, the FIFA rank will probably end up being nearly useless at predicting games. But it’s there and I have access to it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the way the World Cup works, I’ll explain. It starts out with 8 groups (A-H) of 4 teams (32 teams total, 48 group matches). Every team in each group plays each other (6 games), and whoever has the most wins in that group moves forward as 1A, whoever has the second most wins moves forward as 2A, the other two teams go home. There are various tie-breaking things that inevitably matter as soccer is a very low-score sport, but the important thing is that every team has 3 games to prove themselves before getting kicked out.
Once a team has gotten through the group stage, it enters the knockout round, which means every game is win or go home.
Here are the games by group:
It’s fairly self-explanatory, but if you look at the last one: it’s game 48, held on 6/25, Group H, Switzerland has a FIFA ranking of 24, Honduras 38, so Switzerland to win by a 14 rank superiority.
Another interesting way of looking at the data is to group it by how closely matched two teams will be:
So, my guess would be that anything within 6 is going to be a close game, anything within 10 could easily go to the underdog, beyond 15 would probably require extremely extenuating circumstances to turn the game, and finally that N. Korea, S. Africa and New Zealand are probably completely screwed.
So, within each group there are some games that could turn out to be vitally important for the underdog to win to move forward, and where two teams are ranked closely enough that this is possible.
Mexico and Uruguay are extremely closely matched, with France significantly (but not unreachably) higher ranked, it’s likely going to be a fight to move on as 2A. Likely, Uruguay will be coming off an easy win, and Mexico will be coming off a hard fought loss.
Australia could beat Serbia and move forward as 2D.
The only game in this group that looks even remotely close is Slovakia v Paraguay. And fortunately for the drama, they’ll be fighting to stay in the competition. Of course, getting to the knockout stage is probably all they’ll manage, but there’s no small pride in that.
It’s not super close, but the Americas often don’t do as well overseas, Switzerland could be the one to go forward.
So, using this same method, the rest of the Cup looks like this:
If it fell out like this, I tell you the last 9 games would be un-bloody-believable to watch.
I think that Avatar’s going to win an awful lot. Basically it’s going to win unless there’s a really compelling reason to give it to someone else. That being said, as a technical achievement, the film is a marvel, and I think it winning the technical categories is completely called for. And of course, most of the wins in the technical categories aren’t really for “best” so much as they are for “most”. “Most Cinematography” and “Most Editing”.
The only thing I really want to happen is that I really want Kathryn Bigelow to win best director. She’s only the fourth female nominee in the category. My preference for Up in a lot of places is just that I think that animated films deserve to be more recognized than they are. I don’t think Up is nearly as amazing as Wall-E was, but I’m going to pull for animation. Especially as there isn’t anything here I really care that much about.
Who I want to win in italics, who I think will win in bold. No italics where I have no preference, or not enough knowledge.
Actor in a Leading Role
• Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”
• George Clooney in “Up in the Air”
• Colin Firth in “A Single Man”
• Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”
• Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”
Actor in a Supporting Role
• Matt Damon in “Invictus”
• Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
• Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
• Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
• Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”
Actress in a Leading Role
• Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
• Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
• Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
• Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
• Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”
Actress in a Supporting Role
• Penélope Cruz in “Nine”
• Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”
• Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
• Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”
• Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Animated Feature Film
• “Coraline” Henry Selick
• “Fantastic Mr. Fox” Wes Anderson
• “The Princess and the Frog” John Musker and Ron Clements
• “The Secret of Kells” Tomm Moore
• “Up” Pete Docter
• “Avatar” Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
• “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
• “Nine” Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
• “Sherlock Holmes” Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
• “The Young Victoria” Art Direction: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Maggie Gray
• “Avatar” Mauro Fiore
• “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” Bruno Delbonnel
• “The Hurt Locker” Barry Ackroyd
• “Inglourious Basterds” Robert Richardson
• “The White Ribbon” Christian Berger
• “Bright Star” Janet Patterson
• “Coco before Chanel” Catherine Leterrier
• “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Monique Prudhomme
• “Nine” Colleen Atwood
• “The Young Victoria” Sandy Powell
• “Avatar” James Cameron
• “The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow
• “Inglourious Basterds” Quentin Tarantino
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels
• “Up in the Air” Jason Reitman
• “Burma VJ” Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
• “The Cove” Nominees to be determined
• “Food, Inc.” Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
• “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
• “Which Way Home” Rebecca Cammisa
Documentary (Short Subject)
• “China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province” Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
• “The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner” Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
• “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
• “Music by Prudence” Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
• “Rabbit à la Berlin” Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra
• “Avatar” Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
• “District 9” Julian Clarke
• “The Hurt Locker” Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
• “Inglourious Basterds” Sally Menke
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Joe Klotz
Foreign Language Film
• “Ajami” Israel
• “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” Argentina
• “The Milk of Sorrow” Peru
• “Un Prophète” France
• “The White Ribbon” Germany
• “Il Divo” Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
• “Star Trek” Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
• “The Young Victoria” Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore
Music (Original Score)
• “Avatar” James Horner
• “Fantastic Mr. Fox” Alexandre Desplat
• “The Hurt Locker” Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
• “Sherlock Holmes” Hans Zimmer
• “Up” Michael Giacchino
Music (Original Song)
• “Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
• “Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
• “Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36” Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
• “Take It All” from “Nine” Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
• “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
• “Avatar” James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
• “The Blind Side” Nominees to be determined
• “District 9” Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
• “An Education” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
• “The Hurt Locker” Nominees to be determined
• “Inglourious Basterds” Lawrence Bender, Producer
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
• “A Serious Man” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
• “Up” Jonas Rivera, Producer
• “Up in the Air” Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers
Short Film (Animated)
• “French Roast” Fabrice O. Joubert
• “Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
• “The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)” Javier Recio Gracia
• “Logorama” Nicolas Schmerkin
• “A Matter of Loaf and Death” Nick Park
Short Film (Live Action)
• “The Door” Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
• “Instead of Abracadabra” Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström
• “Kavi” Gregg Helvey
• “Miracle Fish” Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey
• “The New Tenants” Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson
• “Avatar” Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
• “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson
• “Inglourious Basterds” Wylie Stateman
• “Star Trek” Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
• “Up” Michael Silvers and Tom Myers
• “Avatar” Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
• “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
• “Inglourious Basterds” Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
• “Star Trek” Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
• “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson
• “Avatar” Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
• “District 9” Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
• “Star Trek” Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
• “District 9” Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
• “An Education” Screenplay by Nick Hornby
• “In the Loop” Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
• “Up in the Air” Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner
Writing (Original Screenplay)
• “The Hurt Locker” Written by Mark Boal
• “Inglourious Basterds” Written by Quentin Tarantino
• “The Messenger” Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
• “A Serious Man” Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
• “Up” Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy