Thursday, February 21, 2008

Final OSCAR Predictions

Best Picture
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

SHOULD WIN: There Will Be Blood
WILL WIN: No Country for... WAIT A SECOND! Do I really want to be the umpteenth person to predict the boring 'Old' front-runner? Hell, no! The InSneider doesn't play it safe and since it seems like all you have to do to get linked to on the overwhelming glut of Oscar blogs is go against the tide, I'm going with.... ATONEMENT. That's right people. The original front-runner is bound to rear its ugly head in at least one category on Oscar night so why not the top prize? Think about it. The Academy is heavily male but I can't ignore the ladies, as much as they might ignore me. Now some folks think that the female vote is exactl what could propel Juno to the podium at the end of the night but that theory gives me pregnant pause. The backlash exists, people! And the Academy is not comprised of teenage girls, but strong, intelligent women who might favor the period romance. I mean, there has to be some reason that Atonement snuck into the field ahead of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into the Wild and Sweeney Todd. The BAFTA's ( I know, I know) proved the support is there, and the male vote is bound to be split between NCfOM and TWBB. As big a hit as Juno has been at the box office, I can't see anyone, even the film's staunchest supporters, really checking off that box and naming Juno the Best Picture of the Year. It's just an inconceivable scenario to me. Could Clooney's Clayton cold-clock the Coens? Yes, but that movie doesn't really feel like a Best Picture either. So if there are only three possibly movies I can actually see winning the grand prize, and two of them will likely split the vote, then that leaves Atonement standing tall. Plus Oscar loves those one-word titles. Think: Gandhi, Amadeus, Platoon, Unforgiven, Braveheart, Titanic, Gladiator, Chicago, Crash.

Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman, Juno
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

SHOULD WIN: Schnabel
WILL WIN: The Coens. I predict this will be the only award of the night for the Coen brothers and as such, it will be considered their consolation prize for making a movie that was thisclose to being a masterpiece before it overreached with a heavy-handed, confusing and confounding ending. Reitman doesn't belong here and should be happy to be nominated. I see Gilroy and PTA being rewarded in other categories (as you'll see below) and Schnabel, well, he gets the shaft here. The Coens have to win something and this will be it.

Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
4 Other Dudes from Movies not as good as There Will Be Blood

SHOULD WIN, WILL WIN, CAN'T LOSE: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
And Clooney's ride home, or to Dan Tana's, will be silent, just like the end of Michael Clayton, unless of course chatterbox Tony Gilroy is in the same limo.

Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno

WILL WIN: Christie
People are getting sick of the little moppet named Ellen Page. Blanchett's movie wasn't any good. I doubt a foreign-language performance is capable of winning. And while Linney has an excellent body of work and the respect of the entire industry, Searchlight pretty much conceded this award early on by not making a big enough push for The Savages. That leaves Christie, the epitome of what an Oscar nominee should be. She didn't campaign for the award and she wasn't seemingly everywhere at once like Little Miss Juno. It's a last hurrah for her career and she'll go out on top.

Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
4 Other Dudes from Movies not as good as No Country for Old Men

SHOULD WIN, WILL WIN, CAN'T LOSE: Bardem, for creating an iconic cinematic villain. This is one category where you can't stop what's coming. Now watch all the live-bloggers out there scramble to write how Bardem's win at the beginning of the night signals a possible No Country sweep. I think this year has some surprises in store and it'll be quite the opposite. This could be the only award No Country takes. I might winding up sounding like an idiot a few days from now but someone has to take a risk, right?

Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

SHOULD WIN: Blanchett
WILL WIN: Blanchett
This is essentially a two-woman race between Blanchett and Swinton. Ronan is too young and Dee is too old, not to mention she was in the movie for 5 whole minutes and no one walked out of AG talking about her performance. Ryan was the popular pick a few months back but I think her campaign peaked at the wrong time while Swinton has really come on strong as of late. This could be where the Academy rewards Michael Clayton but Blanchett's performance is much more technically accomplished, I don't think it matters that she's already won this award before for The Aviator. I'm Not There was a bit of a mish-mash (though it exceeded my expectations) but I think the Weinsteins helped her with that 45-minute highlight reel they packaged with Variety, and in the end, she really is quite the cross-gender chameleon. Frankly, Swinton has been better before (see The Deep End for proof) and strong as she is in Clayton, she was overshadowed by Clooney, Wilkinson and yes, even Sydney Pollack.

Diablo Cody, Juno
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Brad Bird, Ratatouille
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages

WILL WIN: Gilroy
Everyone says El Diablo has this one in the bag but I wouldn't be so sure. The Juno script had heart but it also had a lot of annoying one-liners that felt more appropriate for a low-grade sitcom. Clayton, on the other hand, was a first-rate legal thriller that was deceptively smart, if not a tad dull. Sure it plays like a Grisham adaptation but people really admire how Gilroy's film harkens back to the conspiracy films of the 70's and they could choose to reward him in this category, since he's better known as a writer than a director. For the record though, I think Juno and Clayton are the worst two scripts out of this bunch, but we know Jenkins and Oliver really stand no shot, and Bird will get his in the animation category.

Christopher Hampton, Atonement
Sarah Polley, Away From Her
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

WILL WIN: Anderson
My guess is as good as ours. Honestly, my head tells me that Anderson has the 3rd best chance of winning this one but I can't give it to the Coens, despite them taking WGA and Scripter honors. Big whoop! Their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel was fairly straight-forward and I still feel like audiences will be pissed they were denied any kind of satisfactory resolution. Harwood is a solid bet, seeing as he tackled the toughest assignment and came up with the idea of shooting from Jean-Do's point of view, plus he already overcame crazy odds a few years back when he surprised everyone with his win for The Pianist. That said, There Will Be Oscar for PTA, and if his film doesn't win Best Picture and the Coens steal Best Director, this is what he'll wind up with for making one of the best films this side of 2000. His adaptation of Upton Sinclair's Oil! was much more creative than the Coens and his abominable creation, Daniel Plainview, is one of the most despicable characters in the history of cinema, ensuring that he'll stay in our minds long after this year's ceremony.

Roger Deakins, The Assassination of Jesse James...
Seamus McGarvey, Atonement
Janusz Kaminski, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Roger Deakins, No Country for Old Men
Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood

SHOULD WIN: Kaminski
WILL WIN: Kaminski
Another incredibly difficult category to call. It seems like Deakins' year but Kaminski's camerawork was integral to the storytelling. The guy's an old pro and if the Academy is looking for fresh 'blood' than I think Elswit stands the best shot. Deakins' work in Jesse James was superior to No Country as well, and his double nomination might wind up costing him the statue. McGarvey's eight-minute tracking shot of Dunkirk is widely admired but I thought it was completely pointless and I doubt I'm alone in that assessment. If the work speaks for itself, Kaminski should prepare his acceptance speech for his brilliant work on Diving Bell.

more coming...

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