Monday, January 21, 2008

Final Oscar Predictions

Tomorrow is the day I will stumble out of bed at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. to (hopefully) be shocked and surprised at this year's Academy Award Nominations. It's been a crazy, wide open year, and I look forward to surprises in nearly every major category. Last year it seemed as if any of the five nominated films could win Best Picture, yet 2007 has one-upped '06 by sending at least 8 legitimate contenders into the running for a nomination. What follows are my predictions in every category (in order of the likelihood of nomination), as well as my hopefuls, a few of which I can only hope make it to the big dance. Enjoy:

Best Picture

No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Michael Clayton
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild

Alternates: Juno, Atonement
In my dreams: I'm Not There, Zodiac

Let's be serious: the only movie guaranteed a place in the Best Pic lineup this year is No Country. Anything else could conceivably be snubbed. I don't quite feel the buzz for Juno that I once thought was there, although being the only legit money maker among the contenders certainly helps it immensely. The Into the Wild backlash has started full force, although when ballots were being filled out, the film was peaking in terms of visibility. I really can't believe I am predicting a small foreign film (albeit a great one) to make the cut, but The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has scored in all the right places, and Julian Schnabel's directing nod is guaranteed. And Atonement, no matter what he guilds say, simply cannot be ruled out. This category could go so many different ways that it's getting exhausting. No matter the outcome, 2007 will feature one of the strongest Best Pic lineups in recent memory, and for that we should be grateful.

Best Director

Joel & Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood
Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sean Penn - Into the Wild
Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton

Alternates: Sidney Lumet - Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Joe Wright - Atonement, David Fincher - Zodiac
In my dreams- Todd Haynes - I'm Not There

I am fairly confident in the top 4 picks, whether or not Into the Wild makes the Best Pic cut or not. The directors always seemed to throw a curve ball however, so don't be surprised if the legendary Sidney Lumet makes an appearance here. There is hardly ever a 5/5 match up between director and picture, but this year it feels right, and I gotta go with my gut.

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd
Emile Hirsh - Into the Wild

Alternates: Ryan Gosling - Lars and the Real Girl, Denzel Washington - American Gangster,
In my dreams - Philip Seymor Hoffman - Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

The top 4 seem secure here as well, even though Depp missed the SAG nod. I have been praising Hirsh since the day I saw Into the Wild, and I am banking on a big showing for the film as a whole tomorrow, so I have to be consistent across the board. Gosling gave the year's best performance in my opinion, but the film seems rather polarizing to carry it's star to his second straight nomination. Denzel and James McAvoy would have been stronger contenders if their films would have gained any momentum whatsoever this awards season.

Best Actress

Julie Christie - Away from Her
Ellen Page - Juno
Marion Cotillard - la Vie en Rose
Angelina Jolie - A Mighty Heart
Laura Linney - The Savages

Alternates: Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Keira Knightley - Atonement
In my dreams: Kerri Russell - Waitress

The top 4 are locks, and to most, Cate Blanchett would seem the likely fifth nominee, but Elizabeth: The Golden Age was slaughtered by critics. She hasn't scored in any major precursor so far, but I don't see how voters won't be able to mark off Laura Linney's name for her supremely underrated turn in The Savages. She is beloved within the industry (although not as much as Blanchett mind you), and I see this being one of the morning's many pleasant surprises.

Best Supporting Actor

Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton
Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Tommy Lee Jones - No Country for Old Men

Alternates: Phillip Seymor Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War, Paul Dano - There Will Be Blood, Max Von Sydow - the Diving Bell and the Butterfly
In my dreams: Robert Downey Jr. - Zodiac

This is the category where things always get interesting, and so it will be the category where I stick my neck out the furthest. Conventional wisdom says Phil Hoffman grabs the 5th slot for Charlie Wilson's War, but I see the No Country love running deep this year, which is why I am going with Tommy Lee Jones. He also happened to give probably his best performance to date in the little seen but very good In the Valley of Elah, which could inspire voters to cast their votes here. Of course, if There Will Be Blood picks up a bevy of nods (which I fully expect it to), Paul Dano could get swept up in the heap, while the legendary Max Von Sydow is a two scene wonder in the Diving Bell, and is certain to snag some #1 votes. Outside of them, I don't see too many other possibilities.

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton
Catherine Keener - Into the Wild
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement

Alternates: Jennifer Garner - Juno, Ruby Dee - American Gangster
In my dreams - Marissa Tomei - Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

This is a perfect example of keeping things consistent within my predictions. If I had gone with Juno for Best Pic, I may have slid Jennifer Garner into the 5th slot here, but alas I went with Into the Wild, in which case Catherine Keener seems like a logical inclusion. Does she deserve it? No, but what does that have to do with Oscars? Ruby Dee is the only spoiler here I believe, although another legend by the name of Vanessa Redgrave certainly makes an impression in her one scene in Atonement. I think the Academy goes with her Atonement co-star however, Saoirse Ronan, continuing their love for child actors over the years.

Best Original Screenplay

Michael Clayton
The Savages
Lars and the Real Girl

Alternate: American Gangster
In my dreams: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, I'm Not There

Not much to say here. If it doesn't go this way, I'd be pretty shocked.

Best Adapted Screenplay

No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild

Alternates: Charlie Wilson's War, Atonement
In my dreams: Zodiac is my dream

Top 4: locks. In a heated 3-way race for the final slot, we have the forgotten Charlie Wilson's War, the continually snubbed Atonement, and one of the hottest films of the moment, Zodiac. It picked up surprising nominations from both the WGA and the USC Scripter, and with the recent release of the Director's Cut DVD, things seem to be aligning at the right moment. Yes, it is a gutsy pick, but hopefully the Academy will want to honor the film in some capacity outside of the tech field.

Animated Feature

The Simpsons Movie

Best Documentary Feature

No End in Sight
Lake of Fire
Taxi to the Other Side

Best Foreign Language Film

Days of Darkness (Canada)
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (Brazil)
The Counterfeiters (Austria)
Mongol (Kazakhstan)
The Unknown (Italy)

This category is a travesty with the like of Persepolis and 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 Days being disqualified. This is a shot in the dark lineup if there ever was one.

Best Original Score

Lust, Caution
3:10 to Yuma
The Assassination of Jesse James

My dream of Jonny Greenwood and Nick Cave competing against each in this category was thwarted by another Academy technicality, which gave the shaft to Greenwood's already iconic There Will Be Blood score.

Best Cinematography

There Will Be Blood
The Assassination of Jesse James
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men

Best Art Direction

There Will Be Blood
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sweeney Todd
Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Best Editing

No Country for Old Men
The Bourne Ultimatum
There Will Be Blood
Into the Wild
Michael Clayton

Best Visual Effects

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Best Costume Design

There Will Be Blood
Sweeney Todd
Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Best Makeup

La Vie en Rose
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Best Sound Mixing

No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
The Bourne Ultimatum

Best Sound Editing

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Siderman 3

Best Original Song

Falling Slowly, Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova, Once
Guaranteed, Eddie Vedder, Into the Wild
That’s How You’ll Know, Enchanted
Do You Feel me, American Gangster
Got So Far (Got So Far to Go), Hairpsray

Final Nomination Tally:

There Will Be Blood - 9
No Country for Old Men - 9
Into the Wild - 8
Michael Clayton - 7
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - 5
Atonement - 5

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