22 January 2008

There will be Oscars

There may not be a show, but there will be statues. And really, that may be for the best. Picks, mostly WAG, in bold.

Lead Actor:

George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises

It will likely be a big night for Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, one of the most ambitious, heavily praised and hotly debated American movies of the decade. What's not up for debate is the riveting work of Day-Lewis, the world's most scarcely-seen movie actor, and perhaps also the best. They should probably hand out a second-place trophy here, just to keep it interesting.

Supporting Actor

Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Long-Ass Movie Title*
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

The supporting category is a great chance to see people you've probably never heard of before. By that criteria, I'm not sure Hoffman is eligible anymore.

Lead Actress

Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away from Her
Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney - The Savages
Ellen Page - Juno

No obvious choices here. Like every other sensible male under 30, I have a massive crush on Ellen Page, but I don't think she can win here. I'll pick Christie over Cotillard, mostly to assuage my guilt that I haven't sat down to watch "Away from Her" yet.

Supporting Actress

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

Blanchett loses on the Hoffman Rule--which I totally just made up, don't read anything into it--, and Atonement must be prevented from winning anything. That narrows it down to three, and I don't think Michael Clayton will get shut out.

Animated Feature

Surf's Up

I include this only to entertain my fantasy that Persepolis somehow wins.

Documentary Feature

No End in Sight
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
Taxi to the Dark Side

War/Dance and Operation Homecoming are both surprises to me, although I was aware of the former. All the dramatic War on Terra films may have been critical and commercial flops this year, but it was another good season for docs. No End in Sight is the probable winner, but I'm intrigued by Taxi to the Dark Side as well. It would be nice if the academy could lighten up and give some love to docs less Deathly Serious, like The King of Kong.

Foreign Language Feature

The Counterfeiters

OK, I confess to knowing nothing about any of these films. The foreign language category is always a doozy, because it's hard to know exactly which films are eligible and many of them haven't had domestic releases. Nonetheless I'm surprised that both of the big Romanian films, 12:08 East of Bucharest and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, which won the Palme d'Or last year, are absent. Mongol is the first-ever nominee from Kazakhstan--and I can't resist a movie about Mongols--but the Polish nominee Katyn may be a little safer, though nothing's certain here.

Best Picture

Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Blood should be in for a tussle with the Coen's latest film No Country for Old Men, which should be fodder for a lot of entertaining arguments among film buffs. But as much as those two films are praised by many, there's a small but significant population of haters, and Atonement won the Golden Globe against them. And that, friends, must not be allowed to repeat itself under any circumstances. Juno follows the footsteps of Sideways and Little Miss Sunshine as the Plucky Indie Comedy nominee, while Michael Clayton wishes he were born in a different year.


The loser of the titanic struggle at Best Picture should pick up Best Director. Juno gets on the board at Best Original Screenplay, with No Country taking Best Adapted (I hear it's much superior to the book of the same name). It would be a nice surprise for the small Irish film Once to score best song from the Disney behemoth Enchanted, but it's outnumbered three-to-one.