Monday, January 21, 2008

FINAL Oscar Predictions

Wooooooooo! It's been a long strange road. I've predicted things on whims, then recanted, then re-instated. Remember some films I called as sure bets for Oscars across the board? If you can't remember, let me remind you: "In the Valley of Elah," "Atonement," "The Savages," "Sweeney Todd." Oh, also, remember this one? "'Michael Clayton' just isn't an Oscar movie. Even Clooney's performance is probably too subtle to be recognized, and the film's only real hope is for Tom Wilkinson and Best Original Screenplay." Woopsie-daisies. In my defense, I did call "Into the Wild" from way back, as well as had the foresight of Viggo Mortensen and Amy Ryan awards love, when few others even mentioned the latter in their reviews of the film. Oh well, no matter. Oscar nominations are tomorrow, and I'm fucking excited. Why? Because if the stars align, this has the potential to be the happiest I've been with the Oscars years.

As usual, there's still a few opportunities for extreme disappointment, but I'm more optimistic this year than most. I'd been playing it safe/pessimistic all season, and against all odds, movies I love have been getting increasing amounts of support. There seems to be equal potential for pleasant surprises (e.g.: "Pan's Labyrinth" receiving 6 nominations) and horrible ones (Paul Giamatti getting snubbed in favor of Johnny Depp and Clint Eastwood). Either way, as the winners are usually much more predictable than the nominees, tomorrow is the most exciting (and my favorite) day of the year for the film industry, and I can't wait. Here are my final predictions for the 2008 Academy Award nominations; see you tomorrow at 8:30 Eastern time:


1. "No Country for Old Men"
2. "There Will Be Blood"
3. "Michael Clayton"
4. "Into the Wild"
5. "Juno"

6. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
7. "Atonement"
8. "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"

Mmmm, what a year. As of right now, the general consensus seems to be that the nominees will be any five out of these six: "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood," "Michael Clayton," "Into the Wild," "Juno" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." While "No Country" seems to be locked-in above all else, I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if any one of the other five missed out on the list tomorrow. Technically the weakest potential nominee of the six (in terms of Guilds) is "Juno," as it missed out on the DGA and the SAG Ensemble award, but the groundswell of love for it just seems too strong to ignore. If it misses out, it won't be a huge surprise to me-- if never really felt like an Oscar movie-- but I think we can count on it.

Meanwhile, "There Will Be Blood," "Michael Clayton" and "Diving Bell" all received DGA, WGA and PGA nominations, so by all logical reasoning, they should be in, but I don't know if "Diving Bell" has the chops to make it. People who love it LOVE it, but a surprising pocket of viewers seem to be indifferent to it, and I think it still might prove too arty/foreign for the Academy. Still the Guild support is hard to ignore, and I wouldn't be shocked if it makes it in over "Juno;" in fact, it probably deserves to. Ultimately, I'd bank on "No Country," "There Will Be Blood" and "Michael Clayton" as the safest bets, and I'd count on either "Juno," "Into the Wild" and "Diving Bell" being one of the ones that misses.

"Into the Wild" missed out on the PGA award, but if this makes any sense, it struck me as less of a 'Producers' movie than the others. I think it was fighting for its slot with "Clayton," which struggled for its funding and ended up being successful, and "Juno," which has the appearance of being an "indie" even though it's not, and is a huge box office hit-- both big Producers selling points. "Wild," on the other hand, (a) didn't really have difficulty amassing its budget, (b) just did okay-to-poor at the box office, and (c) was much more centric on Sean Penn's writing/directing than any sort of production/producing values. The enthusiasm for it at other Guilds, including the massive bukkake session it received at the SAGs, shows the love is there, and when receiving it from SAG, the largest voting branch of the Academy, I think it's in.

Like I said, all six are equally strong contenders, and seem to have enough props to get them in, but alas, only five can make it. Picking which one doesn't is as arbitrary and futile as picking one out of a hat, but "Diving Bell" seems the most likely to miss out at this juncture, the final race to the finish line. As for "Atonement" and "Sweeney Todd," I think they're both just as dead as their leading characters by the closing credits, but never say never. Best to keep them in at the bottom of the list as a safety net.

In terms of my happiness, I think "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" were the two major cinematic benchmarks of the year, and the ones most likely to make an impact on cinematic history, so as long as those two make it in, I don't give a shit what else happens. It'll be the equivalent for me of if "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Children of Men" both got Best Picture nominations last year (if you don't recall, neither one did). Oscar taste rarely, if ever, seems to be in line with mine, so if by some weird aligning of stars, the films I adore get recognition, I'll be thankful and grateful.


1. The Coen Brothers, "No Country for Old Men"
2. Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
3. Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"
4. Sean Penn, "Into the Wild"
5. Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"

6. Sidney Lumet, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"
7. David Cronenberg, "Eastern Promises"
8. Joe Wright, "Atonement"
9. Tim Burton, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
10. Ben Affleck, "Gone Baby Gone"
11. Jason Reitman, "Juno"

Possibly the least exciting category, with four of the five slots seeming all-but-locks, with the fifth nearly there, Best Director seems like it will be full of deserving, if unsurprising candidates. The Coen Brothers, Schnabel, Anderson and Penn all seem good-to-go. The fifth slot seemed a little more up in the air, with the chance for Sidney Lumet or Tim Burton, but Gilroy's film seems a lock for a Best Picture nomination AND he clinched the DGA, so I think he's nearly as much of a lock as the other four. I'm still holding out for an out-of-left-field surprise like Ben Affleck, but it's probably for naught.


1. Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"
2. George Clooney, "Michael Clayton"
3. Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises"
4. Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
5. Ryan Gosling, "Lars and the Real Girl"

6. Emile Hirsch, "Into the Wild"
7. James McAvoy, "Atonement"
8. Denzel Washington, "American Gangster"

Tricky, tricky category. Day-Lewis and Clooney are locked-in, 100%. The other three have strong indicators going their way, but have just as many potential drawbacks. Mortensen got love from the Globes, BFCA, SAG, and Focus has been campaigning him like crazy; but he also keeps a low profile within the industry, and said "fuck you" to the Academy when they offered him membership in the past. Depp is beloved by the Academy, and they've shown they'll nominate him for anything (*cough* "Finding Neverland" *cough*); however, "Sweeney" isn't too well-liked, has lost much support over the last few weeks, plus Depp missed out with the SAG, who are usually his homeboys. Gosling got the Globe, BFCA and SAG love too, but it's hard to find people who've seen the movie, and Emile Hirsch seems to be riding along his coattails very, very closely with his HFPA, BFCA, SAG nominations.

This line-up could easily turn out to be (a) Day-Lewis, Clooney, Mortensen, Depp, Hirsch, (b) Day-Lewis, Clooney, Mortensen, Gosling, Hirsch, (c) Day-Lewis, Clooney, Depp, Gosling, Hirsch, or (d) Day-Lewis, Clooney, Mortensen, Depp, Gosling. Still, I'm still thinking/hoping that the Academy will see what I see, and fail to be impressed by Hirsch's fine-but-nothing-exceptional-except-for-his-weight-loss perfomance. Day-Lewis, Mortensen and Gosling gave the three best male performances of the year, and the three of them, plus Depp and Clooney will be a line-up I'll be extraordinarily happy with.


1. Julie Christie, "Away From Her"
2. Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"
3. Ellen Page, "Juno"
4. Angelina Jolie, "A Mighty Heart"
5. Laura Linney, "The Savages"

6. Amy Adams, "Enchanted"
7. Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
8. Keira Knightley, "Atonement"
9. Jodie Foster, "The Brave One"

Another fifth-slot toughie here. Christie, Cotillard and Page have been getting round-the-clock love and support all season, and Angelina has been close behind. At most other awards, Blanchett has been filling slot number five, but I just refuse to believe/accept that this is going to happen. She has to have just been a slot-filler for some unbeknownst reason, to be rectified later. Amy Adams has been beloved by everyone, and could make it in, but I'm going to have to go with my gut, my wishful-thinking choice of 2007, the performance that's been overlooked by every single awards body all season, Laura Linney in "The Savages."

When I first saw this performance, I thought it had a chance to be the one to take the awards season by storm, finally getting recognition for the always superb Linney, who's never won an Oscar. But alas, whether the film just wasn't seen enough, or the passion just wasn't worked up for the performance, nothing has happened thus far. But I believe now, that screeners are being widely seen/circulated, people are bound to start appreciating this performance, and I think/hope she'll get in as a "surprise" nomination. My gut has a tendency to have shit-for-brains (e.g.: my no guts, no glory prediction for Joan Allen for "The Upside of Anger" two years ago), but I'm going to go with it nonetheless and see what happens.
(11:21 Literal Eleventh Hour Commentary: I've just been informed that Entertainment Weekly also predicted a surprise nomination for Linney and I'm perceived as jumping on some sort of 'bandwagon'-- this is not the case. I haven't had a subscription to EW for over a year, so I didn't get a chance to see their predictions. Not that anyone cares, jus' sayin'.)


1. Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"
2. Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton"
3. Hal Holbrook, "Into the Wild"
4. Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Charlie Wilson's War"
5. Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

6. Tommy Lee Jones, "No Country for Old Men"
7. Paul Dano, "There Will Be Blood"
8. John Travolta, "Hairspray"
9. Max Von Sydow, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Boring, but nice. These five have been the same ones we've been seeing all season, and they're all pretty excellent. The only real tension lies in seeing if Affleck or Hoffman get snubbed in favor of surprise pop-ups from Jones or Dano. But I really hope it's these five, and it's looking like it's going to be.


1. Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"
2. Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
3. Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton"
4. Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"
5. Kelly Macdonald, "No Country for Old Men"

6. Catherine Keener, "Into the Wild"
7. Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"
8. Jennifer Garner, "Juno"
9. Leslie Mann, "Knocked Up"
10. Vanessa Redgrave, "Atonement"

While three out of these five (Ryan, Blanchett and Swinton) can breathe easy, the fight for the final two slots should be a knife fight in the street. Ronan seemed a sure thing, but I could see "Atonement" suffering from a group mentality wanting to deny the film anything; Macdonald has got no recognition at all these season, but I just think her performance will stick with people and be helped by her making the rounds with Bardem, Brolin and the Coens on the campaign trail. Catherine Keener's been popping up on all the shortlists thus far, though I wonder if her wonderful work is too subtle, and nobody's been talking about her-- at all. Ruby Dee is old, well-liked, has one really good scene, and she got nominated by SAG; it's feasible, if not probable.

Jennifer Garner has gone the whole season without being mentioned, but if "Juno" love gets spread around, I could see a surprise nomination for the one grounding/emotional performance in the film. Leslie Mann's a long shot, but she's really terrific in the movie, the film's been getting some love (particularly by the WGA), and Universal has been smartly spending money on trade ads for Mann, knowing Supporting Actress is a very weak category this year. Vanessa Redgrave delivers a single-scene knockout, but she seemed a lot more likely before the film started getting rejected left and right. The safest bets for those last two slots are probably Ronan and Keener, but I'm getting a Macdonald feeling in my heart of guts, though as she was my #1 in this category, I'm a little biased. Still, I think her final scene in the film is really going to linger with people, and hopefully will result in her getting swept along with the "No Country" fervor.


1. Diablo Cody, "Juno"
2. Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
3. Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages"
4. Brad Bird, "Ratatouille"
5. Nancy Oliver, "Lars and the Real Girl"

6. Kelly Masterson, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"
7. Judd Apatow, "Knocked Up"
8. Adrienne Shelly, "Waitress"
9. Todd Haynes and Oren Moverman, "I'm Not There"
10. John Carney, "Once"


1. Joel and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
2. Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"
3. Sean Penn, "Into the Wild"
4. Ronald Harwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
5. James Vanderbilt, "Zodiac"

6. Sarah Polley, "Away From Her"
7. Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard, "Gone Baby Gone"
8. Aaron Sorkin, "Charlie Wilson's War"
9. Christopher Hampton, "Atonement"
10. Andrew Dominik, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"


Anonymous Ill-Informed Gadfly said...

Not only should Joan Allen have been nominated for "The Upside of Anger," she should have won.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Barry said...

I agree with your Best Actress and Supporting Actress nominations. I agree with some of your other ones, but those two categories are where a lot of people are predicting other things and other than myself, I haven't seen a lot of people predict those choices.

9:54 PM  

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