Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Handicapping the Oscars

Nominations were announced today for the 80th annual Academy Awards. Here's a list of the nominees for the major categories. Names in bold are my picks, along with possible upsets. We're a month away and things can change, so check back before placing your bets.

Best Motion Picture
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men In spite of the controversial ending, the Coen Brothers have perfectly adapted Cormac McCarthy's best selling novel into an American classic. In spite of the strong field, the Coen's time has come. John Ford would be proud.
There Will Be Blood

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
George Clooney (Michael Clayton) While I'm sure this is Daniel Day Lewis' year, I have to give dark horse honors to George Clooney. Hollywood loves him, 'Michael Clayton' is one of the best reviewed films of the year, and Clooney delivered an Oscar caliber performance.
Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood) While he only makes movies every eclipse, Daniel Day Lewis continues to captivate us with the power and nuance of his performances. In 'There Will Be Blood' he deftly illustrates the totality with which power can corrupt, leaving a barren husk of a man that you can't take your eyes away from.
Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd: The Demon of Fleet Street)
Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
Julie Christie (Away From Her) Christie, an Oscar winner over 40 years ago (Darling) has swept almost every award since the season started. No reason to stop now.
Marion Cotillard (La Mome) Cotillard has won her share of awards this year portraying French superstar Edith Piaf. However, the film's lack of box office and foreign subject matter will result in her watching Julie Christie take the stage.
Laura Linney (The Savages)
Ellen Page (Juno)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford)
Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) If any category has a flat out lock, it's this one. Bardem has one everything and created the most terrifying villain since Hannibal Lecter.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson's War)
Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild)
Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There) Blanchett will probably cancel herself out with two nods in two categories, but this is the one she should have won for
Ruby Dee (American Gangster)
Saoirse Ronan (Atonement)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) See my comments for supporting actor, but drop the second sentence.
Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)

Best Achievement in Directing
Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men) A flawess execution of a cinematic vision
Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton)
Jason Reitman (Juno)
Julian Schnabel (Le Scaphandre et le papillon)

Best Writing, Screenplay written directly for the Screen
Diablo Cody (Juno) Currently everybody's favorite, the former stripper turned screenwriter should take home the gold
Nancy Oliver (Lars and the Real Girl)
Tony Gilroy (Michael Cooper)
Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco (Ratatouille)
Tamara Jenkins (The Savages)

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Christopher Hampton (Atonement) This is the kind of adaptation that Hollywood tends to respond to, but No Country could well pull an upset here
Sarah Polley (Away From Her)
Ronald Harwood (Le Scaphandre et le papillon)
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men)
Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)

There are many other categories, cinematography, editing, make up, costume design etc. I'll get to those and others in a future post.

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