Friday, February 22, 2008

Academy Awards Predictions.

The nerves are kicking in...
My palms are sweaty...
I'm beginning to have Julie vs. Marion internal battles that make me seem like Russell Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind"...
What can all this mean?
It's Oscar weekend!

2007 was arguably one of the greatest years for cinema since the art form was invented.
Surprisingly the Academy's Oscar nominations prove it. While the Oscars have been widely known to pick safe, dull and predictable nominees (just take a look at their Best Picture nominees for 1999 and 2004) this year one almost wishes they'd expanded their five nominees per category rules. Luckily this year, most of the winners will result worthy (except "Norbit" winning anything of course).
"No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood", both revisionist masterpieces, are battling out for Best Picture and in eight other categories. With no film looking as it will sweep, we might end with one of the most memorable ceremonies of all time in which the boldness of the films evokes the freshness of the 70s.
With Iraq/Vietnam parallels, highlighted by the moment which should make Julie Christie a two time Oscar winner and give "No End In Sight" the documentary award, our world has become more conscious if its mortality.
And whether it comes in weird allegorical Javier Bardem look alikes or animated in black and white with French sense of humor, it's a breath of fresh air to see the Academy is finally putting art before business.
Best Picture

Will win: No Country for Old Men
Should win: There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, Atonement

One of the most solid Best Picture line ups in ages (and the best so far this decade) is perhaps characterized by its lack of a single biopic among its nominees.
But with cases like Daniel Plainview, Briony Tallis and Juno McGuff the Academy reminds us that truth isn't always more fascinating than fiction.
A case could be made for any of the nominees. "Michael Clayton"'s entertaining legal thrills have the kind of prestige meant to garner nominations, but no sure wins.
"Juno" covers the annual indie slot, but is also a portrait of zeitgeist worthy of time capsules. "Atonement", my personal favorite is the sort of film Oscars were made for, but with no Director nod, some tech awards are all it will garner.
Then there's the big ones. "No Country for Old Men" is a return to form for the marvellous Coen brothers who should've won this award for "Fargo" more than a decade ago and P.T Anderson's "There Will Be Blood" the kind of movie which is impossible to ignore but the Academy will be too afraid to crown.
Both films are extremely dark and existential. Both are new career highlights by their creators and which ever wins, both are true masterpieces.
Best Director

Will win: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen "No Country for Old Men"
Should win: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen "No Country for Old Men"

I'll try to ignore the fact that they snubbed the brilliant Cristian Mungiu and Joe Wright.
The Coen brothers are undoubtedly one of the most iconic and prolifif American filmmakers. They deserved this award for "Fargo" back in 96 and since now they're both getting shared credits, the Academy will find it fit to share a bit.
P.T Anderson might be a threat, but I'm sure the Academy will want to reward him later in his career. If "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" had been nominated for Best Picture, this might have been Julian Schnabel's.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Will win: Daniel Day Lewis "There Will Be Blood"
Should win: Daniel Day Lewis "There Will Be Blood"

Johnny Depp will win someday, but his Sweeney Todd isn't Oscar worthy.
Tommy Lee Jones should have been nominated for "No country for Old Men" but as long as the Academy fellates Paul Haggis we'll have to stick to having any Haggis element nominated.
Viggo Mortensen was brilliant in "Eastern Promises" but the nomination is his award.
If George Clooney hadn't won so recently, he might be a real threat. His Michael Clayton is his finest screen achievement so far.
But as achievements go, Daniel Day Lewis' Daniel Plainview is "There Will Be Blood".
A real force of nature, the Academy will think it's rewarding Anderson here as well and with nobody to Adrien Brody Lewis' walk to that podium all we have to wonder is how will he top the beautiful speeches he's been delivering all season long.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Will win: Julie Christie "Away From Her"
Should win: Julie Christie "Away From Her"
People complained that 2007 was an awful year for actresses, which only makes ironic the fact that the actress categories are the most exciting and unpredictable this year.
On one side we have Laura Linney who got a surprise nomination, that could very well end with a suprise win for her role in "The Savages".
Then we have Cate Blanchett who reprises her role as Queen Elizabeth II in one of the most critically panned films of the year, but remember Jessica Lange in "Blue Sky"? And anyways the Academy has never forgiven itself for not giving her this award back in 98 and they might wanna make it up to her.
Then we have Ellen Page's Juno, who had the tough job to deliver Diablo Cody's words like a real person and succeeded. But if it isn't for a case of split votes, Page only counts on Roger Ebert's support...which again led Charlize, Halle and Hilary to wins in this category.
The big players however are Marion Cotillard for her portrayal of the doomed Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose" who gave an absolutely flawless performance in a very flawed movie.
If the film had been edited in chronological order she'd have this in the bag. Against her are also the subtitles and the fact that lazy Academy voters rarely watch movies that demand reading and mind boggling structures. But who says they saw it? Both Keira Knightley and George Clooney are Cotillard supporters and can you imagine how international the Academy will seem with two non-English winners?
Then there's Christie who as a fading woman suffering from Alzheimer's gave the kind of performance that can survive 10 long months after being released! She won 45 years ago for playing a sexy, slutty model and now playing a graceful lady would be the perfect bookend for her other statuette.Again, nothing is sure in this category. Really anyone can upset here. For me a win for either Christie or Cotillard would be a good thing.
Even better if it's for Christie though...

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Will win: Javier Bardem "No Country for Old Men"
Should win: Javier Bardem "No Country for Old Men"

The only real lock of the night.
Casey Affleck should be in the lead category where even I'd root for him, but as far as this goes, all I hope is Javier wears a tie and dedicates his win to Penélope.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Will win: Cate Blanchett "Im Not There"
Should win: Cate Blanchett "Im Not There"
Same as Best Actress: everyone complained how crappy the category was and now nobody knows who will win.
Ruby Dee might win for career achievement. But her "American Gangster" performance was short and unimportant and has only fooled people into buying her because she was indeed the best thing in a very flawed film. But come on, if not even Peter O'Toole got one, a cameo by Ruby Dee does? Really?
Saoirse Ronan's Briony might win if everyone else splits the votes, but then again the Academy loves mean girls, if not ask Anna Paquin.
At one point everyone though Amy Ryan's junkie mom in "Gone Baby Gone" was the one to beat, but despite her great performance, the buzz has been dying.
Some of it transferred to Tilda Swinton, who got huge buzz after winning the BAFTA a few weeks ago. Truth be told this might be the only category where "Michael Clayton" might win big, but is Tilda too weird for the Academy? (That letter to her son, the clothes, the androgyny, the men swapping) One has to love that we still have people like Swinton around.
But their choice for edgy, avant garde-ness seems to have a new name: Cate Blanchett.
Her Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There" is probably the best female performance of 2007 and while she won a few years back for playing Kate Hepburn, is it really her fault that she is so damn good?
Blanchett is pregnant which might get some awww votes, she gives a gimmicky performance (Linda Hunt won for the same here) but for those who see beyond the gimmick Cate might seem threatening.
I'm sure someone else will win this, but for once I'll pretend I live in a world where people simply vote for the best.

Best Original Screenplay
Will win: Diablo Cody "Juno"
Should win: Tony Gilroy "Michael Clayton"

Diablo will win because she's a stripper. Not any kind of stripper, but one who overcame that sinful world to become an Academy Award nominated lady. The American dream!
Despite the fact that her Juno is a "Gilmore Girls" ripoff , it has some quotable lines and the indie always gets this award.
But it should really go to Gilroy for refreshing the legal thriller in "Michael Clayton".
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will win: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen "No Country for Old Men"
Should win: Christopher Hampton "Atonement"

The Coen brothers are known for their crisp, witty and darkly funny writing. Their screenplay for "No Country..." is no exception.
And while "There Will Be Blood" is an exceptional achievement, it doesn't look like screenplay work. The same goes for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly".
Sarah Polley's lovely "Away From Her" does a great job adapting Alice Munro's short story into an ellegiac love story, but its effect is perhaps too subtle to take notice.
Then there's Hampton's brilliant, allegorical adaptation of Ian McEwan's bestseller. Hampton's work which tries to figure out the essence of what makes writing so important is perhaps the kind of thing why screenwriters went to strike in order to defend their rights.
"Atonement" elevates the written word to the divine and also makes a greatly entertaining film out of it.
Best Documentary Feature
Will win: "No End in Sight"
Should win: "No End in Sight"
Michael Moore himself noticed how the Academy finally opened its eyes to the Iraq war and "No End in Sight" is every bit as enfuriating and informative as we need now.
It's a truly exceptional lineup, except for "War/Dance" which has the kids' stories the Academy loves and often rewards. Only this one might upset "No End in Sight".
Best Foreign Language Film
Will win: "The Counterfeiters"
Should win: "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days"
Austria's entry has everything Oscar voters embrace: uplifting spirit, mild sense of humor, good performances and WWII.
Too bad they snubbed the marvelous Romanian film for even a nomination!
Best Animated Feature
Will win: "Ratatouille"
Should win: "Persepolis"
Pixar's "Rataotuille" is perhaps their best work to date, but Marjane Saptrapi's story about an Iranian expat, trying to fit into the Western world is the kind of film that reminds us hand drawn animation should be here to stay.
Best Cinematography
Will win: Seamus McGarvey "Atonement"
Should win: Roger Deakins "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

Janusz Kaminski's work in "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" is the best in technical terms and in pushing the camera to new levels, while Roger Deakins' spare work in "No Country for Old Men" recalls "Brokeback Mountain", but if that one didn't win and had greener pastures, this one is out too.
Robert Elswit's magnificent job in "There Will Be Blood" took us to the tunnels and oil fields of turn of the century California.
One of the night's strongest categories (perhaps the best in terms of cinematic quality overall) it's great to see that the cinematographers' branch is nominating the best in their field.
But when it comes time to vote, everyone gets to do it and normal voters probably pick the prettiest, and easiest, thing which is why McGarvey's old style cinematography and the way he shot Keira in the mist with that dress will give him Oscar number one.

Best Editing
Will win: Roderick Jaynes "No Country for Old Men"
Should win: Roderick Jaynes "No Country for Old Men"

If only for the hotel sequence. Slow, yet thrilling. Revealing and somehow cryptic.
It's oure brilliant stuff.
People are saying "The Bourne Ultimatum" will win here, but will the Academy reward this kind of movie when it passed up "United 93" last year?

Best Art Direction
Will win: "Atonement"
Should win: "Atonement"

The prettiest picture usually gets this and "Atonement" also happens to be the most complete ouf of the nominees. It's lush English manor and latter WWII ravaged London scream more art direction than the dusty "There Will Be Blood" and the bloody, but barely there sets of "Sweeney Todd".

Best Costume Design
Will win: Atonement
Should win: Atonement


Best Original Score
Will win: "Atonement"
Should win: "Atonement"

Dario Marianelli's inventive score contributes as much to "Atonement" as the acting, directing and writing.
Too bad they snubbed Johnny Greenwood's brilliant music for "There Will Be Blood" and Nick Cave's fascinating score for "The Assassination of Jesse James".

Best Original Song

Will win: Falling Slowly from "Once"

Should win: Falling Slowly from "Once"

Despite the fact that "That's How You Know" almost restores the early 90's Renaissance of Disney, three "Enchanted" songs are sure to cancel each other out, which will leave "Once"'s beautiful love song as the hip and deserving winner, if for no other reason that the film was snubbed everywhere else.

Best Makeup

Will win: "La Vie en Rose"

Should win: "La Vie en Rose"

For making Marion Cotillard look 100 years older.

Best Sound

Will win: "No Country for Old Men"

Should win: "No Country for Old Men"

Best Sound Editing

Will win: "There Will Be Blood"

Should win: "There Will Be Blood"

Best Visual Effects

Will win: "Transformers"

Should win: "The Golden Compass"

Best Documentary Short

Will win: "Salim Baba"

Best Short Film (Live Action)

Will win: "Tanghi Argentini"

Best Short Film (Animated)

Will win: "Madame Tutli-Putli"

The Academy Awards, Sunday February 24 on ABC.


Woodstock said...

here're mine:
BP - No Country
BD - Coen Bros
AScreen - No Country
OScreen - Juno [you comment is GENIUS!! GENIUS!!]
BActress - Julie
BActor - Day-Lewis [of couuuuurse]
BSActress - Ruby Dee
BSActor - Bardem
BScore - Marianelli
BSong - Once
BCostume - Atonement

phew! we got all equal except for BSupp Actress. I got pessimist and am thinking Dee will win for her cameo.
i posted them at the port blog.

Michael Parsons said...

Madame Tutli Putli scared the living shit out of me!!

Saw all the shorts (animated and live action) and all I can say is....really?

Oh year maybe!