Here's my attempt at predicting this year's major award winners:
Best Motion Picture of the Year
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
I say No Country will take this one. It's a great movie and totally deserving. I have no interest in seeing Michael Clayton because its a corporate thriller; after working in Corporate Hell for many years, I think I feel the same way about corporate thrillers that my friends in the medical profession feel about shows like ER. Atonement is one of those sweeping epic historic love stories that the Academy loves to fawn all over, but I predict it will be the big loser this year. Juno is this year's Little Miss Sunshine, complete with the same backlash. There Will Be Blood looks weird and dark.Lead Actress
Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie in Away from Her
Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney in The Savages
Ellen Page in Juno
Supposedly, Cotillard is amazing, but LaVie en Rose is still sitting in its NetFlix envelope on my table. She's the dark horse to win this one, but I think its going to be Julie Christie. Generally Lead Actress goes to a young woman; most of the winners of the last ten years have been under 40. But with Helen Mirren's win for The Queen showed that an old broad could still take the award if she were a hot, old broad. And Julie Christie is definitely a silver fox. There's been a lot of talk about Ellen Page simply playing herself in Juno, but shit, Julie Roberts has made an entire career out of playing herself and managed to snag an Oscar too. Laura Linney was effortlessly wonderful in The Savages, and I wish she would win but alas this won't be her year. And apparently, Blanchett's performance is overshadowed by the level of craptasticness in Elizabeth.
George Clooney in Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises
Seems that everything I read says Day-Lewis has got this one in the bag; I've not seen the film, but the clips make this performance out to be Bill the Butcher Version 2.0. Day-Lewis is a fine actor, but I hope his award recognition is not limited to his more histrionic roles. The Academy loves Clooney and wants him in the front row grinning, a Jack Nicholson for the Aught's. Similarly, I think Depp's nomination, since he is so universally beloved, is an attempt to score additional viewership for the broadcast. Jones' nod is as much for Elah as it is for his turn in No Country. Mortensen is a quietly affecting actor, but despite a crazy nude fighting scene, his performance is being drowned out by Day-Lewis and his mustache.
I'm disappointed that Christian Bale did not receive a nomination for either Rescue Dawn or 3:10 to Yuma. But the Academy continues to ignore one of the best young actors (As they do Edward Norton). My mom thinks it is because his film choices are eccentric; he doesn't play Hollywood's game. I think it's because in the Lead Actor category, the Academy votes completely opposite from Lead Actress, meaning they rarely award a man under 40, especially a handsome one at that.
Cate Blanchett in I’m Not There
Ruby Dee in American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan in Atonement
Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton
This one is tricky to call, but I'm going to put my money on Ruby Dee. She'll be getting the sympathetic You Are Old and We've Never Given You An Oscar Vote resulting in the Whoops, Our Bad award. Really, Amy Ryan should take this one; her Shittiest Mom Ever character affected me so much that by the end of the film I wanted to Napalm her uterus so she could never spawn again.
Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton
The nominees in this category are Javier Bardem and a bunch of actors who will lose to Javier Bardem. But I wouldn't put it past the Academy to pull a fast one and give another Whoops, Our Bad award to Hal Holbrook for being old and previously unrecognized, especially if Dee doesn't take her category. Just remember Alan Arkin's surprise win over heavily favored Eddie Murphy.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Julian Schnabel
Juno, Jason Reitman
Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy
No Country for Old Men, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson's
Atonement, by Christopher Hampton
Away from Her, by Sarah Polley
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Ronald Harwood
No Country for Old Men, by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood, by Paul Thomas Anderson
PT Anderson might just take this one since I don't think There Will Be Blood is going to win any other major awards. Otherwise, the Coen's should nab yet another golden bald dude.
Juno, by Diablo Cody
Lars and the Real Girl, by Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton, by Tony Gilroy
Ratatouille, by Brad Bird
The Savages, by Tamara Jenkins
Yeah, Juno's going to get this one, reinforcing its status as this year's Little Miss Sunshine. And it will be the movie's lone takeaway. In a perfect world, Tamara Jenkins should win; I just saw The Savages and was affected by its gentle but painfully honest humanity.
As for all the others: I don't see a clear sweep of the technical awards (sound, editing, and cinematography) as often happens, but I say those are between No Country and Blood. Score might go to Atonement just out of pity. Costume and art direction will likely go to Sweeney Todd, but Across the Universe looks just trippy enough to swipe the costuming award. The odds are stacked for Enchanted to take home an Original Song trophy or Once could be the surprise beneficiary of an Enchanted nomination overload. Makeup will probably go to Pirates because nobody could suffer through Norbit. I was shocked that 300 didn't get recognized for Special Effects while Golden Compass did (using the same CGI-heavy techniques), but Pirates might get it.
Animated Feature will probably go to Ratatouille (as an apology to Pixar for being robbed last year in favor of that stupid penguin movie), but I wouldn't count out Persepolis simply for having germain subject matter. Documentary Feature will either be a film about the war or Michael Moore (Funny how times have changed from a few years back when Moore was booed at the Oscars for his on stage comments about Bush and the war.); I used to be able to call this category because there was always a Holocaust movie nominated and it always won. This year, not so much. Finally, there's nothing in my crystal ball about either of the short film categories or foreign film.
There you have it folks. Tune in tonight to support my fellow alum and see how many I called correctly. Would I have walked away from an encounter Anton Chigurh?