Friday, February 22, 2008

Oscar's most likely (2008)

The Academy Awards have 21 categories for feature-length films. Last year I ranked the frontrunners of these categories by how likely they were to win. I've decided to do the same this year. (All frontrunners determined by Entertainment Weekly.)

For the record, I saw 4 of the 5 Best Picture nominees, missing out on There Will Be Blood. As always, I attempt to be objective.

Update: with the ceremony over, how did the frontrunners do?

1. Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

He's not quite the shoo-in that Helen Mirren was last year, but he's close. He's never won before, he embodied a very memorable villain, and his film is nominated for Best Picture. Of the others, I think Tom Wilkinson has the best (slim) chance to upset.

2. Best Makeup: La Vie En Rose

Against Norbit and Pirates 3, this win should be in the bag. (Purse?)

3. Best Original Score: Dario Marianelli, Atonement

Using a typewriter as percussion might be considered a gimmick, but it's a good gimmick. And there's no competition from No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. But there's an outside shot for Michael Giacchino's characteristically upbeat Ratatouille score.

4. Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

First, can I say how fantastic this lineup is? Expected (and deserving) nominations for George Clooney and Johnny Depp, but then the Academy goes out on a limb for Tommy Lee Jones and Viggo Mortensen. Apologies to Josh Brolin and James McAvoy, but you could not pick a better shortlist. As for the win, Clooney is very popular, but even he concedes.

5. Best Visual Effects: Transformers
LOSER! The Oscar goes to... The Golden Compass.

A bit less than meets the eye, at least to me, but Pirates won last year, and The Golden Compass (whose less bombastic effects I preferred) isn't as well-received.

6. Best Director: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men

Another year with no women, but at least the ampersand strikes back. I think the Academy recognizes that this is their year. They're up against 4 first-time nominees. Paul Thomas Anderson might upset, but only if his film did as well. Read on.

7. Best Picture: No Country for Old Men

People are saying this is a wide-open race like last year, but I'm not buying it. While it's certainly not a lock, it combines elements of tradition and edginess that could constitute a Best Picture. Atonement, in my opinion, is the superior technical achievement, but is a hard film to love. Juno has made twice as much bank, and people seem to like it, but its win was just being nominated. Michael Clayton markets itself as the spiritual heir of 1970s ethical dramas, but those films never won Best Picture either. There Will Be Blood stands the best chance to upset, I guess, but I think voters will opt for the more ensemble-oriented movie.

8. Best Film Editing: No Country for Old Men
LOSER! The Oscar goes to... The Bourne Ultimatum.

The Coen brothers contend in four categories, and are unlikely to win all four. I do think they have a good chance to win three, though. And I think they will probably win for editing instead of writing their film. The editors guild gave their top award to The Bourne Ultimatum, though.

9. Best Art Direction: Sweeney Todd

Oh, that bleakly awesome gray-ashy London. So very Tim Burton, and also perhaps the most Dickensian set ever. Bonus points for the hilarious beach and picnic scenes. Viewers differ on the aural experience, but visually it was great. Atonement can spoil, maybe.

10. Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, Juno

Liked the movie, liked the script, like the cute ex-stripper. But my tastes are not always shared with others, so I have some reservation about the widely held assumption that it will win. Truth be told, I would rather see Ratatouille win here, and it might, though Michael Clayton (which, aside from the Tom Wilkinson character, is a bit underwritten) is better positioned.

11. Best Foreign Language Film: The Counterfeiters

With Persepolis surprisingly omitted, there's not a lot of hype about the films in this category. I'm told this is the favorite, and don't know enough to say otherwise.

12. Best Animated Feature: Ratatouille

With Persepolis surprisingly omitted in the Foreign Language category, it could upset here, but I think most people recognize that Ratatouille is a sumptuous piece of animation.

13. Best Original Song: "Falling Slowly," Once

Still haven't seen this movie, but people who have really, really like it. Normally I would say that an Enchanted song (specifically "That's How You Know") would win, but there are three such nominees. So score for the Euro-unknowns.

14. Best Actress: Julie Christie, Away from Her
LOSER! The Oscar goes to... Marion Cotillard.

I'd rank her higher, but there's so much buzz about Marion Cotillard and Ellen Page nipping at her heels that I can't ignore. As I said, I like Juno, but I really don't think Page is going to win this award. I've read a lot of criticism about Cotillard's louder-is-better approach, so I'm skeptical, and it is a performance in French. But the Academy is more international than ever...

15. Best Costume Design: Sweeney Todd
LOSER! The Oscar goes to... Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Like Art Direction (above), I consider this a contest between Sweeney Todd and Atonement. This time, though, I think Atonement has the advantage. Everyone knows about the green dress, but all the outfits were quite impressive.

16. Best Cinematography: Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was widely perceived as the most beautifully filmed release of 2007, and I think Roger Deakins will win, even though he's also nominated for No Country for Old Men.

17. Best Documentary Feature: No End in Sight
LOSER! The Oscar goes to... Taxi to the Dark Side.

It's hard to ignore the well-regarded doc on Bush's war on terror, but there's some political overlap among three of the other nominees, including Michael Moore's Sicko. Just a hunch, but look for Taxi to the Dark Side to get the win.

18. Best Adapted Screenplay: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men

If they lose a category, it'll be this one. And yet the upset victor is unclear: will it be a past winner, like Christopher Hampton or Ronald Harwood? Or maybe a younger upstart, like Sarah Polley or Paul Thomas Anderson? Polley would be the surprise of the night, but I'll guess Anderson.

19. Best Sound Editing: Transformers
LOSER! The Oscar goes to... The Bourne Ultimatum.

20. Best Sound Mixing: Transformers
LOSER! The Oscar goes to... The Bourne Ultimatum.

Still don't know the difference. Still no opinion.

21. Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

I feel fairly confident that
Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) will not win, but the rest is uncertain. Cate Blanchett and Amy Ryan dominated the precursors, but then Ruby Dee and Tilda Swinton came on strong. I... don't know. I saw American Gangster, and would be ready to hand this to Ruby Dee if she had more than one really good scene. Blanchett's won before. Swinton seems unlikely, unless the Academy is trying to create The Year of the Villain. If I had to guess, I'll say Amy Ryan.


Mainline Mom said...

Great assessment. Can't wait to see who wins, even though I haven't seen (and don't really want to) the majority of the nominated films. For the record though, I have had "Falling Slowly" on my yoga iPod mix since LONG before Once came out. The Frames are incredible.

pilgrimchick said...

I heard a lot about "The Counterfieters" recently, and it really does sound like a very interesting film to see, but there have been some questions about its historical accuracy....which of course, matters to few if any.

movie actors said...

Absolute assessment. I have great expectation with the movie The Bourne Ultimatum but still I am happy for it as it get the best editing award. And Ratatouille has to won as I was sure about it. It was a superb animated movie so far.

Blogger said...

I've just downloaded iStripper, so I can have the best virtual strippers on my desktop.