Saturday, February 23, 2008

And The Oscar Goes To...

We'll find out tomorrow night who the Academy selected, but as promised, today is a look at my picks to collect a shiny little statue to stand on their mantle.

Instead of listing all the nominees in all the categories, we'll take the shorter route and give you the category, who I think will win and, if they're different, who I think should win. And so as to not exclude the other worthy nominees, a quick word on each of them too.

Sound good? Let's go...

Actor in a Leading Role
Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Should Win: Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Day-Lewis is an Academy favourite, having taken home this same statuette before (My Left Foot) and is an extraordinary actor. He's that guy who never comes up in the "Best Actor of his Time" conversations because he doesn't make a lot of films, but every time he takes on a role, he puts on an incredible performance and reminds you that he is phenomenal.

That being said, Mortensen's performance in David Cronenberg's Russian Mafia in England tale was very much Oscar worthy. He captivates you from the minute you first see him on screen. He just has a presence in this film, even when he isn't saying anything. Mortensen has come a long way from being G.I. Jane's Master Chief and playing in the sand with Hidalgo.

Johnny Depp is always great, but if he hasn't won for any of his other roles, do you really see the Academy giving him the award as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street? Me neither.

Tommy Lee Jones was terrific in Paul Haggis' In The Valley of Elah and it's a different Tommy Lee Jones than we've seen before. Unfortunately, he up against some real heavy hitters this year.

George Clooney is climbing up my favourites rankings and Michael Clayton has a lot to do with it. Similar to Jones, his performance is outstanding, though that part is expected, but the competition is just too great.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Winner: Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men)

There is no secondary "Should Win" here, because if Bardem's portrayal of Anton Chigurh doesn't net him an Oscar, there could be another Chigurh killing spree. OK, not really, but when you're constantly being mentioned as one of the best movie bad guys ever, you have to think there is a statue to go along with it.

Casey Affleck came into his own this past year, leading the way in Gone Baby Gone and with this turn as The Coward Robert Ford opposite Brad Pitt's Jesse James. Much like the Lead Actor category, this is a case of too many strong performances for Affleck to take home any hardware.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is a genius, so his nomination is no surprise. I could actually see him winning, as he too is an Academy darling and rightfully so.

Hal Holbrook becomes the oldest nominee every at 82 and reminds me of my grandfather. That's all I got...

Tom Wilkenson topped my list of That Guy Actors in this week's Rundown and his performance in Michael Clayton solidified his placement. Any other year, he runs away with this award. Not this year though.

Actress in a Leading Role
Winner: Julie Christie (Away From Her)
Should Win: Any One of These Women

Honestly, this too me is the most wide open race of the year, because every one of these women has the chops and performance worthy of collecting the little golden mantle ornament.

Christie was terrific in the Sarah Polley flick and her selection is based solely on her garnering the same award at the SAG Awards earlier in the season.

Would it make sense to anyone if Cate Blanchett won this year portraying Elizabeth when she didn't win the last time she was nominated for portraying Elizabeth? Besides, she'll get her statue later...

Marion Cotillard probably won't win because she's the star of a foreign film. Other than Roberto Benigni's win for Life is Beautiful, I can't think of another time a foreign film star took home a major award.

Laura Linney is one of those actresses who is pretty much great in everything she does. But to me, she's always going to be the women from Love Actually. If she won I'd almost expect her mobile to ring with her hospitalized brother on the other end.

You all know I have a soft spot in my heart for Juno and I think Ellen Page is one of the Next Big Things in Hollywood. Of course I would love to see her take home this award.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Winner: Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There)

No "Should Win" here either as Blanchett is as sure a thing here as Secretariat was in the Belmont in '73.

Ruby Dee being nominated is a joke to me. Nothing against her, but how can you get nominated for an award when you're only on camera for seven minutes?

Same goes for Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton. She had a little more screen time, but not enough to garner Oscar consideration in my opinion. Weren't there other performances that could have taken these two spots? There had to be. I'm going to look into that.

The girl from Atonement was apparently great, but since I (a) haven't seen the flick and (b) can't even remotely pronounce her name, I'm taking a pass on her too.

Amy Ryan was wicked good in Gone Baby Gone as a drug using, drug smuggling, neglectful mother and might have taken home the award if Cate Blanchett didn't turn in such a great Bob Dylan.

Winner: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)

No "Should Win" here, but it's along the same lines as the Lead Actress category. Having only seen a couple of the flicks (Michael Clayton and Juno) and not knowing enough about one of the nominees (Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) makes this one a tough call for me.

I give the nod to PTA in part because Daniel Day-Lewis' strong performance in the lead role and because while he has always garnered critical praise for his writing, PTA has yet to get his due as a director and this is the Academy's chance to right that wrong.

Michael Clayton was superbly done and Tony Gilroy deserves this nomination. I just think he is outmatched.

For all the love I have for Juno, I give more of the credit for it's brilliance to Ellen Page and the dynamite script penned by Diablo Cody. Not to take anything away from Jason Reitman who has directed two of my All-Time Top Ten Favs (Juno and Thank You For Smoking) and is building a great resume.

The Coen Brothers are my 1A pick in this race, as I think they too are very deserving and have never gotten the credit they deserve. Sure the won for writing Fargo, but they too have been snubbed in the directing category for too long.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Winner: Ethan and Joel Coen (No Country For Old Men)

PTA loosely based There Will Be Blood on Upton Sinclair's novel Oil! but I think this award goes to The Coens for sticking to the source material as closely as they are said to have instead of taking artistic license and inspiration.

The same goes for Away From Her, an adaptation of the Alice Munro story "The Bear Came Over The Mountain."

Again, I know nothing of Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly which could make me mis-qualified to make picks like this, but whatever. It's my blog.

Atonement comes from Ian McEwan's classic of the same name is could be a sleeper in this category. It has all the elements of a winner - great source material, excellent performances of the work on screen and enough buzz about the film itself as one of the year's best to possibly garner an award or two come the end of the night.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Winner: Must You Ask? Diablo Cody (Juno)

Listen - call me biased or whatever the hell you want, but this should be a no-brainer. Yes the Ryan Gosling starrer Lars and the Real Girl is also wholly original, but sometimes, cultural impact comes into play in these things and this is the case with Juno. Bigger impact = award winner. Simple as that.

Ratatouille was also a great, original idea, but there is no chance an animated film will take home an award like this. That is what the Best Animated Feature category is for. That is were Remy & Co. will earn their award.

Michael Clayton was awesome, but not that original a concept if you ask me. Uncovering the dirty deeds of the big bad company has been done before. This was Erin Brockovich without Julia Roberts' tits pushed up to her chin. Granted, the corporate espionage thing has been done as well as it is done in Michael Clayton, but it has been done and will be done again.

The same goes for The Savages, Tamara Jenkins' tale of family dysfunction relocated from Arizona to Buffalo.

Best Picture
Winner: There Will Be Blood
Should Win: Beats Me...

This one really comes down to who wins the other awards. There is usually a bit of a pattern to things in terms of the other nominees from the chosen films.

If DDL and PTA do in fact take home the awards they're respectively up for, then There Will Be Blood ends up as Best Picture. But there are a whole slew of "What If..." questions that come into play here.

What if Ellen Page takes home Best Actress and Diablo Cody wins for Best Original Screenplay?

What if The Coen's take home Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, alongside of Javier Bardem's Best Supporting Actor?

What if the Academy loved Michael Clayton even more than I did and Tom Wilkenson, George Clooney and Tony Gilroy all take home statues before we get to this point?

This is why I switched shifts on Sunday. I can't miss The Oscars...

We'll recap'em Monday and see how I did. Drop your picks in the comments so we can compare notes later...

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