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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Oscar predictions 2008: There will be nominees

I like to try to predict the Academy Awards (See my post on oscars prediction, and my bets from last year). This year, 2008, for the 80th Academy Awards, I'm going further: predicting the nominees too! (The real nominees will be announced by the Academy on January 22nd)

Best Picture
Eastern Promises
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood <- my pick to win
This has been an incredible year for Oscar-"calibre" films, and so the nominees for the Best Picture category are very hard to predict. I feel confident that Blood will beat Atonement and No Country for Old Men, but there are many films that could win enough nomination votes to make this list, and which I'd say have as good a chance as Eastern Promises at being nominated: Juno, Sweeny Todd, Zodiac, Michael Clayton, Gone Baby Gone, Into the Wild, and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. American Gangster once seemed bound for Best Picture nomination, but has flopped. I'm not confident that Ratatouille will make the cut, but who in Hollywood who has seen it could not nominate it? Juno is also a wildcard in the Little Miss Sunshine vein, but I don't see both Ratatouille and Juno making the cut.

Best Director
Paul T. Anderson (There Will be Blood) <- my pick to win

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men)
Todd Haynes (I'm Not There)
Sidney Lumet (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead)
Sean Penn (Into the Wild)
I don't think we'll see Tim Burton (Sweeny Todd) here. Penn doesn't merit inclusion, but there is lots of buzz about him winning the award. Lumet will be nominated for his past work as much as for Devil. David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises) and David Fincher (Zodiac) could turn up. Sarah Polley (Away From Her) deserves to be nominated.

Best Actor
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will be Blood) <- my pick to win

Frank Langella (Starting out in the Morning)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Savages, or Before the Devil Knows You're Dead)
No Johnny Depp (Sweeny Todd) this year. PSH will be nominated ostensibly for Savages but also for co-lead role in Devil. Mortensen (Eastern Promises) is a strong contender here. I didn't like the movie, but he was awesome. Casey Affleck might show up on the strength of his two well-received performances (in The Assassination of blah blah blah and Gone Baby Gone). James McAvoy is a great actor, but I don't think his performance generated enough buzz.

(Also, see Best Actor trivia below)

Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck (Assassination..., but indirectly for Gone Baby Gone)
Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Michael Cera (Juno, but indirectly for Superbad)
Paul Dano (There Will be Blood) <- my pick to win

Robert Downey Jr. (Zodiac)
Dano and Bardem have all the buzz. I know my predictions add up to a Blood sweep, which I don't think will happen, but the strongest nominees in each category keep being Bloods. For the record, I thought Dano's direction and character arc were clumsily handled.

Best Actress
Julie Christie (Away from Her)
Keira Knightley (Atonement)
Laura Linney (Savages)
Ellen Page (Juno) <- my pick to win
Keri Russell (Waitress)
Marion Cotillard, La Mome / Ma Vie En Rose
A very weak category this year. Am I blanking on some big performances? I don't feel confident about Russell, but who else is there? Cate Blanchett didn't make a splash with Elizabeth 2; Jodie Foster's The Brave One did poorly; and Ashley Judd's Bug wasn't big enough.

Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett (I'm not There)
Catherine Keener (Into the Wild)
Saoirse Ronan (Atonement)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) <- my pick to win

Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)
A very tough call between Ryan and Blanchett (I'm Not There, plus some spillover from Elizabeth 2 and last year's Notes on a Scandal). But Ryan was just so damn good, and Blanchett won in 2004 (for The Aviator). Julia Roberts is getting talk for Charlie Wilson's War. And there's also Charlotte Gainsbourg in I'm Not There.

Original Screenplay
Brad Bird (Ratatouille)
Diablo Cody (Juno) <- my pick to win

Todd Haynes (I'm not There)
Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton)
Seth Rogen Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, and indirectly for Superbad Walk Hard)
This one is a lock if I ever saw one. Tony Gilroy has some career points to cash in (Bourne Identity, The Devil's Advocate, Dolores Claiborne) but everyone is talking about the tatooed stripper from the midwest who's taking Hollywood by storm etc. etc. (Really, my jealousy is reserved for my alter egos Dan Harris and Jonathan Lethem.) We could see Tamara Jenkins (The Savages) or first-time screenwriter Kelly Masterson (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead)

Adapted Screenplay
Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard (Gone Baby Gone)
Paul T. Anderson (There Will be Blood)
Christopher Hampton (Atonement) <- my pick to win
Sean Penn (Into the Wild)
Sarah Polley (Away From Her)
I honestly have no idea about this pick; I'd think Anderson would have the best shot, but I predict Blood fatigue from voters who want to spread the love around. Hampton may benefit from Atonement's lack of awards, and from his storied career (Dangerous Liaisons, The Quiet American). Ben Affleck's chances would be good, if not for the screenplay Oscar he already has.

Best Foreign Film
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julian Schnabel) <- my pick to win
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (Cristian Mungliu)
The Kite Runner
(Marc Forster)
Lust, Caution (Ang Lee)
La Vie en Rose / La Mome (Olivier Dahan)
Five very strong contenders. Will be interesting to see if Oscars and Cannes can agree on 4 Months.... It's a little silly that the Hollywood-connected Diving Bell and Kite Runner and Lust, Caution are eligible. Live-in Maid aka Cama Adentro aka Senora Beba came out in 2004 originally and isn't eligible.

Animated Film
Bee Movie
Ratatouille <- my pick to win
It seems that a film can indeed be nominated for both Best Picture and Best Animated Film. Clearly its nomination here would effectively take it out of the running for Best Picture, but if included here, it will surely win.
Record from last year's predicted winners: 7-3

Last, a bit of Oscars trivia about the Best Actor category:

1. Easy: There have only been two films that have ever generated, each, three Best Supporting Actor nominations. No single actor was nominated for both films as a supporting actor, but one of the supporting actor nominees from the earlier film was nominated for a best actor award for the later film, playing the same character. What are the two films? Who is the actor who was nominated for both films? Can you name at least three of the six actors?

2. Medium: There are only a few actors who have been nominated for a Best Actor award two years in a row. For example, Spencer Tracy was nominated for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938), and won both. Can you name each actor, based on the films he was nominated for? And which shares the distinction with Tracy of being one of the only two actors to actually win back to back Best Actor awards?
A) A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Viva Zapata (1952), Julius Caesar (1953), On the Waterfront (1954)
B) East of Eden (1955), Giant (1956) - both nominations posthumous
C) Some Like it Hot (1959), The Apartment (1960)
D) Inherit the Wind (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
E) Becket (1964), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)
F) The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969 - John Wayne beat him and another actor on this list)
G) The Godfather (1972), Last Tango in Paris (1973)
H) Serpico (1975), Godfather Part II (1973), Dog Day Afternoon (1974)
I) The Last Detail (1973), Chinatown (1974), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
J) The Dresser (1983), Under the Volcano (1984)
K) Awakenings (1990), Cape Fear (1991)
L) Philadelphia (1993), Forrest Gump (1994)
M) The Insider (1999), Gladiator (2000), A Beautiful Mind (2001)
N) Pirates of the Carribean (2003), Finding Neverland (2004)
3. Hard: There have been six films where two actors in the film were both nominated for the Best Actor award. The actors, in alphabetical order, are:
A) F. Murray Abraham
B) Richard Burton
C) Michael Caine
D) Tom Courtenay
E) Peter Finch
F) Albert Finney
G) Dustin Hoffman
H) Stephen Holden
I) Tom Hulce
J) Laurence Olivier
K) Peter O'Toole, and
L) Jon Voight.
The films were:
1) Becket (1964)
2) Midnight Cowboy (1969),
3) Sleuth (1972)
4) Network (1976)
5) The Dresser (1983), and
6) Amadeus (1984).
Can you match each film to its two actors?

Answers are below (hilight and copy, then paste elsewhere)

1. The Godfather, The Godfather Part II; Al Pacino; Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Robert De Niro, Michael V. Gazzo, Lee Strasberg

2. A: Marlon Brando; B: James Dean; C: Jack Lemmon; D: Spencer Tracy, again; E: Richard Burton; F: Peter O'Toole, beaten along with Richard Burton, Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight; G: Marlon Brando (again), H: Al Pacino; I: Jack Nicholson; J: Albert Finney; K: Robert DeNiro; L: Tom Hanks, the only back: to: back winner; M: Russell Crowe; N: Johnny Depp

3. 1: B, K; 2: G, L; 3: C, J; 4: E, H; 5: D, F; 6: A, I

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Blogger Alice on Mon Jan 14, 04:24:00 PM:
I'd rather see PSH nominated for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead than for The Savages, but Daniel Day-Lewis is my pick, too, for Best Actor.

Since she won a Golden Globe last night and has picked up some other awards, do you think Marion Cotillard will be nominated for La Vie en Rose?

Judd Apatow wrote Knocked Up, not Seth Rogen. I would love to see Michael Cera nominated for Superbad.

James McAvoy had a much more interesting role in The Last King of Scotland than he did in Atonement, a movie that I thought was OK but not wonderful. There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men were both ambitious and successful movies, whereas I thought Atonement had ambitious sections (that tracking shot) and successful sections (the first half, the dying French soldier later in the movie), but never felt like it came together as both of those things.

Zodiac was my favorite film of last year, though I can see that it's a long shot for most Academy Award categories. I'd throw it in for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for Mark Ruffalo if I could have my wishes granted.
Blogger Ben on Tue Jan 15, 07:59:00 AM:
I totally passed by Marion Cotillard. You're right. I'm going to replace Keri Russell.

Thanks for the correction of Rogen and Apatow.

I keep hearing mixed things about Atonement. I know it got a bajillion Golden Globe nominations and best dramatic picture, but I can't see it winning much at the Oscars this year.

I think Zodiac will suffer from being released to early in the year. (By the way, I read that a small amount of Hillary Clinton's success in New Hampshire can be chalked up to the advantage a candidate gets if her name appears first on the ballot. Crazy!)
Blogger Ben on Tue Jan 15, 08:15:00 AM:
By the way, it turns out the Oscars rules make it totally possible for two nominees to tie for the win, in which case both win. Unlikely, but possible!
Blogger Katy on Tue Jan 15, 10:37:00 AM:
After seeing almost everything that got nominated last year, I'm not doing nearly as well this year.

Part of the problem is that after a bad scare from Eastern Promises (it was too violent, and I had to flee the theater), I've been really chicken about some of the other likely contenders (No Country for Old Men, I'm looking at you). I also can't really get myself psyched up about seeing Atonement. I've read the book and can't really see how it would make a successful movie adaptation.

I did manage to see There Will Be Blood last weekend. Daniel Day Lewis was terrifying and certainly deserves to win Best Actor. The movie is weird enough that it could turn off some voters, though, and I agree that the Paul Dano character could have been fleshed out more, but I think he did a good job with what he had to work with.

I don't really take Juno seriously as an Oscar contender but I can see how it's the kind of movie that will end up contending because audiences like it and it's "quirky."
Blogger Ben on Sun Jan 20, 11:35:00 AM:
One more -- can you believe that last year, Children of Men won nothing at all? It was nominated for three categories, but not nominated for Best Picture (though Little Miss Sunshine and Babel were) or even Art Direction (edged out by such memorable art design as The Good Shepherd). In a generation or two, when people want to know what it felt like to look forward into the future from the 0's, Children of Men will still be watched, and the Best Picture nominees from 2006 won't be.
Blogger Ben on Sun Jan 20, 11:40:00 AM:
It's funny that you fled Eastern Promises, Katy, because by David Cronenberg standards it was pretty tame! More violent only maybe than his Spider.

Now that independent films (and big-budget independent-style films) are such big profit-makers in Hollywood (a small part of the total business but offering better return on investment than many big action movies), I think "quirky" films like Little Miss Sunshine will continue to have a representative in the Best Picture category. To Variety readers, that film and Juno were very big deals.
Blogger Katy on Wed Jan 23, 09:32:00 AM:
Ben, I think you're right about Children of Men.

I should have researched Eastern Promises better before I went to see it. My tolerance for that kind of psychologically tinged violence is low to nonexistent, and although I'd read the reviews, I guess I didn't know enough about Cronenberg. I've never seen his other movies, probably because they're so obviously not my bag that I never considered seeing them.
Blogger Ben on Wed Jan 23, 09:41:00 AM:
There should be a warning label on all ads for Cronenberg films: "Warning: in this director's past films, a dude's head has exploded, a woman has given birth to killer babies from a giant mutated womb, and people have had sex through an open wound."

Looks like I botched Best Director and Best Actor. Best Actress and a few other categories matched up decently. Thanks for the Marion Cotillard tip, Alice!
Blogger Alice on Thu Jan 24, 05:19:00 PM:
Let's not forget the horribly memorable scenes of the goldfish being boiled in its bowl, the children drowning in the icy lake, and the rapist's death by scissors in Cronenberg's The Dead Zone--one of my favorite movies. Can we agree that Cronenberg's Crash is better than Paul Haggis's Crash--wound-sex notwithstanding? Or, yeah, why not, I'll put that scene in as one of the reasons it's a thousand times more ambitious and interesting than anything in the 2005 Best Picture winner.