"Shadows present, foreshadowing deeper shadows to come." -- Herman Melville

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February 23, 2008

All right, here's the deal. I had a somewhat disappointing 2007 for seeing movies, so I feel less informed than usual with my Oscar picks. That combined with how last minute this post is means my predictions are more streamlined this year. Let's give this a try...

Academy Awards 2008

BEST PICTURE

--Atonement - Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster
--Juno - Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
--Michael Clayton - Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox, Kerry Orent
--No Country for Old Men - Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
--There Will Be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Lupi, JoAnne Sellar

Will Win: Atonement
Should Win: There Will Be Blood
Comments: I'm going to take a chance here. I don't think this is going to be a big year for any single movie and Atonement has a time-tested Best Picture pedigree: based on an acclaimed novel, starring two respected young actors (James McAvoy and Keira Knightley), epic scope, sweeping melodrama. Juno has a large base of fans, but Little Miss Sunshine didn't win last year. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood have won plenty of awards, but I think the similarly stark films will split their vote here, letting Atonement slip in.

BEST ACTOR

--George Clooney for Michael Clayton
--Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood
--Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
--Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah
--Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises

Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Comments: An easy choice: Daniel Day-Lewis dominates the screen in Blood and will win his second Oscar (in four nominations). If there's a spoiler, though, it'll likely be Johnny Depp for another fearless performance.

BEST ACTRESS

--Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth: The Golden Age
--Julie Christie for Away from Her
--Marion Cotillard for La Mome
--Laura Linney for The Savages
--Ellen Page for Juno

Will Win: Julie Christie
Should Win: Julie Christie
Comments: Except for Diablo Cody (see below), the nomination is the award for the rest of the Juno nominees, including Ellen Page. I don't think this is the last time we'll see her here, though. Christie won this award way back in 1966 for Darling and is poised to pick up her second 42 years later. Her slipping-away performance is simply heartbreaking. That said, Laura Linney is overdue for an Oscar and could represent the night's big win for The Savages. It's only a matter of time until Cate Blanchett wins this award, but Elizabeth: The Golden Age won't be the movie to do it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

--Casey Affleck for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
--Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men
--Philip Seymour Hoffman for Charlie Wilson's War
--Hal Holbrook for Into the Wild
--Tom Wilkinson for Michael Clayton

Will Win: Javier Bardem
Should Win: Javier Bardem
Comments: Possibly the biggest lock of the night, Javier's performance in No Country oozes cold, dispassionate evil. There's some very respected competition, but no one else is even close this year.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

--Cate Blanchett for I'm Not There
--Ruby Dee for American Gangster
--Saoirse Ronan for Atonement
--Amy Ryan for Gone Baby Gone
--Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton

Will Win: Cate Blanchett
Should Win: Cate Blanchett
Comments: Cate seems to be nominated for every role she takes, so look for her to snag a second Supporting Oscar for her gender-bending transformation into Bob Dylan. This should be a competitive category this year, though, so Amy Ryan and Tilda Swinton certainly have a shot as well. For a dark horse, Ruby Dee could sneak in with the Lifetime Achievement vote.

BEST DIRECTOR

--Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood
--Ethan Coen and Joel Coen for No Country for Old Men
--Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton
--Jason Reitman for Juno
--Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Will Win: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson
Comments: Given how much of a PT fanboy I am, I think he deserves every direction award out there. However, the louder buzz for No Country will push the Coens over the top.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

--Juno - Diablo Cody
--Lars and the Real Girl - Nancy Oliver
--Michael Clayton - Tony Gilroy
--Ratatouille - Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco
--The Savages - Tamara Jenkins

Will Win: Juno
Should Win: Ratatouille
Comments: Considering the 10,000 news stories that have been written about her in the past year, Diablo Cody will likely take this one easily for Juno's big win of the night. My vote, though, goes to the utterly charming Ratatouille.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

--Atonement - Christopher Hampton
--Away from Her - Sarah Polley
--The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Ronald Harwood
--No Country for Old Men - Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
--There Will Be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson

Will Win: There Will Be Blood
Should Win: There Will Be Blood
Comments: Strong competition here. The Coens could win if No Country has a huge night. Harwood could be Diving Bell's big win. Sarah Polley also deserves attention for writing such a mature script at such a comparatively young age. However, I think this will be PT's consolation award for not winning Director or Best Picture.

BEST ANIMATED FILM

--Persepolis -Vincent Paronnad, Marjane Satrapi
--Ratatouille - Brad Bird
--Surf's Up - Ash Brannon, Chris Buck

--Will Win: Ratatouille
--Should Win: Ratatouille
--Comments: A major improvement from the disappointing Cars, Ratatouille is pure Pixar magic. An easy pick.