Oscar-07-12-21By this point, if a week goes by without a nomination or “best” list, be worried. And trying to sort through all the awards that have come so far isn’t any easy task. Thankfully, we here at LAcityzine feel your stress, so we have set out to help you by outlining front runners, almost there’s, and long shots. With Thursday’s announcement of the nominations for the Screen Actor’s Guild awards, the race for Oscar has become much tighter and closer, making it a bit easier on our end. But, if there’s one thing to be said: Predicting nominations is almost as hard as predicting traffic in LA. In other words, may the force be with us.

Best Picture:

Bet on It: No Country for Old Men; Sweeny Todd; There Will Be Blood.

So Sweeny did not score a single SAG nomination. . .doesn’t bode well for the Tim Burton musical. However, there is enough buzz and critical support for this film that it should be able to overcome this setback. A strong showing at the Globes could help, but the Globes are not the best way to predict one’s Oscar nominees, so it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. As for No Country, it has topped almost every critical year end list, and if you combine that with the celebration of the Coen brothers’ return to brilliance, a nomination is locked. Blood, too, has been present on many year end lists, plus strong critical support, especially for Daniel Day-Lewis, should earn this one a slot in the Best Picture race.

Can They Ride the Buzz: Juno, Atonement, American Gangster, Into the Wild

Up until the SAG awards, Wild was almost out of the picture. Although much love was given by critics, the Globes snub stung, and there has not been much attention given to the film when compared to others this year. But with four nominations at the SAG awards, Wild could secure an Oscar nomination, assuming it can ride this resurgence of support into January. Atonement, which has a lead seven Globe nominations, was also largely snubbed by the SAG awards, but unlike Todd, Atonement’s award buzz may have peaked too early. Conversely, it seems that Juno is just beginning to hit this award buzz high, and the film’s awards/nominations for actress, screenplay and film will only continue to help. With a stellar cast and stirring plot, Gangster has a definite shot, but the question remains as to whether this film was even close to the best picture of the year.

Not Their Year: 3:10 to Yuma, Hairspray.

Yuma’s a very well executed film, however, Bale gave a better performance in Rescue Dawn; Crowe gave a better performance in American Gangster; and any pre-award hype that this film once had is largely gone. Hairspray was very well received…in the summer, thus it’s been mostly forgotten, especially when considering a Best Picture nod. And if a musical is going to be nominated, it is going to be Todd.

Best Actor:

Bet on It: Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood); George Clooney (Michael Clayton) Simply put: Day-Lewis is the No Country of the Best Actor race. He’s been awarded almost every best actor prize this year, so a nomination, if not a win, is highly likely. Clooney’s performance in Clayton is strong enough to earn a nod, plus support from the SAG awards and the Globes will give him the edge he needs.

Can They Ride the Buzz: Johnny Depp (Sweeny Todd); Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl); James McAvoy (Atonement).

To say the Academy will not nominate such a twisted a quirky performance by Depp would be a lie. Anyone remember his Oscar nominated role in Pirates of the Caribbean? A wave of Academy support could get him a nomination, but Todd backlash could hinder that as well. Gosling gave a tender performance in Girl, but is it strong enough to earn a nomination? SAG support definitely helps, so a nomination would not be the biggest surprise. McAvoy, likewise, gives a strong and emotional performance in Atonement, but any buzz remaining for the film come nomination time will likely be geared toward the director-star team of Joe Wright and Keira Knightly.

Not Their Year: Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild); Russell Crowe (American Gangster)

If the Academy looks kindly upon Wild, it is entirely possible that Hirsch will score a nomination; however, his performance has been overlooked this award season, not giving him much hope. Crowe, while acknowledged for his performance, is competing in a year when there have been stronger performances, and he himself has been split between two different ones.

Best Actress:

Bet on It: Julie Christie (Away From Her); Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose); Ellen Page (Juno).

The best actress awards have been split among these three individuals, so hearing their names announced in January should be expected. The Academy loves a break-out star, and Page is this year’s girl. Playing a pregnant teenager in a quirky and warm hearted film, Page has already garnered several major awards this season and looks to get a nod. Christie’s performance in Away as a women suffering from Alzheimer’s is also one the Academy loves to award; that is, not only is it a remarkable performance but it is also a remarkable performance by an actress later in her years (think: Gloria Stuart in Titanic or Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine). Lastly, Cotillard brings vivacity and sensitivity to her role as singer Edith Piaf that the Academy would be remiss to not include her.

Can They Ride the Buzz: Keira Knightly (Atonement); Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart); Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age).

Knightly once again proved her acting chops in Atonement, but again, that SAG snub puts her nomination in question. Jolie has had a small resurgence due to both her Globe and SAG nominations, but she’s not a favorite yet. Her performance won over many critics, but maybe not enough. And Blanchett remains a strong contender, but she’s more likely to score a supporting actress nod for her turn in the Dylan biopic I’m Not There.

Not Their Year: Helena Bonham Carter (Sweeny Todd); Keri Russell (Waitress). Bonham-Carter’s performance has been lauded in recent weeks, however, a Todd nomination sweep would need to happen in order for her to secure one. And while Russell had much pre-Oscar buzz, most of it has faded and her absence from several awards and lists this season does not help her chances.

Oh, but how things can change…stay tuned!

Next week: Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director.