All right moviegoers, you have had several weeks to catch up on the nominated films, but since you probably did not do your homework, LACityZine is here to pick up the slack. Yup, its time for LACityZine’s Oscar predictions, as well as who everyone else thinks is most likely to win.
But for now, read, absorb, and mark down your Oscar pool.
If Atonement manages to take home the big prize, you know something is up with the Academy and their love of sweeping romantic epics. Considering this film is the only one to not score a Best Director nod, it will also not score the Best Picture Oscar. Juno has a shot mainly because it is the only relatively happy film of the bunch and the performances are very endearing and heartwarming. But it has failed to build enough strength to make it a true contender for Best Picture, with much attention focused on Ellen Page’s performance and not the film as a whole. If the film does take home an Oscar, it will be for a smaller category. Clayton is a strong competitor, but it’s up against two other films that have been deemed instant classics. In another year, Clayton might have had a fighting chance. Which leaves No Country and Blood. Blood benefits from Daniel Day-Lewis’s amazing performance, but many see the film as over the top; a good film? Yes, but one that still has something “off” about it. Plus, it has continually lost to No Country in all major award shows. No Country, on the other hand, has seemingly swept the award circuit and shows no signs of slowing down. While the end mystifies some viewers, others herald it as the brilliance of the Coen brothers.
- Will Win: No Country for Old Men
- If LACityZine ran the Oscars: No Country for Old Men
Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood); Ethan and Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men); Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton); Jason Reitman (Juno); Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and Butterfly)
Recently, it appears the Academy has been ignoring the unsaid rule of hand-in-hand Best Picture/Best Director winners. Not the case this time around. With No Country boasting some of the finest performances of the year, as well as the assertion that the Coens are, indeed, brilliant filmmakers, this award is theirs. But let’s take a quick a look at the other nominees. If anyone is going to give the Coens a run for their money, it’s going to be Anderson and Schnabel. Anderson has a stronger chance, but if the Academy wants to honor Blood, they will do so by honoring Day-Lewis. Also, between No Country and Blood, the former has fewer detractors than the latter, and, as a result, so do the directors. Schnabel would be a stronger contender if his film was nominated for Best Picture. Even so, the work he accomplished in Butterfly will resonate with voters eager to honor the film. Gilroy, in his directorial debut, crafted a well-paced and executed story. But read that line again: it’s his directorial debut. Thus, the Academy might hesitate in voting for him, seeing how his career might pan out. And then there’s Reitman, who, by most accounts, has not seen enough buzz or attention by the media or the awards circuit. His film is a crowd pleaser, but, again, many see that as a result of Page’s performance.
- Will Win: Ethan and Joel Coen
- If LACityZine ran the Oscars: Ethan and Joel Coen
Best Actor: George Clooney (Michael Clayton); Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood); Johnny Depp (Sweeny Todd); Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah); Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
This award has been Day-Lewis’s since day one. Seriously, nominating him was just a formality because the Academy can’t exactly hand it over without a dignified process. Jones’ nomination was a welcome surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. He does have his performance in No Country to help bolster his final tally, but don’t expect a speech. Mortensen gave a very visceral and genuine performance… for a film that many have forgotten about. Will voters have forgotten his performance as well? In a year where Day-Lewis is the front-runner, the answer is yes. Depp’s been here before, but has yet to win. However, Todd wasn’t exactly a critical darling and many feel that Depp will turn in a stronger performance another year for which he will finally deserve the Oscar. Lastly, there’s Clooney who remains Day-Lewis’s strongest competition. But again, he’s up against one of the surest things this year at the Oscars. Plus, his recent win for Syriana is fresh in voters’ minds who might want to spread the wealth.
- Will Win: Day-Lewis
- If LACityZine ran the Oscars: Day-Lewis
Cross off Blanchett and Linney. Both nominations came as a surprise and there’s no way these two leading ladies are taking home this award. Besides, Blanchett has a better chance in the supporting category. Page is Juno’s heart and soul as well as this year’s breakout star, thus many voters will want to honor her, and thus honor the film. However, there is a set of detractors who are not convinced that Page is acting, but simply playing a cheeky, younger version of herself. Add to that, she is up against two stronger performances, and it looks less likely she will win. Which leaves Christie and Cotillard. Christie has remained the front-runner throughout, however, the Academy seemingly has a bit of ageism on their hands (think: Sissy Spacek’s front runner status for In The Bedroom; lost to Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball). Christie has swept up every major award thus far, so she definitely has the momentum. But don’t be surprised if Cotillard makes an eleventh hour surge and claims the Oscar. Her performance as Edith Pilaf is what the acting categories are all about: the physical, emotional, and resounding transformation of an actor into the body and soul of a character, whether fictional or true. In fact, the only thing going against Cotillard is that her film is a foreign language film, thus not exactly the type of movies voters are rushing to put in their DVD players. It’s going to be close, but given Christie’s success thus far, she’ll probably take it home.
- Will Win: Christie
- If LACityZine ran the Oscars: Cotillard
Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford); Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men); Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War); Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild); Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)
Look at Ben’s brother go. Two great performances in two films this year (the other being Gone Baby Gone), and one an Oscar nominated performance to boot. Yet, in a year with stronger performances he’s going to have to settle as having the nomination as his win. Same with Hoffman, whose comical performance gave War much of its entertainment. But having recently won for Capote and given that the film has disappeared from voter’s radars, Hoffman will go home award-less. Wilkinson has a stronger chance than the previously mentioned two competitors, but his disappearance from the last third of the film does not bode well for his chances. Which leaves the sentimental favorite and the current front-runner. Holbrook has had a steady stream of praise ever since Wild was released, but that praise has not hit buzz-worthy levels. His performance is very strong, and if he wins it will be due to a combination of that and voter sentimentality. But, the Academy only gave Wild two nominations, indicating a lack of support for the film as a whole. Bardem, on the other hand, has taken home every major award and the performance he gives in No Country is haunting. Even when not on screen his presence is felt. And voters like a good acceptance speech, so given Bardem’s heartfelt tribute to Heath Ledger at the SAG awards, expect another speech to move you.
- Will win: Bardem
- If LACityZine ran the Oscars: Bardem
Unlike the Best Supporting Actor race, this category follows history as being one of the more difficult to predict. Blanchett has a better shot of winning here than in the Lead Actress category, but she also may split the vote for her two performances. Ronan would have a better chance had her character been present for more of the film. Her age works against her too since the craft of a thirteen year old remains debatable. Dee gives one of Gangster’s greater performances, but she’s only in a few scenes when compared to the work of Ryan and Swinton. Although forceful, her performance may not garner enough votes, unless they vote for her career rather than her performance. The SAG win unquestionably helps, so do not count her out. Ryan had the momentum going for a while, but a lot of her pre-Oscar buzz has faded. She still remains a contender, but the likelihood of taking home the award has decreased over the weeks. Swinton, on the other hand, has gained momentum, but is it enough to overcome Ryan, or even Dee? Strong Academy support for Clayton puts the award in her favor, but again, this one’s hard to predict.
- Will Win: Dee
- If LACityZine ran the Oscars: Ryan
Photo by Alan Light via Flickr