I’m looking forward to the show partly because practically everything that has been nominated is least very good, if not great. That’s right. 2007 was such a strong year at the movies that even the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences didn’t manage to completely screw up this year. I’m not expecting any major upsets this year. I tend to agree with the consensus out there (the Internet is like crack this time of year for people obsessed with the Oscars) on what has the best shot of winning in all the major categories. Still, I’m usually surprised by at least one category. Last year, I was correct about all but one of the six top categories. I thought Eddie Murphy would win for “Dreamgirls,” but the Supporting Actor award instead went to Alan Arkin for “Little Miss Sunshine.” In retrospect, it seems perfectly obvious, but hindsight’s 20/20, right?
So here they are. My predictions for what will win, my opinions on should win, and a couple of mentions of movies that really deserved a shot.
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: I don’t think Day-Lewis can lose this one. Even those who didn’t enjoy “Blood” as a whole agree that it is impossible to discount his ferocious performance as the oil tycoon Daniel Plainview.
Should Win: All of these performances were fantastic, but Day-Lewis blows everyone away with the grandiosity of his evil character. And while some have criticized him for being too one-dimensional, I disagree. As unredeemable a character as Plainview is, he is utterly human. My runners-up would be Mortensen and Depp
Cate Blanchett for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
Julie Christie for “Away from Her”
Marion Cotillard for “La Vie en Rose”
Laura Linney for “The Savages”
Ellen Page for “Juno”
Will Win: I think it will be Christie. She’s great in the movie and beloved by many. If it’s not her, it will probably be Cotillard, who plays the beloved French singer Edith Piaf. Oscar voters are suckers for biopics, so it’s definitely not out of the question. Still, foreign language performances don’t usually win. I’ve heard rumors that the two might split the vote and cause Page to win for her breakthrough comedic performance as a pregnant teenager, but that’s probably claptrap. The safe bet is with Christie.
Should Win: OK, earlier I said that nothing bad was nominated, but I don’t know if that holds true for Blanchett’s film or not. I didn’t bother seeing it in the theater because the reviews were so mixed. I just watched 1998’s “Elizabeth” for the first time a couple of days ago. It was a surprise Best Picture nominee and put Blanchett on the map when she was got her first nomination. Anyway, I’m expecting to watch “Golden Age” soon.
Otherwise, this is a tough one for me because I don’t have as strong an opinion as with the other categories. Christie is great and so is Page. I’m a huge Linney fan, but haven’t seen “The Savages” yet. It is truly painful that Angelina Jolie wasn’t nominated for her wonderful performance in “A Mighty Heart.” And I also think Amy Adams deserved a nomination for her hilarious and touching performance as a fairy princess in “Enchanted.”
Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War”
Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”
Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”
Will Win: Definitely Bardem. Like Day-Lewis, he plays a character so evil, he practically feels supernatural. All the awards talk has centered around him this season.
Should Win: These guys were all wonderful, but Bardem truly deserves it. I really wish someone from “Zodiac” had been nominated, though. Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal were all deserving. I also am very disappointed that Paul Dano wasn’t nominated for “There Will Be Blood.” It’s insane how well he holds his own against Day-Lewis’s monumental turn.
Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There”
Ruby Dee in “American Gangster”
Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”
Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”
Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”
Will Win: I still think it will be Ryan, but that doesn’t seem like quite the sure thing that it did a month or two ago. There’s been some talk of Swinton winning lately, but I don’t think that will fly. If anyone upsets, I think it will be Dee, who is 83, has never been nominated before and may get sympathy votes. That might sound a little petty because she isn’t undeserving, but she has a pretty small role in her movie, which was very good but not great.
Should Win: Blanchett. As Jude Quinn, an alter-ego of Bob Dylan circa 1965 and 1966, she gives a gender-bending performance of such artfulness and truth, it has to be seen to believed. However, Ronan was incredible, especially considering she is only 13 years old. And I certainly won’t be upset if my Ryan prediction turns out to be true because Ryan was one of many great elements in a movie that deserves far more attention.
Best Original Screenplay
“Lars and the Real Girl”
Will Win: “Juno” was practically preordained for this category even months before its release. Then it caught on in a big way and even scored a surprise best Director nod.
Should Win: I’d have to go with “Ratatouille.” Every inch of this movie was a treat thanks to its wonderful characters and dialogue. And if “Juno” manages to lose its steam, I think this could be one of the bigger upsets of the night.
Best Adapted Screenplay
“Away from Her”
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood”
Will Win: “No Country for Old Men.” The Coen Brothers “Fargo” won for Best Original Screenplay in 1996, and this one has even more support.
Should Win: Tough call for me. Paul Thomas Anderson (“Blood”) and the Coens are two of my top five favorite contemporary writers/directors, but I think “No Country” is just (ever so) slightly better.
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood”
Will Win: “No Country for Old Men.” I really don’t think this movie can be beat, especially since no one seems to be rooting against it.
Should Win: Again, a tough call, since I love the Coens and Anderson so much. “No Country,” though, was fantastic on so many levels and is probably the most likely of the five to be talked about decades from now. “Clayton” is probably the weakest of the five, but it’s still a terrific movie. Still, I have to complain because “Zodiac” and “Into the Wild” both deserved a shot at this award. But please, please, PLEASE go and rent “Once.” Although I didn’t expect it to be nominated in any category except for Best Original Song (which it had better win), this movie has my heart for some time to come.
Julian Schnabel for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
Jason Reitman for “Juno”
Tony Gilroy for “Michael Clayton”
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for “No Country for Old Men”
Paul Thomas Anderson for “There Will Be Blood”
Will Win: The Coens for sure.
Should Win: I really hate to snub Anderson on this one, especially since he only directs movies every four or five years, but I’m going to have to go with the Coens. Schabel is also quite deserving because “Butterfly”’s story of a man almost completely took a unique vision. I don’t know if anyone else could have made that movie so moving, visually arresting and not at all depressing.