The Academy Awards are this Sunday so I guess it is time I contribute my two cents to the glut of predictions regarding the likely outcomes. Here we go—
Best Actor: I’ve now seen three of these performances. I still haven’t seen Michael Clayton or In the Valley of Elah. That said I think the consensus is that Daniel Day-Lewis is a heavy favorite for his performance in There Will Be Blood. Personally, I would like to see Viggo Mortensen take the award. I think his performance is the more careful and nuanced one. However, I don’t have a big issue over this and won’t feel that the Academy has gone horribly wrong if Day-Lewis does win. I don’t think any of the others are really all that likely, although perhaps Clooney might be a serious dark horse. His movie has had some long legs, and maybe there’s more happening there than I’m aware of.
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem has to be the favorite in this category, and he’s my favorite too. His bad guy performance is absolutely unique and riveting.
Best Actress: This may be the toughest category to have an opinion on. I’ve seen two of the nominated performances in this category: Ellen Page in Juno, and Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose. Although I haven’t seen Cate Blanchett’s performance, I feel like I’ve got some idea what it’s about having seen the first Elizabeth movie. I think all the buzz is in favor of Julie Christie for Away From Her, and I expect she will win, but I wonder if Ellen Page couldn’t be a huge surprise upset. The film and the performance are very unique, and I would enjoy it a great deal if she were to win.
Best Supporting Actress: In this category I’ve also only seen two of the performances. This is the other Cate Blanchett performance in the film I’m not There, and this is the one I think it likely she will win an award for. The only other film I’ve seen here is Atonement and the performance by the young Saoirse Ronan. She gave a good performance, but I don’t think it’s in the same league as Blanchett as Bob Dylan, which was perhaps the most recognizable Bob Dylan in a film where many other actors played him as well.
Screenplay – adapted and original: I think Diablo Cody for Juno for Best Original Screenplay is about as close to a lock as you are likely to find. For adapted screenplay it is tougher, but I’m going to put my money on the Coen brothers for No Country for Old Men.
The next three categories I find it hard to discuss individually – Cinematography, Director, and Best Picture. These three things are so intertwined that you almost have to discuss them together, and often where one of these is won, so will be others for the same film. But it doesn’t always work that way. There are occasions where I feel that maybe the academy gives one film Best Picture and a different director Best Director in an attempt to spread the good will, but generally I would expect those two awards to go essentially hand in hand. I’ve seen four out of the five nominess in each of these categories.
For Cinematographer my bet is for Roger Deakins to win. For one thing he’s up for two different films, but if he wins it will be for No Country for Old Men. The other movies are all worthy contenders, but I think Deakins has the cachet and the extra odds to pull this one out.
For Director I think Paul Thomas Anderson will win for There Will be Blood. I feel like the awards community has been waiting for this director to do something of this caliber. They just want to reward him for finally doing what everyone thought he was capable of.
And finally, for Best Picture: No Country for Old Men. I don’t think Juno really has a chance here, unlike in Screenplay and Actress. And Atonement, while being a lovely movie, doesn’t present itself as having the grit that I think is being favored this year. It just isn’t a year for a period film of that type to win. And The academy will be satisfied in having given Paul Thomas Anderson his award for Blood. No, I think the Coen brothers are going to walk home with the big award for bringing to life a revelation of a film about a killer, a cop, and a hunted man.
I hope you enjoyed some of these films this year, because it turned out to be a pretty good year. Let me know what you think about my picks and opinions, and enjoy the Oscars on Sunday night.