I correctly predicted 13 out of 24 awards last year, and I was very proud of that, as a lot of categories last year had no obvious frontrunner. So I think I’m on a hot streak right now. I’m feelin’ good about these picks. Bet on ’em. I’m goin’ 24 for 24 this year, baby!
Nominees: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood.
Should win: I believe No Country was the best film of 2007 — and lookee here, it was nominated for Best Picture, too! (It doesn’t always turn out that way.)
Will win: It’s gonna win, too. Atonement doesn’t have a chance (a film rarely wins Best Picture without having a director nomination), Juno is the “it’s cute, but let’s be serious here” entry, Michael Clayton just doesn’t have the momentum, and too many people think There Will Be Blood is weird.
Nominees: Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men; Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton; Jason Reitman, Juno; Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Should & will win: The Coens. They’ve got the momentum to win it, having already taken awards from quite a few other guilds and critics groups.
Nominees: George Clooney, Michael Clayton; Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood; Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street; Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah; Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises.
Should win: I saw no better performance all year than Jones’ in Valley of Elah. That man is a marvel.
Will win: … but nobody saw that movie, and besides — they’d rather vote for Jones in No Country for Old Men. Mortensen is out, considering his is the film’s only nomination. Depp and Clooney are both Hollywood favorites, but they can’t pass Day-Lewis, who’s been lauded for this role since before the movie was released.
Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age; Julie Christie, Away from Her; Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose; Laura Linney, The Savages; Ellen Page, Juno.
Should win: Cotillard is astonishingly good in La Vie en Rose. Seriously.
Will win: There was a time in mid-2007 when she seemed like a lock for victory, too. Then Away from Her, another indie film, started to attract more buzz, and it would appear Julie Christie is now the front-runner. People love Blanchett but didn’t care for her movie; Page is too young and doesn’t have to stretch much to play a snarky teenager; and Linney is fine in The Savages, but nothing special.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: 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.
Should win: If I were voting, I’d probably vote with my heart and give it to Holbrook. His performance is beautiful and profound, and he’s had a long, illustrious career.
Will win: But I think the general body is going for Bardem, who rules over No Country like a terrifying god.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There; Ruby Dee, American Gangster; Saoirse Ronan, Atonement; Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone; Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton.
Should win: Amy Ryan turns Gone Baby Gone completely upside-down with her stubborn, realistic portrayal of a deadbeat mother.
Will win: As is often the case, this is the most wide-open category. The only result that would surprise me would be Ronan. The conventional wisdom is that since so many people admired Michael Clayton yet realize it’s not going to win any other category, they’ll vote for it here in the form of Tilda Swinton.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Juno, Diablo Cody; Lars and the Real Girl, Nancy Oliver; Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy; Ratatouille, Brad Bird; The Savages, Tamara Jenkins.
Should win: Ratatouille. This film deserves more widespread respect than it got.
Will win: Juno has had this one sewn up since the Toronto Film Festival last September, and its doodle has not yet been undid, home-skillet.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Atonement, Christopher Hampton; Away from Her, Sarah Polley; The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Ronald Harwood; No Country for Old Men, Joel and Ethan Coen; There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson.
Should win & will win: I loves me some No Country, and so does the Academy.
Best Animated Feature
Nominees: Persepolis, Ratatouille, Surf’s Up.
Should & will win: Ratatouille. I mean, come on. Surf’s Up was apparently chosen at random (was it any better than Shrek the Third or The Simpsons Movie?), and while Persepolis deservedly has admirers, it doesn’t have a chance.
Best Documentary Feature
Nominees: No End in Sight, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, Sicko, Taxi to the Dark Side, War/Dance.
Should & will win: Fear not, Michael Moore detractors. His Sicko was completely overshadowed this year by the calm, levelheaded No End in Sight.
Best Foreign Language Film
Nominees: Beaufort (Israel), The Counterfeiters (Austria), KatyÅ„ (Poland), Mongol (Kazakhstan), 12 (Russia).
Should win: I’ve only seen Beaufort and Mongol (both of which are excellent), so I don’t have an informed opinion here. But why should that stop me? I vote for Beaufort!
Will win: The Counterfeiters seems to be the best bet, if for no other reason than that it’s about the Nazis. When in doubt at the Oscars, bet on the Nazis.
Nominees: Roger Deakins, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; Seamus McGarvey, Atonement; Janusz Kaminski, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Roger Deakins, No Country for Old Men; Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood.
Should win: These are all fantastic choices. It might be the first year where all five cinematography nominees are for films whose cinematography I actively noticed and admired. For sheer skill and proficiency I’d give it to Kaminski, but for overall effectiveness I like Deakins’ work in No Country for Old Men.
Will win: This is often a category that gets caught up in a “sweep”: If all the other awards are going to No Country, so will this one.
Best Art Direction
Nominees: American Gangster, Atonement, The Golden Compass, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, There Will Be Blood.
Should & will win: Can you beat the colors and set design of Sweeney Todd? I think not.
Best Costume Design
Nominees: Across the Universe, Atonement, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, La Vie en Rose, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Should & will win: Once again, voters love the outlandish and outrageous stuff found in Sweeney Todd.
Best Film Editing
Nominees: The Bourne Ultimatum, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into the Wild, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood.
Should win: Though I realize I’m fulfilling the cynical observation that voters often choose the film with the most editing rather than the one with the best editing, I really do think the work in Bourne Ultimatum is fantastically effective. (No, it didn’t make me sick.)
Will win: I’m guessing Bourne‘s choppy editing did bother a lot of voters, however, and this is a category that often follows the trend anyway. So No Country it is!
Nominees: La Vie en Rose, Norbit, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
Should win: As much as I hated Norbit, I have to admit the makeup and prosthetic effects (by legendary artist Rick Baker) are amazing.
Will win: But come on. Norbit ain’t gettin’ no Oscar. The tricks in La Vie en Rose will look all the more astonishing when you see what Marion Cotillard really looks like.
Best Original Score
Nominees: Dario Marianelli, Atonement; Alberto Iglesias, The Kite Runner; James Newton Howard, Michael Clayton; Michael Giacchino, Ratatouille; Marco Beltrami, 3:10 to Yuma.
Should & will win: Giacchino’s work adds immeasurably to the feel, emotion, and flavor of Ratatouille, and this is one of the few categories where animated films are ever given their due.
Best Original Song
Nominees: “Falling Slowly” from Once, “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted, “So Close” from Enchanted, “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted, “Raise It Up” from August Rush.
Should win: The songs in Enchanted are all good, but “Happy Working Song” is delightfully funny, satirical, and catchy. “Falling Slowly” is only so-so as a song — but the scene it appears in is magnificent.
Will win: And I think that’s what voters will remember: the goosebumps they got watching that scene. “Falling Slowly” it is.
Best Sound Mixing
Nominees: The Bourne Ultimatum, No Country for Old Men, Ratatouille, 3:10 to Yuma, Transformers.
Best Sound Editing
Nominees: The Bourne Ultimatum, No Country for Old Men, Ratatouille, There Will Be Blood, Transformers.
What is the difference between these two categories? As best as I can figure it out, Sound Mixing is for recording of actual sounds: dialogue, ambient noises, etc. Sound Editing is for the post-production wizardry: sound effects, artificial noises, etc.
Should win: No Country for Sound Mixing; Ratatouille for Sound Editing.
Will win: I’m mostly guessing here, but I’m thinking No Country for Mixing and Transformers for Editing.
Best Visual Effects
Nominees: The Golden Compass, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers.
Should & will win: Say what you will about Transformers (that it’s dumb and loud, for example), but you gotta admit the visual effects are first-rate.
Best Animated Short
Nominees: I Met the Walrus, Madame Tutli-Putli, Even Pigeons Go To Heaven, My Love, Peter and the Wolf.
Should & will win: I haven’t seen a single one. The shorts categories are hard to predict because there’s never any buzz about ANY of the entries. Entertainment Weekly is predicting I Met the Walrus — but EW almost always guesses wrong on these categories. So I’m going with Peter and the Wolf, because I like that story.
Best Live Action Short
Nominees: At Night, The Substitute, The Mozart of Pickpockets, Tanghi Argentini, The Tonto Woman.
Should & will win: See previous comments. It would really help if any of these were about Nazis. My blind guess (and intentionally going against EW’s guess): The Tonto Woman, because it’s the only one in English, and it’s based on an Elmore Leonard story.
Best Documentary Short
Nominees: Freeheld, La Corona, Salim Baba, Sari’s Mother.
Should & will win: EW admits that Sari’s Mother is about an Iraqi boy with AIDS — and then chooses something else! Come on! The film about the Iraqi boy with AIDS has got to win.