Oscar Sweep ’08: Oh Well
Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 24, 2008
As those of you keeping track of this blog have surely guessed by now, my admittedly ambitious project to watch every movie nominated for an Oscar this year (in the non foreign-short-doc cats) fell short of the mark. It took me too long to get up the courage to sit through movies like August Rush and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and too many of my TV watching hours were spent on distractions like The Wire, LOST and the NBA. To my credit, I did come sort of close–of the 34 movies nominated for an Oscar, there are only nine that I didn’t get around to seeing, and of the movies I didn’t see, none received more than three nominations. Still, I was hoping to present my Oscar Picks for the first time as a fully informed honorary Academy speculator, and instead I’m just presenting them like the rest of you half-informed Oscar Johnny-Come-Latelys. Bummer.
(Italics = Have Not Yet Seen)
* Michael Clayton
* No Country for Old Men
* There Will Be Blood
Will Win: You’d be a foolish man to bet on any one of these five nominees–all of them have, in my opinion, at least one reason why there’s no way they can win the Best Picture. I’m saying Juno just because, but moreso, I’m saying it won’t be favorites No Country for Old Men or There Will Be Blood.
Should Win: There Will Be Blood. As singular and unnerving a movie to ever be nominated for the Best Picture (and should it win, easily the most experimental winner since The Deer Hunter)
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Diving Bell & the Butterfly, I’m Not There, Superbad (hey, like Juno should be any more likely?)
* 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
Will Win: Coens. Whether or not it wins Pic, this should be a slam dunk.
Should Win: Probably Coens. PTA and Schnabel both have about equal claim for their masterful works, but they also didn’t direct Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo and The Big Lebowski with only one nom and 0 wins to show for it.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Todd Haynes for I’m Not There and David Fincher for Zodiac. I can’t say I’m surprised about either, but the fact that neither has yet to be recognized for their respective decades-plus of work is getting progressively more unforgivable.
* 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
Will Win: Is anyone going against Day-Lewis for this? Some other good nominess here, but you’d have to be a crazy person to think anyone has a chance against Mr. Plainview.
Should Win: I liked Tommy Lee Jones in Elah way more than I thought I would, but this is DDL’s year. Not just anyone could’ve turned “I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! I DRINK IT UP!” into a SportsCenter-acknowledged catchphrase.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Usually movies/books about people that hit the road to try to really experience life, maaaan just piss me off, but Emile Hirsch somehow made me care about Into the Wild (and also made me forget all about Alpha Dog). I’d give him an Oscar for that.
* Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
* Julie Christie – Away from Her
* Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose (La môme)
* Laura Linney – The Savages
* Ellen Page – Juno
Will Win: Christie.
Should Win: Christie.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Not exactly the strongest year for lead actresses, as evidenced by Ellen Page’s ability to sneak in there under the wire. And aside from maybe Keira Knightley in Atonement, I can’t think of a more worthy nominee to take her place.
* 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
Will Win: Bardem. It’s one of those Classic performances.
Should Win: Really, I’d be OK with anyone besides Hoffman (phoning it in, though that’s arguably Oscar-worthy in itself) winning, but personally I’d give it to Affleck for the out-of-nowhereness of his performance, playing an insecure, underappreciated hanger-on the way I suppose only the younger brother of Ben Affleck could really now how.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Stacked year for Best Supporting Actors, as Ben Foster in 3:10 to Yuma, Max Von Sydow in Diving Bell & the Butterfly, and of course, Michael Cera in Superbad (OK, so Randy Quaid, Jennifer Tilly and Juliette Lewis can all get at least one Oscar nomination for playing the only role they know how to play, yet somehow it’s unthinkable that Cera’s brilliance be recognized??) all get the snub. And though it might be heresy to say, I actually prefer Josh Brolin’s performance in NCFOM to Bardem’s. “Where’d you get that pistol?” “At the gettin’ place.” Fucking immaculate.
* Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There
* Ruby Dee – American Gangster
* Saoirse Ronan – Atonement
* Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
* Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton
Will Win: It’s ridiculous, it’s inexplicable, and yet it feels so inevitable–Ruby Dee will take home Best Supporting Actress for her approximately fourteen seconds’ worth of work in American Gangster. A life’s worth of work yet to be recognized by the Academy, and the only major nomination landed by one of the most successful movies of 2007. Look into your heart, you know it to be true.
Should Win: Aside from Dee, this category is almost as stacked as Supporting Actor, and Swinton and Blanchett give career performances in their respective movies. Maybe it’s the Wire fanboy in me, but I still gotta give this to Ryan. She’s barely in the movie after the first half, but the enduring impression from Gone Baby Gone is still of Ryan’s performance. Stunning.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: The almost unbearably quirky world of Juno seems to be designed specifically to net Best Supporting Actress nominations, so it’s shocking that Alison Janney, Jennifer Garner and the extremely underappreciated Olivia Thirbly (the friend) were all unable to land nods. Besides them, Catherine Keener in Into the Wild doesn’t get too much screentime, but lends the movie an unbelievable amount of soul in her few scenes. Also, no one plays a shrew quite like Leslie Mann in Knocked Up.
* Juno – Diablo Cody
* Lars and the Real Girl – Nancy Oliver
* Michael Clayton – Tony Gilroy
* Ratatouille – Brad Bird
* The Savages – Tamara Jenkins
Will Win: Never mind, this is the plum category for Juno. The quirky romantic comedy has won this category three of the last four years, and Juno’s is written by someone named Diablo Cody. An ex-stripper, no less! Bet the farm.
Should Win: Not exactly getting the competition of a lifetime in Michael Clayton and the good-but-severely-overrated Ratatouille, Juno is probably most deserving here (though Lars and the Real Girl could very well be a masterwork, dunno).
Robbed I, Tells Ya: Hm. Knocked Up, Hot Fuzz, Planet Terror, SUPERBADDDD….really, anything but Charlie Wilson’s War.
* Atonement – Christopher Hampton, from Atonement, novel by Ian McEwan
* Away from Her – Sarah Polley, from “The Bear Came over the Mountain”, short story by Alice Munro
* The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Ronald Harwood, from Le scaphandre et le papillon, memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby
* No Country for Old Men – Joel and Ethan Coen, from No Country for Old Men, novel by Cormac McCarthy
* There Will Be Blood – Paul Thomas Anderson, from Oil!, novel by Upton Sinclair
Will Win: This could actually go a number of ways, but I’m betting on an upset from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I’ve heard the idea of NCFOM and Blood splitting votes dismissed as a conspiracy theory, but if it doesn’t hurt them in the Best Pic, I really think it will hurt them here.
Should Win: Probably Diving Bell. Brilliant though their screenplays were, NCFOM and Blood were much more about acting and cinematic verve for me, whereas the story in Diving Bell was everything.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Does I’m Not There count as an adapted screenplay?
* Surf’s Up
Will Win: Ratatouille.
Should Win: The obvious choice here is the innovative and super-serious Persepolis, which in my mind was only half a great movie (problem with flicks based on true stories, don’t you know). Between it and the consistently above-average Ratatouille…it’s a tossup.
What About Me?: Too bad the brilliant first ten minutes of Enchanted weren’t enough to qualify here. And I wasn’t the biggest fan of it or anything, but how the hell did Surf’s Up get in over The Simpsons Movie?
* Arthur Max and Beth Rubino – American Gangster
* Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer – Atonement
* Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock – The Golden Compass
* Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
* Jack Fisk and Jim Erickson – There Will Be Blood
Will Win: Tough one. I guess they gotta give something to Atonement, right?
Should Win: Golden Compass was the prettiest, but There Will Be Blood the most striking.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: I’m Not There juggled about eight different and equally compelling visual schemes without seeming jarring or bombastic. Well, not too bombastic anyway.
* 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
Will Win: There Will Be Blood, I’d say.
Should Win: This actually might be the most stacked category of all–only Atonement‘s cinematgoraphy was anything less than stunning. In lieu of a tiebreaker, I’ll give the award to Roger Deakins for lifetime achievement as a regular Coen collaborator, the man who’s had almost as much of a hand in shaping their classics as the Coens themselves.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Into the Wild? There was some outdoor, landscape-y shit in that, no?
* Albert Wolsky – Across the Universe
* Jacqueline Durran – Atonement
* Alexandra Byrne – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
* Marit Allen – La Vie en Rose
* Colleen Atwood – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Will Win: I guess they gotta give something to Sweeney Todd too, right?
Should Win: As I’ve said earlier, Across the Unvierse, for sheer volume’s sake.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Black Snake Moan, anyone? Did you see Christina Ricci in those trailers?
 Best Film Editing
* Christopher Rouse – The Bourne Ultimatum
* Juliette Welfling – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
* Jay Cassidy – Into the Wild
* Roderick Jaynes – No Country for Old Men
* Dylan Tichenor – There Will Be Blood
Will Win: Tossup between Bourne and No Country, but momentum and prestige’ll probably sway it towards No Country.
Should Win: Same deal, pretty much.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: 3:10 to Yuma. Heart-pounding for about the last half-hour, that’s pretty good.
* Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald – La Vie en Rose
* Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji – Norbit
* Ve Neill and Martin Samuel – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Will Win: Norbit. I hope.
Should Win: Only category where I didn’t see a single one of the nominees, so I’ll refrain from casting judgement here. But NORBIT.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Across the Universe, for the same reasons as Costume Design.
* Dario Marianelli – Atonement
* Alberto Iglesias – The Kite Runner
* James Newton Howard – Michael Clayton
* Michael Giacchino – Ratatouille
* Marco Beltrami – 3:10 to Yuma
Will Win: Atonement‘s was the flashiest, I think, so I’d give it to that.
Should Win: I liked 3:10 and Michael Clayton, but none of these are exactly worth buying the soundtrack for.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Academy rules I think disqualified Johnny Greenwood’s work on There Will Be Blood and Eddie Vedder’s work on I’m Not There. Too bad, because their music actually had something to do with the success of their respective movies.
* Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – “Falling Slowly” from Once
* Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted
* Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – “So Close” from Enchanted
* Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted
* Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas – “Raise It Up” from August Rush
Will Win: Three nods tend to cancel each other out (LOL Dreamgirls), and “Raise It Up” isn’t that notable, so “Falling Slowly.”
Should Win: Kind of cheating since I didn’t actually see the movie, but “Falling Slowly” sure is one purty song.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: None of them are eligible, probably, but Eddie Vedder’s “Hard Sun,” Michael Cera and Ellen Page’s “Anyone Else But You,” and T.V. Caripo’s “I Want to Hold Your Hand” were all pretty tight.
* Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg – The Bourne Ultimatum
* Skip Lievsay – No Country for Old Men
* Randy Thom and Michael Silvers – Ratatouille
* Matthew Wood – There Will Be Blood
* Ethan van Der Ryn and Mike Hopkins – Transformers
Will Win: Bourne.
Should Win: Bourne.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Academy Awards viewers for having to sit through both this and Best Sound Mixing.
* Scott Millan, David Parker, and Kirk Francis – The Bourne Ultimatum
* Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, and Peter Kurland – No Country for Old Men
* Randy Thom, Michael Semanick, and Doc Kane – Ratatouille
* Paul Massey, David Giammarco, and Jim Steube – 3:10 to Yuma
* Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, and Peter J. Devlin – Transformers
Should Win: No Country.
Will Win: No Country.
Robbed, I Tells Ya: Skibbity-boop bop bop bop bop
* The Golden Compass
* Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Will Win: Transformers.
Should Win: Transformers. Really, the movie had one task: Have cars turned into robots and make it look cool. It failed at everything else, but that one thing was pretty cool.