With apologies to Roger Ebert and the late Gene Siskel, I’ve finally seen enough movies to write a post where I tell you who I think should win the Oscars. I’ve only done the six “big” categories (with all due respect to Sound Mixing, which missed the cut by this much) and it’s divided into two parts: who I think will win, based on my reading entrails and trying to predict which studio campaigns will be successful, and who I think should win, which is naturally based on what I think.
Who Will Win: Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Who Should Win: Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
While every nominee laid down a good performance, none come close to the the menace with which Bardem infuses unstoppable psychopath Anton Chigurh. From the hold-your-breath gas station scene, to the final phone call with Llewellyn, to the most stoic self-surgery scene since the Terminator every look, every tic, every moment is controlled, calculated, and brilliant.
Who Will Win: Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Who Should Win: Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There)
The performance of the year clearly belongs to Blanchett, who easily could have played it over-the-top by exaggerating the voice, the swagger, and the attitude of Dylan, but instead disappears and becomes the tortured poet. I do admire the way Amy Ryan plays the transition from distraught media mother to negligent parent, and she makes me believe that Patrick (Casey Affleck) made the wrong decision. But Ryan is the safe nomination: Blanchett is the correct one.
Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Who Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
The best actor of 2007 was Gordon Pinsent for Away from Her, and it is tragic that he was not nominated. Itâ€™s especially galling that he was denied when George Cloony (Michael Clayton) and Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd) were nominated. Having said that, Daniel Day-Lewis is a tour-de-force in There Will Be Blood. Daniel Plainview is a ruthless, detestable oil tycoon who hates everyone and eventually gets exactly what he wants: loneliness. You could argue (and Iâ€™d concede) that he goes a little over the top in the bowling alley, but you canâ€™t look away from the screen when Plainview is on it. I wouldnâ€™t mind seeing Tommy Lee Jones win for In the Valley of Elah, but itâ€™s not his year.
Who Will Win: Julie Christie (Away from Her)
Who Should Win: Ellen Page (Juno)
Ellen Page, who was so quietly (or disquietingly, itâ€™s hard to decide) insane in Hard Candy proves to be the real deal in Juno, the best movie of the year. Not only does she deliver dialog that would be too quirky by half in the mouth of most actresses, but her mannerisms, expressions, are all pitch perfect. She isnâ€™t an actress playing Juno, she is Juno. Julie Christie, while excellent, was not even the best actor in Away from Her (see above). But the Academy does love the disabled (hello, Dustin Hoffman for Rain Man) and Page will have to wait for the next nomination in what will surely be a brilliant career.
Who Will Win: Joel and Ethan Cohen (No Country for Old Men)
Who Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
I loved both of these movies, but it is Paul Thomas Anderson who is the better director. The way he relays the history of Daniel Plainview entirely without dialog, the spectacle of the derrick fire, and every closeup show a virtuoso’s touch with film. No doubt the Cohen brothers were close – Anton Chigurh, with his ridiculous haircut could have been a caricature, and the scene where the dog chases Llewellyn is surprisingly effective. But this year, they are second best.
Who Will Win: No Country for Old Men
Who Should Win: Juno
First, I donâ€™t think the nominees are correct this year. Michael Clayton was a good potboiler, and while Atonement has a stunning beginning, once Robbie goes to prison it becomes a mess. Two better movies that werenâ€™t nominated are 3:10 to Yuma and Ratatouille. On to the punditry…
No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece. I donâ€™t know if Iâ€™d go as far as Ebert and call it a perfect movie, but it is a masterpiece. But so is Juno, a movie that comes nauseatingly close to camp, but walks the line thanks to a truly perfect cast. Juno is a comedy that has unfortunately been saddled with the â€œquirkyâ€ label, so I donâ€™t foresee a win, but it was the best movie of 2007.
And there it is, folks. Iâ€™m thinking that I might blog live during the Oscars, but at any rate will be tallying my score when all is said and done. For the record, here are my full picks for this yearâ€™s Oscars (some categories, notably all the shorts, have been omitted because I havenâ€™t seen any of the nominees)
Please feel free to comment or email me with your own choices (see here for a full list of nominees) and weâ€™ll compare our prognostication abilities.
|Lead Actor||Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)|
|Supporting Actor||Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)|
|Lead Actress||Julie Christie (Away from Her)|
|Supporting Actress||Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)|
|Art Direction||Sweeney Todd|
|Cinematography||There Will Be Blood|
|Costume Design||Elizabeth: The Golden Age|
|Director||Joel and Ethan Cohen (No Country for Old Men)|
|Film Editing||The Bourne Ultimatum|
|Makeup||Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End|
|Original Score||3:10 To Yuma|
|Best Picture||No Country for Old Men|
|Sound Editing||There Will Be Blood|
|Visual Effects||Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End|
|Adapted Screenplay||No Country for Old Men|
 That’s right, Popowich, Ratatouille