When I wrote up my predictions for the Oscars last year, I noted that I’d seen very, very few of the films nominated for any of the major awards. This year has proven to be even lamer for me, movie-wise: I’ve seen none of the movies nominated for any of the major prizes. That’s right… none. The only nominated movies I’ve seen even for the mid-level awards are Ratatouille and Enchanted. (Hmm, I’m noticing a little bit of a commonality there.)
What’s worse, this year I really, really want to see four out of the five movies nominated for Best Picture. I want to watch Juno for the tremendous cast and screenplay — any comedy that well respected by Oscar should be just fantastic; No Country for Old Men is by the Coen Brothers, which is all the recommendation I need, even without all of the critical buzz; There Will Be Blood was written and directed by one of my favorite directors, Paul Thomas Anderson (the brains behind Magnolia, one of my top ten flicks); and Michael Clayton was named after one of the wide receivers on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so that’s a must-see for me, too. Only Atonement leaves me cold at the thought of watching it.
My regular Oscar-predicting disclaimer applies: what follows are not the movies or performances I think should win, but rather those I think will win. Given the fact that I ain’t seen nuthin’ this year, I clearly have no basis to say what I think should win. Away we go…
Best Picture: No Country for Old Men. It’s been more than a decade since the Coen Brothers have gotten major Oscar love and Sunday night will be the night for righting that wrong, culminating in No Country‘s Best Picture win. Though I’ll admit that I won’t be totally shocked if There Will Be Blood takes it — I’ve heard much more talk about Blood being a “modern masterpiece” than No Country.
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood. This one’s the no-chance-for-an-upset category this year. I hope Day-Lewis has been rehearsing his acceptance speech.
Best Actress: Marion Cotillard, La vie en rose. The presumptive favorite for this award is Julie Christie, but I haven’t heard as much praise for Christie’s performance as I have for Cotillard’s, whose only knock against her seems to be that the movie is from France. But Roberto Begnini won the Best Actor award in 1999 for the Italian Life Is Beautiful, so I don’t think that’s as big a stumbling block as many may think — if her performance truly is the best, she should win regardless of where the movie comes from. I’m going with the upset here.
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men. See the notes for Daniel Day-Lewis above; Bardem’s only slightly less of a lock for this prize. I’m sure there will be some sentimental vote for 82-year-old first-time nominee Hal Holbrook, but Ruby Dee will be taking home the Geezer Memorial Award this year (see next category).
Best Supporting Actress: Ruby Dee, American Gangster. This category seems to be the most wide-open. I’m not sure there even is a favorite here. But I’m going with Dee because she’s really, really old and this might be the last time Academy voters can honor her.
Best Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men. I’m glad that the Director’s Guild amended their “movies can only have one director” rule so that the Coens could give up the credit trick of pretending that one of them (Joel) directs their films and the other (Ethan) produces them when it’s long been known that they split both duties (as well as the screenwriting). How awkward would it have been for Joel to win the Best Director Oscar for Fargo when they both acted as director? Anyway, that’s no longer an issue and the two of them will be able to share this award just like they did the Best Original Screenplay award for Fargo in 1996.
Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, Juno. Last year, I said the following about Little Miss Sunshine: “I believe this will be the only major award Sunshine gets; it seems like when the Academy falls in love with a little indie of this sort and lavishes it with bunches of nominations, they usually wind up giving it one award as a pat on the head, and frequently that award is for its screenplay. (Lost In Translation, anyone?)” So this award will just have to do.” Substitute “Juno” for “Little Miss Sunshine” and it still applies. (Not to imply that Cody’s screenplay wouldn’t be deserving; it is, from just about everything I’ve heard, an absolutely fantastic piece of writing.)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Sarah Polley, Away From Her. Since I’m predicting Julie Christie doesn’t win Best Actress for this movie, I’m giving the Adapted Screenplay award to Polley to make up for it. The Academy loves to bestow honors on actors who branch out into other fields and do it well — hell, Ben Affleck has an Oscar, remember?
Best Animated Feature: Rataouille. I mean, c’mon.
Coming Monday: The Second Annual Oscar Prediction “Genius or Idiot?” Wrapup!