Oscar Picks (Part Two)

You hear this complaint nearly every year.  Why arent the five Best Picture nominees exactly the same as the five Best Director nominees?  There’s a very good reason for this.  All academy members vote for the top prize (which goes to the producer(s)) while only directors vote for Best Director.  As a result, it’s very rare to have synchronicity with both categories.  And it’s happened once again this year.
Joe Wright, the director of Best Picture nominee Atonement, was snubbed.  In his place is Julian Schnabel who made The Diving Bell And The Butterfly.  Also nominated is second-generation director Jason Reitman (Ivan’s son) for Juno, Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) and Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men).
Schnabel, Reitman, Gilroy and Anderson, this isn’t your year of triumph.  Clear a path to the stage for The Coen Brothers.  History has proven that when someone wins The Director’s Guild Of America prize, far more often than not they win The Best Director Oscar.  Joel & Ethan Coen were so honoured by The DGA and as a result, they’ll be winners at the Oscars February 24th.  Consider it a make-good for Fargo.
This year’s batch of male scene stealers all made their mark in critically acclaimed dramas and thrillers.  Casey Affleck plays a seemingly gay assassin in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Javier Bardem is a ruthless serial killer in No Country For Old Men, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a CIA agent in Charlie Wilson’s War, Hal Holbrook is an old man who befriends a young drifter in Into The Wild and Tom Wilkinson portrays a guilt-ridden lawyer in Michael Clayton.
Count out Hoffman who won The Best Actor Oscar two years ago for playing Truman Capote.  Wilkinson, who was previously singled out for his work in In The Bedroom, doesn’t have a chance.  Neither does Hal Holbrook.  (How incredible is it that he received his first Oscar nomination at age 82?)
After eliminating those choices, we’re left with Affleck and Bardem.  Although the former has won a number of critics prizes for playing the guy who guns down Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem has been trophy collecting like a madman.  (Click here and scroll down to see what I mean.)  More importantly, he delivered one of the most talked about performances of 2007.  It would be an absolute shock if he doesn’t win.
Of all the major categories, this might be the most difficult to predict.  You have Cate Blanchett playing a pseudo Bob Dylan in I’m Not There.  There’s 83-year-old Ruby Dee, up for her first Oscar (amazing), thanks to her work in American Gangster.  Tilda Swinton, who you might remember from Orlando and Adaptation, plays an evil CEO in Michael Clayton.  13-year-old Saoirse Ronan makes a crucial misjudgment in Atonement and beautiful Amy Ryan is a grieving mother in Ben Affleck’s well loved Gone Baby Gone.
Child actors rarely get Oscars so count out Ronan.  Swinton and Ryan have done well with critics prizes and either one could snag the golden naked man but I don’t think so.  Blanchett has an outside shot but I don’t believe the academy wants to give her another Oscar right away.  (Remember, she won previously for The Aviator.) 
Because she won the SAG Award and has had a long, respected career, I’m going with Ruby Dee.  It’s a shame her late husband, the great Ozzie Davis, can’t be there to cheer her on.  It will be a bittersweet moment when her name is announced and she tries to fight back those tears.
Last year, Happy Feet upset Cars.  Is another surprise in store this year?  Don’t count on it.  Even though Persepolis has its supporters, it’s not likely that this Iranian movie will be the big winner.  Surf’s Up will have to settle for its nomination.
Ratatouille was one of the best reviewed films of 2007 and also an enormous blockbuster.  It continues Pixar’s incredible hit streak.  (8 in a row.)  Many people will be incredibly shocked if it loses.  But it won’t.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
1:40 a.m.
Published in: on February 13, 2008 at 1:40 am  Leave a Comment  

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