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Oscar Predictions 2017 February 22, 2017

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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oscar-falls-alseepI don’t think there’s been a year where I’ve cared less about the Oscars, but then there’ll always be next year.

When Hollywood was HOLLYWOOD! we’d have a bunch of films we loved contending for an award during the one evening of the year where awards were given out. Legendary stars like Humphrey Bogart, Myrna Loy, John Wayne, Jimmy Cagney, Jimmy Stewart, Liz Taylor, Bette Davis and so forth would either win, be nominated or present in festivities hosted by Bob Hope.

What do we have now? An endless award season where overpaid entertainment-biz royalty continually stroke each other’s egos over largely forgettable fare, with a few diamonds in the rough. I’m always reminded of that when I cull through the screeners I’m lent by bona-fide academy members to see what I actually want to watch. It’s usually pretty thin.

Much the way NFL ratings dropped like a rock this year partly due to overexposure of mediocre product (like having last-place teams play week after week on Thursday night primetime games), the Oscars now blur into the year-long promotional fest of Hollywood telling us how great it is. It used to be a rarity to see our favorite actors & actresses as themselves, commenting on their work. Now, it’s everywhere, every day. Why, then, would Oscar night be a big deal? It’s just another day at the self-congratulatory office now.

Whatever.

Did I mention the show itself is most often a colossal bore? A funny joke here and there, usually depending on the host… but mostly it’s like watching factory gears turning. Every year at the end, I’d find myself saying “I don’t think I can sit through another one of these” and this year, I am keeping that promise.

I will not be watching.

I’ll check winners online, yeah, I’d like to see how well I call the winners, but I can’t sit through the broadcast. Through the boring production numbers. Through behind-the-scenes people who’d have great things to say being played off stage to make time for…. more production numbers. Through painfully unfunny contrived comedy bits like Neil Patrick Harris’ “psychic” act from a few years ago. Through this year’s memorial reel, filled with far too many wonderful people who died this year, and inevitably sitting there annoyed at who they left out. One year they left out DeForest Kelly. Another year, they skipped over Patrick McGoohan. Who will get dissed this year?

And then, this of all years, will be the politics. Movies are a nice escape from real life, or a window onto reality by way of creative fiction. If actors broke character and the 4th wall and speechified during their films, most people would walk out.

Hence, my reaction to the show. I’ll be watching the Columbo rerun, prolly. I have no idea what Peter Falk’s politics were, and I don’t care. They don’t matter.

Anyway, here are my predictions:

Best Picture: La La Land (they love movies about themselves)

Best Director: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Actor: Even though Denzel Washington won the SAG award, I’ll go with Casey Affleck for Manchester By The Sea.

Best Actress: All signs point to Emma Stone for La La Land, but a dark horse upset would be an interesting barometer: voting on this took place just after Meryl Streep‘s highly publicized political speech after winning a Golden Globe for Florence Foster Jenkins, not exactly one of Streep’s “major” career roles, but if everyone who agreed with her speech voted for her on account of it, AND rationalized the vote since, after all, she’s Meryl-fucking-Streep-fer-godsakes…. well, don’t be too surprised if her name is announced.

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress: Rhode Island’s Viola Davis, Fences

Best Animated Feature: Zootopia

Best Animated Short: Piper

Best Original Screenplay: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Adapted Screenplay: Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Best Cinematography: Greig Fraser, Lion

Best Documentary Feature: OJ, Made In America

Best Documentary Short: The White Helmets

Best Live Action Short: Enemies Within

Best Foreign Language Film: The Salesman

Best Editing: La La Land

Best Sound Editing: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Mixing: Hacksaw Ridge Swinging for the fences here… Kevin O’Connell finally winning after going 0 for 21!

Best Production Design: La La Land  

Best Score: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land this is getting monotonous….

Best Original Song: I’ll go for an upset here… “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Best Makeup: It’s always the one with he MOST makeup, so… Star Trek Beyond

Best Costume Design: La La Land

Best Visual Effects: The Jungle Book

Well, there. My guiding principles in picking these was to pick movies that make Hollywood feel good about itself, either aesthetically (La La Land) or politically (the shorts, foreign film & documentary). We’ll see how I do.

 

Predictions, Predictions February 2, 2010

Posted by Jim Berkin in Football, Movies.
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The table has been set for this year’s Superbowl and the nominations for this year’s Oscars were announced this morning, so here’s my possibly non-worthless take on the outcomes of both.

Let’s start with the Superbowl, where the Colts opened as 4 point favorites and are currently at 5 1/2 points over the Saints. As much as I (and everyone else except die-hard Colts fans and members of the Manning family) will be rooting for the Saints in this one, I think the Colts win & cover the spread. Despite the questionable status of Dwight Freeney, I think Manning will outgun Brees in what ought to be a real shootout. It’ll be a fun game to watch, I could even see the Saints up at halftime… but in the end, I think the Colts will grind down the game and win by about a touchdown. I’d rather they didn’t, since the worse Peyton Manning does in the post-season, the easier it will be for me the rest of my life to argue how Brady was better…. then again, if Manning can go out and win a bunch more Superbowls, then more power to him, I suppose. To borrow from Henny Youngman, take the Colts! Please!

And now for the Oscars!

This year, I hardly saw anything. I’m about as dispassionate about the Oscars as I am about the Patriot-less Superbowl.

During my annual Oscar-viewing soiree, we try to predict every damn one of the awards that are part of the broadcast, meaning we try to call who is going to win for Best Documentary Short & Best Sound Editing. I’ll put my immediate off-the-cuff predictions of the major categories here. I doubt they’ll change by March 7.

Best Supporting Actress: This one is fairly easy, since Mo’Nique has been winning some of the earlier awards.
Best Supporting Actor: Another easy one – Christoph Waltz has been generating buzz since that movie came out.
Best Actress: This looks like it’s pretty much between Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock… and even though Bullock was in an audience-favored role, I think the Academy feels the need to give Streep another award at this stage in her career, after her record number of nominations. And she hasn’t won since 1983. And she will get lots of votes from all the old scrag actresses in Hollywood that loved the way she played to their 60-year old fantasies about their self-image in that Nancy Meyers chick flick. And Bullock’s character was a conservative Christian. So, I’ll pick Meryl Streep.
Best Actor: Another easy pick – Jeff Bridges gets the career award. Everyone knows he should be an Oscar winner, somewhere, for the great body of work he’s done. This is the year.
Best Director & Best Picture: Yep, they go together like lox & bagels. Despite ten best picture noms versus the traditional five directors, I think we’ll still get a matched set. While the additional Best Picture noms throw a little confusion in the works, when it really comes down to it, the big box-office audience pleasers in the bunch (Avatar & The Blind Side) won’t make it… I’m guessing Up wins for Best Animated Picture (as well as Best Original Screenplay, over my Best Picture prediction)… the only dark horse in there is Up In The Air, but nobody got overly excited over that. So, I think the Academy will pat itself on the back with its first ever woman director to win, and I’ll pick Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker as winners here.

Up In The Air will get adapted screenplay. Avatar will sweep the technical awards. Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin will be fairly funny, but the show will be as boring as usual. Karl Malden gets pole position on the memorial reel.

And unfortunately, the special Oscar they’re giving Roger Corman will not be part of the broadcast. Philistines.

The Dullest Oscars I Can Remember February 22, 2009

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“More production numbers! That’s what the Oscars need!”

I can hear them in the planning sessions uh-huhing that particular piece of anti-genius when they understandably wanted to exploit host Hugh Jackman’s song & dance capability – but those numbers go on FOREVER, have NOTHING to do with why we love FILM, and only serve to make the show BORING.

Jackman wasn’t bad as a host – he certainly worked hard & never lost his charm. But the overall show was a snoozefest – not only because of the utter predictability of the vast majority of the awards (the only real horse race was Best Actor), but because the production itself was so half-assed in parts.

The Good:

•Steve Martin & Tina Fey. Why couldn’t they have hosted the entire thing?
•Ben Stiller as Joaquin Phoenix
•The James Franco/Seth Rogen bit
•The simple dignity of Heath Ledger’s family
•The acceptance speeches were all pretty good – no embarassments or posturing, though Sean Penn came close – he saved himself by acknowledging what a difficult fellow he can be.
•Jerry Lewis’ simple and gracious acceptance speech
•The “panel” presentations of acting awards kinda grew on me as the evening went on, since it was nice to see actors acknowledging each other’s work in a more serious way than what we usually get at these things, though it too dragged on.

The Bad:

•The usual atrocious banter between presenters
•The “iPod shuffle” motif used in the Best Song mash-up, as well as in the free-association film clip fests for Best Picture and the montages of romantic & action films. It was ready-made for the ADD generation, but it took away from the actual nominees.
•A production number about movie musicals instead of actually showing clips of great (and perhaps Oscar-winning) movie musicals. Once again, Motion Picture Academy: WE DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT PRODUCTION NUMBERS.
•The CRIMINAL framing of the memorial reel, with the camera swinging all around monitors IN THE DISTANCE, more focused on Queen Latifah while clips of the greats who died were far distant in the background – some of them going by so fast you couldn’t even identify them. Just f-ing horrible – AND they left off Patrick McGoohan & Rudy Ray Moore, those MOFOs. Not quite as bad as leaving off DeForest Kelly to make room for Leni Riefenstahl, but a close second. I realize Moore is a sentimental pick for me, and they DID include Vampira on the thing, but McGoohan was in tons of movies, including a Best Picture winner. How could they forget that?

The Ugly:

•Bill Maher presenting.
•Bill Maher, period.

It’s getting harder and harder to give a crap about these things with every passing year. I only saw one of the picture noms this year and don’t go to the movies anywhere near as often as I used to. The preview reel of what’s coming up for 2009 they ran over the closing credits didn’t look likely to change that. I’m feeling bad about missing bowling for this, though it’s one of the few times your gracious blogging curmudgeon invites people over.

I suppose it could be worse. Bill Maher could have come over. Perhaps I should be grateful.

Oscar Handicapping From First Impressions January 22, 2009

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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oscarmadison
After reading through today’s announcement of the 2009 Oscar Nominations, I’ll go ahead and make my early predictions. I may or may not alter these over the next few weeks, as I get a sense of the “buzz” via whatever meager connections I have to the people who actually vote on these things. Fewer and fewer people care about the Oscars year after year, as more and more of a disconnect grows between the movies that win awards and the movies that most people actually see – as well as the inundation of self-congratulatory awards ceremonies that fill the television schedules in the weeks following the New Year. But for movie geeks like myself, the Oscars are required viewing for some reason, if nothing else than to remind me that “Hollywood film” once actually produced classic popular art with lasting power to entertain across decades. I’d like to think that some of this year’s (or any recent year’s) crop of honored films can be spoken of in the same breath with Casablanca or The Godfather or Singin’ In The Rain (Whoops! That one didn’t win the Oscar!), but somehow I doubt that most of them attain that level of filmdom.

Starting with the acting categories: I think the easiest prediction here is Best Supporting Actor, with the late Heath Ledger getting the nod over Robert Downey Jr, Michael Shannon, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Josh Brolin. Granted, Downey is basically up for two performances here, officially one for Tropic Thunder and the other, tacitly, for Ironman, and I think in any other year, he’d probably win. But even putting aside the tragedy of what happened to Ledger, his performance as the Joker essentially made the film he was in memorable, putting it over the fine but difficult to reach line between good movie and great one. Never mind the huge logic holes in the plot and the utter ridiculousness of the basic premise of a guy in a rubber bat suit fighting a guy dressed as an evil clown – Ledger created one of the creepiest screen villains in recent memory, and he did it in an underplayed, subtle way. I’ve never seen Shannon in anything, so nothing against the other guys who are all great actors in their own right, but Ledger will win this one posthumously, and I think he would have won it anyway.

Best Supporting Actress: This one is always a crapshoot, and it’s an interesting group of nominees. I think Amy Adams and Viola Davis, both up for Doubt, will cancel each other out. I’m not sure how many people saw Vicky Christina Barcelona, so I’m not sure of Penelope Cruz’ chances here. I think it comes down to whether or not they give Marisa Tomei another award, or whether they want to give something to Benjamin Button (see more of my blather below) by giving the award to Taraji P. Henson. I’m leaning towards Henson, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them give the award to Tomei (mostly for remaining hot).

For Best Actor, we have Richard Jenkins in The Visitor, a film that no one saw. We also have Sean Penn for Milk, but Penn has won before, and I think despite the desire for Hollywood to reward the movie because of its politics & its timing in the strong anti-prop-8 atmosphere, Penn will not share in the awards the film will get partially because he’s already won and partially due to the gossip about his real-life homophobia. I also think that personal jealousies over who he’s gotten to bang over the years will keep Brad Pitt from winning, which leaves the award between two come-backers of sorts, Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler and Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon. I think Rourke will be Burt Reynolds-ed here, with academy voters thinking that the nomination and the revitalized career pulled from the depths of the casting toilet are enough reward for Rourke, who just signed to be in Ironman 2 – therefore, the award will go to Langella, a fine actor who has been plugging away at a wide variety of roles for years.

Best Actress: I don’t think the voters will treat Angelina Jolie the same as Brad Pitt, and voting for her becomes a sort-of vindication for Clint Eastwood, who was unjustly ignored for Best Actor in Gran Torino, but I think the lukewarm reception Changeling got last fall doesn’t bode well for Jolie’s chances here. Ann Hathaway had a great year of appearing in lots of films people saw, but I think she’ll fall into the “you’re too young but you’ll be back someday” category this time out. I didn’t see Frozen River, but I heard critical raves for it and for Melissa Leo, who I remember being very good on one of my old favorite TV shows from the ’90s, Homicide, but I don’t think enough people saw this film. I think this category comes down to Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep. I think the academy voters really want to give an award to Kate Winslet and NOT giving it to her for Revolutionary Road, the movie with “nominate this IMPORTANT MEANINGFUL FILM!!!!” dripping all over it while it left everyone I know who saw it slack-jawed at what they described to be as its pretentious awfulness, might be just the way they want to give Winslet her Oscar, for a movie that at least some of them liked. Meanwhile, Streep earned her record 15th nomination and hasn’t won in a while, despite continually turning in great performances in a wide variety of roles, both comic and dramatic, with the usual variety of accents – Cut To: “A dingo ate my baby!” – so I’d think she’s got a real shot here if it doesn’t go to Winslet, but I keep thinking that the feeling amongst the voters will be that this year “it’s Winslet’s turn.”

So now we come to picture, director & screenplay, which are all intertwined, and (I believe) intertwined this year with the Best Animated Film category since Wall-E is in the mix. When I looked all of it over, I made predictions that seemed to fall into place like a puzzle, so here goes:

Starting with Best Picture, it strikes me that The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button will be one of those films that gets lots of nominations (13) but doesn’t take home many awards – it’s a film that a lot of people like, but no critical mass of people love it (and many people did not like it, feeling it was nothing more than a reworking of Forrest Gump, and by the same screenwriter to boot). I’d be surprised if Frost/Nixon won for picture, since Ron Howard has already won before, and as much as people liked and admired this film, they (once again) didn’t love or rave about it. Ditto for Milk, though I’d pick this one as the dark horse candidate – especially considering its politics and the way that Hollywood could feel it was atoning for picking Crash over Brokeback Mountain by picking this year’s “gay” film.

The Reader got a bunch of nominations, something that mystifies me, but there you are. I just can’t see this winning for best picture. Maybe I’m personally prejudiced against this one since I can’t understand the desire currently in fashion to make films depicting how difficult the Holocaust or World War 2 were on the Germans (Valkyrie can also be lumped in with this, even if it didn’t get any nominations). I think it’s a reflection of the moral equivalency cancer pervasive in our culture right now – the bending-over-backwards to project falsely positive attributes to our enemies while obsessing on any aspect of ourselves that mars our supposed potential for moral perfection, and the ways in which the same mentality leads to a cover-your-historic-ass effort as far as the strongest single example of an “us good/them evil” war this nation has fought. So, on one end of the scale we get hand-wringing supposedly thoughtful soul searching in the form of The Reader or Valkyrie and on the other end of the scale we get the historical revisionist literary abortions of Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke or the antisemetic “we could have dealt with Hitler” Nazi sympathizing wet dreams of Pat Buchanan. I could go deeper into this rant I’m sure, but I’ll just let it go & say that The Reader will not win Best Picture.

Which leaves the one film amongst the nominees that I think DID inspire a sense of love & joy among the people who have seen it – Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, which I think will win Best Picture, Best Director & Best Adapted Screenplay. I’m totally going on the level of passion I’ve heard from people who describe this movie to me – it gives me that gut feeling that this is the one for 2009.

So, since screenplay winners most often are also nominated for Best Picture, let’s examine the list of original screenplays – We have Courtney Hunt for Frozen River, Mike Leigh for Happy Go Lucky, Martin McDonagh for In Bruges, Dustin Lance Black for Milk, and Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter for Wall-E. This one seems to be between Milk and the dark-horse Wall-E. Now, Milk has the Best Picture nom, but Wall-E will be the winner for Best Animated Film, and there are a LOT of people out there who felt it deserved a Best Picture nomination – will they vote for it to give an award to a huge audience favorite, sort of a vote for it AND The Dark Knight all at once? Or will Milk take home a major award for the same political reasons I described above? I’m thinking that the academy voters won’t be jonesin’ to send political messages after being put into their comfort zone by Obama’s election, so I think that Wall-E will win for Best Screenplay here, along with Best Animated film.

And as far as the telecast, I’ll also predict that Paul Newman will get pole position (appropriate phrasing, when you think about it) on the memorial reel, Charlton Heston will get clips from Planet of the Apes, Ben-Hur AND The Ten Commandments, and I’m really hoping they include Rudy Ray Moore but I bet those BASTARDS leave him out. I’m wondering if the highlight of the broadcast will be the humanitarian award they’re giving to Jerry Lewis.

Again, over the next few weeks I may alter any or nearly all of these predictions, depending on whatever way I sense the winds are blowing. But overall I feel pretty comfortable with these picks. As far as the other categories and nominations, I’ll have to learn more about them. So stay tuned!

Oscar Post-Mortem February 24, 2008

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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quincy.jpg
I didn’t do too well in my predictions – I missed both Actress & Supporting Actress, and truly got wiped out in all the minor awards in my little Oscar party pool. (I may as well have peed in the Oscar party pool this year.)

But at least I did better than Kevin O’Connell, the sound mixer who lost AGAIN to bring his record to 0 for 20.

Maybe they’ll wheel him out at age 98 for a life achievement award, like they did tonight with Robert Boyle, longtime production designer for assorted Hitchcock films and others, who had never won one of those precious little statues.

Stewart wasn’t bad as host… he kept things moving quickly, had more good jokes than bad, even confused the Hollywood audience as to how they “ought to” respond to some of his political barbs.

Best Moments: Boyle getting his award, Stewart bringing Marketa Irglova back onstage to give her acceptance speech after the orchestra cut her off (to provide time for another worthless clipfest, probably), and Tilda Swinton’s very funny acceptance speech.

Worst Moment: that AWFUL Jerry Seinfeld Bee bit to introduce the animated short. I realize that I’m out of tune with most of America it seems when it comes to Seinfeld since I’ve never found him funny, but I wasn’t the only one groaning through that portion of the broadcast, I’m sure.

Lowest rated Oscarcast ever, I’ll predict. And certainly one of the most boring, despite it’s relatively brief length and the fact that Diablo Cody really DOES look like a pole dancer. When some of the best moments come from Bob Hope via the clipfests, it doesn’t say much for the current crop on stage.

Though movies in general were better in Bob’s day too.

All Styled Up With Nothing To Say February 22, 2008

Posted by Jim Berkin in Blogroll, Movies.
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On Oscar Eve as I contemplate how I think No Country For Old Men will sweep a bunch of the awards despite my lukewarm response to it, I found this kindred soul brother’s fine essay on the essential empty-suit-yet-it’s-an-Armani-suit quality of it all over at the very worthwhile The House Next Door blog.

Go read it all now, I’ll wait. Yeah, yeah, I know…. there’s all that early stuff about Susan Sontag to get through, but slug through it to where he starts talking about the movie. Yeah, there you go!

All done? Cool! Let’s continue…

Funny how I found that link the same day I watched a student film that featured everything I’ve come to expect from student films these days in the age of digital handicams & iMovie HD: impressive camera work, intricate & fast cross-cutting, technically proficient use of montage, sound and music dubbing…. and content unfortunately consisting solely of people swearing at each other with plenty of gunplay connoting gangsta struggles in the ‘hood via the perceptions of the pampered white boy with a camera.

Now granted, I’m witnessing a generation of would-be film makers who have been breast fed from birth at the cinematic teats of Tarantino & The Wachowskis (Hmmm… that’s 3 teats! Hot!) filtered through an unhealthy dose of hip-hop bullshit, but it all illustrates the sorts of things Zachary Wigon writes about in his essay – there are way too many people out there with amazing technical abilities who have absolutely nothing new to say, oftentimes nothing to say at all, and a lot of them keep getting multimillion dollar deals and most likely by the end of Oscarfest 2008, a shelf of statues.

I’d like to think that the students making the films I’m seeing have enough time to bulk up on literature, classic films, philosophy, and (cue CRANKY OLD MAN response) life experience so that one day they’d actually create some sort of story that they had passion for telling, something they actually believed in as Wigon describes, stories actually worth telling, rather than pump out more technically impressive emptiness.

Unfortunately, Sunday night’s awards will most likely only reinforce how a particular brand of technically impressive emptiness with pretensions of grandeur causes critics and Academies to do unjustified backflips.

Bah.

Oscar Handicapping January 22, 2008

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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oscarmadison.jpg
The Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and while it was a pretty weak year for movies and the nominations themselves were fairly predictable, picking the possible winners is always a challenge.

A challenge, sir? I demand satisfaction!

That’s what I say when I come bounding into the brothel… “I demand satisfaction!”

So let’s see about the 2008 Oscars – remember, this is who I think will win, not who I necessarily want to win:

Performance by an actor in a leading role:
George Clooney in “Michael Clayton”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”
Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd”
Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”
Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”

Perhaps the easiest of the bunch to predict: I’ll go with Daniel Day-Lewis, since he chewed the most scenery.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
Julie Christie in “Away from Her”
Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”
Laura Linney in “The Savages”
Ellen Page in “Juno”

This one is almost as easy as Best Actor. They gave one to Blanchett recently, no one saw La Vie en Rose, no one saw The Savages and they’ll figure Laura Linney (Brown ’86, YAY!!!!) will be back someday, and they’ll definitely figure Ellen Page will be back someday, so it’s time to give Julie Christie the nod here, for this movie, for her career, for playing someone with a deadly disease (always a shoe-in), and for putting up with Warren Beatty.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”
Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War”
Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”
Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”

The Supporting Actor category sometimes goes for the young star on the rise in a breakout performance (like when they gave it to Kevin Spacey or Denzel Washington), and sometimes goes to someone who has been around forever without winning an award (i.e. Jack Palance). We can eliminate Philip Seymour Hoffman since he just won Best Actor. We can eliminate Casey Affleck since he’s in a movie that nobody saw. Javier Bardem was certainly memorable, but it’s basically a one-note scary-psycho-guy performance. So, we’re left with a career award for first-time nominee Hal Holbrook, or a “this guy always does great work” award to Tom Wilkinson. I didn’t see either movie, so I’m gonna go with “career award for Hal Holbrook” on this one. C’mon, he was Mark Twain, fer chrissakes!

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There”
Ruby Dee in “American Gangster”
Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”
Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”
Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”

The Supporting Actress category is most often the bizarro crapshoot – think Marisa Tomei, Beatrice Straight, or even Judy Dench for her eight minutes in Shakespeare In Love. But out of all of those names, the only one that jumps out to me as one who critics and people repeatedly discussed as giving a brilliant and memorable performance that defined the movie they were in would be Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone. So, assuming they don’t go nuts and pick a wild card in this category, I’ll go with that.

Best Director
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” Julian Schnabel
“Juno” Jason Reitman
“Michael Clayton” Tony Gilroy
“No Country for Old Men” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
“There Will Be Blood” Paul Thomas Anderson

and

Best Picture
“Atonement”
“Juno”
“Michael Clayton”
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood”

I think Director & Picture will match this year, and it’s pretty much between the Coens and Anderson. This is a tough one to call, especially since I thought both movies were extremely overrated. Will younger voters all go for Juno? It’s this year’s Little Miss Sunshine! That means it might win a screenplay award and nothing else. So don’t bet on it going beyond that. The most likely voters for Juno were also dazzled by No Country and Blood, and while my gut reaction at first (and as I originally posted here) was to lean towards Anderson & Blood, the more I think about it, I’m wondering if they’ll go with the Coens as sort of a “body of work” award along with their hugely over-rated film which has enough of the artsy “look how profound our cartoon violence is!” hook that Academy voters are always such suckers for. This is a tough one to call, and a lot of it depends on whether Academy voters see Blood as purely a one-man acting show for Lewis or as (again) a film with enough narcissistic artsy profundity to snag the award. Remember, these are the same people who voted Crash as Best Picture a couple of years ago since it was a safer pick than Brokeback Mountain. Which of No Country or Blood is the safer faux-edgy pick this time? I feel like flipping a coin.

Coin Flipped: No Country For Old Men & The Coens

Adapted screenplay
“Atonement” , Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
“Away from Her”, Written by Sarah Polley
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
“No Country for Old Men”, Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“There Will Be Blood”, Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original screenplay
“Juno”, Written by Diablo Cody
“Lars and the Real Girl”, Written by Nancy Oliver
“Michael Clayton”, Written by Tony Gilroy
“Ratatouille”, Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
“The Savages”, Written by Tamara Jenkins

The general rule of thumb with the screenplay noms is to pick the ones that also get a Best Picture nomination, or win, which is why I’ll change one pick here from my original post. So, I will pick No Country For Old Men for Best Adapted Screenplay & Juno for Best Original.

Miscellany:
I’m not familiar with the documentaries, but I think they will reward the antiwar contingent here, since none of the antiwar feature films (1) made ANY money at the box office and (2) got the piles of nominations they were clearly after (except for Tommy Lee Jones, and he’s also in another multiple-nominated film), so I think they’ll go with Operation Homecoming, since it gets to be both antiwar and pro-troops and features Hollywood star voiceovers from (presumably, since Robert Duvall is one) across the political spectrum. I’ll give it a slight nod over No End In Sight, though I wouldn’t underestimate the chances of a traditional antiwar, anti-Bush doc winning an award. In the documentary shorts, we all know that they love films about anyone, preferably children, struggling with fatal disease, as well as films about movies uplifting people’s lives. We have short documentaries about both of these things, and since there’s no movie about yet another group of noble goyim who saved Jews in World War 2 to trump them both, I think I’ll go with Salim Baba, which is about someone running discarded movie clips with a hand-cranked projector for kids in Kolkata, India. Just reading about it made me feel uplifted!

Excuse me while I adjust myself…

I think Ratatouille will win for Best Animated Feature over Persepolis, mostly because of the quality of the animation. I really haven’t thought about any of the technical awards yet, though usually the films with the most editing and most make-up, quantity wise, tend to win. Now the film with the most editing would be There Will Be Blood, so no problems there, and I think they’ll want to give it something besides Actor, and the Coens edited their own film under a pseudonym – but the most make-up would probably fall to Norbit, and would the academy want to reward that pile of crap with anything?? And the other nail-biter of the night will be whether Kevin O’Connell, who is nominated for Best Sound Mixing and has been nominated now twenty times without ever winning, will win this year – I’m guessing he goes 0 for 21 since he’s up for Transformers, but who knows?

Random Predictions About The Broadcast:
A lot of this depends on the writers’ strike. There’ll certainly be pro-writer-tinged jokes in Jon Stewart’s monologue and ad-libs, and perhaps some unfunny self-congratulatory politically-tinged nonsense. But I can’t predict any specific bits or jokes beyond that. I’ll go for a longshot on who gets pole position (the finale) of the memorial death reel and go with former MPAA President Jack Valenti. Ingmar Bergman, Michaelangelo Antonioni and perhaps Deborah Kerr are the only competition here for “biggest name we lost in 2007.” And who knows, Valenti might get his own separate tribute. Or perhaps Bergman will. Or maybe they’ll finally see to it that justice is done and give Roger Corman the lifetime achievement award for basically running his own film school in the 1960s and keeping Vincent Price perennially employed.

Best Song? Are you kidding me? Do you really care? It’s always something hideous. Three of the five this year are from Enchanted. Wanna pick a winner? Easy! Pick the most annoying one and leave me alone. I’m going to make some pasta for dinner.