Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Glittering promise: Oscars 2008

2007 was the year of the excessive blockbuster and the start of the writer’s strike, all the more reason for cineastes to rejoice in vindication at this year’s art-house heavy Oscars. Joseph Wren lends some perspective and the Montage team give their predictions.

Best Supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There. Five time nominee, one win (The Aviator, 2004). This year’s Golden Globe winner.
Ruby Dee - American Gangster. First time nominee, who, at age 83, is the second oldest nominee ever for this category.
Saoirse Ronan – Atonement. First time nominee, who, at age thirteen is the seventh youngest nominee ever for this category.
Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone. First time nominee, whose breakthrough performance has earned her awards from the National Board of Review and the major critics circles.
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton. First ever Oscar nomination for the acclaimed British actress.

Snubbed - Jennifer Garner (Juno), Samantha Morton (Control).

A very strong field of first time nominees accompany perennial nominee Blanchett. Though much will be made of the 70-year age gap between this year’s youngest and oldest nominees, the serious contenders are Cate Blanchett, who gave the flashiest performance, and Amy Ryan, who gave the grittiest. Though Blanchett seems to be a popular choice, the supporting awards rarely go to the performer who already has an Oscar. In fact, it’s been 13 years since the winner of this category picked up her second golden boy.

Montage predictions

Cate Blanchett-Carmody, Emma, Robert

Amy Ryan-Joseph

Tilda Swinton-Sandra

Best Supporting Actor

Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. First time nominee Affleck was a revelation in his breakthrough role.
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men. Second Oscar nomination. Bardem won the Golden Globe and has garnered universal acclaim for his devastating performance.
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson’s War. Second nomination, one win (Capote, 2005).
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild. Just days before his 83rd birthday, first-time nominee Holbrook is the oldest man to ever compete in this category.
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton. Second nomination for the popular 59-year-old British actor.

Snubbed - Irfan Kahn (The Namesake), Steve Zahn (Rescue Dawn), Stephen Graham (This is England).

The performances by Affleck and Bardem were two of the finest performances of the year, but Bardem’s performance was one for the ages. Holbrook has been around forever, but his career hasn’t been as prolific as past sentimental winners Alan Arkin or Morgan Freeman. Wilkinson’s performance was pure Oscar baiting, while Hoffman’s was the most fun of the group. All bets are on Bardem.

Montage predictions

Javier Bardem-Carmody, Joseph, Robert

Casey Affleck-Emma, Sandra

Best Actress

Cate BlanchettElizabeth: The Golden Age. Blanchett is just the eighth actress in Oscar history to score two nominations in the same year.
Julie Christie – Away From Her. Fourth nomination for early favourite Christie, whose lone Oscar has occupied shelf space for over forty years. Aside from her Golden Globe victory, she’s taken the largest bounty of critic’s awards.
Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose. The other Golden Globe winner, French beauty Cotillard earns her first Oscar nomination to go along with widespread critical praise.
Laura Linney – The Savages. Third Oscar nomination for New Yorker Laura Linney.
Ellen Page – Juno. The twenty-year-old Canadian is the breakout star of the category, and has garnered enough critics’ awards to be considered a real contender.

Snubbed - Amy Adams (Enchanted), Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart), Anamaria Marinca (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days)

When it’s easy to say that Laura Linney and Cate Blanchett are long shots, you know it’s been a fantastic year for leading ladies. Julie Christie and Marion Cotillard took advantage of their respective Oscar-fodder roles as Alzheimer’s victim and musical legend to win Golden Globes, and are the presumptive frontrunners. The soaring Ellen Page, whose performance in Juno was unlike anything else this year, could be the surprise of the evening, though recent history says Oscar likes serious roles for this category.

Montage Predictions

Julie Christie-Carmody, Joseph
Cate Blanchett-Emma
Marion Cotillard-Robert, Sandra

Best Actor

George Clooney – Michael Clayton. Second acting Oscar nomination for Hollywood darling Clooney, who won for his supporting role in Syriana (2005).
Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood. Fourth nomination for the reclusive powerhouse performer, who won in 1990 for My Left Foot.
Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd. Since Captain Jack Sparrow became a household name, Johnny Depp has earned three Oscar nominations. Funny how that works out.
Tommy Lee Jones – In the Valley of Elah. Third nomination for the Texan, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in The Fugitive in 1994.
Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises. The only first-time nominee in the group.

Snubbed – Sam Reilly (Control), James McAvoy (Atonement), Tom Hanks (Charlie Wilson’s War)

While Clooney, Jones, and Mortensen gave perhaps the best performances of their careers, it’s hard to think anyone could beat the selective Daniel Day-Lewis, who appears to be the only clear favourite of any category this year. If anyone else takes home Oscar here, it’s the upset of the night.

Montage predictions

Daniel Day-Lewis-Carmody, Emma, Joseph, Robert

Viggo Mortensen-Sandra

Best Director

Julien Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The New York artist’s Golden Globe win proves him a formidable contender for his first Oscar.
Jason Reitman – Juno. The 30-year-old’s first Oscar nomination gives him more than dad Ivan Reitman ever had.
Tony Gilroy – Michael Clayton. One of two nominations for Gilroy’s acclaimed debut feature.
Joel and Ethan Cohen – No Country for Old Men. The Cohens have never won for this category, and enjoy their first directorial nomination in just over a decade.
Paul Thomas Anderson – There Will Be Blood. Anderson’s first directorial nomination is long overdue.

Snubbed – Joe Wright (Atonement).

Aside from the Cohens, who appear to be the favourites, the rest of the field are here for the first time in their careers. Jason Reitman and Tony Gilroy aren’t going to win, and it’s a scandal that Joe Wright was denied a nomination for Atonement. Anderson has a reputation around Hollywood as something of a megalomaniac, and was previously snubbed for his ambitious films Magnolia and Boogie Nights. Julien Schnabel’s work on Diving Bell was extraordinarily unique, while the Cohen’s style on No Country was classically masterful. And don’t think that Diving Bell’s omission from the Best Picture category counts out Schnabel – four out of the last nine winners of this category did not see their film take the Best Picture award. This crop of nominees is a refreshing change of pace from the Scorsese/Eastwood/Howard/Spielberg types who have dominated this category in recent history.

Montage predictions

Joel & Ethan Cohen-Carmody, Emma, Robert , Sandra

Julien Schnabel-Joseph

Original Screenplay

Diablo Cody - Juno. The twenty nine-year-old former stripper’s debut is a bona fide sensation. A vividly distinctive script, but is it too quirky?
Nancy Oliver - Lars and the Real Girl. Another debut indie from a promising young lady.
Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton. The scribe of the Bourne trilogy earns his first screenplay nomination.
Brad Bird - Ratatouille. The most prolific talent of the group; if anyone can win a screenplay Oscar for an animated film, it’s Brad Bird.
Tamara Jenkins - The Savages. And yes, a third female first-time nominee!

Snubbed – Adrienne Shelly (Waitress)

Some call this the “Citizen Kane Award”; others call it the “Ben Affleck Award.” These days it tends to go to an indie sensation, or the most enjoyable film that simply has no shot at winning Best Picture. Either way, this year’s group is historic in that there have never been more women nominated than men. Barring an upset, this year’s winner will be just the fourth woman in 75 years to win Oscar in this category.

Montage predictions

Tamara Jenkins-Carmody

Diablo Cody-Emma, Joseph, Robert

Nancy Oliver-Sandra

Adapted Screenplay

Christopher Hampton - Atonement. Third nomination for Hampton, whose only win came in 1989 for Dangerous Liaisons.
Sarah Polly - Away From Her. Impressive Oscar debut for the young Canadian.
Ronald Harwood - Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Won Oscar for The Pianist, this is Harwood’s third nomination for this award.
Joel and Ethan Cohen - No Country for Old Men. Often heralded more for their writing than direction, the Cohens won this award for Fargo in 1997. They took the Globe this year, and another Oscar looks likely.
Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood. Of Anderson’s five films, this is the third to score an Oscar nomination.

Snubbed – Aaron Sorkin (Charlie Wilson’s War)

Another incredibly remarkable group of nominees. Atonement and Diving Bell were books that seemed almost impossible to translate onto the screen, while No Country put the source material on screen page for page. Anderson is always intriguing; could this finally be his year? Sarah Polly’s nomination was a sweet surprise, but she’s surely the long shot here. The Cohens have to be considered the front-runners after the Golden Globes, but this one could go in any direction.

Montage predictions

Christopher Hampton-Carmody, Emma, Joseph

Joel and Ethan Cohen-Robert, Sandra

Best Animated Film
Persepolis France was hoping for a best foreign film nomination with Persepolis, but this will have to do.
Ratatouille – Hard to beat any Brad Bird/Pixar project in this category, and the recent Golden Globe win solidifies its standing as the favourite.
Surf’s Up – D’oh! Bloody penguins!
Snubbed – The Simpsons Movie

As this year’s big Pixar project, Ratatouille was a huge critical success, a nice rebound from the uncharacteristic misfire of Cars. Cannes winner Persepolis could be this year’s Spirited Away, a foreign product whose intelligent wonder sweeps voters off their feet – but how many have actually seen it?

Montage predictions

Persepolis-Carmody, Joseph, Sandra
Ratatouille-Emma, Robert

Best Picture

Atonement (Working Title)
Juno (Fox Searchlight)
Michael Clayton (Castle Rock)
No Country for Old Men (Paramount Vantage/Miramax)
There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage/Miramax)

The past few years of Oscar have thrown up lots of surprises. Since the Russell Crowe overdrive at the beginning of the decade which crowned more traditional Oscar fare Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind, Oscar has been all over the shop. Big industry marketing campaigns helped more mediocre films like Chicago and Crash make history, but new rules and a shorter voting period are in effect this year to try and prevent such influence on Academy votes. The current trend for Best Picture winners is dark – The Departed, Crash, and Million Dollar Baby are a far cry from feel good Hollywood. Aside from the overrated Michael Clayton, these are the best films of the year. Atonement won the Golden Globe, and could be the biggest British winner since The English Patient. No Country for Old Men is a classic genre picture, and would fit nicely in Oscar’s timeline after The Departed. There Will Be Blood - a bit of a loose cannon - has more of a chance than Michael Clayton and indie comedy Juno (the last comedy to win this category was Annie Hall). Which of their two nominated films with the Miramax machine push for Oscar? Can the Brits take the top prize? Is it all about the Cohens this year?

Snubbed – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Eastern Promises (and your favourite film of 2007 here)

Montage predictions


No Country for Old Men-Emma, Robert, Joseph, Sandra

1 comment:

Emma said...

I would like to change my prediction for best actress to Marion Cotillard, not a prediction, but who I really want to win!