Wednesday, January 16, 2008

OscarBlog Part 1 - Introduction to Acting

I'm Garney. You may not recognize my name (spell check certainly doesn't) and seeing as how this is my first entry as a contributor here (to this point my only contributions have been in comments and as quote source material for Red) let me take the time to introduce myself. So please reread the first sentence. I don't want to waste too much time with an intro because this is going to be a long one, and it's only the beginning.

I'm going to be blogging my predictions for what will be nominated for the 80th Annual Academy Awards. The nominations are announced Tuesday so this will be the first in a series of five entries. You think this is bad... when I was growing up I would separate my action figures into "production teams" that would each make their own movie and then vote for awards. I'd even have a ceremony with acceptance speeches and everything.

The first time I watched the Oscars was at the age of six when Amadeus won Best Picture. Growing up in my house, Oscar night was like a holiday. A nice spread of vittles would be prepared and any talking during the ceremony only pertained to the ceremony itself. It's a holiday I still celebrate (religiously), but it's not so much the event itself (though there are some elements I enjoy very much and the obsession with fashion is not one of them) that holds my enthusiasm as much as it is the horserace. So for this entry let's focus on the show horses themselves and cover the acting categories.

The nominees will be...


Cate Blanchett "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee "American Gangster"
Catherine Keener "Into the Wild"
Amy Ryan "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton "Michael Clayton"

This exactly matches the Screen Actors Guild list. I think that's all the validation I need so I'll talk about who I'm not predicting. Like most years there are dozens of viable contenders for the actor categories while the actress fields are pretty sparse. There's a strong possibility that someone from Atonement could make the cut. My money would be on Vanessa Redgrave whose final act appearance may be brief (Judi Dench won with less screen time) but still memorable and she's the biggest name in the cast. If not Redgrave then look to the young Saoirse Ronan to join the ranks of previous child actress nominees such as Anna Paquin and Abigail Breslin.

I thought this might be the year that Jennifer Jason Leigh got a nomination, but then I saw Margot at the Wedding. If voters love Juno as much as other pundits think they will (more on that in a future entry when I explain why I'm not predicting Juno to be nominated for Best Picture) then Jennifer Garner could find her name on the list here, likewise love for No Country For Old Men (a surefire Best Pic contender) could benefit Kelly Macdonald.

A possible wild card that I would like to see get nominated is Emily Mortimer for Lars and the Real Girl. The worthy contender that's certain to be overlooked is Imelda Staunton for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Javier Bardem "No Country for Old Men"
Phillip Seymour Hoffman "Charlie Wilson's War"
Hal Holbrook "Into the Wild"
Max Von Sydow "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Tom Wilkinson "Michael Clayton"

Javier Bardem and Tom Wilkinson are shoe-ins, and I think Holbrook is pretty close to being a shoe-in too. It would be Holbrook's first nomination, and he's had a very distinguished career and is in a film that will most likely get a Best Picture nod (same thing happened for Alan Alda a few years back with The Aviator).

I've managed to catch more than 75 films released in 2oo7 but there are still a few big contenders that I haven't seen yet, and many of them have strong contenders in this category. Some are because they haven't opened in my area yet, such as There Will Be Blood (which opens here tomorrow finally) and from the trailers Paul Dano certainly looks like he deserves a nomination, The Savages which is getting some buzz for Phillip Bosco, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I just think the fifth "surprise" spot which usually goes to a younger actor (like Ethan Hawke for Training Day and Mark Wahlberg for The Departed) will go to a more dignified older actor this year in a more serious film. Max Von Sydow just feels like a good fit on the list.

I haven't seen Charlie Wilson's War yet, but I think it will get its only nomination here for Phillip Seymour Hoffman because he also appeared in two prestigious lead performances last year (The Savages and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, which I did see and he's brilliant). Sometimes instead of being nominated for the best supporting acting you get nominated for the most supporting acting. This is what I think helped Jim Broadbent win in this category for Iris (the same year be appeared in Moulin Rouge and Bridget Jones' Diary) and earn John C. Reilly a nomination here for Chicago (the same year he was in Gangs of New York. The Hours and The Good Girl). The same could benefit Casey Affleck more likely to be noticed here for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (one that I missed, but I hear his performance is "a revelation") than for lead actor in Gone Baby Gone.

A possible wild card that I would like to see get nominated is Alan Rickman for Sweeney Todd. The worthy contender bound to be overlooked is Adrian Brody for The Darjeeling Limited.


Cate Blanchett "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie "Away From Her"
Marion Cotillard "La Vie en rose"
Angelina Jolie "A Mighty Heart"
Ellen Page "Juno"

Another exact match with the Screen Actors Guild list. The majority of these contenders are playing real people with real problems, and the other two are playing fictional characters with real problems. The only prediction here with any risk to it is Blanchett since this new installment of Elizabeth didn't draw the same audience or recognition it did eight years ago. I missed it. The only films I did catch from the list above are Away From Her and Juno, and both performances are worthy of awards (especially Julie Christie, and for another great and arguably better performance from Ellen Page rent Hard Candy).

The possible contender I'd most like to see make the list is Amy Adams for Enchanted. No one looked like they were having more fun on screen last year... except for maybe Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the opening of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (gonna have to see it to get the joke). It would also be great to see Helena Bonham Carter get a nod for Sweeney Todd, but voters may be confused as to whether Mrs. Lovett is a lead or supporting role and that will cost her votes. Lack of screen time also hurts Keira Knightley's chances for an Atonement nomination. Laura Linney has been nominated a few times so you can't count out her performance in The Savages, but I don't think enough voters will see it.

It's a shame that once again this field is lacking in potential candidates. I can't really think of a worthy contender with very little chance of getting recognized; maybe Ashley Judd for Bug or Molly Shannon for The Year of the Dog.

George Clooney "Michael Clayton"
Johnny Depp "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Ryan Gosling "Lars and the Real Girl"
Daniel Day Lewis "There Will Be Blood"
Viggo Mortensen "Eastern Promises"

Daniel Day Lewis is the only lock. George Clooney is pretty close to being a lock also which is a shame because although he does a great job in Michael Clayton, I saw at least ten that were better. There are the other three mentioned above, the likely candidates James McAvoy for Atonement and Emile Hirsch for Into the Wild, and several unlikely candidates such as the aforementioned Phillip Seymour Hoffman for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah, Chris Cooper for Breach, Steve Carell for Dan in Real Life and Glen Hansard for Once.

Denzel Washington could make the list for American Gangster, but it feels like whatever enthusiasm existed for that film has died. When I first read about John Cusack's performance in Grace is Gone I thought for sure he'd be looking at his first nomination, but sometimes the earliest buzz is the worst buzz. I've been told that if Mathieu Amalric is nominated for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly then all bets are off as to whether Daniel Day Lewis walks away with this award, and perhaps Diving Bell will end up proving that last minute buzz is the best kind of buzz.

I think that's more than enough for now. Tomorrow's Oscar blog will focus on some technical categories. If you're impatient and want to see a complete list of my predictions, check out approved timewaster Garney's Blog.


Red said...

That's what I'm talking about! You put me to shame, G.

I've told you this already, but that Best Supporting Actor race is just insane!

JD said...

It should be interesting. I feel thse are good and for most most part sure bets. Great work.