Monday, January 21, 2008

OscarBlog Part 5 - Directing Your Attention to Best Picture

Sorry that this installment is coming in so much later than the others, but I was too busy watching football and the Amazing Race finale yesterday, and instead of having a holiday today like most of you probably did I had my first day of work at a new job.

Before I get to the final two categories, let me just make a special note here that I am forced to make a switch in my predictions for Original Score since Jonny Greenwood's score for There Will Be Blood was deemed ineligible apparently because its references to other music makes it diluted. Enchanted and Into the Wild were also deemed ineligible. So put Christopher Gunning's score for La Vie en Rose in the spot that Greenwood once occupied in my predictions.

The nominees will be...

Paul Thomas Anderson "There Will Be Blood"
Tim Burton "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Coen Brothers "No Country for Old Men"
Sean Penn "Into the Wild"
Julian Schnabel "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

I can't remember a year that was tougher than this when it comes to predicting the nominees for Best Director. These would all be first-time nominees for Best Director except for Joel Coen who was nominated for Fargo eleven years ago. If I were to rank my confidence in these predictions, the Coen Brothers would be first. No Country for Old Men has won the most critics awards and has also become the highest grossing Coen Brothers film to date. Second would be Julian Schnabel for Diving Bell with the incredible buzz the film is getting and the number of pre-Oscar awards he's already won including the Golden Globe. These two nominees are the only locks.
Leading the other three would be Paul Thomas Anderson whose There Will Be Blood is an extremely impressive and mature work for only his fifth film. If Sean Penn's chances are better it's only because he's an actor, and actors make up the vast majority of Academy voters. The prediction I'm least confident in is picking Tim Burton. He's certainly earned it as a well established and respected director that marches to his own beat. Sweeney Todd may be too macabre to get a Best Picture nomination, but I think Burton will pull through.

Of all the possible contenders that prove my predictions wrong, there are only two I'm really worried about. First is Joe Wright, whose Atonement just may end up receiving the most nominations of any film this year (I'm predicting it gets 8, with There Will Be Blood and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly close behind with 7 each). Second is Sidney Lumet who has been nominated five times in his illustrious career (starting with 12 Angry Men in 1958, then Dog Day Afternoon and Network in the 70s, and Prince of the City and The Verdict in the 80s), but his latest film Before the Devil Knows You're Dead never got the recognition it deserved (even the Independent Spirit Awards only nominated its screenplay and Marisa Tomei for supporting actress). The same Academy that gave Lumet an Honorary Award just three years ago may change all that.

There's such a long list of other contenders though, but the only ones that I think have a decent chance of getting the nomination are Ridley Scott for American Gangster, Ben Affleck for Gone Baby Gone and David Cronenberg for Eastern Promises.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

A very difficult year to predict, but I think these will be the five. My final last-minute change is replacing Michael Clayton with Diving Bell. I hope I don't regret making the switch. There just usually seems to be a last minute contender that ends up surprising a lot of people (like The Pianist and Letters From Iwo Jima), and this year I think it's going to be Diving Bell. It's an amazing life-affirming tale, and unlike Michael Clayton it's a true story. What bugs me the most is that I haven't had a chance to see it yet because it hasn't even opened in my area. I did see Michael Clayton though, and I wasn't terribly impressed.
If I'm wrong about any of these predictions I hope it's because Sweeney Todd gets the nomination that I think it so richly deserves. Most predictors are including Juno on their lists, and calling it this year's Little Miss Sunshine. Even if it were as good as Little Miss Sunshine, there are just more Oscar-worthy films this year than there were last year. Juno is more attitude than heart (whereas Little Miss Sunshine was the other way around) and I just don't think enough voters are going to be putting it at the top of their lists with so many other great films to choose from.

So that's it. It may be a little bit anti-climactic, but at this point the announcement of the nominations is only 12 hours away so most of you will be reading this after the fact. Look for an epilogue post with my reactions to what I got wrong. And of course I'll have to make my predictions as to what will win. So this isn't goodbye so much as a see ya next blog.


JD said...

You know I can't decide between any of them. In both categories in it too close to call. I hate that, but I like it too. There were a lot of good films to pick from.
Great work on this whole Series.

Red said...

Amazing work, G. I think your predictions are pretty damn close. I absolutely LOVE that there are no real front runners. It's kinda wide open (save Daniel Day Lewis for Best Actor, which seems a lock at this point). Can't wait for tomorrow!

Liz said...

Your pics were really spot on, especially in the major categories. Usually only one off, which is pretty amazing. Good work Garney!