Amid months of controversy and an atrocious Golden Globes show – all attributed to the writer’s strike, the validity and the actual chances of an Academy Awards show seemed very hazy. The strike finally ended last Wednesday, and a sigh of relief was heard from movie fans around the country when the Oscar ceremony was officially re-ignited.
This year’s show is guaranteed to be very interesting. Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central is set to host for the second time in his career (his first hosting job was one of the best in recent Oscar history). There are certainly going to be plenty of jokes concerning the strike and its posthumous results, and it’s safe to say that that Stewart will not disappoint. Hopefully he’ll employ his fellow “Daily Show” cohorts and even the great Stephen Colbert for the show.
A big reason to watch the show is the fact that it is in its eightieth year. For every decade that the show has been aired, it is traditional to bring every living acting winner up to the stage in a grand exposition. It’s a very emotionally exciting event and we’ll get a rare chance to see the stars of yesteryear such as Luise Rainer (Oscar’s oldest winning actress) back on that glorious stage. Another honoree of the night will be famed art director Robert F. Boyle, who did the production design for classics like “The Birds” and “North By Northwest.” Boyle will be receiving the Academy Honorary Award.
As for the films up for the gold, there is a plethora of great cinematic achievement. “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men” are leading the nominations with eight each, and with both of the films gaining a huge momentum it is very hard to determine who will own the night. On the other side of that momentum, “Atonement” has been on the decline after a slew of losses and general public disinterest.
Smaller films like “Juno” and “The Savages” also have a few chances to win some statues and it’s good to see the underdogs get their due. No matter what, this year’s Academy Awards broadcast is not a show to be missed by any movie fan.
Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”) is the standout performer in this group, and there’s no way that he’ll be beaten in this category. Johnny Depp was delightfully evil as the protagonist in “Sweeney Todd” and he deserves a statue but not this year. The other fellow noms including George Clooney for his charming yet flawed title character in “Michael Clayton,” Viggo Mortensen as the sickly cool Russian mob driver in “Eastern Promises,” and Tommy Lee Jones (“In the Valley of Elah”) were at the top of their game this year (although Jones should have been up for “No Country For Old Men” and not “Elah”). There is no question with this category; the Academy will go for the biggest show of the year and it will be Day-Lewis.
Who Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”
Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”
Snubbed: Ryan Gosling, “Lars and The Real Girl”
The Academy loves to award the older nominees in this category and Julie Christie’s performance in the drama “Away From Her” will most likely bring her a second win (her last was in 1965 for “Darling”). Christie’s many wins up until the point have unfortunately overshadowed the tour de force performance by Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in the French epic “La Vie En Rose.” Ellen Page was also adorably terrific and surprisingly mature in “Juno” and Laura Linney was quite affecting in the indie dramedy “The Savages” but this is not their year. As for Cate Blanchett who has become the first actress to be nominated twice for the same role for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”, she has a better chance in the supporting category.
Who Should Win: Marion Cotillard, “La Vie En Rose”
Who Will Win: Julie Christie, “Away From Her”
Snubbed: Keri Russell, “Waitress”
Best Supporting Actor:
No other performance this year has been as chillingly intense as Javier Bardem’s impressive role as the psychotic Anton Chigurh in “No Country For Old Men.” His fellow nominees also delivered strong performances such as the poignant Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”, Casey Affleck’s brooding intensity in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”, and the transcendent achievement of Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton.” Phillip Seymour Hoffman was delightful and showed his range in “Charlie Wilson’s War”, but he was much better in “The Savages.” Nevertheless, Bardem is a shoo-in for this category and he deserves it.
Who Should Win: Javier Bardem, “No Country For Old Men”
Who Will Win: Javier Bardem, “No Country For Old Men”
Snubbed: Ben Foster, “3:10 to Yuma”
Best Supporting Actress:
Will it be the Academy favorite Cate Blanchett, who delivered a subtle yet powerful performance as Jude Quinn a.k.a. Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There” or will it be the stunningly realistic performance from Amy Ryan as the drug addled Boston mom who’s lost her daughter in “Gone Baby Gone?” Blanchett’s got the prestige and she certainly deserves a second statue (she got her first a few years ago for “The Aviator”) but Ryan has won a lot of critics’ awards and could possibly take the prize. However, the other three nominees also have a really good chance of winning. Thirteen-year-old Saorsie Ronan was splendid in “Atonement,” octogenarian Ruby Dee has a big chance after winning the SAG award for “American Gangster,” and Tilda Swinton could possibly pull an upset for her role in “Michael Clayton.” It’s most certainly the tightest race in any Oscar category this year.
Who Should Win: Cate Blanchett, “I’m Not There”
Who Will Win: Amy Ryan, “Gone Baby Gone”
Snubbed: Vera Farmiga, “Joshua”
Best Original Screenplay:
“Juno” has become both a critical and commercial success because of one woman: Diablo Cody. Her script for the indie film connects with people because of its unique dialogue and its genuine warmth. It’s a standout debut and she is completely worthy of any award Hollywood can give out. The other scripts including Nancy Oliver’s “Lars and the Real Girl,” Tony Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton,” Brad Bird’s “Ratatouille,” and Tamara Jenkins “The Savages” were all inspired and justifiably nominated but none were as impressive in their expression as Diablo Cody.
Who Should Win: “Juno” by Diablo Cody
Who Will Win: “Juno” by Diablo Cody
Snubbed: “The Darjeeling Limited” by Wes Anderson
Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Coen Brothers’ return to form came this year with “No Country For Old Men” and it is apparent that this success will lead them to gold. However, the real scribe who deserves the award in this category is Ronald Harwood. He took from both Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir and from interviews with the late French Elle editor’s hospital staff to pen the emotion filled script for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” Paul Thomas Anderson’s script for “There Will Be Blood” was unmistakably strong, as was Sarah Polley’s “Away From Her” and Christopher Hampton’s “Atonement” but they lacked the power of the heart-wrenching “Diving Bell.”
Who Should Win: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Ronald Harwood
Who Will Win: “No Country for Old Men” by Joel and Ethan Coen
Snubbed: “Gone Baby Gone” by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard
For sheer exhibition of showmanship and vision, this coveted award should go to Paul Thomas Anderson, who brought us the modern day “Citizen Kane” with his epic “There Will Be Blood.” Unfortunately, the Academy loves a comeback and the Coen Brothers could nab a double win for Best Director with their accomplished “No Country For Old Men.” Also, don’t count out artist/director Julian Schnabel for his wondrous portrait of life with “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” or Tony Gilroy for the cool Mamet-style direction of “Michael Clayton.” There could also be a surprise rush of love for Jason Reitman’s “Juno,” a film that wouldn’t have been what it was without his flair for comedy.
Who Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood”
Who Will Win: Joel and Ethan Coen, “No Country For Old Men”
Snubbed: John Carney, “Once”
It’s a tight race between the artistically brilliant “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men.” The latter film is more accessible to a wider audience and has been racking up multiple awards, although “Blood” can’t be counted out due to its incredible style and power. “Atonement” could always be the surprise upset win (reminiscent of “Shakespeare in Love” beating “Saving Private Ryan” in 1999) but it’s lost a lot of momentum since the lackluster Golden Globes “ceremony.” “Michael Clayton” was terrific, but it’s just lucky to be nominated. As for the indie darling “Juno”, it was the certainly one of the best films of the year but is it the most deserving of its company in this group?
Who Should Win: “There Will Be Blood”
Who Will Win: “No Country For Old Men”
Snubbed: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
The 80th Annual Academy Awards will air on Sunday Feb. 24 at 8:00 P.M.