Thursday, January 31, 2008

AFT Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role


This is the third category of the 1st Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by film title. Winners will be announced in late February.

Runners-up:
IRFAN KHAN, A MIGHTY HEART
HAL HOLBROOK, INTO THE WILD
PAUL RUDD, KNOCKED UP
YOUSEF SWEID, THE BUBBLE
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR


The nominees:
ROLF LASSGARD, AFTER THE WEDDING
It is hard to summarize Lassgard’s performance without including some major spoilers, so I will keep it short and suggest that anyone reading this watch this film at their earliest convenience. Lassgard first appears on screen while the song “It’s Raining Men” plays on his radio, but that is such a false impression of the generous businessman with a booming voice that only the film can itself reveal.

CASEY AFFLECK, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORDAffleck takes his quiet ferocity from “Gone Baby Gone” and transplants it into the past, where he faces off against Brad Pitt in this remarkable film. Affleck’s Robert Ford is at every moment desperately eager to please Pitt’s Jesse James, but it is clear that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery for Ford. Without ever raising his voice, Affleck carries a pent-up anger and jealousy throughout the film and more than keeps the film going during its somewhat slow-paced third act.

ED HARRIS, GONE BABY GONE
All the buzz for this film went to co-star Amy Ryan, but it is veteran Harris who really stands out. As a somewhat shady cop in the Boston police force, Harris both demands respect and exudes suspicion at the same time. He does not take crap from anybody, which is most clear in his scenes with Casey Affleck. Harris has many terrific moments with such a small role that make his character impossible to forget.

MARCUS CARL FRANKLIN, I’M NOT THERE
It would be easy for the young Franklin, in his first feature film role, to get lost among the great actors playing Bob Dylan in this film (Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, and Cate Blanchett, most notably). But Franklin proves in his very first moment to be the strongest thing about the film, making his interpretation of Dylan mature beyond his years and so eagerly adaptable to the world around him. Franklin definitely has an exciting career ahead of him.

JAVIER BARDEM, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Every time I see this ridiculously nice guy give an acceptance speech, I am reminded of how good his performance was and how he in real life is so remarkably different from his psychotic but calculating killer. Bardem immediately skyrockets to the top of any “best villains” list and his presence holds sway over the entire film, even when he is not on screen. His best moments come when he is engaged in one-on-one conversations with unexpected people who just want to do their job. He just wants to do his job, but that may involve flipping a coin.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

AFT Awards: Best Actress in a Leading Role


This is the second category of the 1st Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by film title. Winners will be announced in late February.

Runners-up:
KERI RUSSELL, WAITRESS
KATHERINE HEIGL, KNOCKED UP
JULIE CHRISTIE, AWAY FROM HER
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, ATONEMENT
LAURA LINNEY, THE SAVAGES

The nominees:
CECILE DE FRANCE, AVENUE MONTAIGNE
This is one those films that intertwines dozens of characters in fun and inventive ways, and de France is the glue holding them all together. Her genuine excitement every time she meets someone and her obedient acceptance to waitress under perhaps less-than-desirable conditions are integral parts of her cheerful performance. This is one of those performances that can hardly be described but needs to be seen in its entirety to really get the effect.

LOREN HORSLEY, EAGLE VS. SHARK
The first and most obviously difficult thing for Horsley is the fact that she had to play opposite “Flight of the Conchords” frontman Jemaine Clement. Yet Horsley defies all expectations and responds with perfect subtlety to every one of his outrageous indignations and selfish behavior. She cannot be disturbed and is willing to go the distance for a guy who clearly cannot healthily express his feelings for her the same way she can for him. The entire movie is her showcase.

ELLEN PAGE, JUNO
Page is the only returning nominee from my awards last year (prior to the existence of “Movies with Abe”). I already knew that she had it in her to give an awe-inspiring performance and be so delightfully creepy. I could only have hoped that her comedic skills would be as sharp and tremendous as her dramatic chops, and my expectations were more than fully met. Page breathes every word of Diablo Cody’s script and transforms it into reality. Her interactions with any and all of her castmates are the most fun.

ANGELINA JOLIE, A MIGHTY HEART
I have never been a huge fan of Jolie’s acting ability, but she really surprised me here. Despite the presence of a thick accent, Jolie pulled off a believable impersonation of a distressed but steadfast journalist searching for her missing husband. Jolie’s Mariane Pearl never loses her composure in the search for her husband, staying strong up until the end, genuinely appreciate of everyone’s efforts to locate him. That is what makes her breakdown at the end of the film all the more powerful.

MARION COTILLARD, LA VIE EN ROSE
I hardly realized that I had actually seen Cotillard in a number of films before this one, including “Big Fish” and “A Good Year”. As with Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”, Cotillard completely throws herself unconditionally into the role. This is one of the most remarkable transformations I have ever seen in my life. Cotillard is absolutely unrecognizable and fully convincing as French singer Edith Piaf, and as the character ages the performance gets even better. She carries the movie completely with her performance.

Monday, January 28, 2008

AFT Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role


This is the first category of the 1st Annual AFT Film Awards to be announced. The AFT Awards are my own personal choices for the best in film of each year and the best in television of each season. The AFT Film Awards include the traditional Oscar categories and a number of additional specific honors. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by film title. Winners will be announced in late February.

Runners-up:
JAMES MCAVOY, STARTER FOR 10
EMILE HIRSCH, INTO THE WILD
VIGGO MORTENSEN, EASTERN PROMISES
CASEY AFFLECK, GONE BABY GONE
JEMAINE CLEMENT, EAGLE VS. SHARK


The nominees:
MADS MIKKELSEN, AFTER THE WEDDING
As the kind-hearted and earnest Jacob, Mikkelsen delivers a wondrously quiet performance in which he, along with the rest of the superb cast, conveys so much with just a look. There is one scene near the beginning of the film that sums up Mikkelsen’s performance superbly, but he remains consistently excellent throughout the film. Who knew that the villain from “Casino Royale” could be such a heartbreakingly nice guy?

BRAD PITT, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD
Casey Affleck has deservedly earned raves for his performance as Robert Ford in this film, but Pitt’s name has been all but absent from most awards groups. The actor usually known for his cocky and loud lead characters brings to life another quiet character with much more success than in last year’s “Babel”. Jesse James is such a classic character, and Pitt portrays him stunningly while still leaving him as such a mystery. The scene to watch him in particularly is the train robbery near the start of the film.

TOMMY LEE JONES, IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
Jones is a seasoned actor who has more than held his own in a vast number of films over the past twenty-plus years. Yet he is sharp as ever in Paul Haggis’ underrated and completely forgotten early fall release. Anyone who sees the film will see why Jones came back with a surprise Oscar nomination for his work here. Jones does not overplay the role of the grieving yet meticulously perceptive father, and the results are wondrously effective.

ULRICH MUHE, THE LIVES OF OTHERS
It is truly sad that the terrific Muhe passed away this past summer, but it is some consolation that this role was one of his last. Muhe manages the near-impossible: his character is at the beginning so terrifying and vile yet he makes his German interrogator a sympathetic character by the middle of the film. I cannot say much more without giving the plot away, but Muhe’s performance is one that should be remembered for a long time.

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Many have written that Day-Lewis giving a great performance is no surprise. The actor has made less than twenty films in the past twenty-five years, so any time he appears on screen is bound to be fascinating. As an oil tycoon whose greed and lust for power engulfs his entire being, Day-Lewis fully inhabits the role more than I think I have ever seen an actor do (save for maybe Marion Cotillard in this year’s “La Vie en Rose”, but wait until the next category for that one. That one clip that keeps getting played over and over at the awards shows with Paul Dano’s character trying to “drive out the devil” in Daniel says it all.

SAG Award Winners

2/5, at least a bit better than my TV score. I tried to ignore the inevitability of Julie Christie and "No Country for Old Men", but I am still pulling for others at the Oscars (Marion Cotillard and "Juno" at the moment). I do appreciate Christie's performance a bit more after seeing her now and how different she is, but Cotillard's performance is even more in-depth, and I of course loved Ellen Page's performance in "Juno". Regardless, I do not want to talk about Ruby Dee. Sure, it is a lifetime achievement award but that does not make it right.

The winners:
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS
JULIE CHRISTIE
JAVIER BARDEM
RUBY DEE
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

More awards? "No Country for Old Men" also won the Directors' Guild prize. "There Will Be Blood" won the American Society of Cinematographers award. More on the WGA, PGA, and any and all other award shows coming soon, as well as the launch of the 1st Annual AFT Film Awards, coming soon.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Look Out, There's a Monster: Cloverfield

Cloverfield
Directed by Matt Reeves
Released January 18, 2008

The first thing I need to say about the first 2008 release I am seeing is that I got a headache about two minutes in which did not go away until well after the film ended. It is basically a bunch of people running around New York City with a handheld camera for an hour and a half. While I personally could have down without the dizziness, the handheld nature of it all made the whole thing more frantic. In trying to compose my feelings about the film, I find myself at somewhat of a loss. I hated all the characters so much because they were just so dumb (especially T.J. Miller, better known as Marmaduke on ABC's Carpoolers). The idea should be to run away from the monster, not towards it. All in all, however, I was pretty into the movie, whether I was laughing at it or being genuinely excited, maybe even on the edge of my seat. I cannot say too much more without giving anything away, but I do wish a bit more had been explained, though I guess I should not have expected any more answers from a J.J. Abrams film.

B

Immensely Disturbing: Taxi to the Dark Side

Taxi to the Dark Side
Directed by Alex Gibney
Released January 18, 2008

I can say with certain conviction that this is the most disturbing film I have ever seen. I went into it knowing nothing other than that it was an Oscar-nominated documentary about the Iraq War. What I was not prepared for was the gut-wrenching, haunting images and descriptions of the methods of torture which are often inexplicably condoned by the U.S. government while simultaneously being decried and derailed by other high-ups and important people. Coupled with "No End in Sight", this certainly makes Donald Rumsfeld look like the most despicable man on earth. The most disturbing thing about this film is the interviews with those implicated for or accused of torturing prisoners: their relative nonchalance and the way that they do not seem to think they did very much wrong. I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this film because it is just so difficult to watch, but it is important and a stunningly documented effort.

B+

Oscar chances: I doubt this film can eclipse "Sicko". With three Iraq-related documentaries and a film by Michael Moore in this category, I can say for sure that whoever wins this category will make a speech just as memorable as that by Michael Moore back in 2002.

Friday, January 25, 2008

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture


The nominees: “American Gangster”, “Hairspray”, “Into the Wild”, “No Country for Old Men”, and “3:10 to Yuma”.
Who’s not here; “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”, “Gone Baby Gone”, “Juno”, and “Sweeney Todd”.
For your information: “Hairspray” and “3:10 to Yuma” have no individual performers nominated. The winner last year in this category was “Little Miss Sunshine”. Out of these fine, only one is nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture (“No Country for Old Men”).
Who should win: “American Gangster” and “3:10 to Yuma” do not belong here. Out of this bunch, definitely “Hairspray”.
Who will win: The individual cast members in No Country for Old Men are great, but I think the true ensemble that is Hairspray will win out here. The shut-out for “Hairspray” at the Oscars is not a great sign, but “The Birdcage” still won in 1996 after a mere one nomination (art direction) at the Oscars.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Actress in a Supporting Role


The nominees: Ruby Dee in “American Gangster”, Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”, Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There”, Catherine Keener in “Into the Wild”, and Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”.
Who’s not here: Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”.
For your information: Blanchett has five previous ensemble nominations (one win for “The Return of the King”), three individual nominations, one win in this category (for “The Aviator”), and another nomination to this year. Keener has two previous nominations for herself and her ensemble work. Swinton has a nomination for her work in the ensemble of “Adaptation” and the rest are first-time nominees. “American Gangster” and “Into the Wild” are nominated in the ensemble category.
Who should win: Blanchett
Who will win: As it has been so far, a toss-up between Blanchett and Ryan. I give the edge to Ryan here.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Actor in a Supporting Role


The nominees: Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James”, Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”, Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”, Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”, and Tommy Lee Jones in “No Country for Old Men”.
Who’s not here: Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War” and John Travolta in “Hairspray”.
For your information: Wilkinson was previously for his individual and ensemble work in “In the Bedroom” and has two trophies as part of the ensembles of “Shakespeare in Love” and “The Full Monty”. Jones has a previous TV nomination. The rest all are first-time nominees. “Into the Wild” and “No Country for Old Men” are also nominated in the ensemble category.
Who should win: Bardem or Affleck
Who will win: Maybe Affleck, but probably Bardem.

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Actress in a Leading Role


The nominees: Julie Christie in “Away from Her”, Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”, Ellen Page in “Juno”, Angelina Jolie in “A Mighty Heart”, and Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”.
Who’s not here: Keira Knightley in “Atonement”, Laura Linney from “The Savages”, and Amy Adams in “Enchanted”.
For your information: This is the first nomination for both Page and Cotillard, and the first individual performance nod for Christie. Jolie has two previous wins. Blanchett is the reigning champ here, with five previous ensemble nominations (one win for “The Return of the King”), three individual nominations, one win (for “The Aviator”), and another nomination to boot this year.
Who should win: Page or Cotillard
Who will win: As always, it is between Christie, Cotillard, and Page. I think this will go to Cotillard, but I could easily be wrong.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

SAG Winner Predictions: Best Actor in a Leading Role


The nominees: Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”, Emile Hirsch in “Into the Wild”, Ryan Gosling in “Lars and the Real Girl”, George Clooney in “Michael Clayton”, and Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”.
Who’s not here: Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd”, most notably, and Oscar’s choice of Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”.
For your information: Gosling was nominated last year, Clooney was nominated for both “Syriana” and the ensemble of “Good Night, and Good Luck” two years ago (plus a whole host of nominations for his lead and ensemble work on “ER”), and Day-Lewis won back in 2002 for “Gangs of New York”. Depp has two ensemble nominations, a nod for “Finding Neverland”, and a win for “Pirates of the Caribbean”. This is the first nomination for Hirsch, and Mortensen has three nominations for his work in the ensemble cast of the “Lord of the Rings” films. Only Hirsch is nominated twice this year, also in the ensemble category for “Into the Wild”.
Who should win: Mortensen and Hirsch were both great, but this prize should absolutely go to Day-Lewis.
Who will win: This is a lock for Day-Lewis. If anyone else wins, that changes things for the Oscars in a major way.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Overall Reactions to the Nominations

I did most of the reacting this morning before rushing off to my first class of the semester. Overall, this was a massively exciting season which culminated in a list which is not that interesting but pretty cool otherwise. While this year "Michael Clayton" and "There Will Be Blood" are for me like last year's "Babel" and "The Queen" (i.e. way overrated), I am happy that "Atonement" defied almost all the odds and got in. I am surprised by the snubbing of "Into the Wild", especially in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. It is if voters went out of their way to select Sarah Polley's meh script for "Away from Her" instead. The lukewarm reaction to musicals is also weird. "Sweeney Todd" somehow ended up with only three nominations, "Hairspray" got shut out, "Across the Universe" made it in for Best Costumes, and all five Best Original Song nominees come from musicals. I would have loved for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" to deservedly make it in for Best Picture, but alas foreign films rarely do. At least Tommy Lee Jones got in. I do love a good surprise, especially one I predicted almost to the end. My overall total was 59/99, or 59% (the technical categories killed me), as compared to 53% last year (I also predicted 3/5 of the Best Picture nominees, as opposed to 2/5 last year). My prediction rate in the top eight categories was a lot better: 29/40, or 73%. I am particularly proud that I left "Atonement" in, almost left Tommy Lee Jones in, and that I correctly called the omission of "The Simpsons Movie".

Out of all the films nominated, I am missing 9 at this point: all five foreign films, three of the documentaries, and "Norbit". I have no desire to see "Norbit" and can forgo my say in the Best Makeup category ("Sweeney Todd" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" are not even represented, so it by default goes to "La Vie en Rose" in my mind). I plan to see both "Taxi to the Dark Side" and "Beaufort" in the coming weeks as well as anything else I can get my hands on. For people who may have missed a lot of the films, VideoEta is a great site to find out when movies are coming on on DVD. Between February 5th and 19th, the following films are being released, among others: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES, GONE BABY GONE, INTO THE WILD, and MICHAEL CLAYTON. The Oscars air (hopefully) February 24th. In the meantime, the SAG awards air this Sunday night on TNT and then all the other guilds determine their winners. I'll be here with frequent predictions and thoughts.

Oscar Nominees: Best Picture


My predictions: 3/5, missing "Michael Clayton" and "There Will Be Blood" for "Into the Wild" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly".

Alas, I guess there were too many contenders here. Great success story for "Atonement", though too bad for this year's best Oscar-friendly film "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly". Also interesting that "Atonement" is the one to miss out on Best Director when usually it would be "Juno" or "Michael Clayton". Anyway, this is sure to be an interesting race where all but "Michael Clayton" can pull off a win. That's it for now, more analysis and thoughts coming much later today.

My current bet to win: "Juno"

Oscar Nominees: Best Director


My predictions: 3/5, missing Gilroy and Reitman for Sean Penn and Sidney Lumet

Wow! Jason Reitman! Quite a shock. I am happy that he made it in after a shutout for "Thank You For Smoking" last year and since he really did deserve it. Tony Gilroy for "Michael Clayton" not so much. I do love surprises like "Juno" here but I would have loved to see this only match up a bit instead of 4/5. Interesting how the past two years the Best Director mismatch has not been a complete shock but actually a strong contender for Best Picture too ("United 93" last year). First nominations for all here except one of the Coen Brothers.

My current bet to win: The Coen Brothers for "No Country for Old Men"

Oscar Nominees: Best Visual Effects


My predictions: 1/3, choosing "I Am Legend" and "300" over "The Golden Compass" and "Pirates".

That is too bad. No "I Am Legend". Whatever. This is easily a win for "Transformers" anyway.

My current bet to win: "Transformers"

Oscar Nominees: Best Documentary


My predictions: 3/5, correctly predicting "Sicko", "No End in Sight", and "Taxi to the Dark Side"

I have only seen "Sicko" and "No End in Sight", but at least most of this category can be seen before Oscar time. The aforementioned two and "Operation Homecoming" are out on DVD, "Taxi to the Dark Side" is still playing in NYC, and "War/Dance" is the one film that I think I will miss.

My current bet to win: Michael Moore

Oscar Nominees: Best Animated Film


My predictions: 2/3, predicting "Bee Movie" over "Surf's Up"

I am proud that I correctly predicted the snub for "The Simpsons Movie", and was so overjoyed during the nominations announcement that I negelected to realize that I actually hated "Surf's Up" quite a bit. Whatever, at least it was better than "The Simpsons Movie".

My current bet to win: "Ratatouille"

Oscar Nominees: Best Foreign Film


My predictions: 2/5, picking only "Beaufort" and "The Counterfeiters"

No comment. I have not seen any of these, and I do not know if I will get to many of them before Oscar night.

My current bet to win
: "The Counterfeiters"

Oscar Nominees: Best Makeup


My predictions: 1/3, calling only "La Vie en Rose"

"Norbit" I have not seen and have no plans to. "Pirates" was okay makeup-wise I suppose but what about the deserving "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "Sweeney Todd"?

My current bet to win: "La Vie en Rose"

Oscar Nominees: Sound Categories




My predictions: 1/5 for each, picking only "Transformers" correctly.

No real comment here, except to say that "The Bourne Ultimatum", "No Country for Old Men" and "Ratatouille" performed the way I thought "Beowulf", "Hairspray", and "Sweeney Todd" would have. I guess sometimes less is more.

My current bet to win: "Transformers" for both

Oscar Nominees: Best Original Song


My predictions: 2/5, choosing only "Once" and one of the songs from "Enchanted"

What is with choosing three songs from one film? Especially "Enchanted" which had uncreative and obnoxious songs? At least "Once" made it in. This shows that a Globe nomination is really not a good thing as only one Globe nominee has translated to Oscar the past three years.

My current bet to win: "Once"

Oscar Nominees: Best Original Score


My predictions: 3/5, choosing "The Assassination of Jesse James" and "Lust, Caution" over "3:10 to Yuma" and "Michael Clayton".

The score is the one thing I did like a lot about "Michael Clayton", so that is fine. But "3:10 to Yuma"? Ick. Otherwise, I am overjoyed that "Atonement" did not get snubbed here and hope that it can overcome "The Kite Runner" as it did at the Globes.

My current bet to win: "Atonement"

Oscar Nominees: Best Film Editing


My predictions: 4/5, predicting "Michael Clayton" of all things over "The Bourne Ultimatum".

One undeserving film takes the place of another, no big surprise. I really did not enjoy The Bourne Ultimatum, and the editing to me was choppy and poor. It is interesting that this is the category where "Michael Clayton" slipped and "Into the Wild" managed to get into, though the latter does make sense: the movie runs almost two and a half hours but never gets boring. Impressive.

My current bet to win: No Country for Old Men

Oscar Nominees: Best Costume Design


My predictions: 3/5, missing "Across the Universe" and "La Vie en Rose" for "Hairspray" and "Lust, Caution".

Where the hell does "Across the Universe" keep coming from? "Hairspray" omitted here is another big shock, but the inclusion of "La Vie en Rose" is a pleasant one that really does make sense. Good to see that "Sweeney Todd" did do well in the technical categories.

My current bet to win: Atonement

Oscar Nominees: Best Art Direction


My predictions: 2/5, missing "American Gangster", "The Golden Compass" and "There Will Be Blood" for "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and "Hairspray".

I guess the art direction was the strongest part of "The Golden Compass", but where is "Hairspray"? It was not until I read through all the nominations that I realized that "Hairspray" was completely shut out. Quite a shock. "There Will Be Blood" I guess I should have seen coming.

My current bet to win: Atonement

Oscar Nominees: Best Cinematography


My predictions: 5/5

This was pretty easy since the only upset I feared was the film that got almost completely shut out ("Into the Wild"). Terrific list, I am rooting for "The Assassination of Jesse James" but I of course loved both "Atonement" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly".

My current bet to win: "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Oscar Nominees: Best Adapted Screenplay


My predictions: 4/5, missing "Into the Wild" for the somewhat surprising "Away from Her"

I never expected "Into the Wild" to take such a hit and I assumed that here of all places was its best shot. Oh, well. In my opinion, "Away from Her" does not deserve a mention here but the rest all are fine.

My current bet to win: "No Country for Old Men"

Oscar Nominees: Best Original Screenplay


My predictions: 3/5, swapping out WGA nominees "Lars and the Real Girl" and "The Savages" and replacing them with "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and "Eastern Promises".

So, it turns out the WGA is a good predictor. I am happy with "Juno" and "Ratatouille" and could not care less about the rest of the nominees (though "Lars and the Real Girl" was fun).

My current bet to win: Diablo Cody for "Juno", no competition (and really this time - "No Country for Old Men" is in a different category).

Oscar Nominees: Best Actress in a Supporting Role


My predictions: 4/5, choosing Tomei over Dee

I am just as excited for Saiorse Ronan, who was looking less and less like a potential nominee recently, as I am disappointed by Ruby Dee's inclusion. I disliked the film and barely noticed her, and it turns out that she was only in the film for five minutes. I am just going to pretend that Marisa Tomei is nominated and she just has no chance of winning.

My current bet to win: Blanchett

Oscar Nominees: Best Actor in a Supporting Role


My predictions: 5/5!

This was to me the easiest category to predict, and I am happy with these nods (though a swapping out of Tom Wilkinson would have been fine). Good to see that Philip Seymour Hoffman made it in with no other nods for his film and also Hal Holbrook despite the near shut-out for his.

My current bet to win: Bardem

Oscar Nominees: Best Actress in a Leading Role


My predictions: 3/5, choosing Jolie and Knightley over Blanchett and Linney.

The snubbing of Angelina Jolie comes to me as a major shock. Even more so, the inclusion of both Cate Blanchett and Laura Linney. Blanchett had been there all along but everyone said the movie was terrible and she did not deserve a nod. She is the only nominee with an absolute zero percent change of winning. Linney's nomination is fine (I liked her best in the film), and a refreshing statistic that she made it in along with Best Actor nominee Tommy Lee Jones after being virtually ignored every step of the way.

My current bet to win: Ellen Page

Oscar Nominees: Best Actor in a Leading Role


My predictions: 4/5, choosing Hirsch over Jones, but only at the last minute!!

I am so mad at myself. Let the record show that I had Jones in my top five for so long and totally saw his nomination coming but got cold feet at the last minute. My only comfort is that I would not have gone 5/5 anyway because I would have wishfully swapped out Clooney instead of Hirsch, whose film took a major beating, earning only two nominations. It is nice to see that someone can still pull off a nomination despite snubs every step out of the way (see also: Best Actress). Mortensen, and Jones for that matter, are the only representatives from their respective films with nominations.

My current bet to win: Day-Lewis

Monday, January 21, 2008

No Guts, No Glory

It is now that time, less than nine hours to go before the nominations are announced. I am off to bed and will return tomorrow with nominees and reactions before 9:30am tomorrow morning. Only one major last-minute pieces of news: the scores from "There Will Be Blood" and "Into the Wild" have been deemed ineligible. My refreshed predictions are here. I am really excited by the possibilties tomorrow, and hope that the lineups in the major categories, especially Best Picture, will be fresh and interesting. This should be a year of major surprises. Just what will those be? My three no guts, no glory predictions:

1) Best Picture and Best Director only match up 2/5 (how exciting!)
2) Brad Pitt for Best Actor for "The Assassination of Jesse James"
3) Todd Haynes for Best Director for "I'm Not There"

Nominees are announced tomorrow morning at 8:38am ET on a variety of channels. I always go with NBC, where Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger should be on hand to offer predictions before and analysis afterwards. Check back tomorrow morning for all the latest on the nominees!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Oscar Predictions: The Top Categories

I really do not know. It is so hard to judge the chances for “Atonement”, which has been snubbed by each and every guild save for a warm reception from the Golden Globes. Then I look at last year and realize that “Letters from Iwo Jima” was also shut out by every guild but walked away with a Golden Globe win for Best Foreign Film. And its Oscar mention for Best Picture was considered a surprise, at least by me. Plus all the history and odds concerning the PGA. What is somewhat problematic is that “Michael Clayton” seems completely unstoppable and has no backlash against it (like “Dreamgirls” last year), save from me, though I did read an impressive scathing breakdown of all its plot holes on an IMDB discussion forum. Looking at my list of the top five, “Atonement” is obviously the most vulnerable, but there is also “There Will Be Blood” to consider. “Sweeney Todd” is still a contender, but I do not take that one quite as seriously. This is insanely exciting to have eight viable contenders for Best Picture even right up to nomination day. I think I got all my thoughts out in that PGA post, so there is little more to say. My screenplay predictions remain the same, except for “Atonement” being swapped back in instead of that silly notion I had about “The Kite Runner” (watch it get nominated now). An important thing to remember here is that this race may be far beyond anyone’s wildest dreams: I have completely left out contenders like “Once”, “American Gangster”, “Hairspray”, and “Charlie Wilson’s War”, which believe it or not could make shocking comebacks (in that order of likelihood). Part of me would love to see it, but I am very happy with my predicted five for Best Picture. I may make some last-minute changes on Monday, but otherwise, this is it. Tuesday morning, 8:30am E.T. I, for one, am excited.

Best Picture
ATONEMENT
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
INTO THE WILD
JUNO
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN


Best Director
SIDNEY LUMET, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD
JULIAN SCHNABEL, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
SEAN PENN, INTO THE WILD
THE COEN BROTHERS, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON, THERE WILL BE BLOOD


Best Original Screenplay
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD
EASTERN PROMISES
JUNO
MICHAEL CLAYTON
RATATOUILLE


Best Adapted Screenplay
ATONEMENT
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
INTO THE WILD
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Oscar Predictions: Best Visual Effects

The seven finalists:
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
EVAN ALMIGHTY
THE GOLDEN COMPASS
I AM LEGEND
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3
300
TRANSFORMERS


These are all that remain. A bit surprising that “Spider-Man 3” did not make the cut, as well as “Live Free or Die Hard”, which I was rooting for. My primary instinct is to trim off the first two (alphabetically) and there you have the top five, but last year’s nomination for “Poseidon” makes me think that something like “The Bourne Ultimatum” might have a shot. I really want “I Am Legend” to get nominated, but it will have an uphill battle with the bottom three.

If there are 5 nominees:
THE GOLDEN COMPASS
I AM LEGEND
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3
300
TRANSFORMERS


If there are 3 nominees:
I AM LEGEND
300
TRANSFORMERS

Oscar Predictions: Best Documentary

The finalists:
AUTISM: THE MUSICAL
BODY OF WAR
FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO
LAKE OF FIRE
NANKING
NO END IN SIGHT
OPERATION HOMECOMING: WRITING THE WARTIME EXPERIENCE
PLEASE VOTE FOR ME
THE PRICE OF SUGAR
A PROMISE TO THE DEAD: THE EXILE JOURNEY OF ARIEL DORFMAN
THE RAPE OF EUROPA
SICKO
TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE
WAR/DANCE
WHITE LIGHT/BLACK RAIN


I have only seen two of these films, “No End in Sight” and “Sicko”, so my commentary will be extremely limited. Only two others are out on DVD (“Operation Homecoming” and “White Light/Black Rain”). “For The Bible Tells Me So” is also coming to DVD before the Oscar telecast (provided there is one). “Taxi to the Dark Side” should be out in NYC this weekend, but otherwise most of these will not be on DVD until April or May. Therefore, I will do my best to guess based on buzz. “Lake of Fire” is an abortion documentary from “American History X” director Tony Kaye, and the other four are also highly provocative in their subject matter and this should make for an interesting list.

FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO
LAKE OF FIRE
NO END IN SIGHT
SICKO
TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE

Best Animated Film

The twelve finalists:
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS
AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE
BEE MOVIE
BEOWULF
MEET THE ROBINSONS
PERSEPOLIS
RATATOUILLE
SHREK THE THIRD
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE
SURF’S UP

TEKKONKINKREET
TMNT: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES


These are the final twelve. I managed to see nine of them and you can find reviews of all them up. This category has been relegated to three nominees since its inception in 2001, but there is always a chance that five nominees might make the cut. I didn’t think “Persepolis” could get in for both Best Animated Film and Best Foreign Film, but now that it is no longer in the running for Best Foreign Film, I think I will leave it in here. I really do hope it is “Bee Movie” or “The Simpsons Movie”.

If there are 3 nominees:
BEE MOVIE
PERSEPOLIS
RATATOUILLE


If there are 5 nominees:
BEE MOVIE
BEOWULF
PERSEPOLIS
RATATOUILLE
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE

Oscar Predictions: Best Foreign Film

The nine finalists:
Austria, THE COUNTERFEITERS
Brazil, THE YEAR MY PARENTS WENT ON VACATION
Canada, DAYS OF DARKNESS
Israel, BEAUFORT
Italy, THE UNKNOWN
Kazakhstan, MONGOL
Poland, KATYN
Russia, 12
Serbia, THE TRAP

Things in this category have now been vastly shaken up. The three presumed frontrunners, “Persepolis” from France, “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days” from Romania, and “The Orphanage” from Spain, were not included in the nine finalists announced Tuesday, trimmed down from 63 originally submitted films. This is only the second year that Kazakhstan has submitted an entry, after last year’s poor Nomad. The only two films I have really heard anything about are “The Counterfeiters” and “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation” so those are my top two but otherwise it is just guesswork.

BEAUFORT
THE COUNTERFEITERS
DAYS OF DARKNESS
THE TRAP
THE YEAR MY PARENTS WENT ON VACATION

Oscar Predictions: Best Makeup

The seven finalists:
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
NORBIT
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 3
SWEENEY TODD
300
LA VIE EN ROSE

The final nominees can only come from this list, and this category usually has only three nominees.

If there are 3 nominees:
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
SWEENEY TODD
LA VIE EN ROSE


If there are 5 nominees:
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
NORBIT
SWEENEY TODD
300
LA VIE EN ROSE

Oscar Predictions: Sound Categories

I really really know nothing about these categories. Just making it up as I go along. Sound editing often has three nominees, but last year there were five. No alternates needed here. All five will probably we wrong.

Best Sound
BEOWULF
HAIRSPRAY
SWEENEY TODD
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
TRANSFORMERS


Best Sound Editing
BEOWULF
HAIRSPRAY
I AM LEGEND
SWEENEY TODD
TRANSFORMERS

Oscar Predictions: Best Original Song

The most likely contenders:
“Do You Feel Me” from AMERICAN GANGSTER
“That’s How You Know” from ENCHANTED
“Lyra” from THE GOLDEN COMPASS
“Grace is Gone” from GRACE IS GONE
“Come So Far” from HAIRSPRAY
“Guaranteed” from INTO THE WILD
“Despedida” from LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA
“Falling Slowly” from ONCE
“If You Want Me” from ONCE
“Walk Hard” from WALK HARD

There are 59 songs eligible for this category. I have created a YouTube playlist with as many as I could find (about 44), so head over there and judge for yourself. I only really like a few of them, most of which are represented above (save for the “Walk Hard” embarrassment, but I know that my opinion does not translate to Oscar ballots). The major thing about this category is that for the past few years it really has not matched up with the Globe lineup at all. My predictions match up 4/5, but I just think those songs will make the cut. Watch out for a “Once” comeback and possible dual nods from that film and “Into the Wild”. Last year, three nominations came from “Dreamgirls”, one from “Cars”, and the winner from “An Inconvenient Truth”. My alternate here is “If You Want Me” from ONCE.

“That’s How You Know” from ENCHANTED
“Grace is Gone” from GRACE IS GONE
“Guaranteed” from INTO THE WILD
“Despedida” from LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA
“Falling Slowly” from ONCE

Oscar Predictions: Best Original Score

**Major news: Awardsdaily.com, among others, reports that both THERE WILL BE BLOOD and INTO THE WILD are for some reason not eligible in this category. Therefore, I am replacing "There Will Be Blood" with LUST, CAUTION (alternate: EASTERN PROMISES).**

Still cannot be sure about this one. “The Good German”, which I think only I saw, somehow made it in last year over the brilliant score from “The Fountain”. This year the potential nominees are diverse, such as Johnny Greenwood’s intriguing composition for “There Will Be Blood” or the buoyant themes of “The Kite Runner” or “Ratatouille”. Many, many possibilities, including alternates LUST, CAUTION, INTO THE WILD, GRACE IS GONE, MICHAEL CLAYTON, and EASTERN PROMISES.

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES
ATONEMENT
THE KITE RUNNER
LUST, CAUTION

RATATOUILLE

Oscar Predictions: Best Film Editing

I keep remembering two years ago how Best Picture shoo-ins “Brokeback Mountain” and “Good Night, and Good Luck” got shockingly but wonderfully snubbed in this category. For every serious Best Picture nominee to be included is purely unfair: it is much better to spread the love around. Last year the match-up was only 2/5 for the second year in a row, including “Blood Diamond”, “Children of Men”, and “United 93”. All five of my predicted nominees could easily get in for Best Picture, but my predicted match-up is 3/5. Alternates, which could easily get in, are ATONEMENT, SWEENEY TODD, and AMERICAN GANGSTER.

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
INTO THE WILD
MICHAEL CLAYTON
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Oscar Predictions: Best Costume Design

Not my area of expertise. The lavish “Marie Antoinette” eclipsed “Dreamgirls” last year. Alternates: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, and HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF PHOENIX.

ATONEMENT
ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE
HAIRSPRAY
LUST, CAUTION
SWEENEY TODD

Oscar Predictions: Best Art Direction

I do not know much about the next few categories, so I am just going to make my best educated guesses based on guild precursors and common sense (“Hairspray”). Some great, deserving possibilities here. Alternates: THERE WILL BE BLOOD, HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, and LUST, CAUTION.

ATONEMENT
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE
HAIRSPRAY
SWEENEY TODD

Oscar Predictions: Best Cinematography

The most likely contenders:
THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES
ATONEMENT
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
INTO THE WILD
LUST, CAUTION
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
THERE WILL BE BLOOD


The American Society of Cinematographers chose the first three and the last two for their list. In contrast to last year, all seem like viable candidates. Last year, none of the five were Best Picture possibilities and the whole race was unpredictable. Oscar voters went 3/5 in comparison to the ASC list. I cannot decide which one of this year’s five might be left off for “Into the Wild”, and I am thinking maybe none of them. A part of me wants to say that somehow, shockingly, it will be “No Country for Old Men” that gets snubbed here. It might also be “There Will Be Blood”. There is zero buzz for “Lust, Caution” but the film does look nice and Asian films with similar looks have done well in this category in the past. I am going to stick with the ASC list.

THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES
ATONEMENT
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Oscar Predictions: Best Actress in a Supporting Role

The remaining contenders;
RUBY DEE, AMERICAN GANGSTER
SAOIRSE RONAN, ATONEMENT
AMY RYAN, GONE BABY GONE
CATE BLANCHETT, I’M NOT THERE
CATHERINE KEENER, INTO THE WILD
TILDA SWINTON, MICHAEL CLAYTON


You never know:
VANESSA REDGRAVE, ATONEMENT
MARISA TOMEI, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD
JENNIFER GARNER, JUNO
KELLY MACDONALD, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN


Ryan and Blanchett are in for sure. Swinton seems locked as well. Globe choice Julia Roberts is out, but can Ronan break back in, or will SAG favorites Dee and Keener take the remaining two slots? I think Dee was a Cloris-Leachman-in-“Spanglish”-like nomination and means nothing. Keener, however, is someone to watch out for. She is really popular and managed a nomination in 2005 for “Capote” without a Globe nomination for an equally beloved film (which also missed out at the Globes only to prevail later on with the guilds and end up with an Oscar nod for Best Picture). Part of me still wants to say that Tomei can make it in for her amazing but brief performance in “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”. Macdonald and Garner, despite the buzz for each of their films, seem to have fallen off any lists at this point. I would be furious is Redgrave slipped in for her several-minute-long performance in “Atonement”, but recently William Hurt (“A History of Violence”) and Judi Dench (“Shakespeare in Love”) have made it in for just as little screen time, and Hurt in a category far more crowded than this one (Dench’s nomination falls before my time as far as following the awards). I am going to be brave with this one, but I very likely will end up with 3/5. Keener is my alternate.

SAOIRSE RONAN, ATONEMENT
MARISA TOMEI, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD
AMY RYAN, GONE BABY GONE
CATE BLANCHETT, I’M NOT THERE
TILDA SWINTON, MICHAEL CLAYTON

Oscar Predictions: Best Actor in a Supporting Role

The remaining seven:
CASEY AFFLECK, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR
JOHN TRAVOLTA, HAIRSPRAY
HAL HOLBROOK, INTO THE WILD
TOM WILKINSON, MICHAEL CLAYTON
JAVIER BARDEM, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
TOMMY LEE JONES, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN


Could surprise:
MAX SYDOW, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
ED HARRIS, GONE BABY GONE
PAUL DANO, THERE WILL BE BLOOD


I think this category is pretty much locked and ready to go. Affleck and Bardem are beyond locked and Wilkinson seems safe. Travolta was probably just a Globes thing, and Jones should have more luck, if any, in the Best Actor category. Hoffman’s film was snubbed by all the guilds but he should be able to return unscathed (à la Clive Owen and Natalie Portman in 2004 for “Closer”) minus any other nods for his film. Holbrook’s SAG nomination put him back on track. As far as the potential surprises, there is almost zero chance that Harris could make it in but I can always hope. I do not agree with all the hoopla for Sydow’s near-cameo, but I loved the film and he may manage a nomination. The film is, however, a foreign film after all and his chances are therefore greatly diminished. And Dano, who I was disappointed in, could ride his film’s buzz to a nomination. This is, quite honestly, the only category I am completely confident in and expect a 5/5 prediction rate.

CASEY AFFLECK, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR
HAL HOLBROOK, INTO THE WILD
TOM WILKINSON, MICHAEL CLAYTON
JAVIER BARDEM, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Animated Duo: Meet the Robinsons & Surf's Up

Meet the Robinsons
Directed by Stephen J. Anderson
Released March 30, 2007

Surf's Up
Directed by Ash Brannon & Chris Buck
Released June 8, 2007

Alright, so I know that I am not a member of the target audience for these films. If it has not been clear, I have been trying to see as many of the eligible fims for the Best Animated Feature Oscar category as possible. This now makes 9/12, missing only "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", "Tekkonkinkreet", and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", so I think I got the important contenders. Anyway, watching a number of animated kids' films in a row can be extremely straining ("Persepolis" was a nice break from the childishness of "Shrek the Third" and this pair, but I could go for some real-live people right about now. I was going to review each of these film separately, but figured that I would not want to repeat myself too much.

Maybe I am working from a set of standards that is too high, but I am remembering the grandeur of some of the great recent-ish animated films from my childhood, like "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", "The Lion King", "Toy Story", "Mulan", "A Bug's Life", "Antz", "The Prince of Egypt", "Shrek", "Monsters' Inc", "Finding Nemo", and "Cars". That list is simply from memory; those are the animated films in my lifetime that I remember and that have made a lasting impression. The characteristic of all those films, however, is that they can work for both kids and adults. I still see the wonder of "The Lion King" and the brilliance of "Aladdin".

I would say that these two new films were made almost exclusively for kids, which is not necessarily a detractor, though my enjoyment level certainly goes down. A "PG" rating would seem to indicate that a few sexual innuendos are permissible (in the case of "Shrek" certainly, and here in the case of "Surf's Up"), as opposed to the tame G rating which might still include some adult-ish concepts that are not obvious on the surface to children. Regardless, I can see why the makers of these films may have thought that adults would enjoy them (and judging by Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes rating, they kind of did).

The issue I have is that a kid's film should not sacrifice all coherence just for the sake of juvenille entertainment. Why are there singing frogs in "Meet the Robinsons"? The future suddenly means that all these animals can talk? I will not judge the fact that the film's surprises can be seen from a mile away. The sad thing is that, for all its senselessness, "Meet the Robinsons" probably has a great grasp of the space-time continuum than NBC's Heroes. My feeling is that if you are going to come up with an intriguing concept that can be entertaining to all ages, why not give it a shot?

That is where "Surf's Up" goes horribly wrong. I cannot gauge by any means the target audience of that one. I can imagine that the producers thought to themselves, hey, let's take "Cars" and "Happy Feet", smush them together, and make another popular movie of it! Oh yeah, let's make it into a mockumentary! Why camera crews needed to be following everyone around and constantly taking interviews is a mystery to me. It added nothing whatsoever to the story, and I was bored enough to almost turn it off after about three minutes ("Meet the Robinsons" held my attention for at least forty). I always tell myself that I need to watch the end of a movie because it might just redeem itself. In this case, it just proves that it is a complete rip-off of "Cars" yet manages never to reach an exciting climax moments.

Again, I am not the crowd these films are trying to attract. But I expected more. These films will likely occupy the 6th and 7th spots on the tallies for the Best Animated Feature Oscar category. Read my upcoming Best Animated Feature predictions for more details.

Meet the Robinsons: C-
Surf's Up: D+

An Intriguing Tale: Persepolis

Persepolis
Directed by Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi
Released December 25, 2007

France's entry for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars is an often fascinating, interestingly-told story of a young girl with strong opinions growing up in Iran. Without the use of impressive animation, I doubt this film would have been noticed at all. Yet it is precisely the style that makes this story compelling. While I had some personal problems with some of the choppy transitions and the generally abrupt ending, there are definitely some moments that I loved. This is your not typical animated film, separate even from this year's good ones (like "Bee Movie" and "Ratatouille"). It is reminiscent of a number of recent films, thematically similar to "Pan's Labyrinth" and stylistically to last year's short "The Danish Poet". It may not be for everyone, but it is certainly worth a look.

B

Oscar chances: Just got a lot slimmer. Right after I returned from the theatre, I read that this film was not selected among the 9 finalists for Best Foreign Film (that whole list is pretty strange, read more on that in upcoming Oscar predictions). It is still eligible in the Best Animated Film category, and certainly ranks in the top four. More on that coming with the predictions for that category.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Oscar Predictions: Best Actress in a Leading Role

This category is also down to eight, with four locks:
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, ATONEMENT
JULIE CHRISTIE, AWAY FROM HER
AMY ADAMS, ENCHANTED
CATE BLANCHETT, ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE
ELLEN PAGE, JUNO
ANGELINA JOLIE, A MIGHTY HEART
LAURA LINNEY, THE SAVAGES
MARION COTILLARD, LA VIE EN ROSE


Way, way outside shots:
NIKKI BLONSKY, HAIRSPRAY
HELENA BONHAM CARTER, SWEENEY TODD


The four locks are Christie, Cotillard, Page, and Jolie. I cannot imagine any of them being snubbed, especially after last year’s easy-to-predict list. Jolie is the most vulnerable because her film has no support and the raves are not as overwhelming. For the fifth slot, Blanchett is doing best with a SAG nod to supplement her Globe nod, while both Knightley and Adams missed out at SAG. Linney has garnered pretty much no nominations, so people think this might be her comeback. I do not think that Blanchett can make it, and something just tells me that it will not be Linney either (though she is my alternate).

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, ATONEMENT
JULIE CHRISTIE, AWAY FROM HER
ELLEN PAGE, JUNO
ANGELINA JOLIE, A MIGHTY HEART
MARION COTILLARD, LA VIE EN ROSE

Oscar Predictions: Best Actor in a Leading Role

At this point, the major contenders that remain:
DENZEL WASHINGTON, AMERICAN GANGSTER
JAMES MCAVOY, ATONEMENT
VIGGO MORTENSEN, EASTERN PROMISES
EMILE HIRSCH, INTO THE WILD
RYAN GOSLING, LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
GEORGE CLOONEY, MICHAEL CLAYTON
JOHNNY DEPP, SWEENEY TODD
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, THERE WILL BE BLOOD


Outside shots:
TOMMY LEE JONES, IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH
FRANK LANGELLA, STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING


Daniel Day-Lewis is an absolute lock in this category. Depp and Clooney seem to be fine, much as I would love to see Clooney get shafted for anyone else (except Denzel). Both Mortensen and Gosling have popped up at the BFCAs, Globes, and SAGs which comes as somewhat of a surprise but I highly doubt that Gosling can go the distance. McAvoy could come back in after devastating snubs for “Atonement” leading up to the
Oscars. Hirsch missed out on a Globe nod but came back with a SAG nod. Much as I would love to predict either Jones or Langella, I think I will for once have to be realistic in my predictions. My alternate is Jones.

VIGGO MORTENSEN, EASTERN PROMISES
EMILE HIRSCH, INTO THE WILD
GEORGE CLOONEY, MICHAEL CLAYTON
JOHNNY DEPP, SWEENEY TODD
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Home Video: Shrek the Third

Shrek the Third
Directed by Chris Miller and Raman Hui
Released May 18, 2007

This film supplements a feeling I have been having recently about threequels: a "previously on" segment would be much appreciated. Am I expected to remember the exile of Prince Charming from the first film in 2001 or the second film in 2004? I get the gist of things, but I think even a two-minute recaplet would be invaluably helpful. As far as this third installment goes, it still boasts some entertaining humor and enjoyable characters, yet the daring originality of the first film is somewhat absent. To compensate, all the characters try really hard to be obvious in their parodies of real-life or filmic characters. It becomes a bit much to take sometimes, but all in all it works alright. Eddie Murphy, with some help from Antonio Banderas, is still stealing the show the entire time, which in this case is a terrific thing. The plot is surprisingly effective at times, and altogether unscrupulous. The adult humor infused into the film strays a bit too far sometimes, but in the end, it is bounded enough. I could say I enjoyed; I definitely did not hate it, but I would not rush to see it again anytime soon.

B-

Oscar chances: This film, eligible in the Best Animated Feature category, probably ranks 6th in line, after "Bee Movie", "Persepolis", "Ratatouille", and "The Simpsons Movie", who will be likely be duking it out, and would be eclipsed by "Beowulf" if five nominees ended up in the category.

Home Video: No End in Sight

No End in Sight
Directed by Charles Ferguson
Released July 27, 2007

This sober documentary about the misguided reasons for and actions during the Iraq war is an appropriate analaysis of the situation which wisely relegates its narrator to announcing facts and instead focuses heavily on interviews. To ensure its readability, the names of the interviewees appear on the bottom of the screen the first ten times the person appears, and some people are interviewed non-stop throughout the film. The film also notes when important personnel have refused to be interviewed. If nothing else it is eye-opening and quite often chilling. Mostly, it is extremely frustrating to see just how irresponsible all the actions taken were. For me, that makes a good documentary, something that makes you think but also inspires you to be passionate about something.

B+

Oscar chances: This film is eligible in the Best Documentary category and should get in for sure.

Monday, January 14, 2008

PGA Nominees and the Excitement of Best Picture!

The Producers Guild unveiled their nominees today. I predicted 2/5 of the film ones and got all 3 of the animated ones in my predictions (those were BEE MOVIE, RATATOUILLE, and THE SIMPSONS MOVIE). The non-animated nominees are:

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
JUNO
MICHAEL CLAYTON
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
THERE WILL BE BLOOD

While I am ecstatic about "The Diving Bell", which keeps looking more and more like a lock for Best Picture, I am not so happy about "Michael Clayton" or "There Will Be Blood". Could this be the Oscar list for Best Picture? Oh wait, where is "Into the Wild"? If that gets in, it will be for both the film and for director Sean Penn. Jason Reitman, director of "Juno", is very unlikely to garner a nomination, so then could these five be up for Best Picture and someone like Sidney Lumet replace Jason Reitman for Best Director? Wait for the excitement - this list leaves off both Golden Globe winners for Best Picture - "Atonement" and "Sweeney Todd". For the first time in quite a while, the race for Best Picture is wide open between eight films. And that is not even taking into account "Once", "American Gangster", or "Hairspray", all of which have slim chances, but the latter two did get nominated for SAG ensembles, which is a boost. I have never been so excited for the Best Picture race. Some interesting statistics:

This is the first time since the PGA started releasing nominations in 1997 that neither Globe Best Picture winner has been nominated. Only three winners have ever been left off ("Toy Story 2", "The Hours", "Lost in Translation"). The latter two went on to receive Best Picture nominations at the Oscars.

In the documented history of the Golden Globes back to 1954 (things get fuzzy before then), 22 winners for Best Picture - Comedy/Musical have missed out on an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. By contrast, only three Best Picture - Drama winners have been snubbed, and they all date back to 1963 and before ("The Cardinal", "Spartacus", and "East of Eden"). Both "The Cardinal" and "East of Eden" were nominated for Oscars for Best Director. It appears that the only year that both winners were snubbed for Best Picture was 1955, when "East of Eden" and "Guys and Dolls" won the Globes.

**Also worth noting: the match-up is never 5/5 between PGA and the Oscar Best Picture list. Usually it is 3/5, and the last two years it has been 4/5, with the PGA choosing false positive crowd-pleasers like "Walk the Line" and "Dreamgirls" over "Munich" and "Letters from Iwo Jima". There is not really a nominee like that this year save for "Juno", which I think should make it in. Maybe "Michael Clayton"?

Given those statistics, it would seem highly likely that "Atonement" would get in for Best Picture. Obviously history is not the only thing to go on, but I cannot imagine that both "Atonement" and "Sweeney Todd", which Globe voters clearly loved more than "Michael Clayton", "No Country for Old Men", and "There Will Be Blood", and "Juno" and "Hairspray", respectively, would end up snubbed. The subsequent DGA/WGA/PGA/SAG ignoring of all those is appalling but otherwise exciting. Thus, we have our eight major contenders for Best Picture:

ATONEMENT
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
INTO THE WILD
JUNO
MICHAEL CLAYTON
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
SWEENEY TODD
THERE WILL BE BLOOD

The only lock at this point should be "No Country for Old Men". Anything and everything else is fallible. "Michael Clayton", which has been doing quite well, has yet to win a single major award. It has been nominated for everything (save SAG ensemble, which is unimportant) but failed to pick up any directing or producing trophy. "Juno" has most of the pre-reqs, though a DGA nom and an expected SAG nom would have helped. "There Will Be Blood" is getting lots of attention for Day-Lewis, and this now makes it a presence at all but SAG for ensemble (it was never really in the running). People think it may have peaked too late, but unlike "Children of Men" and "Pan's Labyrinth" last year, it has made it in everywhere. "Into the Wild" was snubbed at the Globes but has since popped up everywhere...except the PGA. "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" has all but SAG, and more importantly, Globe wins for Best Director (which is a huge plus) and Best Foreign Film (it was ineligible for Best Picture due to its foreign language dialogue). So, this is how I think it plays out, grouped in order of chances:

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
JUNO

INTO THE WILD
ATONEMENT

MICHAEL CLAYTON
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
SWEENEY TODD

ONCE
AMERICAN GANGSTER

For Best Director, "Atonement" may be out and "Juno" is definitely out. Swap in P.T. Anderson for "There Will Be Blood" and Sidney Lumet for "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and I think you have your list. At this point, I would say "No Country for Old Men" wins Best Director and "Juno" shocks for Best Picture. Alas, you never know.

My constantly changing, yet actually pretty much the same, predictions:

Best Picture
ATONEMENT
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
INTO THE WILD
JUNO
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Best Director
SIDNEY LUMET, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD
JULIAN SCHNABEL, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
SEAN PENN, INTO THE WILD
THE COEN BROTHERS, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON, THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dismal Ceremony, Stellar Results

Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell? Really? I cannot imagine that their interim commentary/banter, especially inappropriate before the winners were announced, was interesting to anyone except for awards enthusiasts like myself and maybe half of you readers. The absence of any envelope opening really takes away the suspense and excitement of it all. It is too bad even moreso because this is the first year that I truthfully accomplished the feat of seeing pretty much everything (and every winner, more importantly). If the Oscars are like this, that will really suck. The one positive thing was the presence of Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger as a commentator. Even cooler because I actually met him at the premiere of "Sleuth".

Anyway, on to the awesomeness of the winners. I correctly predicted 9/14, getting right both Best Picture races and all the acting categories except Best Supporting Actress, which went to Cate Blanchett for "I'm Not There". I guess I should always go with my first guess. "Atonement" for Best Original Score is terrific and "Guaranteed" from "Into the Wild" is fine too (though Bush and O'Dell neglected to announce those two categories, as well as Best Foreign Film and Best Screenplay). "No Country for Old Men" over "Juno" is suprising, but that means that it and "Juno" will win the corresponding Oscars. The best, most fantastic surprise is Julian Schnabel for Best Director. He so deserved the award and this solidifies "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" as a Best Picture Oscar contender. I love good surprises. I was also happy that "Atonement" and "Sweeney Todd" came through, firstly because they are great movies, and secondly because it so shakes up the Oscar race. Both were completely snubbed by DGA, WGA, and SAG but now it gets interesting. If either shows up at the PGA tomorrow, they should be in for Oscar. I will now have to throw "Atonement" back into my predictions, happily of course. The big losers tonight are "Juno" (which is a surprise, considering it easily could have won all three of its nominated categories), "Charlie Wilson's War" (expected) and "Michael Clayton" (also obvious, and hopefully a signal of a surprise shut-out at the Oscars, if only). PGA nominee reactions tomorrow, then official Oscar predictions begin. The winners from tonight:

Best Motion Picture - Drama: ATONEMENT
Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical: SWEENEY TODD
Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama: JULIE CHRISTIE, AWAY FROM HER
Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical: JOHNNY DEPP, SWEENEY TODD
Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical: MARION COTILLARD, LA VIE EN ROSE
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: JAVIER BARDEM, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: CATE BLANCHETT, I'M NOT THERE
Best Director - JULIAN SCHNABEL, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
Best Screenplay - NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Best Original Score - ATONEMENT
Best Original Song - "Guaranteed" from INTO THE WILD
Best Foreign Film - THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
Best Animated Film - RATATOUILLE

PGA Predictions

The Producers Guild of America is really the last major awards nominations announcement before Oscar nominees are announced next Tuesday. The PGA announces tomorrow. I am making predictions before the Golden Globes happen because votes and ballots are already in and tonight’s winners will have no effect on tomorrow’s nominees. The PGA tends to go for some of the more broadly popular films, and Awards Daily points out that the past few years the match-up between the PGA and Best Picture has been four for five. They often like animated films, but last year they made an entire category for animated films and I will predict those as well. I have no real idea about this, but I am going to throw in “Hairspray” just for fun, even though I do not think it will factor into the Oscar race too much. Whatever. We will see.

Animated Motion Picture predictions:
BEE MOVIE
BEOWULF
RATATOUILLE
SHREK THE THIRD
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE


Theatrical Motion Picture predictions:
ATONEMENT
HAIRSPRAY
INTO THE WILD
JUNO
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Motion Picture – Drama


The competition: “American Gangster”, “Atonement”, “Eastern Promises”, “The Great Debaters”, “Michael Clayton”, “No Country for Old Men”, and “There Will Be Blood”.
For your information: The past few years, the winners have been “Babel”, “Brokeback Mountain”, “The Aviator”, “The Return of the King”, “The Hours”, “A Beautiful Mind”, and “Gladiator”. Not since 1960 has the winner of this category not gone on to get nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture.
Who should win: “Atonement”, “Eastern Promises”, or “No Country for Old Men”.
Who will win: Tough call. There Will Be Blood could have a surprise victory, but I think likely winner No Country for Old Men will be eclipsed by Atonement, and that should really shake up the Oscar race, which would be nice.

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical


The competition: “Across the Universe”, “Charlie Wilson’s War”, “Hairspray”, “Juno”, and “Sweeney Todd”.
For your information: This category looks favorably on musicals. Previous winners have been “Dreamgirls”, “Walk the Line”, “Sideways”, “Lost in Translation”, “Chicago”, “Moulin Rouge”, and “Almost Famous”.
Who should win: “Juno”, no competition.
Who will win: This will be a tight race between Juno and Sweeney Todd and I think this is where “Sweeney Todd” picks up momentum.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Animated Film


The competition: “Bee Movie”, “Ratatouille”, and “The Simpsons Movie”.
For your information: This is the only the second year of this category. Last year, “Cars” beat out “Happy Feet” and “Monster House”.
Who should win: I really liked “Bee Movie”, but nothing beats “Ratatouille”.
Who will win: As I said, nothing beats Ratatouille.

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Foreign Film


The competition: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days”, The Kite Runner”, “Lust, Caution”, and “Persepolis”.
For your information: Last year, an American director won for a film in a foreign language. “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is in pretty much the same boat as “Letters from Iwo Jima”.
Who should win: I have not yet seen “4 Months” or “Persepolis”, but out of the other three, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” reigns supreme.
Who will win: Based on those stats from last year, I would say that The Diving Bell and the Butterflywill definitely win this one.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Original Song


The competition: “That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted”, “Grace is Gone” from “Grace is Gone”, “Guaranteed” from “Into the Wild”, “Despedida” from “Love in the Time of Cholera”, and “Walk Hard” from “Walk Hard”.
For your information: Listen to the songs for yourself on YouTube.
Who should win: Shakira’s “Despedida” is fantastic, but I also really like Eddie Vedder’s “Guaranteed” and the song “Grace is Gone”.
Who will win: I think this one goes to Shakira, but who knows?

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Original Score


The competition: Dario Marianelli for “Atonement”, Howard Shore for “Eastern Promises”, Clint Eastwood for “Grace is Gone”, Michael Brook, Kaki King, and Eddie Vedder for “Into the Wild”, and Alberto Iglesias for “The Kite Runner”.
For your information: This is the first nomination in this category for all but Shore, a two-time winner and three-time nominee. “Grace is Gone” and “Into the Wild” are also nominated for Best Original Song.
Who should win: Marianelli should definitely take home the award for his beautiful score for “Atonement”.
Who will win: It should be Atonement, but I fear that The Kite Runner will win here, and Eastwood might also win for Grace is Gone.

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Screenplay


The competition: Christopher Hampton for “Atonement”, Aaron Sorkin for “Charlie Wilson’s War”, Diablo Cody for “Juno”, the Coen Brothers for “No Country for Old Men”, and Ronald Harwood for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”.
For your information: Sorkin and the Coen Brothers have been nominated twice before their previous screenplays. Harwood has one nomination and Cody and Hampton are first-time nominees. Each of the films nominated in this category are up for a number of other awards.
Who should win: These are all great screenplays (except “Charlie Wilson’s War”, which was a bit disappointing), but the prize should go to “Juno”.
Who will win: This should easily go to Cody for “Juno”.

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Director


The competition: Ridley Scott for “American Gangster”, Joe Wright for “Atonement”, Julian Schnabel for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, the Coen Brothers for “No Country for Old Men”, and Tim Burton for “Sweeney Todd”.
For your information: The Coen Brothers were last nominated for “Fargo”, though only Joel received a directing credit. Scott has one previous nomination, for “Gladiator”. The other three are first-time nominees.
Who should win: Schnabel and the Coen Brothers both turned in fine work this year. Burton also did wonders with “Sweeney Todd”.
Who will win: This should easily go to the Coen Brothers, but Schnabel and Burton have a shot as well.

WGA Nominees & The Screenplay Oscar Categories

I got 4/5 for each of the categories, predicting "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and "Atonement" instead of "The Savages" and "Zodiac", both of which get a massive boost from their inclusions after pretty much sitting out the awards race to this point. This is really horrible for "Atonement", which is almost completely out of the race at this point. Even "Cold Mountain" managed a WGA nomination before falling from grace and missing the top spot at the Oscars. "Dreamgirls" last year did not get a WGA nod (not that it was expected to), but it did manage a DGA nod. Without either the DGA, WGA, or SAG, "Atonement" stands a last chance with the Producers Guild of America, which may not even help. As far as what might replace "Atonement" in the Best Picture lineup, sadly I think it will be "Michael Clayton". Ugh. Or maybe "There Will Be Blood". On to the screenplay categories for Oscar:

Best Original Screenplay

The contenders:
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD
EASTERN PROMISES
JUNO
KNOCKED UP
LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
MICHAEL CLAYTON
RATATOUILLE
THE SAVAGES

That's pretty much it at this point. "Juno" is guaranteed, and I will now concede that "Michael Clayton" is pretty much locked too. I think that "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" will swoop in with a directing and writing nomination, knocking out...let's say "Lars and the Real Girl". I also see "Ratatouille " on the final list, and its omission from the WGA is irrelevant because no animated films get in there. What would it replace? Sadly I think "Knocked Up". Then we have the final slot - "The Savages" or "Eastern Promises"? I'm going with "Eastern Promises". To recap, my predictions are now: BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD, EASTERN PROMISES, JUNO, MICHAEL CLAYTON, and RATATOUILLE.

Best Adapted Screenplay
THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES
ATONEMENT
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
INTO THE WILD
THE KITE RUNNER
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
ZODIAC

So pretty much four of these nominees are definites: "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", "Into the Wild", "No Country for Old Men", and "There Will Be Blood". Much as I feel that my own biases may be influencing my predictions, I cannot see "Zodiac" getting in at the Oscars. I think that "The Kite Runner" may surprise here, undeservedly in my opinion, though I have not read the book, so I do not know for sure. I am torn because I feel like "Atonement" could slip in just for screenplay, but I find that unlikely. "The Assassination of Jesse James" is also unlikely, but you never know. For the moment, I will put in "The Kite Runner" with "Atonement" as my close alternate. To recap: THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, INTO THE WILD, THE KITE RUNNER, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, and THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

The Producers Guild of America is the only real one that remains, and if "Atonement" wins the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama, get excited! We will have a real unpredictable race on our hands.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

WGA Predictions

The Writers Guild of America announces their picks for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay tomorrow. These are often a decent predictor of the Oscar lineup. I do not expect too many surprises here, though I would love to see “In the Valley of Elah”, “Gone Baby Gone”, or “The Assassination of Jesse James” get into the fray here. I am also pulling for a surprise “Superbad” appearance in the Best Original Screenplay. “Knocked Up” is a likely choice here because WGA often recognizes hip, younger movies like “Mean Girls”, “Garden State”, and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”. Both “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” seems unlikely but how cool would that be? I do think that “Ratatouille” will be left off the list since the popular animated films usually miss out at WGA (“Finding Nemo” and “Shrek” most recently). If “Atonement” gets snubbed, that is BAD news for the film. The adapted list is pretty much the assumed five that could easily make it to Oscar.

Predictions for the two categories:

Best Original Screenplay
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD
JUNO
KNOCKED UP
LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
MICHAEL CLAYTON


Best Adapted Screenplay
ATONEMENT
THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY
INTO THE WILD
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture


The competition: Saoirse Ronan’s young writer in “Atonement”, Julia Roberts’ Texas socialite in “Charlie Wilson’s War”, Amy Ryan’s troubled mother in “Gone Baby Gone”, Cate Blanchett’s take on Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There”, and Tilda Swinton’s corrupt executive in “Michael Clayton”.
For your information: Roberts has been nominated five times and won three times. Blanchett has five previous nominations and a win, plus a second nomination this year. Swinton has one previous nomination, and Ronan and Ryan are first-time nominees.
Who should win: Ronan or Blanchett are pretty much equal on my list.
Who will win: Either Blanchett or Ryan. For the moment, it looks like Ryan at the moment based on her having won about 99% of critics awards.

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture


The competition: Casey Affleck’s devoted right-hand man in “The Assassination of Jesse James”, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s sarcastic CIA agent in “Charlie Wilson’s War”, John Travolta’s overweight mother in “Hairspray”, Tom Wilkinson’s paranoid executive in “Michael Clayton”, and Javier Bardem’s psychopathic killer in “No Country for Old Men”.
For your information: Travolta has five previous nominations and one win. Bardem has two previous nominations, while Wilkinson and Hoffman have one apiece. Hoffman won with that nomination, and has another nomination this year to boot. This is Affleck’s nomination.
Who should win: Another insanely tough call, this time between Affleck and Bardem, each equally good but so different. If I was forced to choose, I would say Bardem.
Who will win: Globe voters will likely face the same dilemma, and the outcome should be the same: Bardem. Though it could just as easily go to Affleck, but his film lacks the same support.

Golden Globe Winner Predictions: Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical


The competition: Amy Adams’ buoyant princess in “Enchanted”, Nikki Blonsky’s energetic dancer in “Hairspray”, Ellen Page’s pregnant teen in “Juno”, Helena Bonham Carter’s gothic pie maker in “Sweeney Todd”, and Marion Cotillard’s singer in “La Vie en Rose”.
For your information: Carter has four previous nominations, but everyone else is a first-time Globe nominee.
Who should win: Page or Cotillard. It is so hard to decide.
Who will win: Seriously, flip a coin. Adams could benefit from a vote-split between Page and Cotillard, but I think this one goes to Cotillard.