Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Oscar Race – A Pre-Season Analysis

I’ve got to admit I’m more than usually excited about this year’s Oscars, and I say this before I’ve even seen There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men, both of which I’m expecting to be among the heavy-hitting contenders. I like a lot of the other work I’m expecting to get nominated, I think there’s going to be some overdue recognition of terrific actors, and to throw some spice into the mix I have a feeling I’ll be spitting fury about at least one or two of the eventual winners. All of which makes for the kind of derby I like, in contrast to last year’s dreary pile-up of mediocrities.

This is how I think things are shaping up, based on early buzz, reviews and the stuff I’ve seen:


There Will Be Blood – PTA’s recognition is well past due, and it looks like he’s played a blinder
No Country for Old Men – Rapturous festival reception, and rare literary pedigree for the Coens
Charlie Wilson’s War – Gives me that slight Primary Colors feeling, but Aaron Sorkin knows what he’s doing
American Gangster – Don’t think I’m gonna love this, but it’s getting Scott’s best reviews since Gladiator
Sneaking in fifth: Into the Wild – Voters will rally behind its spectacle and sincerity, as long as it gets that b.o. push

The backlash starts here:

Atonement – Come on, it’s thuddingly overdeliberate and unevenly acted. I may be wrong, but I sniff that Cold Mountain cold shoulder…

Hope is alive:

Once – The little train that could?


Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood – In the bag, I think
Joel Coen, No Country For Old Men – The Coens are respectable again
Sidney Lumet, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead – There’s room for this old man
Sean Penn, Into the Wild – Will get recognised even if the movie doesn’t
Sneaking in fifth: Todd Haynes, I’m Not There – aka the Lynch/Kieslowski/Almodovar slot, aka go Todd!

Snubs in the offing:

Joe Wright, Atonement – Competition’s stiff, and he’s such a show-off
also: Nichols, Scott

You never know:

Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Haven’t seen it yet, but festival reports were fawning


Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood – From the trailer alone it’s a total lock
James McAvoy, Atonement – Only just a nom-worthy role, but he impresses plenty
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead – Too good to be ignored, and the film’s gathering steam
George Clooney, Michael Clayton – A slightly vague character, but he's the man of the moment
Sneaking in fifth: Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Getting the nom Bardem missed for The Sea Inside

I think not:

Denzel Washington, American Gangster – He’s been here before, so have we, and AMPAS seems to be going off villains
Also: Hanks, Depp, Jones, Hirsch

Say prayers for:

Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises – Just as deserving as he was for AHOV, if not more so. He’ll need a big campaign though…


Benicio Del Toro, Things We Lost in the Fire – The performance of his career, but the film is looking busted


Laura Linney, The Savages – On glowing form here, and the movie’s a nice vehicle
Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart – Divisive star (and flick) but she’ll have passionate supporters
Marion Cotillard, La vie en rose – I maintain that she looks like Ronald McDonald, but she’s good and many adore her
Ellen Page, Juno – Can’t stand her acting, but it’s looking inevitable
Sneaking in fifth: Julie Christie, Away from Her – Christie’s best work in decades, though I didn’t love the script

Crazy talk:

Keira Knightley, Atonement – Gave the same perf in those Chanel ads. Pride & Prejudice was a one-off, and the role's too skimpy

A dark horse:

Julianne Moore, Savage Grace – If this gets distribution in time, she shouldn’t be ruled out


Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men – This category’s Day-Lewis – you can guarantee the nod, and a win looks likely
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War – A double-whammy year for PSH, I say, but this is the more certain mention
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild – Has “Richard Farnsworth” written all over him
Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood – Hugely talented, and they say it’s not just the Dan show
Sneaking in fifth: Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – Everyone’s singling him out, even if it’ll be the film’s lone non-technical nod

Careful not to overrate:

Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton – Bizarre role and erratic perf, both damaging to the movie

In with a shot:

Philip Bosco, The Savages – I’m not sure he has enough to do, but look where Alan Arkin went with that


Ethan Hawke, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead – No one predicted that Training Day coup, and he’s much better here


Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There – All the makings of another win, but it’s the Haynes nod I’m more psyched about
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement – Deserves her buzz for anchoring the front, better half of the pic
Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement – Excellent for mere minutes: poor Romola Garai!
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton – Strikingly brilliant in a rotten part
Sneaking in fifth: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding – Her husband’s film, but more importantly she’s sympathetic for once

I’m doubting it:

Julia Roberts, Charlie Wilson’s War – Looks inessential verging on decorative, and the film’s going to be scraping its other noms

Coming through:

Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone – She’s wonderful in The Wire and I’m hearing great things about this performance

Surely, for all that's holy, no:

Abbie Cornish, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

1 comment:

Ginger said...

It is good to see you posting again, Tim. Rigorous as ever, too!

I have not yet seen THERE WILL BE BLOOD, but your "A" grade for that has me all a-twitter. I have seen NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, which I think is , hands down, the best Coen Brothers film I've seen (and I've seen most of them). So if that's a "B+" from you and the Anderson's an "A" all I can say is... whooooo!!