Call it, Friendo: The Beacon offers picks and predicts

by Beacon Staff • February 20, 2008

Best Picture

Nominees:

-Atonement

-Juno

-Michael Clayton

-No Country for Old Men

-There Will Be Blood

Will Win:

No Country for Old Men

Should Win: No Country for Old Men

It's hard to argue with the exceptional merits of No Country for Old Men. Gritty, gripping and profound, it manages to explore the perversity of evil in modern America without losing its hold as a finely-paced, old-fashioned thriller. This is a rare film that no one, not even the contrived, heavy-handed, Crash-prone taste Academy, can ignore.

Best Director

Nominees:

-Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

-Joel Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men

-Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton

-Jason Reitman, Juno

-Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Will Win:

No Country for Old Men

Should Win: No Country for Old Men

Schnabel would easily pick up an award for "most directing" because every directorial decision, however inspired each may be, slaps you across the face. Reitman's nomination shows that nepotism still dominates the Academy's choices.The Oscar, however, is rightfully going to the irresistible 2-for-1, the Coen Brothers, for their sublime film.

Best Actor

Nominees:

-George Clooney, Michael Clayton

-Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

-Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon -Barber of Fleet Street

-Viggo Mortenson, Eastern Promises

-Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah

Will Win:

Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

This category does not have the competition in it. While Clooney frowns his way through Clayton and Depp hums a couple condensed Sondheim tunes, Day-Lewis methodically unfolds one of the most ruthless and intimidating on-screen characters in recent years. The Academy Award will go to Day-Lewis and damn it if this milkshake-slurping psychopath doesn't deserve it.

Best Actress

Nominees:

-Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

-Julie Christie, Away From Her

-Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

-Laura Linney, The Savages

-Ellen Page, Juno

Will Win:

Julie Christie, Away From Her

Should Win: Laura Linney, The Savages

Cotillard is the wild card here: she screams and cries a lot, even though her makeup does most of the acting. Page has the difficult task of selling Juno's convoluted, verbose and reference-dripping dialogue, but the Academy will deem her too young. Christe brings radiance to a story about Alzheimer's and will win, but it's Linney's balance of dry wit and subtle breakdowns that really shines.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

-Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse -James by the Coward Robert Ford

-Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

-Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War

-Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild

-Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Will Win:

Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Should Win: Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild

Bardem is the poised winner for his chilling portrayal of Anton Chigurh, and while his performance is impressive, Chigurh's power comes more from the novel than it does from Bardem's performance. While we respect his unavoidable victory, we're going to opt for a finer, more emotionally astute supporting turn by veteran actor Holbrook.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

-Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There

-Ruby Dee, American Gangster

-Saoirse Ronan, Atonement

-Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

-Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Will Win:

Ruby Dee, American Gangster

Should Win: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Dee will be awarded for slapping around Denzel Washington and giving life to five of American Gangster's 157 drab minutes. This award is the biggest toss-up, but our choice is easy: Swinton. She takes control of a one-dimension character and imbues it with a conflicting harshness and vulnerability-and does most of it with sweaty armpits. How's that for sacrificing your image for a role?

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

-Brad Bird, Ratatouille

-Diablo Cody, Juno

-Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton

-Tamara Jenkins, The Savages

-Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl

Will Win:

Diablo Cody, Juno

Should Win: Brad Bird, Ratatouille

The Oscar for Publicity Whore, err, Original Screenplay will go to "former-stripper" (isn't that so quirky?!) Diablo Cody for her ultra-sweet, Academy-friendly Juno. Nevermind the fact that Brad Bird took animation to a whole new level of artistry with Ratatouille. The Oscars prefer convention over creativity, therefore Little Miss Juno will win this one.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

-Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

-Joel Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men

-Christopher Hampton, Atonement

-Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

-Sarah Polley, Away From Her

Will Win:

Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Should Win: Sarah Polley, Away From Her

Even fans of Blood concede that its screenplay is bombastic. The adaptation of No Country is more an exercise in heavy lifting than in writing. The Diving Bell's Harwood had the arduous job of reconstructing Bauby's prose and will be a surprise winner of the night. The wise-beyond-her-years Polley, however, took a short story and designed an elegant examination of old age and faithfulness.