Oscar 2008 - Predictions

Updated:
It's a pity that The Diving Bell and the Butterfly walked away with no awards. It was one of the finest movies of the 2007. Tilda Swanson came from nowhere to win that award. I was glad to see that Marion Cotillard's performance did not go unnoticed. Ellen Page will have to wait.
Other than that, most awards went as expected.

Reportcard: 8/12

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This is now a yearly ritual (thanks to the insistence of JRR and others). Let's see what tomorrow will bring. Most of the categories have been quite easy to call in contrast to last year. This is not to say that the nominees lack quality, but rather that the relative differences are apparent.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Daniel Day-Lewis has created a niche in playing deranged, driven maniacs and this is a role for him. It is more his voice than his acting that deserves the credit and There Will Be Blood is a movie that should be watched but also listened to. The others nominees can leave their speeches at home.
Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood


Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Philip Seymour Hoffman has had a fantastic year. If Daniel Day-Lewis is sheer depth, then Hoffman is breadth. His role as the cocaine-sniffing exec in Before the Devil Knows Your Dead did not get much notice, but was one of his finest ever. It took me a while to realise that he was playing the CIA-agent Gust Avakatros in Charlie Wilson's War. If acting prizes were handed out in terms of batting averages, Hoffman would win many prizes. Unfortunately for him this time, Javier Bardem is standing with a cattle-gun with a killer performance that has been bested by only Day-Lewis.
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men


Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett is in her own Golden Age as an actress. Even her tiniest role as Bob Dylan earned a nomination. Do you need to say more about an actress who can embody - Hepburn, Dylan, Elizabeth and Galadriel? Another fan. I thought Marion Cotillard playing Edith Piaf poured her heart into role. But, there are a few things going against her - the movie was in French, about a French superstar, and the musician-biopic has become a tired genre for this award. Ellen Page (not Julie Christie) is the fresh face and her role as the flippant, pregnant teenager is the best one of the year.
Ellen Page in Juno

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Ruby Dee's performance was good, but not great. I cannot say anything about Amy Ryan since I have not seen the movie. I was most impressed by Saoirse Ronan in Atonement. When I read the book, I had a Briony in mind. Now, after having seen the movie, I cannot imagine anyone but Ronan. She exudes that nervous energy, prodigious talent, and fanciful imagination of a thirteen-year old.
Saoirse Ronan in Atonement


Best animated feature film of the year
My real work involves rats, I confess to certain amount of Francophilia, and to being a foodie. Even if any of these did not apply to you, Ratatouille should convince you to save money to be able to eat once at a cafe in Paris. I did not have the opportunity (in terms of money) to eat at a Michelin three-star restaurant, but if the 'common' cafe food was so good, I cannot imagine what a real restaurant offers. I have missed the bus on rap-music and also on the graphic-novel genre. Persepolis stands an outside chance (it's the only movie that is really made in France!)
Ratatouille


Achievement in cinematography
Both, the American Westerns would not have been that majestic if hadn't been for the camerawork. But, Kaminski's job as portraying the life of man who can only blink his left eyelid is one of the finest achievements in cinematography that I have ever seen. It would be nothing short of travesty if the award goes to anyone else.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Janusz Kaminski


Achievement in directing
Schnabel's work is nothing short of spectacular. This is the movie that is going to make it to the textbooks. Juno has on outside chance, but the Coen brothers' tight, riveting piece of work in No Country For Old Men will most probably win.
If I had to choose I would give Schnabel the award and let the Coens take home the Best Picture. It takes a great deal of skill to portray the life of locked-in patient without pitying him and showing his spirit.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Julian Schnabel


Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Incorporating the typewriter as part of the score is nothing but brilliant, and Marianelli's other selections, like the aria from La Boheme, will not go unnoticed.
Atonement - Dario Marianelli


Adapted screenplay
Ian McEwan's novel was written to be adapted. There are no challenges there. Large parts of the Diving Bell had to be written to show the second person perspective which was very nicely done. But, Cormac McCarthy's novel presented the greatest challenge and the end result speaks for itself. I cannot see Bardem or Lee-Jones being able to do what they do without this adaptation giving them the canvas.
No Country for Old Men - Joel Coen & Ethan Coen


Original screenplay
It takes effort to write a sentence with ten redundant 'likes', even if you are a teenager. The exchanges between Juno and her friends and Michael Cera are so uncannily real that you feel you have actually overheard them.
Juno - Diablo Cody

Best live action short film
It's a really pity that these gems are not as widely distributed. The Michigan Theater performs a great service by bringing these to Ann Arbor. There are novels and then there are short stories and these are truly the best of the best.

Tanghi Argentini had a great twist at the end and Il Supplente was a Robert Benigni-style riot. Every frame in The Tonto Woman could be in the National Geographic and I would watch out for Daniel Barber in the future. Going with the Francophile theme, the pickpocket movie was clearly the best. A very human story, told with a lot of wit, wonderful dialogue and a nice end.
Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)


Best motion picture of the year
Michael Clayton should not be here. I don't know what it is supposed to represent. Atonement was very tastefully done and, in this case, one can admit that the movie is as good as the book, and in some ways better. Using Vanessa Redgrave as the old Briony Tallis was a nice touch. There Will Be Blood fails to offer anything beyond the ambition and mania of two men - Paul Sunday(Dano) and Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis). No Country For Old Men offers a lot of different things and speaks at different levels. The story is both old and young. Javier Bardem is the Grim Reaper and Tommy Lee Jones is the honest sheriff, a composite from all Westerns. Josh Brolin is the Vietnam Vet who is more a cowboy than anything. The themes are huge - Good and Evil, Chance and Fate, Contemplation and Spontaneity. In contrast to this Goliath of a movie stands the charming Juno. It's going to be interesting to see if soaring universal themes are cut to size by a pint-sized pregnant teenager with an attitude. For now, like God, I am sticking on side of the big armies.
No Country for Old Men

4 comments:

Abhishek said...

My two cents.

What might go against Ellen Page is the fact that she is too young. Sometimes, people say - lets wait. It'll go to her head. I'm rooting for Coutillard. I'm a big fan of Piaf, and this might bring her music some more fans. Also Coutillard exhibits a range of situations, young hot lady to old, mad, haughty grandma. But I hear lots of people talking about Julie Christie. I've not watched so cannot comment.

Glad you picked Saoirse Ronan. I guess its more special for us book-guys ;). She was brilliant, no question.

Can't wait for Diving Bell to come here. Looks brilliant. Don't think it will though ;(

I think for reasons of "equal distribution" Atonement will win the Adapted Screenplay.

Yeah and 2/3 major oscars for
No Country for Old Men at least.

Hirak said...

@Abhishek

Interesting argument. I think Cotillard did a fantastic job, but the movie came out long ago and public memory is short.

There are these interesting aspects of politically correct Oscar choices and a ala Scorsese, Christie might win.

We'll find out in a couple of hours

Hirak said...

Looks like the youngsters will have to wait for their award.

Like I said, Atonement and the Diving Bell got a raw deal this time. Both movies were fantastic. I sincerely hope that despite going Oscar-less the Diving Bell is shown in India.

patrick said...

just watched no country for old men, it's unassumingly unconventional yet (thankfully) never over-the-top. the Coen bros. deserve their Oscars; well done indeed.