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13 Days…

13 Days...

r154636_556687.jpg With the writers strike only a memory and the final major precursors (WGAs and BAFTAs) handed out, the spotlight is now officially on the Academy Awards as 13 days of lead up commences… So I figure I might as well throw out some predictions, as nothing is likely to change between then and now.

Overall, the “race” is a lot more boring than it looked like it was going to be. All of the major categories have definite frontrunners, and all the safe money is on the following outcome: No Country takes picture, director, screenplay and supporting actor for Javier Bardem while Juno takes original screenplay and Daniel Day-Lewis, Julie Christie and Cate Blanchett take the other acting awards. This kind of certainty makes one start rooting for anyone that can make the night a bit of a surprise (except of course, for me, if that “surprise” is Ruby Dee, whose 5 minutes does not an Oscar make, especially with Tilda Swinton and Blanchett in the race), and there are a few spots where its possible, but generally unlikely. Oddly enough, if the outcome is the predicted eight winners I just suggested, the Oscars would have rarely gone with pretty much the critic’s consensus in every major category (except maybe original screenplay, which The Savages probably got the most critic’s love from).

But, anyway.. My detailed take on it all, including not-quite-final predictions in every category, after the jump.

ACTING

Day-Lewis and Bardem are jointly this year’s Helen Mirren. There’s nothing that can stop them (though some might suggest Bardem is vulnerable to Hal Holbrook sentimentality). The ladies, however, have a bit of competition. Christie just can’t seem to really lose anything (except last night’s BAFTA, but I don’t think that really means anything), but a win for Marion Cotillard or Ellen Page are not out of the question. But not enough to make me change my prediction.

Supporting actress, however, is the night’s only real race and where I feel is best place to get ballsy. One thing to definitely keep in mind is that it has been 44 years since a group of non-Americans swept the acting races. In 1964, 3 Brits and a Russian took them home.. and this is the first and only time this has happened. With the Irish Day-Lewis and Spanish Bardem near-locks and a Canadian, Brit and Frenchwoman fighting it out for actress, Ruby Dee and Amy Ryan seem like America’s best bet as they contend with Aussie Blanchett and Brit Swinton in a genuine four-way race. I’m trying not to let personal bias get in the way, but I’d really like to make an argument for Swinton (and just ’cause the reel geezers did). There’s nowhere else to reward Michael Clayton (unless they want to snub Diablo Cody, which would leave Juno likely oscarless), a film that they obviously love, and Swinton would certainly be a welcomely unique edition to the Oscarclub, with her varied and deserving career. On top of that, she’s very good in the film. Add that to the fact that Blanchett’s already won, Ryan is new to the game and a virtual unknown in a movie not everyone loved, Dee is in the movie for 2 seconds and any usual African-American guilt the Oscar voters should feel is at a rare place where they have actually been rewarding black actors nearly every year (and last year, doubly) and Ronan is a kid in a movie that is lucky to have those nominations. So that’s my argument. And that’s why I’m predicting her, despite the fact that – honestly – she’s probably the FOURTH most likely winner.

SCREENPLAYS, PICTURE & DIRECTOR

I’m grouping these all together because – once you get Juno winning original screenplay out of the way, all of the other races are basically two way fights between the Coens and Paul Thomas Anderson. Two-way fights often lead to cancellings out, which is why some point to Juno as the beneficiary of two critic’s heavyweights battling. A few have even suggested Michael Clayton. Personally, I think support for Blood & Country will be too strong to allow a shocker, but you never know..

At this point, a “shocker” would almost be considered if any film other than Country wins picture, director or adapted screenplay. But I really feel this late surge for the (more deserving) Blood will lead to a more interesting night than the Guilds may have suggested. This is how I nervously predict it will go down: Night will start off with Bardem’s acting win, then editing and cinematography wins for Blood, the Day-Lewis’ acting win, then the Coens will take both screenplay and director.. and at the very end of the night, there will be Blood. Splitting director and picture has been an almost-half-the-time Oscar tradition the last little while, with it happening in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2005. It seems time for another one.

Somehow, in my mind, I can see all this happening. Most wouldn’t agree.

THE SUGGESTED BIG LIST

I’m too lazy for more commentary…

Best Picture: There Will Be Blood
Best Director: Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Best Actress: Julie Christie, Away From Her
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, Juno
Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Best Animated Feature: Ratatouille
Best Foreign-Language Film: The Counterfeiters
Best Documentary Feature: No End in Sight
Best Film Editing: There Will Be Blood
Best Cinematography: There Will Be Blood
Best Art Direction: Atonement
Best Costume Design: Atonement
Best Original Score: Ratatouille
Best Original Song: “Falling Slowly” from Once
Best Sound Mixing: No Country For Old Men
Best Sound Editing: Transformers
Best Visual Effects: Transformers
Best Makeup: La Vie En Rose
Best Documentary Short: Freeheld
Best Animated Short: I Met The Walrus
Best Live Action Short: At Night

Win Counts….

There Will Be Blood & No Country For Old Men – 4
Atonement, Transformers, Ratatouille – 2
Away From Her, Michael Clayton, Juno, Once, No End In Sight, The Counterfeiters, La Vie En Rose – 1

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