Back to IndieWire

Gold Digging: Frontrunners and Underdogs II

Gold Digging: Frontrunners and Underdogs II

Despite Tom O’Neill’s rather premature declaration of Sweeney Todd‘s frontrunner status (based on 17 minutes of Lincoln Center footage), I remain extremely hesitant to make any similar suggestion. As far as I’m concerned, an R-rated blood-filled horror musical will never be anything but an underdog until reviews, precursor awards and/or box office tell me otherwise.

However, in the two weeks since I last posted my prediction rankings, some things have become more clear…


1. Atonement
2. No Country For Old Men
3. Into The Wild
4. American Gangster
5. Juno
6. The Kite Runner
7. Michael Clayton
8. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
9. There Will Be Blood
10. Charlie Wilson’s War

Underdog: Sweeney Todd


1. Joe Wright, Atonement
2. Ethan & Joel Coen, No Country For Old Men
3. Sean Penn, Into The Wild
4. Sidney Lumet, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
5. Ridley Scott, American Gangster

Underdog: Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I feel considerably more confident with the 5 I have listed than I did two weeks ago. Clayton, Blood and Devil just don’t have what it takes, especially now that we have a bonafide box office hit with decent enough reviews (Gangster). Add that to an Oscar-winning-actor-turned-director (Wild), the critics choice (Country) and an epic love story that screams everything Oscar has historically represented (Atonement), and there are four considerable front runners. Then there is Juno, which could fall quite easily if critics or audiences don’t respond as everyone is suggesting (or Academy fogies don’t “get” the humor, which is my biggest fear). The three I listed before could step in, or notable question marks like Charlie, Kite (which Im warming to) and, yes, Sweeney Todd could jump in. And to those that suggest No Country For Old Men doesn’t have what it takes, give the Academy some credit. At least one undeniable critic’s favourite usually makes it in, and if they plan on stubbing Blood, Devil and Clayton (which I feel they will), Country’s that film. It won’t win, though. It has a shot at a director split, given the Coens’ no-win status and the Academy’s near every-other-year tendency to split, but its too soon to make such a suggestion. As for the lone director, how can they deny Sidney Lumet? If they go 3 for 5, then I’d guess Paul Thomas Anderson or Julian Schnabel should get prepared to be honored just being nominated.


1. Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
2. James McAvoy, Atonement
3. Denzel Washington, American Gangster
4. George Clooney, Michael Clayton
5. Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

Underdog: Josh Brolin, No Country For Old Men


1. Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose
2. Julie Christie, Away From Her
3. Ellen Page, Juno
4. Laura Linney, The Savages
5. Keira Knightley, Atonement

Underdog: Tang Wei, Lust, Caution

While the Best Actor candidates could fill 4 categories, Best Actress is a sorry state yet again. Other than these five, Amy Adams, Angelina Jolie, Helena Bonham Carter and Nicole Kidman are the only formidable opponents, with Jolie my best bet to outvote Atonement‘s Knightley. I’d go as far as saying the other four are near locks, with Cotillard retaining the frontrunner status she’s had since the Spring (quite the feat). As for the men, putting Mortensen in there was a risky move – one I can’t say will pay off – especially considering the plethora of bubbling-unders: (in order of chance) Tommy Lee Jones, Emile Hirsch, Johnny Depp, Mathieu Almaric, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Josh Brolin, Sam Riley, John Cusack. Any of them could make it, theoretically. I just have this feeling Jones (the more likely choice) will get snubbed for the Academy’s classy-move-of-the-year, nominating our naked warrior, thus making up for Viggo’s 2005 snub and saying “Hey, David Cronenberg, we appreciate your work, but you scare us too much to nominate you.” And despite Blood‘s buzz-kill in the big race, Day-Lewis is still the front-runner in my eyes. I can’t imagine McAvoy, Clooney or Washington winning, can you? Which leaves Johnny Depp in the position to take this if Tom O’Neill is right after all. But Im not saying it.


1. Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
2. Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
3. Hal Holbrook, Into The Wild
4. Max Von Sydow, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
5. Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James

Underdog: Albert Finney, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead


1. Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
2. Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
3. Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
4. Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
5. Marisa Tomei, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead

Underdog: Jennifer Garner, Juno

Javier Bardem, Oscar, Oscar, Javier Bardem. “No Country”‘s likely consolation prize and the biggest lock so far, this is his category. Wilkinson and Holbrook are likely, while the remaining two slots are very much up for grabs. I kinda feel like Butterfly will get lateinthegame buzz that will lift Sydow to the second old-unOscared-man slot (after Holbrook), but look out for Albert Finney and Philip Bosco. And after Gone Baby Gone, Affleck has certainly shown his worth, and the few – but passionate few – Jesse James supporters out there want to represent. But this category is looking like a bit of a snooze, as is their female counterpart, with Blanchett, Swinton, Ryan and Ronan looking more and more in. Choosing Tomei was a bit of risk, especially considering Jennifer Jason Leigh, Vanessa Redgrave, Kelly MacDonald, Ruby Dee and, yes, Jennifer Garner. But the big question mark here is who could win. Blanchett? Again? For another biopic? I didn’t like Ronan enough to root for her, and honestly can’t say any of them excite me enough to push.

And here’s some new categories to the FN&UD mix, commentary free today due to my inability to keep on keepin’ on (Im on about 2 hours sleep):


1. Diablo Cody, Juno
2. Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
3. Kelly Masterson, Before The Devil Knows Youre Dead
4. Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
5. Judd Apatow, Knocked Up

Underdog: John Carney, Once


1. Ethan & Joel Coen, No Country For Old Men
2. Christopher Hampton, Atonement
3. Sean Penn, Into The Wild
4. Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
5. Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Underdog: Sarah Polley, Away From Her


1. Persepolis (France)
2. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania)
3. The Year My Parents Went On Vacation (Brazil)
4. 12 (Russia)
5. Silent Light (Mexico)

Underdog: Caramel (Lebanon)

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Uncategorized and tagged

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox