It's going to happen after all. For months Hollywood was left to wonder whether or not its crown jewel, the Oscars
, would even go on. But with the strike resolved and plenty of time left to plan, tinsletown is certain to be completely alight once again this Sunday for yet another four or five or maybe even six hours in heaven.
But what should we expect from the first real movie awards show of the season? Probably some lame jokes, great performances and many upsets since the out-of-work voters actually had a chance to see all the nominees.
Most Anticipated Moment:
This has to be Glen Hansard
and Marketa Irglova's performance of their nominated song "Falling Slowly" from the movie "Once
." In the midst of all the pomp and glitter that will dominate the evening, this honest and stripped-down performance is certain to steal the show.
Least Anticipated Moment:
What's the over-under on jokes made about the writers' strike? 50? 100? What are the odds that if one of Jon Stewart's
jokes bombs he makes some off-handed remark like, "Oh, I guess the strike ended too soon" or "Aren't we glad the writers are back?" Can we please please please keep the writers' strike jokes to a minimum? We've already been inundated with them for weeks on late night talk shows.
Now that that's out of the way, onto the category previews:
Who Will Win: Not a whole lot of drama here. Daniel Day-Lewis
has stormed critics and union awards all winter and is an absolute lock to take home his second statuette.
Who Should Win: Day-Lewis' performance is certainly top-notch but is a bit uncontrolled and borders on hammy at times. Viggo Mortensen
didn't really stand out in "Eastern Promises
" and Tommy Lee Jones
did better work in "No Country For Old Men
" playing a character similar to his in "In the Valley of Elah
." George Clooney's
titular Michael Clayton
is the real stand-out here. He shows so many different sides to his corporate fixer dealing with moral confliction, appearing slick and confident without a leg to stand on. This is an incredibly deep performance that will not, but should, earn Clooney Oscar gold.
Who Shouldn't Be Nominated: Johnny Depp's
performance in "Sweeney Todd
" wasn't horrible it just wasn't at all impressive. It seemed more like a live-action cartoon, and the only character traits noticeable were a phony British accent and a tendency to growl. The Academy didn't really nominate Depp just because he sang did they? I mean a dozen people sing every night on "American Idol
," and it's not like any of them will ever win a . . . Oh, wait
Best Supporting Actor
Who Will Win: This category may be even less in doubt than Best Actor. Javier Bardem
has earned universal praise and awards attention for his role "No Country For Old Men" and has much more than a coin flip's chance of winning.
Who Should Win: This is a very very strong category with great performances from top to bottom. It's hard to say anybody isn't deserving of a win here, but Tom Wilkinson
gave the most impressive performance of the group in "Michael Clayton". He was able to gracefully walk a high-wire between sanity and insanity while remaining believable every step of the way, never even coming close to overacting. Phenomenal stuff.
Who Shouldn't Be Nominated: Nobody. The Academy got this one right.
Who Will Win: Those first two categories were easy to pick, but the race for Best Actress is neck-and-neck-and-neck. Julie Christie
has raked in the majority of the awards for her role in "Away From Her
", Marion Cotillard's Edith Piaf
has garnered the most raves and Ellen Page's
title role in "Juno
" has earned the most buzz. So who comes out on top? The smart money is on Christie, a legend of the industry and winner of the SAG award, but the Oscars are all about buzz, meaning Ellen Page should end up triumphant.
Who Should Win: Christie's performance was very strong but it wasn't even the best work in the movie, which shouldn't have been tough since there were only about 11 speaking roles. Cotillard's performance is more mimicry than it is acting. Laura Linney
is incredible in "The Savages
," dominating the film and showing every layer of her character almost the moment she steps on screen. But Ellen Page is the real star of this show and had by far the hardest role. Her incredibly under-written role was merely a mouthpiece for blogosphere quips rather than a fully-realized character, but Page managed to breathe feverish life into those words and form a multi-faceted person with the dynamic zeal of an old pro.
Who Shouldn't Be Nominated: Cate Blanchett's
nomination just proves that this isn't Best Performance by an Actress and simply Best Actress. Her role in "Elizabeth 2
" (I'm sure it had a clever subtitle to not make it look like a sequel, but who cares?) was nothing more than overwrought scenery chewing in a Lifetime movie with a bigger budget. The fact that her nomination excluded the likes of Amy Adams
" just makes it all the more disquieting.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Will Win: Anybody who tries to predict this category is simply guessing. Four of the nominated ladies (sorry, Saoirse) have an equal chance of getting the win. Amy Ryan
had all the early buzz but has been overtaken in that area by Tilda Swinton
. Cate Blanchett is Cate Blanchett and Ruby Dee
shocked everyone by winning the SAG Award. Such a muddled category would tend to favor the Academy darling (Blanchett), but in these situations the Academy tends to award the best performance and that is Amy Ryan whose down and out Boston mother dominates Gone Baby Gone
even when off-screen and is played with great sympathy. We're always aware of her maternal love despite the dripping mascara and cigarette burns.
Who Should Win: See Above
Who Shouldn't Be Nominated: Normally I'd take this chance to take a second shot at the Academy's bias towards Cate Blanchett who was nominated for a Bob Dylan
impression that could have been pulled off with similar effectiveness by (shudder) Jimmy Fallon
, but somehow Ruby Dee found herself with an Oscar invite for a glorified cameo role that could have been played just as well by any woman over the age of 65. Not any actress, any woman. The Academy does itself a great disservice when they nominate nothing performances simply as a method of awarding lifetime achievement. The purpose of the awards is supposed to be to honor the year's best, not belatedly honor a legendary actress for what is probably the worst role of her career.
Best Original Screenplay
Who Will Win: We're back to drama-free categories as Diablo Cody
will breeze into a win for her "Juno" script.
Who Should Win: Tony Gilroy's "Michael Clayton" is an incredibly smart adult drama with a labyrinthine plot that he manages to keep on track throughout while tackling some issues larger than the story, but the standout in this category Tamara Jenkins' "The Savages". This is an incredibly tight story with richly-drawn characters and a definite focus. Jenkins finds the humor in a depressing situation without veering into jokiness and keeping the dignity of her characters intact. This is the most fully-realized work in the group.
Who Shouldn't Be Nominated: Diablo Cody's script for "Juno" is just not very good. The characters might as well be cardboard cut outs with voice boxes attached to spit out her very funny dialogue. But a screenplay is more than just funny lines; a script should establish a definitive focus at the outset and bring it to a resolution. "Juno" bounces wildly from idea to idea until it ends up as a love story about its main character and someone the script ignored for most of the film. The result would have been a complete mess in the hands of lesser cast and director, but luckily every actor was able to create a person out of blog scribble and the director was able to form it all into a story that made you ignore the flaws of the screenplay. And the weakest link is the one most likely to get rewarded.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will and Should Win: Not much doubt here. "No Country For Old Men
" will win the Coens
' their first Oscar (or maybe second depending upon whether or not this category is presented before Best Film Editing) and rightly so. There wasn't a more focused film all year or one with better characters or better-written dialogue. Just about everything you can do in a screenplay the Coens did better than everyone else.
Shouldn't Be Nominated: There's no doubt that Paul Thomas Anderson
is a very talented director, but he should leave the writing to someone else. "There Will Be Blood
" completely collapses at the end leaving us with a bizarre climax that doesn't to relate to the rest of the film at all. On top of that, this is really just a thinly disguised "Citizen Kane
" rip-off with oil instead of newspapers and a son instead of a wife.
Will and Should Win: Much like with their screenplay, nobody did a better job of directing than the Coens this year. Their ability to create Hitchcockian tension in a story with incredibly compelling characters all while furthering their theme and eliciting incredible performances along the way is something of a marvel. The Coens are as good of filmmakers as anybody who ever got behind a camera, and this should be one of four Oscars they win on Sunday.
Who Shouldn't Be Nominated: Nobody. Another batch of fine selections from the Academy.
Who Will and Should Win: The effusive love for "No Country For Old Men" continues in this category and the Academy will follow suit. This is the best movie of the year by a mile and may be the film of the decade. Anything less than a win would be a shock and a disappointment.
Who Shouldn't Be Nominated: The inclusion of "Atonement
" is very puzzling. It's an adaptation of a book that clearly confounded the director and screenwriter and seems like nothing more than chopped up scenes from a larger work. The filmmakers also lose points for not changing the ludicrous gotcha of an ending that undoes any sympathy felt for the film's underdeveloped characters.
And the Rest
Will and Should: "Falling Slowly" from "Once"
Will and Should: "The Counterfeiters
Will and Should: "Atonement"
Will: "No Country For Old Men"
Should: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Will and Should: "Atonement"
Will: "No Country for Old Men"
Should: "The Bourne Ultimatum
Will and Should: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Will and Should: "Atonement"
Will: "No Country For Old Men"
Should: "There Will Be Blood"
Will and Should: "Transformers
Should: "The Golden Compass
That's it. Enjoy the evening if you can stay awake for the whole ceremony.
Story by Andrew Payne
Starpulse contributing writer
-Be sure to visit Starpulse's Oscars Page, where you can learn more about the nominated films and take one of the five Oscar polls, including your Oscar picks!