Monday, Feb. 18, 2008

Oscar Predictions 2008

By David Luhrssen
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Predicting Oscar winners is like forecasting the weather. Reasonable minds assume you've done a good job by being right half the time. It's a hard business with all those variables, those shifting winds of insider gossip and cold fronts of media speculation.

Who could have predicted that Crash would take down the favored Brokeback Mountain two years ago? I think I did on Wisconsin Public Radio two nights before the Academy Awards. At least I suggested the possibility.

But don't put any money on my bets. Use them responsibly for what they're worth--one person's educated hunches.

Best Picture

* Juno
Ineligible to win by virtue of being a comedy

* Atonement
Mediocre Masterpiece Theatre production nominated to lend a touch of class to the proceedings

* No Country For Old Men
Normally I'd think it's too dark to win but then, I thought it was too dark to be nominated. Insider gossip makes it a favorite

* Michael Clayton
A plausible winner on the votes of Academy members old enough to remember legal/socio-political conspiracy dramas from the '70s

* There Will Be Blood
If Stanley Kubrick had made a western, it might have looked like this, my favorite among the selections

Best Actor

*  Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
A great performance in a solid movie that otherwise received little attention means a long shot

* Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah)
A great performance in a great movie that bombed at box offices means no shot

* Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd)
Interesting nomination but an unlikely winner

* George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
One of the last true Hollywood stars, Clooney remains a contender

* Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Superb acting and my favorite among the contenders (and among insider gossip)

Best Actress

* Ellen Page (Juno)
She's too young and, anyway, stars in a comedy

* Laura Linney (The Savages)
A likeable performance in a likeable movie but an unlikely choice on Oscar night

* Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose)
Fine acting but the subtitles will cost her too many votes

* Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
No chance for this dud movie (Besides, she may win Best Supporting Actress for her Dylan impersonation in I'm Not There)

* Julie Christie (Away From Her)
A favorite for her challenging performance as an Alzheimer's patient, she'd have my vote if my vote counted

Best Director

* Jason Reitman (Juno)
See previous remarks about the ineligibility of comedies on Oscar night

* Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) He should have stuck to his previous occupation of pasting broken crockery to canvas

* Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton)
In the running but the competition from the Coens and Paul Thomas Anderson may be too much to overcome

* Ethan and Joel Coen (No Country For Old Men)
The Coen Brothers have a good opportunity, given their longevity and the dark mood of many Academy members this year

* Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
He's my choice but, admittedly, the race is too close to call

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