A bit of a disclaimer: If you use this list to cheat on your office pool and then lose, don’t blame me. I don’t need that kind of pressure. These are my best educated guesses. I haven’t seen every film nominated this year, though I have seen all five best picture nominees. And like a hypocrite, I will also be cheating (but at least referencing my source). So if you do use my picks you are hereby required to pay me a royalty (as for the sources I copied off of, let me deal with that).
And on with the picks (my picks in italics):
Best animated feature film
- “Persepolis” - Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
- * “Ratatouille” - Brad Bird
- “Surf’s Up” - Ash Brannon and Chris Buck
Comments: Why is “Surf’s Up” nominated? How did that one sneak past the goalkeeper? Anyway, Ratatouille is the easy pick here being the most popular of the films (though don’t be too surprised if “Persepolis” pulls off an upset).
Achievement in Art Direction
- “American Gangster” - Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
- “Atonement” - Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
- “The Golden Compass” - Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
- * “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” - Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
- “There Will Be Blood” - Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Comments: “Sweeney Todd” has to win somewhere and this is its best shot.
Achievement in Costume Design
- “Across the Universe” - Albert Wolsky
- “Atonement” - Jacqueline Durran
- “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” - Alexandra Byrne
- * “La Vie en Rose” - Marit Allen
- “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” - Colleen Atwood
Comments: Tough category as all films are period pieces (period films often being a shoo-in for this award). Still, never forget that the overall quality of the film can overshadow the contributions of any individual area and that applies here. I’m going with “La Vie en Rose”.
Best Documentary Feature
- * “No End in Sight” - Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
- “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” - Richard E. Robbins
- “Sicko” - Michael Moore and Meghan O’Hara
- “Taxi to the Dark Side” - Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
- “War/Dance” - Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine
Comments: Do you remember when “Hoop Dreams” wasn’t nominated for best documentary deature 14 years ago (and judging by the looks on your faces you probably don’t)? Everyone went apeshit like it was a national tragedy and the Academy reworked its nomination process for this category. Well, there’s another glaring omission this year. There are four films here about the war in Iraq and one film about our ridiculous healthcare system. All relevant issues but none of them were as thrilling as “In The Shadow of The Moon” (a film I talked about in last week’s blog). Still, “No End In Sight” was a refreshingly bipartisan take on the war in Iraq and should be the clear winner.
Best Documentary (Short subject)
- “Freeheld” A Lieutenant Films Production: Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
- “La Corona (The Crown)” A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production: Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
- * “Salim Baba” A Ropa Vieja Films and Paradox Smoke Production: Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello
- “Sari’s Mother” (Cinema Guild) A Daylight Factory Production: James Longley
Comments: Haven’t seen any of these. Entertainment Weekly says “Freeheld” and “Sari’s Mother” are strong contenders. Coin flipping … tails! “Salim Baba” is my pick.
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
- “Beaufort” Israel
- * “The Counterfeiters” Austria
- “Katyn” Poland
- “Mongol” Kazakhstan
- “12″ Russia
Comments: This is where I cheat. I haven’t seen any of these films. Entertainment Weekly says “The Counterfeiters” is a shoo-in. I’m sold.
Achievement in Makeup
- * “La Vie en Rose” - Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
- “Norbit” - Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
- “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” - Ve Neill and Martin Samuel
Comments: Here’s where you go with the best reviewed film. I don’t think Academy voters can in good conscience make “Norbit” an Academy Award-winning film no matter how good Rick Baker is.
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
- *”Atonement” - Dario Marianelli
- “The Kite Runner” - Alberto Iglesias
- “Michael Clayton” - James Newton Howard
- “Ratatouille” - Michael Giacchino
- “3:10 to Yuma” - Marco Beltrami
Comments: Johnny Greenwood’s haunting score for “There Will Be Blood” should’ve been nominated (and would far and away be my choice). But it wasn’t, so my pick is “Atonement” as the score was one of the few memorable things about that movie.
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
- * “Falling Slowly” from “Once” - Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
- “Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted” - Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
- “Raise It Up” from “August Rush” - Music and Lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas
- “So Close” from “Enchanted” - Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
- “That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted” - Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
Comments: I haven’t seen “Once” or “Enchanted” but I’m going to play the “split-the-vote” card (the belief that 3 nominations from one film will cancel each other out) and pick “Falling Slowly” from “Once” to win.
Best Animated Short Film
- “I Met the Walrus” A Kids & Explosions Production: Josh Raskin
- “Madame Tutli-Putli” (National Film Board of Canada) A National Film Board of Canada Production Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
- “Même les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)” (Premium Films) A BUF Compagnie Production Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
- “My Love (Moya Lyubov)” (Channel One Russia) A Dago-Film Studio, Channel One Russia and Dentsu Tec Production Alexander Petrov
- * “Peter & the Wolf” (BreakThru Films) A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman
Comments: I haven’t seen any of these films, but I know the story of Peter & The Wolf so that’s my pick.
Best Live Action Short Film
- “At Night” A Zentropa Entertainments 10 Production: Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
- “Il Supplente (The Substitute)” (Sky Cinema Italia) A Frame by Frame Italia Production: Andrea Jublin
- “Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)” (Premium Films) A Karé Production: Philippe Pollet-Villard
- “Tanghi Argentini” (Premium Films) An Another Dimension of an Idea Production: Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
- *”The Tonto Woman” A Knucklehead, Little Mo and Rose Hackney Barber Production: Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown
Comments: I like the title “The Tonto Woman”. No idea what it means. I’ll pick it (this is how people lose at the track)
Achievement in Sound Editing
- “The Bourne Ultimatum” - Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
- “No Country for Old Men” - Skip Lievsay
- *”Ratatouille” - Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
- “There Will Be Blood” - Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood
- “Transformers” - Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins
Comments: I always say that there’s nothing more difficult than creating sound for an animated film because all sounds have to be imagined and created. I’m going with “Ratatouille”.
Achievement in Sound Mixing
- “The Bourne Ultimatum” - Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
- “No Country for Old Men” - Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
- “Ratatouille” - Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
- “3:10 to Yuma” - Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
- * “Transformers” - Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin
Comments: Kevin O’Connell has been nominated 20 times and has never won. He is the Susan Lucci of this category. It’s his time.
Achievement in Visual Effects
- “The Golden Compass” - Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
- “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” - John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
- * “Transformers” - Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier
Comments: You can’t say many good things about “Transformers”, but one thing you can say is that the special effects were indeed amazing. Bit of useless trivia: Nominee and ILM wonderboy John Knoll co-created Photoshop.
Achievement in Film Editing
- “The Bourne Ultimatum” - Christopher Rouse
- “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” - Juliette Welfling
- “Into the Wild” - Jay Cassidy
- * “No Country for Old Men” - Roderick Jaynes
- “There Will Be Blood” - Dylan Tichenor
Comments: I’m going with Roderick Jaynes and I hope he makes an appearance. (There is no Roderick Jaynes, he is a figment of the Coen Brothers’ imagination.)
Achievement in Cinematography
- “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” - Roger Deakins
- “Atonement” - Seamus McGarvey
- “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” - Janusz Kaminski
- “No Country for Old Men” - Roger Deakins
- *”There Will Be Blood” - Robert Elswit
Comments: Tough choices here. I’ve heard there’s a lot of sentiment for Janusz Kaminski’s work on “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly”. “Atonement” has that one amazing five-minute tracking shot going for it, so that’s a possibility. And then you have Roger Deakins nominated twice. All that considered, I’m going to go with Robert Elswit’s work on “There Will Be Blood”.
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
- * Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There”
- Ruby Dee in “American Gangster”
- Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”
- Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”
- Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”
Comments: Wide open field. Ruby Dee has never won and could be a legacy pick. Cate Blanchett and Amy Ryan gave stand-out performances in films that weren’t otherwise nominated. I’m going with Blanchett based on popularity, though I think Amy Ryan is probably more deserving.
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
- Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”
- * Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”
- Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War”
- Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”
- Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”
Comments: Second easiest pick of the night, Javier Bardem’s hitman character Anton is a performance for the ages. The only other performance that can match him is Daniel Day-Lewis’s, and he’s in another category.
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
- Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
- Julie Christie in “Away from Her”
- Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”
- Laura Linney in “The Savages”
- * Ellen Page in “Juno”
Comments: Tough call. I’m going with Ellen Page because she really carries that film. Plus, I think Julie Christie and Marion Cotillard could steal votes from each other.
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
- George Clooney in “Michael Clayton”
- * Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”
- Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
- Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”
- Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”
Comments: Easiest pick of the night. Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance drinks every other performance’s milkshake.
- “Atonement”, Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
- “Away from Her”, Written by Sarah Polley
- “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
- * “No Country for Old Men”, Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
- “There Will Be Blood”, Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
Comments: I really want to think Sarah Polley can win this, but in the end, it’ll probably be “No Country For Old Men”.
- * “Juno”, Written by Diablo Cody
- “Lars and the Real Girl”, Written by Nancy Oliver
- “Michael Clayton”, Written by Tony Gilroy
- “Ratatouille”, Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
- “The Savages”, Written by Tamara Jenkins
Comments: It’s Diablo Cody’s moment.
Achievement in Directing
- “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, Julian Schnabel
- “Juno”, Jason Reitman
- “Michael Clayton”, Tony Gilroy
- * “No Country for Old Men”, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
- “There Will Be Blood”, Paul Thomas Anderson
Comments: I really want to think that Jason Reitman and Paul Thomas Anderson have a shot here, but “Juno” is probably a bit too cute and “There Will Be Blood” is probably a bit too long.
Best Motion Picture of the Year
- “Atonement” (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
- “Juno” (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production) A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production: Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
- “Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.) A Clayton Productions, LLC Production: Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
- *”No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
- “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers
Comments: Two months ago I would’ve said that “No Country For Old Men” was a shoo-in. But lately I think that “There Will Be Blood” with its more epic scope and likability of “Juno” are going to give it a run for its money. And “Michael Clayton” was very well received criticially. However, I don’t think anything can stop “No Country For Old Men” from walking away with the night’s top prize.
And those are my picks. I’ll be keeping a running blog of the night while I sit in my jammies, munching on popcorn and chocolate-covered pretzels (you know, basically living the dream), and watching the festivities. Check back Monday!
-Brett Deacon, clearly, has no life.
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