With the writers on strike, many continually wonder whether the Oscars will happen or not. Will the WGA grant a waiver to let the award winners have their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? Or will they dig their heels in and bring Hollywood to its knees?
With or without the ceremony, the Oscar nominees will be read this Tuesday, January 22, at 5:30 a.m., same bat-time, same bat-channel.
Awards watchers have been keeping an eye on the films that might make it to the big show and are mostly sticking to the usual plan. The critics have had their say, with Joe and Ethan Coen’s masterpiece, No Country for Old Men winning half of their adulation, with Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood winning the other half. Both films should figure quite prominently into the Oscar race. The other three are popular among the guilds and maybe the public.
As usual, the public seems to be the least considered as the best films of the year are named. The gap continues to widen between what the critics like, what the public wants to pay to see, and what the industry wants to award. The highest money maker so far is American Gangster, which crested the $100 million mark but never cracked the major guild awards, like the Directors Guild or the Producers Guild, though it did earn a Screen Actors Guild ensemble nod. That puts it in the dark horse category.
The five films that are most likely going to be nominated, based on guild awards and overall popularity among voting bodies, are No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Into the Wild. Pushing in for the fifth slot, and perhaps taking either Diving Bell or Into the Wild’s slot are Juno, Sweeney Todd, American Gangster, and Atonement.
Atonement was considered an early frontrunner in the race, based on its reception in Toronto. But that raised expectations and created the dreaded “early frontrunner syndrome,” from which most films can’t recover. It could still be a fifth slot surprise nominee as it dominated the Golden Globe awards and is expected to dominate the British Film and Television Academy’s (BAFTA) nominations as well.
The writers strike has taken a lot of attention off the awards race and has also prevented big stars from appearing on late night TV, which they’re only now just doing, long after the Oscar ballots were turned in. Because of the shortened season, there is not a lot of time for reflection, thus the same films tend to be nominated over and over again.
Deciding which two of the three will be nominated for pic – Diving Bell, Into the Wild, and Juno – is probably the toughest call. There may be some other surprises in the mix and there is never any logical approach to the silliness of the Oscar predictions. It is, has, and always will be something to distract us from the more horrible aspects of our culture. On the other hand, what gets Oscar attention can have an impact on the kinds of films that follow. In that respect, it should be seriously considered.
Either way, the time has come once again to jot down those films and actors I think will get nominated. Because I also run the Oscar site awardsdaily.com, I reserve the right to change up my predictions at the last minute. You’ll have to log on to the site to see those. Here goes nothing.
Nominations in order of probability:
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Into the Wild
Alternate: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Sean Penn, Into the Wild
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl
Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild
Alternate: Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Julie Christie, Away from Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose
Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart
Ellen Page, Juno
Jodie Foster, The Brave One
Alternate: Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth
Best Supporting Actor
Javier Bardem, There Will Be Blood
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James
by the Coward Robert Ford
Tommy Lee Jones, No Country for Old Men
Alternate: Ben Foster, 3:10 to Yuma
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Jennifer Garner, Juno
Alternate: Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Ratatouille, Brad Bird
Juno, Diablo Cody
Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy
The Savages, Tamara Jenkins
Lars and the Real Girl, Nancy Oliver
No Country for Old Men, Joel and Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson
Into the Wild, Sean Penn
Charlie Wilson’s War, Aaron Sorkin
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Ronald Harwood
Alternate: Zodiac, James Vanderbilt