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At the Movies: Oscar Nomination Predictions

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:


Best Picture

No Country for Old Men

There Will Be Blood

Michael Clayton

Into the Wild


Alternate: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly


Best Director

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


Best Actor

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


Best Actress

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


Original Screenplay

Ratatouille, Brad Bird

Juno, Diablo Cody

Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy

The Savages, Tamara Jenkins

Lars and the Real Girl, Nancy Oliver

Adapted Screenplay

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 

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