Although the Writers Strike has taken its toll on the heat of the Oscar race, so much so that many believed the Oscars wouldn’t happen at all, the big show is scheduled to air on Sunday night, February 24. If you’re reading this before the Oscars, here are a few predictions of how the winners might come down. If you’re reading this after the Oscars, my apologizes for sending it in a week late. Go easy on me if I’ve gotten any of them wrong. This is anything but an exact science.
The 80th Oscar race is either going to be a year for the frontrunner to win or else the year of the biggest Oscar upset since Crash beat Brokeback Mountain in 2005. More than likely, it will go according to plan but one never knows what may be in the hearts and minds of voters.
One film has dominated the critics and the industry awards in this year’s race, and that’s Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men, produced by the Coens and Scott Rudin, adapted by the Coens, edited by the Coens (using the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes), and, of course, directed by both Joel and Ethan Coen. This was a year for auteurs, as three of the Best Picture nominees were written by their directors.
On the other hand, Juno has become a big audience favorite, managing to top No Country in many online polls that predict the Oscar race. It has zoomed past $100 million without even trying and has entered the cultural lexicon. It is the water cooler movie. It is the crowd-pleaser. By all accounts, Juno is your winner. But there’s a catch. The Directors Guild, Writers Guild, Screen Actors Guild, and Producers Guild have all named No Country their winner. The only film to ever come close to that and not win Best Picture was Apollo 13, which did not win the WGA.
Predicted Winner: No Country for Old Men
Potential Spoiler: Juno
This is the moment for the prolific and revered Coen brothers to be recognized at last for their cinematic achievements, and No Country is their best to date. There are two other possibilities and one is Julian Schnabel, who directed The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which may rise to the top as a surprise favorite. Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed the lauded There Will Be Blood is also a potential threat.
Predicted Winner: Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Spoiler: Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Only one actor really has a shot at this, unless Johnny Depp suddenly becomes a more palatable choice. Daniel Day-Lewis has commanded the season as Daniel Plainview, one of the most horrific characters ever to have a film made about him, which may or may not say a lot. Somehow Plainview came to embody all that is rotten about Capitalist America. With hints of John Huston throughout his bravura turn, Day Lewis appears to have this one in the bag.
Predicted Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Spoiler: Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
The women are a little more difficult to decide upon. It was a weak year overall for actresses, particularly at the box office, with films with strong female leads not taking in enough money to make them count. The one exception was Juno, which had a female lead and ended up one of the year’s most profitable films. Even still, beloved veteran Julie Christie has been winning most of the critics’ awards and the Screen Actors Guild award. She is the favorite to win. I think that the more difficult performance by Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose could potentially upset, as well as Ellen Page.
Predicted Winner: Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Spoiler: Ellen Page in Juno
For Your Oscar Pool: Julie Christie in Away from Her
Best Supporting Actor
Like the Best Actor category, there are many great performances in this category. However, Javier Bardem’s turn in No Country for Old Men is probably one of, if not the most, talked about performances of this year. A bone-chilling villain with a funny haircut, Bardem should walk away with this award quite easily.
Predicted Winner: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Spoiler: Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Best Supporting Actress
This is the most difficult category to predict. At first glance, it seems like Cate Blanchett has the most critical acclaim and, along with Best Actress, a double nomination. But Blanchett won recently for her work in The Aviator. She also was in an unpopular film which gained no other nominations. The critics darling was Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone as a crackhead mother. And then there’s Ruby Dee. Dee, like Hal Holbrook, is 83 years old and has never been nominated for an Oscar. She is revered and admired and has been for decades. Her position in the industry makes me think that will be enough to give her the edge, but anyone could win this one.
Predicted Winner: Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Spoiler: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
For Your Oscar Pool: Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
And the rest:
Diablo Cody, Juno
Spoiler: Brad Bird, Ratatouille
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Spoiler: Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
Spoiler: The Bourne Ultimatum
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Spoiler: No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Spoiler: Sweeney Todd
No End in Sight
Foreign Language Feature:
Spoiler: The Counterfeiters
No Country for Old Men
Spoiler: No Country for Old Men
La Vie en Rose
Spoiler: Pirates of the Caribbean
Spoiler: The Golden Compass
Spoiler: That’s How You’ll Know