Now that the drama of whether or not there will be a show for the Academy Awards through the settlement of the writer’s strike, it is time to evaluate the chances for each contender in the major categories. Here are my assessments of the major races for the greatest of all award shows.
Best PictureAtonementOdds: 15-1JunoOdds: 2-1Michael ClaytonOdds: 8-1No Country for Old MenOdds: 3-2There Will Be BloodOdds: 7-2Bottom Line: The lack of a Best Director nomination for Atonement, along with a total of zero nominations in the three main guilds, probably seals its fate it this category. Michael Clayton received seven total Oscar nominations and some support from the guilds, although no awards were garnered, but has not won Best Picture honors from any of the major critics groups. It has the unfortunate feeling of many believing that its subject matter is territory that has been covered before or that it is the least original of the final five. There Will Be Blood gathered some late support from critics groups and could be buoyed by Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance that drives the film. It was also one of only two Best Picture nominees to be nominated for Best Film Editing, which sometimes predicts this award, but if voters want to choose a violent film with a memorable villain character, they will probably choose No Country for Old Men instead. That leaves two films covering completely different spectrums of the human experience. Juno is a film about various births and makes the average viewer feel good about their common man, while No Country for Old Men focuses on the death of many surrounding a climate in which the state of humanity is questioned. Given those two choices, one might think of Juno as the frontrunner, but the critic and guild awards tell a different story. Many people believe if the Academy members vote with their heart, they will choose Juno, but will decide for No Country for Old Men if they go with their head. If this is an accurate assessment, I am thinking they will choose their head, but holding out hope that their heart will catch up which is very possible in a race that continues to grow closer by the day.Preference: JunoPrediction: No Country for Old Men
Best ActorGeorge Clooney, Michael ClaytonOdds: 3-1Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be BloodOdds: EvenJohnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetOdds: 5-1Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of ElahOdds: 15-1Viggo Mortenson, Eastern PrmisesOdds: 20-1Bottom Line: Daniel Day Lewis has won almost every single critics award for his deliciously evil portrayal of Daniel Plainview and the momentum should continue through the Oscars unless Clooney pulls off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. Preference: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be BloodPrediction: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Best ActressCate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden AgeOdds: 20-1Julie Christie, Away From HerOdds: 3-2Marion Cotillard, La Vie en RoseOdds: 2-1Laura Linney, The SavagesOdds: 15-1Ellen Page, JunoOdds: 7-5Bottom Line: With each passing day, this race reminds me of 2001, when Halle Berry deservedly upset veterans Sissy Spacek and Nicole Kidman in this category. This indicates to me that this tight three-way race Cotillard splits votes with Christie and the Academy chooses for Page, who was perfect in her film’s title role.Preference: Ellen Page, JunoPrediction: Ellen Page, Juno
Best Supporting ActorCasey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert FordOdds: 2-1Javier Bardem, No Country for Old MenOdds: EvenPhilip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s WarOdds: 15-1Hal Holbrook, Into the WildOdds: 8-1Tom Wilkinson, Michael ClaytonOdds: 10-1Bottom Line: This race has been over for some time now with Bardem fully in the lead and only worried about Affleck for a monumental upset.Preference: Javier Bardem, No Counry for Old MenPrediction: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Best Supporting ActressCate Blanchett, I’m Not ThereOdds: 2-1Ruby Dee, American GangsterOdds: 5-2Saoirse Ronan, AtonementOdds: 15-1Amy Ryan, Gone Baby GoneOdds: 7-5Tilda Swinton, Michael ClaytonOdds: 3-2Bottom Line: In an amazing four-way race, I am thinking Ryan, the critics’ favorite, will triumph over Golden Globe winner Blanchett, Screen Actors Guild honoree Dee, and BAFTA victor Swinton.Preference: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby GonePrediction: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Best DirectorPaul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be BloodOdds: 3-1Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old MenOdds: 3-2Tony Gilroy, Michael ClaytonOdds: 10-1Jason Reitman, Juno15-1Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the ButterflyOdds: 5-1Bottom Line: Although Anderson could be tough to beat, I am guessing the Coen brothers will take home their first ever Oscar. The toughest competition might actually be Schnabel but his film was not nominated for Best Picture and no director has won this award with that distinction in 80 years.Preference: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old MenPrediction: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Best Original ScreenplayJunoOdds: 3-2Lars and the Real GirlOdds: 20-1Michael ClaytonOdds: 3-1RatatouilleOdds: 15-1The SavagesOdds: 12-1Bottom Line: Since this could be the best way for the Academy to honor the excellence of Michael Clayton, it could pull off a stunner, but I am betting that the love of Juno is too difficult a task to overcome.Preference: JunoPrediction: Juno
Best Adapted ScreenplayAtonementOdds: 7-2Away From HerOdds: 20-1The Diving Bell and the ButterflyOdds: 9-2No Country for Old MenOdds: 5-2There Will Be BloodOdds: 3-1Bottom Line: Although the Academy would like to honor Atonement and There Will Be Blood in some category, my guess is that No Country For Old Men will prevent it from being this one.Preference: No Country for Old MenPrediction: No Country for Old MenOther Feature Length Film Races:
Best Animated Feature FilmPrediction: RatatouilleBest Film EditingPreference: No Country for Old MenPrediction: The Bourne UltimatumBest CinematographyPreference: AtonementPrediction: The Diving Bell and the ButterflyBest Art Direction/Set DecorationPreference: AtonementPrediction: AtonementBest Costume DesignPreference: AtonementPrediction: AtonementBest Original ScorePreference: AtonementPrediction: AtonementBest Original SongPreference: “Falling Slowly” from OncePrediction: “Falling Slowly” from OnceBest Sound MixingPreference: No Country for Old MenPrediction: No Country for Old MenBest Sound EditingPreference: There Will Be BloodPrediction: There Will Be BloodBest MakeupPrediction: La Vie en RoseBest Visual EffectsPreference: TransformersPrediction: TransformersBest Foreign-Language FilmPrediction: MongolBest Documentary Feature FilmPreference: SickoPrediction: No End in SightTune in Sunday, February 24 at 7 p.m. on ABC to see if my predictions are accurate.