Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

11 December 2007

The Oscar Race

So now that I have a little time, I thought it might be interesting to discuss some of the critics awards that have been released over the last couple of days. Everything will change very visibly with the Golden Globe nominations on Thursday, but here is what everyone's talking about right now.

BEST PICTURE
American Gangster
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Atonement
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Bucket List
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild
Juno
The Kite Runner
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
Sweeney Todd
There Will Be Blood

It seems very likely that no other film will emerge as a frontrunner for awards, and that the five Best Picture nominees will come from this list. It's a huge list, so that shouldn't be too shocking. Most frequently mentioned here are No Country for Old Men, of course, and The Diving Bell and Butterfly, which is getting mentioned as most critics' Best Foreign Language selection. It is ineligible for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, but it could emerge with a Best Picture nomination. If it's lucky. This seems unlikely.

BEST DIRECTOR
Paul Thomas Anderson (L.A.)
Tim Burton (Nat'l Board of Review)
The Coen Brothers (N.Y., San Francisco)
Julian Schnabel (Boston, L.A.)

The additional directors mentioned by the BFCA are: Sidney Lumet (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead), Sean Penn (Into the Wild) and Joe Wright (Atonement). The top four here are Anderson, the Coens and Schnabel. I expect Lumet to get an Oscar nomination too. Not sure about slot five.

BEST ACTOR
George Clooney (NBR, San Fran)
Daniel Day-Lewis (L.A., N.Y.)
Emile Hirsch (NBR)
Frank Langella (Boston, L.A.)

The BFCA also includes Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd), Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl) and Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises). Viggo Mortensen's performance is one of the best of year--no question. Not sure if he can score a nomination, though. I think Hirsch's chances are iffy, too. He is very young for a Best Actor nomination. Could James McAvoy (Atonement) place?

BEST ACTRESS
Julie Christie (NBR, L.A., N.Y., San Fran)
Marion Cotillard (Boston)
Anamaria Marinca (L.A.)
Ellen Page (NBR)

THE BFCA adds to this Amy Adams (Enchanted), Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: the Golden Age) and Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart). They aren't included here, but I think Laura Linney (The Savages) and Keira Knightley (Atonement) could also place.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Casey Affleck (NBR, San Fran)
Javier Bardem (Boston, N.Y.)
Hal Holbrook (L.A.)
Vlad Ivanov (L.A.)

The BFCA adds Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson's War) and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton). The field is not completely wide open here, but only Bardem is really set in stone here. And everyone was talking about Max Von Sydow (The Diving Bell and Butterfly) last week...

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Ryan (NBR, Boston, L.A., N.Y., San Fran)
Cate Blanchett (L.A.)

The only name anyone is mentioning is Amy Ryan and this is stupid. Not because she's bad in the movie (although I wasn't particularly over the moon about her performance), but because the critics have a chance to influence the discourse. The only actress anyone wants to talk about is Amy Ryan, and they could be choosing instead to promote some other cool performances. The BFCA adds Catherine Keener (Into the Wild), Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement) and Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton). But what about Kelly Macdonald (No Country for Old Men), Charlotte Gainsbourg (I'm Not There.) or Leslie Mann (Knocked Up). I can think of another three or four actresses whose supporting work impressed me. It is a little ridiculous that no critics organizations can think of any.