Archive for December, 2007

Yet More Oscar stuff

Friday, December 21st, 2007

A lot of precursor awards announced in the last week or two — Golden Globe and SAG noms being the big ones. A few significant updates to what’s looking like one of the most potentially interesting Oscar seasons in a while.

Best Actor might be the toughest category to predict this year. Daniel Day-Lewis and George Clooney are looking like sure things at this point, and the race might end up neck and neck between those two. Right now DDL has the momentum. Emile Hirsch has rocketed into the top tier after Into the Wild‘s huge showing at the SAGs, and more people than I expected are remembering Viggo Mortensen’s amazing performance in Eastern Promises. Despite the SAG’s snub of Johnny Depp, his reviews and popularity lead me to believe he’s still more likely to receive an Oscar nod than Ryan Gosling. Denzel and James McAvoy are hanging in there, but the SAG definitely hurt their chances. In any case, I’m very certain the five nominees will come from that pool of eight.

For Best Actress, Julie Christie and Marion Cotillard are the two definites, with Christie currently leading for a movie nobody saw (man, no one is going to watch the Oscars this year, are they). Ellen Page is a good bet as well for her raved-about performance in the indie comedy Juno. Angelina Jolie is a level down, but she’s Angelina Jolie and she’s in the mix for the Globes and SAGs, so expect the Academy to select her, too. That leaves only one tough call in this category — Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, or Keira Knightley in the fifth spot? It’s really anyone’s guess right now, but Blanchett got the SAG’s vote and so that’s what I’m going with for now.

The Supporting Actor category has been set for a while now — Javier Bardem’s terrifying turn as killer Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men is the safest bet in this entire race. It is extremely likely he wins, and there is no chance he does not get nominated whatsoever. Casey Affleck has shown up on pretty much everybody’s list for his role in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, so he’s in. Same for Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton. Hal Holbrook, while not an absolute certainty, is very likely to take the aged veteran spot in this crowd. The fifth spot seemed to be going to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who gave three superb performances this year, but lately there’s a big push to get Tommy Lee Jones in there for No Country as his lead in In the Valley of Elah has lost its buzz. It’ll be one of those two.

Supporting Actress is the weakest category this year. Amy Ryan is the most popular pick to win, and Cate Blanchett looks poised to have a two-nom year (supporting for I’m Not There, lead for Elizabeth: The Golden Age). Tilda Swinton has made about every precursor to date, and Ruby Dee is looking like the Hal Holbrook of this category. Fifth spot will be either young Saoirse Ronan or Catherine Keener, and I’m saying Keener right now following the SAG’s Atonement dis.

The Best Director Oscar will no doubt go to Joel and Ethan Coen, and Joe Wright’s work on Atonement has been roundly praised. The Academy has never been warm to Tim Burton, but many are calling Sweeney Todd his best work and I’m not sure that can be ignored. For stupid reasons The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (one of the most well reviewed films of the year) is not eligible in the Foreign film category, but director Julian Schnabel will probably get recognition here. Fifth spot is a tough one — Paul Thomas Anderson for his challenging epic There Will Be Blood? Sidney Lumet for adding another masterpiece to his unbelievably long and impressive resume? Sean Penn because the Academy (and SAG) love Sean Penn? Right now I’m saying Ridley Scott for the fantastic American Gangster, but don’t hold me to it.

And finally, Best Picture. No Country for Old Men is the most well reviewed movie of 2007 and will be nominated. Atonement is the most Academy-friendly film, and the reviews are good enough to assure it a spot. American Gangster and Into the Wild have the most momentum right now, and I don’t believe either will be left out. This is really looking like the big four at the moment – but it could all change tomorrow. Seriously, there’s a huge amount of unpredictability for Best Pic this year. It seems like Juno will probably get a nomination, but the same could be said for Michael Clayton and Sweeney Todd and There Will Be Blood and what’s this about 3:10 to Yuma suddenly making a comeback??? Then we’ve got Charlie Wilson’s War, Diving Bell, Kite Runner, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, The Savages, Eastern Promises, The Great Debaters, Hairspray… you can’t rule any of these out yet. Okay, maybe Hairspray. I hope. In any case, this is what makes the whole thing fun. Who will win? No Country for Old Men has everything going for it, so I’ll stick with it for now.

Full prediction chart after the break. (more…)

The Best Albums of 2007

Monday, December 17th, 2007
  1. Radiohead – In Rainbows
  2. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
  3. M.I.A. – Kala
  4. The White Stripes – Icky Thump
  5. Battles – Mirrored
  6. The National – Boxer
  7. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
  8. Okkervil River – The Stage Names
  9. Panda Bear – Person Pitch
  10. The New Pornographers – Challengers

The Best Songs of 2007

Friday, December 14th, 2007
  1. Battles – “Atlas
  2. M.I.A. – “Paper Planes
  3. Feist – “1234
  4. Wilco – “Side With the Seeds
  5. Spoon – “The Underdog
  6. LCD Soundsystem – “Someone Great
  7. The Shins – “Australia
  8. Justice – “D.A.N.C.E.
  9. The White Stripes – “Icky Thump
  10. Okkervil River – “Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe
  11. Radiohead – “Down is the New Up
  12. Super Furry Animals – “Run-Away
  13. Modest Mouse – “Dashboard
  14. Arcade Fire – “(Antichrist Television Blues)
  15. The Clientele – “Bookshop Casanova
  16. The New Pornographers – “My Rights Versus Yours
  17. Kanye West – “Stronger
  18. The National – “Fake Empire
  19. Of Montreal – “Gronlandic Edit
  20. Interpol – “Pace is the Trick

Oscar Season Updates

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

The first 2007 movie awards that matter were announced yesterday, by the National Board of Review. These are the first real hints at what some of the Oscar nominees might look like, and there were some pretty huge surprises.

Many supposed contenders were omitted from the Board’s “Top Ten Films” list (American Gangster being the biggest), while some movies with very little awards buzz made the cut (The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bucket List). Some potential nominees had their Oscar hopes raised significantly: by taking “Best Actor,” George Clooney is suddenly very much in the running for what might be the toughest category to pick. Casey Affleck and Julie Christie have cemented their status as nominees in supporting categories (for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Away From Her, respectively). Perhaps the biggest winner is Sweeney Todd — Tim Burton upset the competition to win “Best Director,” while the musical itself was named one of the year’s best.

Some old favorites remain favorites — by taking “Best Film,” No Country for Old Men officially has zero chance of being snubbed for an Oscar nom (despite the teenager sitting behind me in the theater who left complaining it was “the most pointless movie since I Heart Huckabees”). Atonement, which may be more traditionally Oscar-friendly, continues to look strong. It’s clear that this year Juno is the little indie that could, and if the Academy wishes it to be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine, then so it shall be.

Below the cut I’ve charted my predictions, and how they’ve shifted since November. (more…)