The time is here when we put our heads together to see if we can be a step ahead of the Academy and read their minds. Thankfully, there are more rewards in predictions with the news of the likelihood that the writers’ strike will be resolved very soon and that there will be a starry Oscar ceremony after all.
Of course, what the familiar patterns and trends, or “buzz” says may be different from what we really see want to see win. As such, I have listed my prediction (“what will win”) as well as my personal preference (“what truly deserves to win”). So here go for the major categories:
Best Picture: No Country for Old Men, pure and simple. It is the best of the lot and the most unanimously praised. There was a time when There Will Be Blood was considered a serious threat but the DGA and PGA wins are clear indicators that No Country for Old Men is not budging. Some feel that if those two films split among their target audiences, Juno might sneak in, but it is still a little too feathery and lightweight (which is probably like Little Miss Sunshine last year). As for Michael Clayton and Atonement, the nominations are their rewards (though I think Atonement is the close second best here).
- Prediction: No Country for Old Men
- Preference: No Country for Old Men
Best Director: Again, there is no dethroning the Coen brothers here. They are the only ones with a previous nomination and not even the Academy’s purported bias against duo directors will stop them from getting this one. The others like P.T. Anderson, Julian Schnabel, Tony Gilroy, and Jason Reitman may go on to win an Oscar but in a category that has so many directors who are relatively new to or normally work outside the normal Hollywood system, the Coens are the veterans and are thought to be long due here.
- Prediction: Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
- Preference: Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
Best Actor: Yet another category that has very little contesting. This one is Daniel Day-Lewis’ to lose for There Will Be Blood. That film is potentially the big loser of the night so Lewis’ win will be a way to reward it in some way (and he was the thread that did hold P.T. Anderson’s at times screw-loose vision together). I am happy enough that my personal pick, Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah, was awarded with a nomination for essentially carrying that film on his thespian shoulders and also for Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises. George Clooney is a fairly recent Oscar winner and as many women would like to see their own heartthrob, Johnny Depp, win for Sweeney Todd, there will be another time.
- Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
- Preference: Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Best Actress: Finally, a category with a potential for some curve balls and this is where I am going on a little whim with my prediction. I know the precursors from the critics and the SGA dictate that Julie Christie will win, but I have a feeling that the sentimental vote will not pass here. Older veterans are usually quite rare in leading categories and the Academy also likes to give a boost to rising younger actors and actresses in the leading categories (think of Adrien Brody’s first win for The Pianist in 2002 when all the other four nominees were previous winners). Christie does not deserve it here anyway and I can sense audiences wanting the truly deserved contender, Cotillard, to win for being the heart and soul of La Vie en Rose.