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2008 Academy Awards: My Predictions

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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.

Since globalization has lately been quite big in the Oscars, I think this trend will continue along with Javier Bardem likely to win for Best Supporting Actor. Ellen Page may be able to sneak in for Juno but the voters will feel she is a little too young at the age of 20. Cate Blanchett will likely get her award in the supporting category and Laura Linney will gain enough respect in future years to possibly walk up to the Oscar podium another year.

  • Prediction: Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
  • Preference: Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men, no contest. His character has even been compared to the best cinematic villains like Hannibal Lecter and the potential awards sweep of that film won’t leave him out (plus he is thought to be long due). There won’t even be room for a sentimental vote for a senior veteran like Hal Holbrook from Into the Wild (I’m trying really hard to contain my urge to make an ironic pun here) and the other nominees are non-contenders.

  • Prediction: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
  • Preference: Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men

Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett seemed like the solid favorite here for a long time for I’m Not There until Ruby Dee nabbed a surprising win at the SAG awards for American Gangster. But the SAG awards are even more privy to sentimental votes than the Oscars and, again, considering that the Kodak Theater may be empty this year, Dee’s win is less likely. Amy Ryan from Gone Baby Gone, I think, is the biggest potential spoiler here, as she has swept most of the critics’ awards but Blanchett has two nods this year and the Academy loves her too much.

  • Prediction: Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
  • Preference: Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There, with a slight nudge towards Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone

Best Original Screenplay: As I mentioned before, Diablo Cody from Juno has the wildest story to back up her rise to popularity and the Academy will love to seal it with their stamp of approval. In my opinion though, her screenplay was not as original as Nancy Oliver’s for Lars and the Real Girl, which had such impeccable tone control in maintaining absolute sincerity and innocence in potentially subversive subject matter. But I have rarely seen more buzz for a screenwriter and the tides likely will not turn.

  • Prediction: Diablo Cody, Juno
  • Preference: Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl

Best Adapted Screenplay: Again, No Country for Old Men is the juggernaut this year and the crisp distillation of Cormac McCarthy’s original prose won’t be anything but well-regarded here. The voters may feel that P.T. Anderson may deserve some kind of reward but his screenplay is not as tight and lean as the Coens’ and the latter are the veterans here. The other nominees are also highly accomplished and it must have been particularly difficult for Ronald Harwood to adapt The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for the big screen. But again, this is the Coens’ year.

  • Prediction: Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
  • Preference: Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men

Best Animated Feature: Brad Bird’s Ratatouille is likely the frontrunner here but I don’t feel as strongly as most people do that it will be the automatic winner. After all, Cars was likely overlooked in favor of the overrated Happy Feet probably because the Academy got tired of honoring Pixar one too many times. This may allow Persepolis to sneak in and nab the Oscar here but, in the end, the fact that Ratatouille was the most unanimously acclaimed film of 2007 will carry it through (and it is my personal choice as well, as it was No. 2 on my best films list). Surf’s Up is a non-contender.

  • Prediction: Ratatouille
  • Preference: Ratatouille

Best Original Song: Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz are back with three old-school Disney songs from Enchanted in this category but I think they will have to make way for “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irlgova from Once. This will be the only way for the Academy to honor that fine film and the Disney songs will probably cancel each other out. The nomination is its reward for “Raise It Up” from August Rush.

  • Prediction: “Falling Slowly,” Once
  • Preference: “Falling Slowly,” Once, with a slight nudge towards “So Close” from Enchanted

It is a relief that a wondrous year in movies will be justly celebrated with the star-studded event it deserves. There may be some disappointments when politics get involved with the votes but we shall see on February 24…

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About John Lee

John Lee is a computer programmer by day and a cine-enthusiast by night. He has a blog at https://www.cinematicponderer.com/ where he pours out his deep thoughts, appreciations, criticisms, and opinions on all things cinematic.
  • jeffrey

    i hate the oscors cloverfield was a bad movie

  • Well, the ratings may be low but it looks as if the international Islam press is paying attention. Here is a story written by a Pakistani journalist who was apparently reporting live from the red-carpet and giving opinion on the night’s winners!

  • joe harris

    no country for bp, Daniel day lewis gave great performance, ruby dee will finally win sa, director its hard to say. Most bp wins don’t include bd the last one was scoresse but he was well overdue and it wasn’t his best work. I still would like to see cohen bros win. They didn’t get it with Fargo, maybe its their due.

  • Ann

    Atonement for Best Picture.
    But Julie Christie for Best Actress of
    and George Clooney for Best Actor

  • Maureen McCole

    My predictions are as follows:

    Daniel Day-Lewis, plain and simply brillant.
    Julie Christie, Best Actress
    Javier Bardem
    Amy Ryan
    No Country for Old Men, directing
    No Country for Old Men, picture (although Atonement might creep in)

  • While I thought Daniel gave an amazing performance, I would not be surprised to see Jones win it. He is older and gave two great performances with Elah and No Country. Certainly better than his work in The Fugitive, which saw him win an Oscar.

    I thought Ratatouille was the usual Brad Bird excellence. Plus, it’s about being creative, so it will surely hit close to home for Oscar voters, but I am rooting for Persepolis, which was fantastic in its own right.

    You left off a number of categories and nominees, including my all-time favorite Oscar nominee Kevin O’Connell, who is up for Best Achievement in Sound for: Transformers (2007). It’s his 20th nomination without a win. Susan Lucci thinks the guy has had it rough.

  • My preference would also be for Nancy Oliver to win best original screenplay for Lars and the Real Girl. But all signs point to Juno.