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Dave’s 2008 Oscar Preview – Part One: Iraq vs. Health Care

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Once again it's time for me to make my speciously-reasoned picks for Oscar night, which will actually have writers now, bringing it back to the same standard of quality we've come to expect from Oscar banter. Woot.

Last year I shot 58%. Not my best year. Fortunately, this year doesn't look even remotely as predictable.

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

  • I Met the Walrus
  • Madame Tutli-Putli
  • Meme les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)
  • My Love (Moya Lyubov)
  • Peter & the Wolf

Will Win: I Met the Walrus
Should Win: My Love (Moya Lyubov)

In spite of an arty trend of late, I get the feeling that the political context of I Met the Walrus will sway voters this year.

Speaking of arty, My Love is gorgeous. An impressionist painting come to life. Now if I only spoke Russian. (It's also the only short here from a category vet – 3 nods, 1 win – so consider it a spoiler.)

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

  • At Night
  • Il Supplente (The Substitute)
  • Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)
  • Tanghi Argentini
  • The Tonto Woman

Will Win:Tanghi Argentini
Should Win: The Tonto Woman

Tanghi Argentini has won more awards than all of these other films combined, which is pretty easy since none of these other films have won any awards. Even if they had, though, they'd still have to struggle to match Tanghi's 15 wins (three at one festival), a clean sweep with every nod resulting in a win.

That having been said, The Tonto Woman is based on an Elmore Leonard short story, and he's awesome.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

  • Freeheld
  • La Corona (The Crown)
  • Salim Baba
  • Sari's Mother

Will Win: Freeheld
Should Win: Freeheld

As with Tanghi, Freeheld has racked up far more awards than anyone else in this category, including a Special Jury Prize at last year's Sundance. More than that, I have a feeling that the film's emotional story, about a police officer dying of cancer fighting to get the rules changed so that her domestic partner can receive her pension, will strike a chord.

Just watching the trailer got me verklempt, so I'm guessing the rest of it packs a punch.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • No End in Sight
  • Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
  • Sicko
  • Taxi to the Dark Side
  • War/Dance

Will Win: Sicko
Should Win: No End in Sight

For the past few years, the highest profile (read: highest-grossing) doc has won this award, with Born Into Brothels' upset over Super Size Me as a notable exception. I see no reason for that trend to change here, with Sicko's $24.5 million gross dwarfing the next-highest grosser, No End in Sight, which only raked in $1.4 million.

In addition, the fact that every other doc in the category is about war (3 on Iraq, 1 on Uganda – though that one's more about music than war), will help Sicko stand out. That and the fact that it's helmed by the most financially successful and arguably well-known documentarian in the world.

Sicko's a great doc. Don't get me wrong. But No End in Sight is better. It's more powerful, even-handed and insightful. I haven't seen the other three, but they'll have to work pretty damn hard to beat my third favorite film of 2007. (Of those three, my guess is that Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room helmer Alex Gibney's Taxi could do the trick.) And of the other four, it does come closest to being a spoiler, with eight critics circle wins to Sicko's nine (though in Sicko's case that includes a Critic's Choice win).

By the way, where is The King of Kong, The Trials of Daryl Hunt, The Devil Came on Horseback or In the Shadow of the Moon? Just saying.

SOUND EDITING

  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • No Country for Old Men
  • Ratatouille
  • There Will Be Blood
  • Transformers

Will Win: Transformers
Should Win: Transformers

Big films tend to win this award, with the odd Letters From Iwo Jima thrown in from time to time. So, really, this could just as easily be Bourne Ultimatum's prize. Or even Ratatouille, following in the footsteps of The Incredibles.

The only sound effect I remember from any of these films is the sound the transformers make when they transform, which is cool. Not as cool as the sound on the TV show, but still cool.

SOUND MIXING

  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • No Country for Old Men
  • Ratatouille
  • 3:10 to Yuma
  • Transformers

Will Win: No Country for Old Men
Should Win: The Bourne Ultimatum

This award tends to skew more Best Picture-y, so look for No Country to close.

I'd say I liked the sound during the fights in Bourne Ultimatum, but I'm pretty sure most of that noise was added later, and isn't that technically sound editing? But in that case, how is Ratatouille, which presumably had no live sound recording, up in here? I'm so confused.

Oh, and do the sound guys from There Will Be Blood and 3:10 to Yuma feel like one-termers or something for being the only ones to not make it into both categories?

In our next installment: That's "the Academy Award-nominated Norbit," thank you very much!

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About David Dylan Thomas

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com/ handyguy

    Taxi to the Dark Side is a very powerful movie, much more so than No End in Sight [and certainly more than Slicko]. It did win the Writers Guild award, so possibly it has a chance.

  • http://www.daviddylanthomas.com David Dylan Thomas

    Excellent point about the WGA. I’d say that puts Dark Side in play, but Sicko still has a considerable advantage.