OSCAR FEVER!

Why not.

Best Picture

WILL WIN: No Country For Old Men.
SHOULD WIN: I’m not a fan of There Will Be Blood either, but it and No Country are “dark” enough to satisfy Oscar fans who complain about the terrible films that usually win.

Best Director

WILL WIN: Les freres Coen
SHOULD WIN: Maybe giving Paul Thomas Anderson an Oscar will give his future films the middlebrow clarity that his enthusiasts look down on.

Best Actor

WILL WIN: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
SHOULD WIN: DDL. (“No ticky, no laundry” — Jack Nicholson, The Departed)

Best Actress

WILL WIN: Julie Christie
SHOULD WIN: She’s the most overrated thing in a very fine film (and I can’t fathom why Gordon Pinsent enlisted no critic-group support; were I him, I’d fire my agent), but Christie’s class and grace made this perennial Oscar bait role the most thoughtful in recent memory. She’s cool and precise without hinting at concealed depths, a bit like a certain Democratic Party presidential front-runner. Meanwhile her only competition should have it so good. I hate her film so much that there’s a certain relief in eliminating her. But support’s building for her.

Best Supporting Actor

WILL WIN: Javier Bardem
SHOULD WIN: I can’t comment on Hal Holbrook or Philip Seymour Hoffman, while Casey Affleck demonstrated in Gone Baby Gone that he could accept the blue-eyed neurotic parts Joaquin Phoenix is too old for. Bardem should have won for his work in 2000’s Before Night Falls, but the mass audience’s been jonesing for a great villain since Anthony Hopkins won in 1991.

Best Supporting Actress

WILL WIN: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
SHOULD WIN: The most difficult category — everyone except the lass from Atonement‘s got a shot. If there’s any surprises tonight, it’ll be in this category, which for once includes no young ingenues who win and then promptly disappear into made-for-cable movies. I’d be happy if Ryan or Tilda Swinton won. Rewatching Michael Clayton last week, I wished for the hundredth time that screenwriters made their ostensibly secondary characters their leads, since, for all the bullshit I’ve flung at Tony Gilroy since October for the closeups of sweaty armpits, he creates a character whose own compromises and moral failure are more devastating than George Clooney’s.

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