Oscars ’08: "No Country" Sweep?

Best Picture

The Nominees: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood

Atonement was an early favorite and despite its Golden Globe Win, its so-so box office and meager critical support along with a lack of love from the Guilds (who make up a large amount of the Academy) hurt its chances. Critics raved about Michael Clayton but it didn’t connect well with audiences. Juno has the highest gross of any of these films and could pull off a shocking “little-indie-that-could” win, similar to Crash in 2005. There Will Be Blood is gaining momentum and could be a possible spoiler but it’s No Country For Old Men which received some of the best reviews of the year and dominated most precursor awards that will end up being crowned as Best Picture of the year.

Predicted Winner: No Country For Old Men Possible Spoiler: Juno/There Will Be Blood

Best Director

The Nominees: Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood

Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men

Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton

Jason Reitman for Juno

Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Schnabel had a surprise victory at the Golden Globe Awards, but after years of churning out brilliant work (Fargo, The Big Lebowski), the Coen Brothers will finally get honored alongside their Best Picture winner.

Predicted Winner: Joel and Ethan Coen Possible Spoiler: Julian Schnabel

Best Actor

The Nominees: George Clooney in Michael Clayton

Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd

Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah

Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises

Could Depp finally get the award he’s been long overdue for with his performance as a vengence-seeking barber? Probably not, because his singing and throat cutting is no match for Day-Lewis’s brooding performance as a power-hungry oil baron in There Will Be Blood. In fact, the actor should already be clearing his shelf for another Oscar, next to the award he also won for 1989’s My Left Foot.

Predicted Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis Possible Spoiler: Johnny Depp

Best Actress

The Nominees: Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie in Away From Her
Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney in The Savages
Ellen Page in Juno

This may be the hardest of the top categories to predict but only three women have a fighting chance. Cotillard, relatively unknown in the U.S., had a surprise win at the Golden Globe Awards while practically yanking the trophy from the hands of Ellen Page. Page deserves the Oscar for her wonderfully heartfelt performance as a free-spirited pregnant teen in Juno and could benefit from the film’s box office and critical support. But will the academy honor someone as young as Page? The one to crush the hopes of these two rising stars will most likely be veteran Christie for her performance as a woman stricken with Alzheimer’s in Away From Her. She’s swept almost every award so far. This one will be no different.

Predicted Winner: Julie Christie Possible Spoiler: Ellen Page

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton

Unless veteran Holbrook receives a “sorry-we-forgot-to-give-you-an-award-before” win, this category belongs to Bardem. He created a new meaning of horror with his understated performance as a quiet but callous killer who roams the desert with a cattle gun in No Country For Old Men.

Predicted Winner: Javier Bardem Possible Spoiler: Hal Holbrook

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees: Cate Blanchett in I’m Not There
Ruby Dee in American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan in Atonement
Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton

Many leading critics’ awards have chosen Ryan’s performance in Gone Baby Gone. However, the Academy has always been a fan of actors acting totally out of character. Blanchett, nominated twice this year, will be walking home with at least one statue and it’s going to be for her spot-on interpretation of Bob Dylan in the mind-warping biopic I’m Not There.

Predicted Winner: Cate Blanchett Possible Spoiler: Amy Ryan

Best Original Screenplay

The Nominees: Brad Bird for Ratatouille
Diablo Cody for Juno
Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton
Tamara Jenkins for The Savages
Nancy Oliver for Lars and the Real Girl

No contest. First-time screenwriter Cody wrote Juno about the serious subject of teen pregnancy but pumped it full of witticisms about high school, a mix of one-liners and subtle jokes, loveable characters, and a romantic back-story that questions the meaning of love itself. If voters look into their hearts, they’ll realize that the only award this film may pick up belongs to its screenplay.

Predicted Winner: Juno Possible Spoiler: Michael Clayton

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Nominees: Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men
Christopher Hampton for Atonement
Ronald Harwood for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sarah Polley for Away From Her

Like Best Original Screenplay, there already seems to be a lock on this category. The Coen Brothers adapted Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men nearly verbatim, but the finished product contains the duo’s trademark heist gone wrong as well as moments of wit to lighten up the bloody tragedy. Also, the rare balance of silence with terrifying dialogue makes the film as fascinating to look at as it is to find out what will happen next.

Predicted Winner: No Country For Old Men Possible Spoiler: There Will Be Blood