This is a great time of the year.
Sure, the weather outside is, to use the technical term, yucky, but there are so many wonderful things happening that it’s easy to look past the cold days and gray skies.
Spring training is about to begin. The NCAA Tournament is fast approaching. The NFL Draft looms right around the corner.
And for those of us who also enjoy spending two or three hours in a dark room, the payoff comes Sunday with the annual Academy Awards.
Unlike the Grammys or the Emmys, the Oscars still seem to carry some weight. The other ceremonies often seem to be clueless in terms of what is actually quality material, and while the Oscars never seem to truly honor the absolute best films of the year, the Academy at least seems to narrow it down to some legitimate contenders.
Do the awards really mean anything? Probably not, especially considering how many choices seem foolish in hindsight (Dances With Wolves over GoodFellas, Ordinary People over Raging Bull, Annie Hall over Star Wars, Crash over Brokeback Mountain, Roberto Benigni over any other actor in any other movie that year). Despite that, we still watch them, soak them up and debate them. Maybe the fun is seeing the Academy get it wrong, thus allowing us to fight about it for years to come.
Here’s hoping they get it right this year, though. My picks for the 2008 Academy Awards are:
Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Saiorse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
And the Oscar goes to … Blanchett. I have nothing against Ruby Dee’s performance in American Gangster other than I don’t remember a single thing about the five minutes or so she appeared on screen. That doesn’t exactly scream “award winner” to me. Blanchett, however, carried the Bob Dylan-themed film. The only strike against her is that she won not too long ago in the same category for Aviator. If the Academy chooses to branch out, then Dee gets it.
Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bordem, No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
And the Oscar goes to … Bordem, although Holbrook could be a sentimental choice for a group that likes to throw curveballs in the supporting categories.
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno
And the Oscar goes to … I have no earthly idea. Of all the major categories, this one is the most wide open. I could see Christie, Cotillard and Page each walking away a winner. All three were excellent in their respective roles, but I’m afraid too few people actually saw Cotillard’s film, and Page’s youth might be a negative against her. In the end, I’m guessing Christie wins for a quiet performance.
Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortenson, Eastern Promises
And the Oscar goes to … Daniel Day Lewis gave the performance of an already amazing lifetime, so if anyone else wins, he should get up and beat them to death with a blunt instrument. However, I felt much the same way when he was nominated for Gangs of New York, only to see him lose to Adrien Brody. What a gyp. This year, I could see Clooney pulling the upset for his fantastic work in Michael Clayton.
Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
Jason Reitman, Juno
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
And the Oscar goes to … the Coen Brothers. While I think Blood is the better film and is a bigger artistic statement, the Coens will take the trophy for their incredible work behind the camera in No Country. As a huge fan of their movies, I’m OK with that.
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
And the Oscar goes to … No Country. Look, I think Blood should sweep every category,
but that’s just not going to happen. Too many people just didn’t seem to get P.T. Anderson’s masterpiece. Atonement could pull off an upset (the Academy likes period pieces involving accents), and Juno could be the biggest underdog, scoring a Rocky-like victory.