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The Oscar® Eye with Erik Childress 2007 (UPDATED Jan. 11)

by Erik Childress

So the Oscar Eye is back for 2007. Wait a minute, can we even print the word Oscar without getting sued? Do we have to call it the Shiny Gold Statues Giving Out Now In February Instead Of March To Movie People Eye? Well, we can just put one of those circled R’s into the title. Unless that’s going to hurt the box office chances of the films vying for the Shiny Gold Statues. In that case we’ll change it to PG-13. Hey, we’re talking about the Oscars, right, and who doesn’t love that? Sure, its become a game we all love to compete in. Some journalists even get to form their official versions of pools like the “Gurus O’Gold” and “The Envelope”. Despite finishing first or tied as such the last two years on top of Sasha Stone’s terrific Osca…, I mean, “Awards Daily” chart ahead of just about all of them, I still haven’t been invited to ante up. No hard feelings. If you want to follow Easy Pete Hammond for your Oscar pool, go for it. I’ll be right here.

Once again, as loyal readers such as you know, I will not make any final speculation on a film or a performance until thus has been seen with my own eyes. Hardly seems fair to dismiss quality work that’s already been released or reviewed with blind assumptions based on trailers and history. Isn’t that how films pre-November get forgotten about in the first place – shot down in the prime of their run because someone has the bright idea that The Phantom of the Opera is destined for gold glory?

I’ll be updating the list with categories beyond the BIG EIGHT weekly as well as shifting around the rankings based on new screenings and eventually how their tallies are advancing with the various critic awards and nominations. All up to the weekend before the final nominations are announced in January when you’ll see my final predictions and possibly be worthy of an envelope or being called a guru. No bitterness here.

BLOGGING THE EYE

1/11/08 - A final predictions piece will be published next week. Stay tuned.

1/8/08 - With the announcement of the Director's Guild nominations today, the race for Best Picture (more than director) got pretty interesting. Your nominees are Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood), Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men), Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Sean Penn (Into the Wild) and Julian Schanbel (The Diving Bell & The Butterfly). No Tim Burton, no Jason Reitman and especially, no Joe Wright. Does this mean the rumors of Atonement dying a slow death in this race are far from exaggerated? Well, as always, let's look at the numbers.

Since 1992, only twice has the DGA nominees exactly matched the Oscar nominees (in 1998 & 2005). Six times, including just last year, only 3 of the DGA nominees went on to compete at the Oscars. So who will be the three locks? The Coens have been in for weeks. Julian Schanbel has been shooting up the ranks and this likely should put to rest whether or not There Will Be Blood is a serious contender with the nod for Anderson. These three are most likely in. That leaves Sean Penn and Tony Gilroy. Michael Clayton has mostly been thought of as an acting and writing showcase first and with Gilroy a dead lock for an Original Screenplay nomination, I’d give him the lowest chance to snag a Best Director slot. Penn’s Into the Wild I’ve been counting out of the Best Picture race for some time. Not entirely, but just kinda hanging around. Penn, on the other hand, I’ve said is a lock for either a director or screenwriting nomination. And possibly even both. I’m still not convinced that it’s going to get all three, but this is a step in the right direction.

So how about the Best Picture race? In the last 15 years, six times have the DGA nominees ALL got shots at the big prize and only ONCE in that time (2001) have they failed to nominate less than 4 of the DGA flicks. I don’t believe these are your five Best Picture nominees. Three are for sure: No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood and Michael Clayton. They’re in. And I’ve recently been telling people to watch out for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. With all its accolades with critic groups as the Best Foreign Film of 2007, we seem to have forgotten that no country has put it up as their official choice for the Oscar. France’s choice is the animated Persepolis. Diving Bell currently ranks fourth on the awards chart (total wins & nominations) behind No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood and Juno. Michael Clayton is 5th. Atonement 6th. Into the Wild is 8th. Schanbel’s film could very well be looking at a Best Picture nomination. This year’s My Left Foot if you will.

If that’s four than that just leaves the one spot; a spot that many of us have considered to already be wrapped up with Juno. And I don’t think there’s any reason to jettison it now. No one really had Jason Reitman in the running for a Director’s slot since the Academy somehow believes that comedy directs itself. The DGA DID nominate Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris for Little Miss Sunshine last year only to see them snubbed at the Oscars despite a Best Picture nomination. The same should occur here with Juno grabbing a Picture slot and Reitman’s director nod going to Joe Wright or maybe even a late inning surprise like Sidney Lumet. No, for now the gut still says Joe Wright will get the token nod for his film getting shut out of the Best Picture race. Atonement’s lead performances haven’t built up any momentum to consider them serious contenders, leaving a potential Supporting Actress nod to Vanessa Redgrave or Saoirse Ronan as their sole acting nominee. Sure that’s all Juno, No Country and There Will Be Blood are likely to get, but it may be time to accept that Atonement is going to get a lot of nominations without that Best Picture nod.






*************************BEST PICTURE*************************


1. No Country for Old MenHas won nearly twice as many awards as any other film. It’s your one and only supreme lock at this point.
2. There Will Be BloodSwept L.A. critics. An 80% nomination rate since 1997.
3. JunoIts stock will continue to rise through it’s December opening and beyond. Could be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine.
4. The Diving Bell and the ButterflyPeople seem to forget that for all its accolades for Best Foreign Film, it’s not eligible in that category.
5. Michael ClaytonIn the vein of classic moral, legal thrillers.
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6. Into the WildA lot of high praise for Penn’s film, but do they really admire it’s douchebag hero?
7. AtonementThe film has everything Oscar looks for, including a December opening. The fact it’s pretty good can only help.
8. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet StreetA Golden Globe win could get it in.
9. American GangsterFincher’s Zodiac ain’t the only 150+ minute crime epic this year. Neither are quite Best Picture worthy though.
10. The Kite RunnerWhen was the last time a movie with a fake beard unmasking got nominated for Best Picture?

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
BeowulfIt should be a lock for Best Animated Feature. Will voters see past the animation though?
Charlie Wilson’s WarGood enough to be Hollywood’s way of nominating an Iraq film without actually nominating one.
Gone Baby GoneBen Affleck has made one of the year’s strongest films. Mystic River was good enough for a nomination.
In the Valley of ElahHaggis’ Crash won two years ago. Backlash and zero box office may have destroyed its chances.
ZodiacFincher’s crime drama was the cause celebre of March. Repeat – of MARCH

OTHER NOTABLES
3:10 to Yuma, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Away From Her, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Breach, The Darjeeling Limited, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Eastern Promises, Gone Baby Gone, Hairspray, The Hoax, I'm Not There, Lars and the Real Girl, Lions for Lambs, A Mighty Heart, Ratatouille, Rescue Dawn, The Savages, Waitress

WISHFUL THINKING, BUT FINGERS CROSSED
The Bourne Ultimatum, Grindhouse (Death Proof), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hot Fuzz, Knocked Up, The Simpsons Movie, Superbad




*************************BEST DIRECTOR*************************


1. Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men) – Should be impossible to deny even with shared credit.
2. Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) – The last 10 L.A. Critics choice has been nominated. But the only one currently in the top five to be snubbed by the Golden Globes.
3. Julian Schanbel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) – Look for a lot of critic awards to be coming his way.
4. Sean Penn (Into the Wild) – Respected enough to make this more likely than a Picture nod.
5. Joe Wright (Atonement) – A Best Picture nomination should assure him one too.
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6. Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) –The odds have to be going up for his first nomination.
7. Sidney Lumet (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead) – Was honored in 2005. Not nominated since 1982’s The Verdict. His best work since Night Falls On Manhattan
8. Ridley Scott (American Gangster) – Got a Globes nomination. Kinda touching for them to keep the film alive.
9. Mike Nichols (Charlie Wilson’s War) – Will be seen more of an acting and writing showcase than direction.
10. David Fincher (Zodiac) – The critics are all wet for this movie, nine months provides plenty of time to dry off.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
Ben Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) – He’s a deserving nomination, but the Academy probably isn’t ready to give it to him here yet.
Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) – Would be totally a respect nomination for the way the studio dumped the film.
Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) – A screenplay nod in waiting
Paul Haggis (In the Valley of Elah) – Even though it’s much better than Crash, that backlash will kill his chances here.
Robert Zemeckis (Beowulf) – If anyone would get nominated for directing animation, it would have to be him.

NAMES VOTING GROUPS SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK
Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl)
Jason Reitman (Juno)
Quentin Tarantino (Grindhouse “Death Proof”)
Paul Verhoeven (Black Book)
Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz)

OTHER NOTABLES
Wes Anderson (The Darjeeling Limited), Craig Brewer (Black Snake Moan), Francis Ford Coppola (Youth Without Youth), David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises), Todd Haynes (I'm Not There), Werner Herzog (Rescue Dawn), James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma), Sarah Polley (Away From Her), Robert Redford (Lions for Lambs), Adam Shankman (Hairspray), Julie Taymor (Across the Universe), Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart)

WISHFUL THINKING, BUT FINGERS CROSSED
Judd Apatow (Knocked Up), Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum), Greg Mottola (Superbad), Adrienne Shelly (Waitress)




*************************BEST ACTOR*************************


1. Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) – A big, grand performance that is just too towering to not give him the Oscar, let alone a nomination. Won L.A. & N.Y. Film Critics
2. George Clooney (Michael Clayton) – The elevating factor of a rather familiar movie.
3. Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises) – The BFCA’s nominee likely to fall off the list.
4. Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl) – Even better than his nominated turn in Half Nelson but is starting to lose momentum
5. Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) – He lost weight. You know what that means.
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6. Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) – Johnny SINGS!!! For nomination number three?
7. Frank Langella (Starting Out in the Evening) – Has outside hopes to be that surprise fifth nominee this year.
8. Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah) – Arguably the best performance of the year to date.
9. Tom Hanks (Charlie Wilson’s War) – Never discount the Hanks this time of year.
10. James McAvoy (Atonement) – Not getting the support he needs.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
Don Cheadle (Talk to Me) – Everyone’s early Oscar darling just won’t be remembered from July.
John Cusack (Grace is Gone) – Not getting the head of steam he needs.
Benicio Del Toro (Things We Lost in the Fire) – May be the greatest forgotten performance of the year.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead) – Destined for a supporting actor nod.
Brad Pitt (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) – It’s the best performance of his career and yet everyone puts Casey Affleck (also very good) ahead of him.
Denzel Washington (American Gangster) – He’s got that silent stare down in the film, but the film isn’t fiery enough to get him nominated.

NAMES VOTING GROUPS SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK
Christian Bale (Rescue Dawn)
Chris Cooper (Breach)
Richard Gere (The Hoax)
Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz)
Gordon Pissent (Away From Her)

OTHER NOTABLES
Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men), Michael Caine (Sleuth), Russell Crowe (3:10 to Yuma), Woody Harrelson (The Walker), Samuel L. Jackson (Black Snake Moan or Resurrecting the Champ), John C. Reilly (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), Tim Roth (Youth Without Youth)

WISHFUL THINKING, BUT FINGERS CROSSED
Michael Cera (Superbad), Kevin Costner (Mr. Brooks), Nathan Fillion (Waitress), Jonah Hill (Superbad), Sam Rockwell (Joshua), Seth Rogen (Knocked Up)



*************************BEST ACTRESS*************************


1. Julie Christie (Away From Her) – NBR is 10-for-10 getting nominations since 1997.
2. Ellen Page (Juno) – No longer an underdog, she may be the favorite to win.
3. Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) – L.A. chose her and only once in last decade has their choice not been nominated.
4. Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart) – Another early favorite that could use some push from the critic awards.
5. Amy Adams (Enchanted) – With Ellen Page no longer an underdog, a new one emerges.
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6. Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) – How many times did Pete Hammond vote to get her nominated for BFCA? Did he get into HFPA too?
7. Laura Linney (The Savages) – A good performance, but frankly I’m just running out of names.
8. Keira Knightley (Atonement) – Joe Wright got her a nomination for Pride & Prejudice. She’s looking pretty good for this year too.
9. Helena Bonham Carter (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) – The film needs an across-the-board push and surge to get her in.
10. Halle Berry (Things We Lost in the Fire) – Halle takes off the makeup again and goes for an Oscar. Benicio is getting much of the play though.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
Jodie Foster (The Brave One) – The kind of role Foster can do in her sleep. Too bad the film put us to sleep.
Charlize Theron (In the Valley of Elah) – If the film was more widely seen, she’d have a better shot.

NAMES VOTING GROUPS SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK
Nikki Blonsky (Hairspray)
Markéta Irglová (Once)
Keri Russell (Waitress)
Molly Shannon (Year of the Dog)

OTHER NOTABLES
Katharine Heigl (Knocked Up), Ashley Judd (Bug), Nicole Kidman (Margot at the Wedding), Parker Posey (Broken English), Christina Ricci (Black Snake Moan), Hilary Swank (P.S. I Love You)




*************************BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR*************************


1. Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) – Plays the most-talked about villain in some time.
2. Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – Thought forgotten early on. Now looks like a lock.
3. Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson's War) – With so many great performances this year, the juicy supporting one is the lock.
4. Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild) – 82 years old and never nominated. His section is the best amidst a myriad of supporting players. Could be his time.
5. Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton) – Gets to play righteous AND crazy. That’s an Academy 1-2 punch.
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6. Tommy Lee Jones (No Country for Old Men) – A great year for Jones with this and Elah but even a SAG nomination probably won’t be enough to get him in.
7. Albert Finney (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead) – Five nominations without a win and he stands out in the film’s second half.
8. Ed Harris (Gone Baby Gone) – Four nominations without a win. Last in 2003. Time the Academy made him a favorite again.
9. Max Von Sydow (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) – Has only a few scenes in the movie, but is incredibly memorable and heartbreaking in each.
10. John Travolta (Hairspray) – New Line will have the push on for him singing & dancing in that fat suit. The fact that he pulled it off against early skepticism works in his favor.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
Tom Cruise (Lions for Lambs) – His section of the movie is easily the best and he gives the most interesting performance in it.
Ethan Hawke (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead) – More prominent than Finney, but may be wedged out between him and Hoffman’s notices.
Michael Sheen (Music Within) – Unrecognizable and convincing as a palsy victim. But the movie may be way too forgettable
Vlad Ivanov (4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days) – The L.A. Critics choice, but the smart money says he’s going to lower their percentage.

NAMES VOTING GROUPS SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK
Christian Bale (I’m Not There)
Ashraf Barhom (The Kingdom)
Jeff Daniels (The Lookout)
Alfred Molina (The Hoax)
Kurt Russell (Grindhouse (Death Proof))
Steve Zahn (Rescue Dawn)

OTHER NOTABLES
Jason Bateman (Juno), Jack Black (Margot at the Wedding), Jim Broadbent (Hot Fuzz), Michael Cera (Juno), Sacha Baron Cohen (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), Russell Crowe (American Gangster), Timothy Dalton (Hot Fuzz), Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Peter Dinklage (Death at a Funeral), Robert Downey Jr. (Zodiac), Robert Duvall (Lucky You), Homayon Ershadi (The Kite Runner), Andy Griffith (Waitress), William Hurt (Mr. Brooks), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad), Craig Parkinson (Control), Alan Rickman (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), Sam Rockwell (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Paul Rudd (Knocked Up), Paul Schneider (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford or Lars and the Real Girl), J.K. Simmons (Juno), Christopher Walken (Hairspray)




************************BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS************************


1. Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) – When N.Y. & L.A. agree it’s more or less a lock.
2. Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There) – You may as well just give her a second Oscar now.
3. Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton) – A genuine portrait of corporate immorality with the panicky resolve of an amateur.
4. Catherine Keener (Into the Wild) – BFCA gives her the first mention in this race. SAG makes it two.
5. Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement) – Of the three actresses to play this role in the film, her final scene is liable to get her this year’s ten-minute-or-less Judi Dench nomination.
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6. Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) – 13 year-old gets her first nomination at the Globes while the BFCA went for Redgrave.
7. Ruby Dee (American Gangster) – Has one big scene with Denzel, but honestly we’re running a bit thin if she’s in contention.
8. Jennifer Jason Leigh (Margot at the Wedding) – So far only a runner-up from Chicago and Dallas. We’ll wait for more.
9. Julia Roberts (Charlie Wilson's War) – In a year this week, even her underwritten role will get consideration.
10. Leslie Mann (Knocked Up) – The Chicago film critics gave her some love. About time she got some more.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
Romola Garai (Atonement) – Doesn’t get to say much, but every version of this character will warrant consideration.
Jennifer Garner (Juno) – Could build up momentum as an underdog.
Taraji P. Henson (Talk To Me) – It’s the true blue girlfriend with sass that always commands attention. Right, Ms. Tomei?
Kelly Macdonald (No Country for Old Men) – Wouldn’t this be a lovely surprise?
Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray) – Back on screen after five years, but it didn’t take much to knock her out of the Top Ten.
Susan Sarandon (In the Valley of Elah) – As a mother who has lost two sons to war, her phone call with Tommy Lee Jones should get votes alone. Except the film is all but forgotten.
Meryl Streep (Lions for Lambs) – Toe-to-toe with Cruise is good, but her Oscar clip comes afterwards.
Marisa Tomei (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead) – Only an appropriate Spirit award for her disrobing so far.


NAMES VOTING GROUPS SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK
Zoë Bell (Grindhouse (Death Proof))
Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl)
Imelda Staunton (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
Tracie Thoms (Grindhouse (Death Proof))

OTHER NOTABLES
Emily Blunt (The Jane Austen Book Club), Amanda Bynes (Hairspray), Olympia Dukakis (Away From Her), Cheryl Hines (Waitress), Alison Janney (Juno), Angelina Jolie (Beowulf), Meryl Streep (Rendition)




********************BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY********************


1. Juno (by Diablo Cody) – Little Miss Sunshine won. This may not be far behind.
2. Michael Clayton (by Tony Gilroy) – The least original of all the original screenplays yet still the most praised and favored.
3. The Savages (by Tamara Jenkins) – L.A. Critics are 9 of the last 10 in this category. National Society of Film Critics 10-for-10
4. Lars and the Real Girl (by Nancy Oliver) – It’s a deserving script that needs a big push. Are voters really being jackasses about not seeing it?
5. Ratatouille (by Brad Bird) – Brad Bird got a nomination for writing The Incredibles. This weaker effort still hasn’t stopped critics from going ga-ga.
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6. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (by Kelly Masterson) – Could be this year’s crime genre entry.
7. Knocked Up (by Judd Apatow) – The 40 Year-Old Virgin got a WGA nomination. So, why not?
8. In the Valley of Elah (by Paul Haggis) – It’s a much better script than Crash and maybe the best of the Iraq allegories.
9. American Gangster (by Steven Zaillian) – Not from the writer of Basic, precisely that, but better than Zodiac.
10. Enchanted (by Bill Kelly) – Shrek got nominated. Why not a live-action fractured fairy tale not named Stardust?

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
The Darjeeling Limited (by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola & Jason Schwartzman) – Certainly an improvement over The Life Aquatic for Wes Anderson.
I'm Not There (by Todd Haynes & Oren Moverman) – Can’t say Haynes doesn’t have an original take on Dylan.
Things We Lost in the Fire (by Allan Loeb) – Allan Loeb’s debut script and he’s got five more in the works. Someone likes his work.
Waitress (by Adrienne Shelly) – Would be a nice way to honor Adrienne Shelly

SCRIPTS VOTING GROUPS SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK
The Astronaut Farmer (by Mark & Michael Polish)
Breach (by Adam Mazer, Billy Ray & William Rotko)
Hot Fuzz (by Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg)
Mr. Brooks (by Bruce A. Evans & Raynold Gideon)
Superbad (by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg)

OTHER NOTABLES
2 Days in Paris, August Rush, Bee Movie, Black Book, Black Snake Moan, Broken English, The Bucket List, Cassandra's Dream, Dan in Real Life, Death at a Funeral, Diggers, Fracture, Grace is Gone, Grindhouse (Death Proof), Honeydripper, The Hunting Party, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, Joshua, The Kingdom, La Vie en Rose, Lions for Lambs, The Lookout, Lust Caution, Margot at the Wedding, Once, The Orphanage, Red Road, Reign Over Me, Rendition, Rocket Science, Seraphim Falls, Southland Tales, Stephanie Daley, Sunshine, Surf's Up, Talk to Me, The Ten, The TV Set, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, The Walker, Year of the Dog, You Kill Me




************************BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY************************


1. No Country for Old Men (by Joel & Ethan Coen) – Arguably the best script of the year.
2. There Will Be Blood (by Paul Thomas Anderson) – Have I mentioned everyone loves this film and I can’t wait to see it?
3. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (by Ronald Harwood) – May be remembered for its visual panache and performances more for its script, which does lack here and there.
4. Into the Wild (by Sean Penn) – Many love this tale of douchebaggery and if Penn doesn’t get a director’s nod, look for him here.
5. Atonement (by Christopher Hampton) – This year’s “THAT film” which will pop up in most of the categories.
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6. Zodiac (by James Vanderbilt) – From the writer of Basic and that’s precisely what this film was.
7. Charlie Wilson's War (by Aaron Sorkin) – Studio 60 gets cancelled and Sorkin moves onto an Oscar nomination?
8. Away From Her (by Sarah Polley) – This could be Sarah Polley’s credit for the year.
9. Gone Baby Gone (by Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard) – A fantastic adaptation that hopefully will find its audience amongst voters.
10. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (by Andrew Dominik) – Will they give the film more respect than just its deserving cinematography nomination?

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
Beowulf (by Neil Gaiman & Roger Avary) – Anyone who transforms that belabored “anonymous” high school poem to something we want to spend time with now deserves props. More than meets the eye certainly in this script.
A Mighty Heart (by John Orloff) – The eyes are on Jolie’s performance, but this was a more far-reaching dramatic thriller than Zodiac or American Gangster.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (by John Logan) – Maybe the last thing anyone will remember about the film.

SIGHTS UNSEEN
1. The Golden Compass (by Chris Weitz) – Co-writer of About a Boy and Antz. Already looks ten times Narnia.
2. P.S. I Love You (by Richard LaGravenese) – Because I never want to dismiss anything written by LaGravenese

SCRIPTS VOTING GROUPS SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK
3:10 to Yuma (by Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt & Derek Haas)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (by Michael Goldenberg)
The Hoax (by William Wheeler)
The Simpsons Movie (by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder & Jon Vitti)
Stephen King's The Mist (by Frank Darabont) – It’s the best horror screenplay in years.

OTHER NOTABLES
Bridge to Terabithia, Bug, Control, The Jane Austen Book Club, The Kite Runner, Martian Child, Meet the Robinsons, The Namesake, Paprika, Persepolis, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Rescue Dawn, Reservation Road, Resurrecting the Champ, Sleuth





*************************BEST ANIMATED FEATURE*************************


1. RatatouillePixar is batting .500 in this category, but each of their four films since the category’s inception have been nominated
2. PersepolisCould be the one that surprises.
3. BeowulfIs the tide turning for another major screw job on Zemeckis?
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4. The Simpsons MovieEasily the funniest of all the animated features this year so far.
5. Bee MovieBeautifully animated, but likely to be falling off soon.
6. Meet the RobinsonsEnjoy the ranking. There’s another 3-D movie coming.
7. Surf's UpMuch better than expected, but penguins won last year.
8. Shrek the ThirdSure it made $300 million, but did anyone really like it?
9. TekkonkinkreetThis year’s Japanese contender.
10. TMNTC’mon, seriously? The rubber costumes were better.
11. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for TheatersA shout-out because I like the show so much, but the movie was only so-so.
12. Alvin and the ChipmunksWill there be enough animation for it to be considered? It’s on the short list for now.

OFF THE ACADEMY SHORT LIST
Happily N'Ever AfterAnyone remember this year’s Hoodwinked?
PaprikaSolid praise from those who saw it and yet denied in favor of turtles.




*************************BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM*************************


(Until you’ve heard of most of these films it’s pretty hard to gauge who the front runners are. Even then its still pretty hard to tell. But these are the films from the 61 countries being submitted for the 79th Academy Awards and it’s down to 9 finalists.)

1. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Romania - Cristian Mungiu)
2. The Orphanage (Spain - J.A. Bayona)
3. Persepolis (France - Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud)
4. I Served the King of England (Czech Republic - Jiri Menzel)
5. Mongol (Kazakhstan - Sergei Bodrov)
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6. The Counterfeiters (Austria - Stefan Ruzowitzky)
7. Days of Darkness (Canada - Denys Arcand)
8. Silent Light (Mexico - Carlos Reygadas)
9. You, the Living (Sweden - Roy Andersson)
10. The Edge of Heaven (Germany - Fatih Akin)

OTHER QUALIFYING FILMS
12 (Russia - Nikita Mikhalkov), 881 (Singapore - Royston Tan), Armin (Croatia - Ognjen Svilicic), The Art of Crying (Denmark - Peter Schonau Fog), Beaufort (Israel - Joseph Cedar), Belle Toujours (Portugal - Manoel de Oliveira), Ben X (Belgium - Nic Balthazar), Caramel (Lebanon - Nadine Labaki), Caucasia (Azerbaijan - Farid Gumbatov, The Class (Estonia - Ilmar Raag), Crossing a Shadow (Peru - Augusto Tamayo), Denias, Singing on the Cloud (Indonesia - John De Rantau), Donsol (Philippines - Adolfo Alix, Jr.), Duska (The Netherlands - Jos Stelling), Eduart (Greece - Angeliki Antoniou), Eklavya – The Royal Guard (India - Vidhu Vinod Chopra), Exiled (Hong Kong - Johnnie To), Gone with the Woman (Norway - Petter Naess), The Home Song Stories (Australia - Tony Ayres), I Just Didn’t Do It (Japan - Masayuki Suo), In the Heliopolis Flat (Egypt - Mohamed Khan), Island Etude (Taiwan - Chen Huai-En), It’s Hard to Be Nice (Bosnia and Herzegovina - Srdan Vuletic), Jani Gal (Iraq - Jamil Rostami), Jar City (Iceland - Baltasar Kormakur), Katyn (Poland - Andrzej Wajda), King of Fire (Thailand - Chatrichalerm Yukol), Kings (Ireland - Tom Collins), The Knot (China - Yin Li), Late Bloomers (Switzerland - Bettina Oberli), Little Secrets (Luxembourg - Pol Cruchten), Love Sickness (Puerto Rico - Carlitos Ruiz & Mariem Perez), M for Mother (Iran - Rasoul Mollagholipour), A Man’s Fear of God (Turkey - Ozer Kiziltan), A Man’s Job (Finland - Aleksi Salmenpera), On the Wings of Dreams (Bangladesh - Golam Rabbany Biplob), Padre Nuestro (Chile - Rodrigo Sepulveda), The Pope’s Toilet (Uruguay - Enrique Fernandez & Cesar Charlone), Postcards from Leningrad (Venezuela - Mariana Rondon), Return of the Storks (Slovakia - Martin Repka), The Russian Triangle (Georgia - Aleko Tsabadze), Satanas (Colombia - Andi Baiz), Secret Sunshine (Korea - Chang-dong Lee), Shadows (Macedonia - Milcho Manchevski), Short Circuits (Slovenia - Janez Lapajne), The Silly Age (Cuba - Pavel Giroud), Taxidermia (Hungary - Gyorgy Palfi), The Trap (Serbia - Srdan Golubovic), The Unknown (Italy - Giuseppe Tornatore), Warden of the Dead (Bulgaria - Ilian Simeonov), The White Silk Dress (Vietnam - Luu Huynh), XXY (Argentina - Lucia Puenzo), The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (Brazil - Cao Hamburger)





*************************BEST DOCUMENTARY*************************


1. No End in SightArguably the best of the spate of Iraq docs. And the most balanced too, which can’t hurt.
2. Lake of FireBeing called the definitive doc on abortion.
3. SickoSeems like a lock for a nomination, but you know how these voters are with mainstream docs.
4. NankingA Schindler’s List like story involving raped Asians that doesn’t involve anime tentacles.
5. For the Bible Tells Me SoWhen did it become so gay to be a Christian?
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6. Taxi to the Dark SideTorture! Hot button torture from the director of the Enron doc.
7. A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel DorfmanFor our own Fred “The Dorf” Dorfman!
8. Body of WarPhil Donahue does Iraq.
9. The Price of SugarPaul Newman narrates. We should listen.
10. The Rape of EuropaDamn Nazis destroying artistic heritage. Just like Uwe Boll
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11. Please Vote for MeIs that the title or a shameless plea?
12. War/DanceIt’s the Ugandan American Idol!
13. White Light/Black RainSorry, only room for one film with a slash title.
14. Autism: The MusicalSounds like a Trey Parker/Matt Stone film, doesn’t it?.
15. Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime ExperienceThe Dear America for Iraq?

OTHER NOTABLES SHUT OUT
The 11th Hour, Air Guitar Nation, Arctic Tale, Blame it on Fidel, Crazy Love, Darfur Now, Darkon, Deep Water, The Devil Came On Horseback, Ghosts of Cité Soleil, In the Shadow of the Moon, Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Kurt Cobain: About a Son, Maxed Out, Mr. Untouchable, My Kid Could Paint That, Pete Seeger: The Power of Song, Terror’s Advocate, Zoo




*************************BEST ORIGINAL SCORE*************************


1. There Will Be Blood (Jonny Greenwood)
2. Atonement (Dario Marianelli)
3. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Nick Cave & Warren Ellis)
4. Ratatouille (Michael Giacchino)
5. Lust, Caution (Alexandre Desplat) - (also: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, The Golden Compass)
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6. Into the Wild (Michael Brook, Kaki King & Eddie Vedder)
7. Eastern Promises (Howard Shore)
8. The Kite Runner (Alberto Iglesias) – (also: X-Men: The Last Stand & United 93)
9. Grace is Gone (Clint Eastwood)
10. In the Valley of Elah (Mark Isham) – (also: Freedom Writers, Gracie, Next Reservation Road, Lions for Lambs, The Mist)

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
August Rush (Mark Mancina) – (also: Shooter)
Beowulf (Alan Silvestri)
Charlie Wilson's War (James Newton Howard) – (also: The Lookout, Michael Clayton, I Am Legend, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep)
Gone Baby Gone (Harry Gregson-Williams) – (also: The Number 23, Shrek the Third)
Lions for Lambs (Mark Isham) – (also: Freedom Writers, Gracie, Next, In the Valley of Elah, Reservation Road, The Mist)
Youth Without Youth (Osvaldo Golijov)

SCORES VOTING GROUPS SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK
3:10 to Yuma (Marco Beltrami) - (also: The Invisible, Captivity, Live Free or Die Hard)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Nicholas Hooper)
Hot Fuzz (David Arnold)
Juno (Kimya Dawson & Mateo Messina)
Rescue Dawn (Klaus Badelt) - (also: Premonition, TMNT)

OTHER NOTABLES
300, The Astronaut Farmer, Away From Her, Becoming Jane, Black Book, Black Snake Moan, The Bucket List, Deep Water, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Golden Compass, The Great Debaters, Grindhouse (Planet Terror), In the Shadow of the Moon, Lars and the Real Girl, Love in the Time of Cholera, Martian Child, Michael Clayton, A Mighty Heart, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, No Country for Old Men, The Orphanage, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Reign Over Me, The Simpsons Movie, Southland Tales, Spider-Man 3, Stardust, Sunshine, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Transformers, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Zodiac





*************************BEST ORIGINAL SONG*************************


1. “Come So Far (Got So Far to Go)” (Hairspray) – The film’s most uber-serious moment. Must mean Oscar!
2. “Falling Slowly” (Once) – Apparently official. It’s being pushed as an original.
3. “Guaranteed” (Into the Wild) – Not just full of itself. Also full of Eddie Vedder songs.
4. “Le Festin” (Ratatouille) – YOU bet against the song from an animated flick.
5. “Walk Hard” (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) – “In my dreams, you’re blowing me….kisses.” Genius!
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6. “If You Want Me” (Once) – Sung by one lovely Marketa Iglova.
7. “Beautiful Ride” (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) – The culmination of Dewey’s life known as the most important song he’ll ever write.
8. “Let’s Duet” (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) – “In my dreams, you’re blowing me….kisses.” Genius! But maybe too racy for the Oscars.
9. “A Hero Will Rise” (Beowulf) – More original songs than you’d think in the film. Will they be long enough for consideration though?
10. “Pop! Goes My Heart” (Music & Lyrics) – If they nominate Walk Hard, maybe they DO have a sense of humor.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
“Hay Amores (There Are Loves)” (Love in the Time of Cholera) – Raise your hand if you DON’T want to see Shakira singin’ & shakin’ on the Oscar telecast. Unfortunately no one wants to be reminded of this movie.
“House is Falling Down” (In the Valley of Elah) – Also not being pushed?
“Let Me Hold You (Little Man)” (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) – A song about midgets that’s probably the funniest in the film.
“Say” (The Bucket List) – John Mayer sings about death. No jokes please.
“Someday” (August Rush) – The film is all about music. May as well give the song a shot.

SONGS UNHEARD
1. “That's How You Know” (Enchanted) – More animated musical mocking. Pretty funny in the trailers.
2. “Happy Working Song” (Enchanted) – Which song is better?
3. “Lyra” (The Golden Compass) – Kate Bush’s is named after the film’s heroine, but the Narnia song didn’t get a nomination.

OTHER NOTABLES
“Baby Don't You Cry” (Waitress), “La Despedida (The Farewell)” (Love in the Time of Cholera), “Do You Feel Me” (American Gangster), “Every Eden” (Resurrecting the Champ), “ The Fly” (Joshua), “Grey in L.A.” (Knocked Up), “Hard Sun” (Into the Wild), “Huck's Tune” (Lucky You), “Ladies' Choice” (Hairspray), “Land of Quiet Poems” (Resurrecting the Champ), “Lies” (Once), “No Ceiling” (Into the Wild), “Once” (Once), “Ordinary People” (Music Within), “Rule the World” (Stardust), “Society” (Into the Wild), “To Be Surprised” (Dan In Real Life), “A Way Back Into Love” (Music & Lyrics), “The Way it Should Be” (Feast of Love)




*************************BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY*************************


1. No Country for Old Men (Roger Deakins) – Christ, is this a good year for him.
2. There Will Be Blood (Robert Elswit) – Easily the best cinematography of the year.
3. Atonement (Seamus McGarvey) – That tracking shot alone makes him a favorite.
4. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Janusz Kaminski) – 2-for-3 when nominated.
5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Roger Deakins) – Five Oscar nominations and no wins.
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6. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Dariusz Wolski) – Shot Dark City & The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy and yet zero nominations. It’s time.
7. Into the Wild (Eric Gautier) – Enough country for two nominations.
8. Zodiac (Harris Savides) – Could be the sneak-in nod for respect’s sake.
9. Lust, Caution (Rodrigo Prieto) – Nominated for Brokeback Mountain
10. The Kite Runner (Roberto Schaefer) – A regular of Marc Forster and Christopher Guest

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
I'm Not There (Edward Lachman) – Nominated for the deep Technicolor of Far from Heaven.

VOTING GROUPS SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK
3:10 to Yuma (Phedon Papamichael)
Black Book (Karl Walter Lindenlaub)
The Bourne Ultimatum (Oliver Wood)
The Darjeeling Limited (Robert Yeoman)
Grindhouse (Death Proof) (Quentin Tarantino)

OTHER NOTABLES
300, Across the Universe, American Gangster, The Astronaut Farmer, Becoming Jane, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Black Snake Moan, The Brave One, Breach, Bridge to Terabithia, Charlie Wilson's War, Control, Death Sentence, Eastern Promises, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Evening, Golden Door, The Golden Compass, Gone Baby Gone, The Great Debaters, Grindhouse (Planet Terror), Hairspray, Hannibal Rising, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hitman, The Host, Hot Fuzz, I Am Legend, In the Valley of Elah, The Kingdom, La Vie en Rose, The Lookout, Love in the Time of Cholera, Michael Clayton, A Mighty Heart, Mr. Brooks, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The Orphanage, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Redacted, Rescue Dawn, Romance & Cigarettes, Seraphim Falls, Shoot 'Em Up, Sleuth, Southland Tales, Spider-Man 3, Stardust, Stephen King's The Mist, Sunshine, Transformers, We Own the Night



*************************BEST EDITING*************************


1. No Country for Old Men (Roderick Jaynes aka Joel & Ethan Coen) – Fargo got “Jaynes” a nomination. This is their tightest film since.
2. There Will Be Blood (Tatiana S. Riegel & Dylan Tichenor) – This could be a lock almost sight unseen.
3. The Bourne Ultimatum (Christopher Rouse) - The requisite action film nomination is an easy choice for the nominated editor of United 93.
4. Michael Clayton (John Gilroy) – A best picture nod would go a long way for this nomination.
5. Atonement (Paul Tothill) – Received A.C.E. nod for Pride & Prejudice. Three time frames and backtracks will get him a nomination.
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6. Into the Wild (Jay Cassidy) – Won the Documentary A.C.E. for editing An Inconvenient Truth.
7. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Juliette Welfling) – Another flashback heavy job.
8. Zodiac (Angus Wall) – Edited footage now showing up as the “director’s cut” on Academy screeners.
9. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (Tom Swartwout) – It’s over-editing actually weakens the film. But that’s just one opinion.
10. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Curtiss Clayton & Dylan Tichenor) – Maybe could have used a few more editors.

OFF THE TOP TEN FOR NOW
American Gangster (Pietro Scalia) – Nominated four times and won twice including Gladiator (nominated) and Black Hawk Down (win).
Beowulf (Henry Braham) – The last semi-animated film to be nominated in this category? Zemeckis’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988.
Charlie Wilson's War (John Bloom) – Last nominated for 1986’s A Chorus Line: The Movie but this is a tight 90-some minutes.
In the Valley of Elah (Jo Francis) – Her first major feature editing gig.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Chris Lebenzon) – Edited eight previous Tim Burton films but nominated twice for Tony Scott flicks.

SIGHTS UNSEEN
1. The Golden Compass (Anne V. Coates & Peter Honess) – New Line’s last big fantasy epic got three consecutive nominations in this category.

VOTING GROUPS SHOULD NOT OVERLOOK
3:10 to Yuma (Michael McCusker)
Black Book (Job ter Burg & James Herbert)
Gone Baby Gone (William Goldenberg)
Grindhouse (Death Proof) (Sally Menke)
Hot Fuzz (Chris Dickens)

OTHER NOTABLES
300, Across the Universe, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, The Astronaut Farmer, Away From Her, Black Snake Moan, The Brave One, Breach, The Bucket List, Control, The Darjeeling Limited, Disturbia, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Eastern Promises, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Great Debaters, Grindhouse (Planet Terror), Hairspray, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hitman, The Hoax, The Host, The Hunting Party, I Am Legend, I'm Not There, Joshua, Juno, The Kingdom, The Kite Runner, Knocked Up, La Vie en Rose, Lars and the Real Girl, Live Free or Die Hard, Lions for Lambs, The Lookout, Love in the Time of Cholera, Lust Caution, Mr. Brooks, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Ocean's 13, Once, The Orphanage, Paris je'taime, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, P.S. I Love You, Ratatouille, Red Road, Redacted, Rendition, Rescue Dawn, Shoot 'Em Up, Southland Tales, Spider-Man 3, Stephen King's The Mist, Sunshine, Talk to Me, Things We Lost in the Fire, Transformers, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story




*************************BEST ART DIRECTION*************************


1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
2. There Will Be Blood
3. Atonement
4. Elizabeth: The Golden Age
5. Across the Universe
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6. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
7. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
8. Lust, Caution
9. 3:10 to Yuma
10. Zodiac

OTHER NOTABLES
300, Becoming Jane, Black Book, Bridge to Terabithia, Charlie Wilson's War, Enchanted, Evan Almighty, Evening, Fido, Fred Claus, The Golden Compass, Goya's Ghosts, Hairspray, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I Am Legend, I'm Not There, La Vie en Rose, Love in the Time of Cholera, Molière, Ocean's 13, Rescue Dawn, Sleuth, Southland Tales, Stardust, Sunshine, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Youth Without Youth




*************************BEST COSTUME DESIGN*************************


1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
2. Atonement
3. Elizabeth: The Golden Age
4. Across the Universe
5. There Will Be Blood
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6. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
7. Lust, Caution
8. La Vie en Rose
9. Hairspray
10. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

SIGHTS UNSEEN
1. The Golden Compass

OTHER NOTABLES
3:10 to Yuma, 300, American Gangster, Becoming Jane, Black Book, Blades of Glory, Bridge to Terabithia, Day Watch, Enchanted, Evening, Fido,Goya's Ghosts, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Lady Chatterley, Love in the Time of Cholera, Pathfinder, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, September Dawn, Southland Tales, Spider-Man 3, Stardust, Youth Without Youth

(NOTE: And if the voters had any imagination whatsoever, they’d give a special prize to the participants of the documentary, Darkon, for their homemade fantasy role-play costumes.)





*************************BEST VISUAL EFFECTS*************************
(These are the 15 qualifiers.)


1. Transformers
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
3. 300
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4. The Golden Compass
5. Evan Almighty
6. I Am Legend
7. The Bourne Ultimatum

FIRST ROUND QUALIFIERS
Beowulf, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Live Free Or Die Hard, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Ratatouille, Spider-Man 3, Sunshine, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep

OTHER NOTABLES (NOT QUALIFYING AT ALL)
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, Bridge to Terabithia, Enchanted, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Grindhouse (Planet Terror), The Host, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, Southland Tales, Stardust, Stephen King's The Mist, Underdog






*************************BEST MAKEUP*************************


1. 300
2. Norbit
3. La Vie En Rose
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4. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
6. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

OTHER NOTABLES
28 Weeks Later, 30 Days of Night, Across the Universe, Alpha Dog, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Golden Compass, Grindhouse (Death Proof), Grindhouse (Planet Terror), Hairspray, I Am Legend, I’m Not There, Into the Wild, Love in the Time of Cholera, Rescue Dawn, The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, Southland Tales, Spider-Man 3, Stardust, There Will Be Blood, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Youth Without Youth




*************************BEST SOUND*************************


1. No Country for Old Men
2. There Will Be Blood
3. The Bourne Ultimatum
4. 300
5. Beowulf
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6. Into the Wild
7. Atonement
8. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
9. Transformers
10. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

OTHER NOTABLES
3:10 to Yuma, 28 Weeks Later, 30 Days of Night, 300, Across the Universe, American Gangster, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Black Book, Black Snake Moan, Disturbia, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Eastern Promises, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, The Golden Compass, Grindhouse (Death Proof), Grindhouse (Planet Terror), Hairspray, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Host, Hot Fuzz, I Am Legend, The Kingdom, Live Free or Die Hard, The Lookout, Michael Clayton, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The Orphanage, Ratatouille, Rescue Dawn, Shoot 'Em Up, Spider-Man 3, Stardust, Stephen King's The Mist, Sunshine, Zodiac




*************************BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING*************************


1. Transformers
2. The Bourne Ultimatum
3. Beowulf
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4. 300
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
6. Spider-Man 3
7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
8. Live Free or Die Hard
9. There Will Be Blood
10. No Country for Old Men

OTHER NOTABLES
3:10 to Yuma, 28 Weeks Later, 30 Days of Night, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, American Gangster, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, The Golden Compass, Grindhouse (Death Proof), Grindhouse (Planet Terror), The Host, Hot Fuzz, I Am Legend, The Kingdom, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Rescue Dawn, Stardust, Stephen King's The Mist, Sunshine, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Zodiac


CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES TO THE RANKINGS EACH WEEK


BLOGGING THE EYE (archive)

12/21/07 - It's a little funny how so many people are making such a HUGE deal about the Screen Actors Guild awards. Yes, they are chosen by the actors for the actors, but there are prognosticators and so-called journalists (COUGH - Pete Hammond) acting like a snub from SAG is the end-all, be-all of not getting an Oscar nomination. But let's stop, catch our breath and look at the numbers for a moment. In SAG's 13 years of handing out awards in four categories - out of a total of 52 potential 5-for-5's, wanna guess how many times SAG's complete list of nominees have gone on to match the Oscars? Thirteen! Only 25% of the time. Granted three of those 13 times were in 2006 and five since 2004. But seven of those thirteen matches came in the Best Actress category and ZERO in the Supporting Actor. So let's break it down even further.

Actor - 41/50 (82%) in last decade & 54/65 (83%) overall - Only 3 Times Perfect
The cases for both Daniel Day-Lewis and George Clooney just got stronger. Each with nominations from the Golden Globes, BFCA and wins for Day-Lewis from NY, LA & Chicago, they are looking like solid locks at this point. Ryan Gosling's odds have certainly shot up now with nods from the Globes, BFCA, Chicago and SAG. That leaves either Emile Hirsch or Viggo Mortensen as possibly the odd man out if SAG's err on the side of their 3-for-13 streak in forecasting the Oscars. Mortensen could be the real surprise of the year; a makeup for his snub in the far superior partnership with David Cronenberg, A History of Violence. He's got the Globe nomination that Hirsch doesn't have, but Emile has the SAG nod that surprise snub, Johnny Depp, doesn't. Speculation that Depp was the front-runner for Oscar has wavered in light of this, paving the way for the more deserving Day-Lewis, but as the kudos for Sweeney Todd comes in it's going to be very hard for them to deny Depp a nomination.

Actress- 45/51 (88.2%) in last decade & 57/66 (86.3%) overall - 7-of-13 Times Perfect!
Could this be 8-of-14? Three of them (Julie Christie, Ellen Page and Marion Cotillard) are almost certain locks at this point. Christie and Page are winning the majority of the critic's awards. Cotillard won L.A.. Each of the five nominees can brag about having nods from the Globes & BFCA. Only Cate Blanchett of the seemingly incomprehensible nomination for Elizabeth: The Golden Age failed to get a nod from Chicago. If Angelina Jolie seems a safe bet for the fourth slot, who will step up to buck the trend and knock Blanchett (a now six-time SAG nominee with a double nod for 2007). Keira Knightley and Helena Bonham Carter can only boast Globe nominations at this point. Laura Linney got a nod from Chicago and a runner-up mention from Dallas. Carter has a chance to ride a potential Sweeney wave, but probably only the mighty Amy Adams (with both Globe & BFCA nods) may be able to step up to steal the fifth slot. As I still have money down from the Toronto Film Festival on Blanchett NOT making the cut for Elizabeth 2: Electric Boogaloo, put a side bet down on Adams for now.

Supporting Actor - 38/50 (76%) in last decade & 45/65 (69.2%) overall - NEVER 5-for-5
This may be the easiest category this year to dissect. Javier Bardem is the clear front-runner with at least a dozen critic's awards so far and noms from the Globes, BFCA, Chicago and now SAG. Casey Affleck is quickly moving into lock territory with the second most award mentions. Hal Holbrook is this year's sentimental favorite and could be Bardem's greatest challenger. Tom Wilkinson was one of the earliest considerations for a lock and that opinion hasn't really changed. For its fifth slot, SAG went with the deserving Tommy Lee Jones, but for the wrong movie (No Country for Old Men instead of his lead work for In the Valley of Elah). This was Jones' first mention in the precursor awards aside from the San Diego Critics and we're already pretty convinced that the snubbed Philip Seymour Hoffman for Charlie Wilson's War is just about a shoo-in. Since SAG has never accurately called this category, substitute Hoffman for Jones and you're looking at your likely five.

Supporting Actress - 39/50 (78%) in last decade & 47/65 (72.3%) overall - Only 3 Times Perfect
As always you can always find three locks in the bunch. The race is going to come down to Cate Blanchett and Amy Ryan, who is simply dominating the critic's awards. After that, Tilda Swinton is coming up aces. SAG decided to snub all the potentials from Atonement and went with BFCA's surprise nominee, Catherine Keener (Into the Wild) and their own tip-of-the-cap to Ruby Dee for American Gangster. ("That is YOUR SAG nomination, mama." "MINE???!!!"). This probably puts Keener into the fourth slot at the moment, but Ruby Dee I'm still placing behind both the elder and younger versions of Briony from Atonement (Vanessa Redgrave and Saoirse Ronan).

12/13/07 - Time for some shameless hometown love. The Chicago Film Critics Association announced their nominations earlier this week and the winners were revealed today. For some reason Chicago hasn't been mentioned in the same breath as the N.Y. & L.A. film critics (probably because our group normally has announced later in December.) Lets look at the statistics between the three over the last decade in their winners getting nominated:

Best Picture
L.A. - 80% vs. 0% winning - 2007 winner: There Will Be Blood
N.Y. - 60% vs. 10% winning - 2007 winner: No Country for Old Men
Chicago - 70% vs. 40% winning - 2007 winner: No Country for Old Men

Director
L.A. - 100% vs. 50% winning - 2007 winner: Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
N.Y. - 80% vs. 40% winning - 2007 winner: Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men)
Chicago - 80% vs. 50% winning - 2007 winner: Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men)

Actor
L.A. - 80% vs. 30% winning - 2007 winner: Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
N.Y. - 90% vs. 10% winning - 2007 winner: Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Chicago - 80% vs. 50% winning - 2007 winner: Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)

Actress
L.A. - 90% vs. 30% winning - 2007 winner: Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
N.Y. - 80% vs. 30% winning - 2007 winner: Julie Christie (Away from Her)
Chicago - 80% vs. 30% winning - 2007 winner: Ellen Page (Juno)

Supporting Actor
L.A. - 70% vs. 20% winning - 2007 winner: Vlad Ivanov (4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days)
N.Y. - 50% vs. 10% winning - 2007 winner: Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Chicago - 70% vs. 20% winning - 2007 winner: Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)

Supporting Actress
L.A. - 70% vs. 0% winning - 2007 winner: Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
N.Y. - 70% vs. 20% winning - 2007 winner: Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Chicago - 70% vs. 40% winning - 2007 winner: Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There)

Screenplay
L.A. - 90% vs. 20% winning - 2007 winner: The Savages
N.Y. - 90% vs. 40% winning - 2007 winner: No Country for Old Men
Chicago* - 100% vs. 63% winning - 2007 winner: Juno (Original) & No Country for Old Men (Adapted)

*The CFCA wisely split screenplay into two categories in 2006. Both The Queen and The Departed were nominated for Oscars.

For those who like averages, that puts L.A.'s percentage in their winners being nominated in the big seven categories at 82.8%. New York is at a paltry 74.2% and Chicago is right in the middle at 78.5%. That's just for the nominations. When it comes to their winners actually WINNING the Oscar - Los Angeles has hit 21.4% since 1997. New York is at 22.8%. Chicago? Nearly double L.A.'s with a 41.8 winning percentage. Gosh, I sound like one of those douchetools over at the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Eh, sue me, numbers are fun.

12/11/07 - The Broadcast Film Critics Association announced their humorously named "Critic's Choice" awards. With at least 35 of their 216 members currently on the Criticwatch whore list, it's funny to imagine how many of them have a critical bone in their body. I know some do, but if they want me to start taking them seriously they need to start cutting ties with idiots like Pete Hammond and Shawn Edwards. Then, as I implore every year, they must stop bragging about their Oscar prognostication skills. Are you critics or pundits? You can be both, but in a Church and State kinda way. Reduce your Best Picture list from 10 down to the usual 5 and stop trying to up your percentage in guesswork. Without even trying to predict their choices this year, my Oscar Eye's current Top Ten ranking up to yesterday had EIGHT of the TEN films they nominated for Best Picture. Those rankings therefore will not change as they have told me nothing with their awards other than I'm probably on the right track. Numbers don't lie though and it is true that 48 of the last 50 nominees for the Best Picture Oscar have been nominated for a BFCA award. Of course the true statistical truth is they are 48% in their "predictions" since they cover their bases with 10 nominations, something they usually do in the other major categories too with an additional sixth nomination so they can usually brag about hitting 5-for-5 at the Oscars. In the last three years, they've had 6 nominations in the two lead acting categories 5 out of 6 times and of the 30 nominations dished out by the Oscars, 29 of them came from those nominated by BFCA. The supporting categories are slightly less impressive with 6 nominations generously delivered 4 out of 6 times and only 24 of the 30 potential nominated by BFCA. What does this all mean? Well, let's take them for what they are - predictors - and look at who this is good news for.

Best Picture - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly gets its next push to be the first Foreign Language film since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to get a nomination. It's still on the outside looking in, but a more realistic shot than The Kite Runner which everyone keeps wanting to believe has a shot.

Actor - Bad news for Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah) and Benicio Del Toro (Things We Lost in the Fire), two of the very best performances of the year that have been ignored in favor of another deserving candidate, Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl) and critical darling, Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild). BFCA's sixth choice of Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises) seems the likely castaway.

Actress - Four of their six picks were in The Oscar Eye's top five going into today. Keira Knightley (Atonement) has been brushed aside in favor of everyone's new underdog, Amy Adams (Enchanted) who was number six on my list. Keeping the myth alive that Cate Blanchett is going to be nominated for Elizabeth: The Golden Age (just how many votes did Pete Hammond get?), I still have a cash bet on the table with a colleague going back to the Toronto festival that she will NOT get nominated. That BFCA nod might have him feeling good this morning. I'm actually feeling better.

Supporting Actor - The Oscar Eye's top five matched the BFCA's nods exactly (Javier Bardem, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Casey Affleck, Tom Wilkinson, Hal Holbrook). Their percentages might mean were both off on one of them. That could mean good news for either Albert Finney (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead), Ed Harris (Gone Baby Gone) or maybe even Max Von Sydow (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

Supporting Actress - This time The Oscar Eye only had four of the five BFCA nods (Cate Blanchett, Vanessa Redgrave, Amy Ryan, Tilda Swinton). They have Catherine Keener (Into the Wild) in the fifth slot and she seems the most obvious to drift away in favor of Meryl Streep (Lions for Lambs), Susan Sarandon (In the Valley of Elah) or Marisa Tomei (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead).

Director - Um, WHERE IS PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON??? Blew that one BFCA! He's got the L.A. critics nod and their last 10 choices have been nominated, so that's bad news for one of the six other nominees from them, who ranked #2 through #7 on The Oscar Eye's list right BEHIND P.T. Anderson. (Joel & Ethan Coen, Joe Wright, Julian Schnabel, Tim Burton, Sean Penn, Sidney Lumet). I've got Tim Burton currently hanging on by a thread, but he could easily be substituted by Sean Penn (whom the Oscars WILL nominate for either directing or adapted screenplay) or this year's sentimental favorite, Lumet.

Screenplay - Five of their six nominees were in my Top Five in either the Original or Adapted categories (Original - Juno, Michael Clayton / Adapted - No Country for Old Men, Into the Wild, Charlie Wilson's War). Lars and the Real Girl I currently was seventh in my Original list, but the love appears to be building for it even though it still has to battle favorites Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, The Savages and Ratatouille. Don't count out Knocked Up either if it gets a late push from the WGA.

12/10/07 – Welcome to your first two guaranteed locks of the year or my Eye is blind. The L.A. & N.Y. Film Critics have announced their awards and they’ve found some common ground in two of their categories. Both Daniel Day-Lewis and Amy Ryan won their Actor and Supporting Actress awards, respectively. The last ten times that they’ve agreed in these categories, including twice for Day-Lewis (Actor 1987’s Jack Nicholson, 1989’s Daniel Day-Lewis, 1995’s Nicolas Cage, 1996’s Geoffrey Rush, 2002’s Daniel Day-Lewis, 2003’s Bill Murray & 2006’s Forest Whitaker / Supporting Actress 1994’s Dianne Wiest, 2003’s Shohreh Aghdashloo & 2004’s Virginia Madsen), each of them went onto nominations, so sharpie them in and leave four blank spots for penciling afterwards. How do they make out in the other categories though?

For Best Picture, L.A. has had a better track record than N.Y. since 1997 (80% vs. 60%). That puts There Will Be Blood vs. No Country for Old Men both looking pretty solid right now. They fare better with directors as L.A.’s last ten choices have all gone onto nominations. Congratulations to Paul Thomas Anderson. N.Y. is nothing to sneeze at either with 8 of their last 10, so good tidings to Joel & Ethan Coen. Marion Cotillard & Julie Christie are the respective L.A./N.Y. choices with a 90%/80% ratio. Supporting Actor is a little less stellar. N.Y.’s choices have only gone onto an Oscar nomination half the time in the last decade, but their selection of Javier Bardem I believe still has better odds than L.A.’s 70% choice of Vlad Ivanov from 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. As for screenplays, both towns are hitting 90% which certainly bumps up The Savages in the Original category and No Country for Old Men in the Adapted.

12/6/07 - And we're under way with the traditional first-out-of-the-gate National Board of Review party. So let's take a look at the good news and bad news of their selections. The best news of the announcement goes to Julie Christie, as their choice for Best Actress has been nominated every year for the past decade. Also shooting back into the race is Casey Affleck for his supporting work as the second title character in The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. 9 of the last 10 NBR choices for Supporting Actor have been nominated. In the 80% realm since 1997, things look good for No Country For Old Men for Best Picture and George Clooney as Best Actor for Michael Clayton.

We then have to jump down the list to look at screenplays. The NBR only split the category into Original and Adapted in 2003 and since then they are 2-and-2 in the Adapted realm, but with that looming Best Picture nod, No Country For Old Men seems a safe bet for a nod in that category. Their choices for Best Screenplay in 1998, 1999 & 2001 (A Simple Plan, The Cider House Rules and In The Bedroom) were all adaptations that went onto nominations. As their original streak goes, each of their choices got nominated from 2003-05, but last year's Stranger Than Fiction (thankfully) failed to garner a nomination. This year they offered a tie with Diablo Cody's Juno and Nancy Oliver's Lars and the Real Girl. Both incredibly worthy of Oscar. Juno appears to be a lock and possibly the winner at this point. Will Lars get screwed over? I hope not.

Just as I hope that the NBR hasn't doomed Amy Ryan for her supporting work in Gone Baby Gone, a category that has only seen 4 of the last 10 choices go onto a nomination. Look for Ryan to pull in a number of more important critic awards and nominations, so NBR's percentage will go up there. Also their choice for director has only hit 40% since 1997, so what could that mean for Tim Burton and Sweeney Todd? It's still too early to commit to anything, but stats are always interesting.

12/5/07 - Unless I Am Legend turns out to be a masterpiece of science-fiction a la Children of Men, the major contenders for this year's Oscar race have been seen by yours truly. And this is poised to be a very interesting race. How far will voters embrace Sweeney Todd? Technical nods for Costumes and Art Direction are almost guaranteed and Johnny Depp is being tossed up as a favorite to win in some circles. I don't know how they ignore Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood who towers over him, but he's pretty certain for a nomination. Other than that - will they finally nominate Tim Burton? Is the film good enough for a Best Picture nod with Atonement, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood almost certain to fill three of the spots with Juno creeping up as the feel-good alternative? It's got the period factor, the musical factor, the "they are due" factor for Depp & Burton, the Dreamgirls snub from last year. You could be looking at your #5, but I'm not committing to it just yet. Frankly I'm more concerned that voters won't have a sense of humor and fail to nominate one or more of the songs from the hilarious Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story; three of which I've now got in the Top Ten and at least one, "Beautiful Ride" in the Top 5.

12/4/07 - Charlie Wilson's War is a lock to get a nomination for Philip Seymour Hoffman's brilliant supporting performance. And it enters the Top Ten lists for Picture, Actor (Tom Hanks), Supporting Actress (Julia Roberts) as well as a clingy Top Five slot for Aaron Sorkin's adaptation. Five potential nominations (six if you count Mike Nichols' outside chance.)

11/30/07 - There Will Be Blood enters the fray and becomes a Top Five candidate in multiple categories including: Picture, Director, Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Jonny Greenwood's brilliant score, the best Cinematography of the year, Editing, Art Direction, Costumes and Sound. It's going to compete with Atonement for the leading nomination recipient.

11/20/07 – The 15 qualifiers for Best Documentary are in. But, as always, the bigger story is always what’s been left out. This year that includes: In the Shadow of the Moon, The King of Kong, Crazy Love, The Devil Came On Horseback and Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains just to name a few. The top ten have been rearranged as such.

Don’t expect much from Love in the Time of Cholera. If it makes a dent at all it could be in the makeup, cinematography and costume categories. If transforming 32 year old breasts into 72 year old breasts is worthy, it may find a Makeup nomination.
11/14/07 – John Lasseter should shut up before he makes a fool out of himself because Beowulf is going to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. If it doesn’t, then there is no justice to this category and it should be immediately disbanded. Lasseter has already cemented himself in animation history with his affiliation to Pixar. His Toy Story films will remain two of the best animated features to ever exist (and robbed of Oscars thanks to existing before the category was implemented), but Cars remains the sole stain on the Pixar legacy. Fawn about the overrated Ratatouille all you want, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the revolutionary treatment of Beowulf by Robert Zemeckis. It’s going to win, Lasseter, so deal with it. It also has some outside chance of a nomination for Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Original Song(s), Editing and in pretty good position to snag some technical nominations in the Sound categories. In such a light year, don’t count it out for a Best Picture nod either.

And while it may have a snowball’s chance in hell at the Oscars, that’s no reason for voters of any kind to dismiss Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist in the screenplay category. It’s the best horror script since the remake of The Ring and certainly one of the best adaptations of 2007. Darabont was good enough to get nominations for The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Let’s make it a trifecta.




10/28/07 – Categories for Foreign Language Film, Documentary, Original Score & Song and Cinematography have been added.

Lions for Lambs makes an appearance into the top five in both supporting categories for Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep and enters the runners-up potential in both the Original Screenplay and Original Score categories.


link directly to this feature at https://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2287
originally posted: 10/19/07 09:12:27
last updated: 01/12/08 09:49:52
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