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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

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Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2007 at 1:28 PM

OSCAR UPDATE IV - December 11, 2007

Wow, what a start to awards season.  We've heard from The National Board of Review ("No Country for Old Men"), New York Film Critics Circle ("No Country for Old Men"), DC Film Critics ("No Country for Old Men"), Los Angeles Film Critics ("There Will Be Blood"), San Francisco Film Critics ("Assassination of Jesse James") and nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics ("Into the Wild" leads with 7 noms) and Chicago Film Critics ("Michael Clayton" leads with 7).   What does it all mean?  Well, a couple of things.

In the Best Picture race, you can probably stick a knife in "Charlie Wilson's War" and "American Gangster" as both were left off the NBR Top 10 (and shut out of everything else).  "There Will Be Blood," "No Country for Old Men" and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" got off to a blazing start.  "Into the Wild" is holding it's own, but lost in the mix are "Atonement" and "The Kite Runner," two films I thought would lock down a Best Pic nomination once the critics weighed in.  Based on what we know thus far, you have to consider "Michael Clayton" despite the fact that it doesn't feel like a Best Picture film and "Juno."  The biggest bust so far appears to be "Sweeney Todd," which is popping up on a few lists, but none as the winner.  (This comes as absolutely no surprise to me). 

The Best Director race has narrowed somewhat as well.  Julian Schnabel ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"), The Coen Bros. ("No Country for Old Men"), Joe Wright ("Atonement"), and  Paul Thomas Anderson ("There Will Be Blood") seem to be in pretty good shape.  Ridley Scott ("American Gangster") (and one of my locks), does not.  Sean Penn ("Into the Wild") got a boost from the BFCA, and with his acting background, could sneak into this group.  So could Tim Burton ("Sweeney Todd"), who took the NBR's top directing prize.  Watch out for Sidney Lumet ("Before the Devil Knows You're Dead").  His film is picking up ensemble awards left and right, which makes it ripe for a Golden Globe and Screen Actor's Guild nomination.  I would be shocked if anyone else impacted this list . . . maybe Marc Forster ("The Kite Runner") or Jason Reitman ("Juno"). 
For Best Actor you can probably lock it down for Daniel Day Lewis, whose performance is getting some seriously love.   He took top prize from NYFC and LAFC, which is a good sign since there's a high level of concentration among Academy voters in both places.  George Clooney ("Michael Clayton") is there too, as is Frank Langella ("Starting Out in the Evening") in light of his runner up finish among the LAFC.   Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd" ) is still very much alive (especially if he takes the Golden Globe).  Denzel Washington ("American Gangster"), well, we don't know although that film is seriously sinking.  Emile Hirsch ("Into the Wild") could be this year's Ryan Gosling, or Gosling ("Lars and the Real Girl") could be this year's Gosling (both picked up BFCA nominations). 

The Best Actress race seems to be a two horse contest between Marion Cotillard (La Vie end Rose) and Julie Christie ("Away from Her").  They'll likely split the Globes, so the SAG Awards may be the most telling.  You can book it that the final three nominations will come from the following four actresses:  Ellen Page ("Juno"), Laura Linney ("The Savages"), Kiera Knightly ("Atonement") and Amy Adams ("Enchanted").

Best Supporting Actor?  Well, we don't know all that much.  The awards have been spread around between Casey Affleck ("Assassination of Jesse James"), Hal Holbrook ("Into the Wild"), Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton"), and Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men").  I've predicted that Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War") will be a part of this race too.  That might be your final 5.

Best Supporting Actress has shocked me the most thus far.  Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone") has dominated.  I thought Cate Blanchett ("I'm Not There") would steamroll through this category, especially among critics, but so far I've been wrong. 

Up next:  Golden Globe nominations on Thursday.

Here are my Oscar locks as of 12/11/07 (new additions in italics):

Best Picture:
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

Best Director:
The Coen Bros. - "No Country for Old Men"
Julian Schnabel - "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Best Actor:
Daniel Day Lewis - "There Will Be Blood"
Denzel Washington - "American Gangster"
Johnny Depp - "Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
George Clooney - "Michael Clayton"

Best Actress:
Marion Cotillard - "La Vie En Rose"
Julie Christie - "Away from Her"

Best Supporting Actor:
Javier Bardem - "No Country for Old Men"
Philip Seymour Hoffman - "Charlie Wilson's War"
Hal Holbrook - "Into the Wild"

Best Supporting Actress:
Cate Blanchett - "I'm Not There"
Amy Ryan - "Gone Baby Gone"

Removed:  Ridley Scott ("American Gangster")

Additional resources:  Sultans of Bling, In Contention's "Main Charts," Guru's o' Gold, Oscar Igloo, and The LA Times "Buzzmeter." 

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