Sunday, January 06, 2008

Guest blog: Academy award predictions by Anthony Gullino

Honestly guys, I have failed as a film critic this year. I caught up on films and increased the number of films I have watched from John Huston, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, Johnothan Demme, Billy Wilder, Wes Anderson, Mike Nicholls and a few others on home video and have seen 30+ films this year, but a great number of those films came out earlier in the year and are what I'd call summer fluff.

So, I thought I'd call upon Anthony Gullino, an acquaintance of mine who is a former film critic for the Dusquene University student newspaper and intern at the Pittsburgh film office, to contribute to my his predictions:
Ok gang. The new year is here, and the award season is upon us. Many critics groups have already handed out their prizes for the best in film of 2007 (notably, No Country for Old Men took the top prize from the National Board of Review). I'd feel confident in saying right now that No Country is a lock for a Best Picture Oscar nomination and a frontrunner for the win.But before we can get to the Oscars, the Golden Globes come first. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the group who decides the Globs) announced their nominees for this year's awards early Thursday morning. The Golden Globes honor both film and television, but in this blog, I'll look at the film nominations only. So.. here they are!
Best Picture - Drama
American Gangster
Eastern Promises
The Great Debaters
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
No, your eyes do not deceive you. The HFPA nominated SEVEN films in the Best Picture - Drama category, as opposed to the usual five. (Ok, they nominated six in that category for the '04/'05 awards). I think this one is a four-way race. Michael Clayton, Eastern Promises and The Great Debaters are far off the pace for the win. At this point, all signs would point to No Country as the frontrunner. But there is something to be said for the fact that Atonement was the most nominated of all the films (with seven). I expect buzz to grow significantly for There Will Be Blood once it opens nationwide. And never count out a box office smash like American Gangster.

Best Picture - Comedy/Musical
Across the Universe
Charlie Wilson's War
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

This is a pretty open race with no real surprises here, except perhaps the exclusion of Waitress. Based on what the buzz is now and the recent critics awards, I'd say that this one is between three: Charlie Wilson's War, Juno and Sweeney Todd. The reception for all three of these has been overwhelmingly positive. That's not saying that Across the Universe and Hairspray have no shot whatsoever, but I think their only prize is the nomination itself.

Best Actor - Drama
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
James McAvoy - Atonement
Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises
Denzel Washington - American Gangster
The only surprise here is Mortensen's inclusion. And the biggest injustice is the exclusion of Emile Hirsch for his dazzling performance in Sean Penn's Into the Wild. Out of the five, I think this one is between Clooney and Day-Lewis. Again, if Atonement's seven nominations are any indication of growing momentum for the film, we could see it sweep. But for now, I'll put McAvoy on a second tier with Washington, with Mortensen just off the pace from the other four.

Best Actress - Drama
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away from Her
Jodie Foster - The Brave One
Angelina Jolie - A Mighty Heart
Keira Knightley - Atonement
Right now, this one is Christie's to lose. She and Marion Cotillard (who is nominated in the Comedy/Musical category, even though her film is neither a comedy nor a musical) have been receiving all of the critics awards, and they have the most buzz. Who could be the spoiler in this one? Only Knightley. Blanchett has more attention for I'm Not There, and Foster and Jolie have absolutely no shot. Sorry ladies.

Best Actor – Comedy/Musical
Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Ryan Gosling – Lars and the Real Girl
Tom Hanks – Charlie Wilson's War
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Savages
John C. Reilly – Walk HardI think it's safe to say this award is Depp's to lose. His stiffest competition could come from Hanks, but overall, Sweeney Todd is receiving much more praise. Reilly's nod is a bit of a head scratcher, but he's always been excellent, so in this case, he's being awarded for his talent rather than the movie itself (probably). And I must say, what an inspired and delightful choice they made in nominating Gosling.

Best Actress – Comedy/Musical
Amy Adams – Enchanted
Nikki Blonsky – Hairspray
Helena Bonham Carter – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Marion Cotillard – La Môme
Ellen Page – Juno
This one goes to Cotillard, almost definitely. Not only was she triumphant as the late singer Edith Piaf, but the film is French, and this is the Hollywood Foreign Press after all.

Still, surging support for Juno puts Page right in this race. I think it's also safe to say that Adams and Blonsky, though both fantastic, are not in the running here. But within this category lies what is perhaps the biggest shocker of this year's crop of noms: NO LAURA LINNEY. Linney has been receiving rave reviews for her turn in The Savages (Some critics call it her career best performance), and her less buzzed about co-star Hoffman was nominated. If Linney is snubbed by the Screen Actor's Guild, then it's safe to say she's out of the Oscar race. But I wouldn't count the lovely Linney out quite yet.

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Charlie Wilson's War
John Travolta – Hairspray
Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton

This one pretty much looks like a no-brainer. This is Bardem's to lose, and I'd be shocked if he did lose. The one performance that could cause an upset is, shockingly, Travolta. It's unlikely, but if anyone is going to upset the frontrunner, it will be John Travolta in drag. Ugh.

Best Supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett – I'm Not There
Julia Roberts – Charlie Wilson's War
Saoirse Ronan – Atonement
Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton
This is such a tough category to predict. There are three strong contenders who could all win this one: Blanchett, Ryan, and Swinton. For months, Blanchett had enormous (and deserving) buzz for her mind blowing portrayal of Bob Dylan. But once the critics started handing out their awards, Amy Ryan gathered up a few awards and some serious momentum. Still, we can't count out Tilda Swinton. Buzz for Michael Clayton has been mounting since the nominations were announced, and if the HPFA loves it enough to reward Clooney, they may just reward his co-star too. Roberts and Ronan – no shot here.Well thanks for reading my rambles.

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