Saturday, February 23, 2008

Predicting the Oscars with Dan Johnson

Here is a conversation I had with Dan Johnson at about the Oscars in which we both made our predictions :

Dan: This Oscars is hard to predict
Me: I think it's easy, except for one category
Dan: Which?
Me: I was going to say best supporting actress. Which category do you think is the hardest?
Dan: Adapted screenplay for one
Me: Ok, good point. If we went to 8 major categories, then maybe the screenplay cateogries get iffy but I think of the main 6, 5 are easy
Dan: oh yes - those are fairly easy
Me: No Country, Day-Lewis, Joel and E Coen, Christie, Bardem, and the supporting actress one is tricky
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Visual Effects:
Dan: Visual effects?
Dan: Pirates 2 won last year so seems like it will be out
Me: transformers, golden compass, and pirates 3?
Dan: Yes
Me: Transformers is so CGI heavy but the other 2 might be hurt by poor critical response

Me: None are really worthy of Oscar consideration for effects. Poor choices this year on the part of nomination.
Dan: I'm going with Golden Compass for effects
Dan: Don't know why - it just feels right
Me: Did you actually see the film?
Dan: No
Me: There's nothing that spectacular about the special effects
Dan: When I was a kid I was really angry that ET won for effects over Blade Runner
Dan: I mean come on! Frame by frame effects-wise that was wacked!
Dan: Maybe thats why I'm predicting Compass
Dan: You think Transformers will get it?
Me: ET won for effects over Blade Runner during the 1983 awards ceremony, so that was right around when i was born
Me: I think Pirates III
Me: I'd like to say that cause it did up the ante on effects even more than pirates ii
Dan: but Pirates won last year
Me: Ok, transformers it is, then
Me: i'll say transformers
Me: it's just a bit CGI heavy
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Best Documentary:
Dan: Seems like Michael Moore won't get it this time
Dan: No End In Sight may be my pick
Me: I think Michael Moore's Sicko broke new ground, there was a sort of publicity angle that Moore had changed his image and softened up, but I agree that I don't think people have warmed up to Moore that much and that Sicko didn't top Farenheit 911 for sheer cultural impact
Me: so i'd go with No End in Sight as well
Me: That's the only one of the other nominees that made a splash in the cultural landscape
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Sound Editing:
Dan: Bourne, No Country, Ratatouille, TWBB, and Transformers

Me: Um, I know nothing about sound editing and i question whether the people in the academy who aren't sound mixers even know or should be aloud to vote in this category
Dan: Yeah good point
Dan: Its a toss up, huh?
Me: the thing is, dan, i can only pay attention to so many things when i watch a film, and unlike most oscar voters, i'm secure enough to admit that i have no clue about this category
Dan: I getcha
Dan: alright then
Me: i don't know what it is, except i would just like to say unqualified, but i mean if i had to guess, maybe bourne ultimatum, certainly not ratatouille

Dan: I'm going with the Coens
Dan: It feels like their time
Me: I don't see any reason why they wouldn't get it
Dan: Of course I thought that 10 years ago with Fargo
Me: 2 of the other directors are virtual rookies Me: so they should be in the happy to be nominated cateogry, i think Schnabel's the token foreign pick
Me: well, Fargo was before Big Lebowski and Oh Brother Where Art Thou
Dan: yeah like Bill Murray would say in his old Oscar picks on SNL in the '70s "too foreign?
Me: And the cult of Big Lebowski is growing, they are the only comedic team out there that gets critical respect and is considered high art as opposed to the Farrelly Brothers or Kevin Smith. The Coens are way up there in the film industry in critical respectability, so it's there time, certainly
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Art Direction:
Dan: Art direction?
Me: I think that maybe what Pirates did well as more landscape/art direction
Dan: Amer Gangster, Atonement, Compass, Sweeny Todd, adn TWBB
Me: I don't think Atonement or Golden Compass, American Gangster was a period piece
Dan: I think Sweeny Todd
Me: But recreating 1970s harlem isn't that hard
Dan: Yeah, I don't think AG will get it
Me: I mean, Harlem hasn't changed much since the 1970s

Me: it's good to see American Gangster nominated though, it got completely overlooked
Me: But why not There Will Be Blood?
Me: I think that or Sweeny Todd, and I'll go with Blood in the end
Me: I mean a lot of detail was taken towards authenticity
Dan: I just think ST has the artsy edge over TWBB
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->


Dan: I liked TWBB better but that's how it feels
Dan: I'm going with Assassination of Jesse James
Dan: Deakins
Me: I wish I saw that film
Dan: That's from my heart not my brain
Dan: I saw it last week
Me: I believe it was the most overlooked picture by most accounts
Me: I think No Country or Assassination cause Westerns are popular
Me: Westerns are made for cinematography, and No Country would be a far more ordinary picture if it weren't for cinematography
Dan: Yeah Deakins seems a shoe-in
Me: Not No Country?
Dan: It may win
Dan: But I feel AFJJ

Me: The way I see it No Country for Old Men is an incredibly rare film, like the French Connection in that it is basically an action movie that is going to transcend its genre and win best picture

Me: The raving reviews aren't talking about the script or the characters or the intricate storyline and plot, it's basically a cat and mouse chase that's done so perfectly that people are treating it as a complete package of a film
Me: so categories like editing and cinametography, i feel like it's hard to beat

Dan: Diving Bell for editing
Me: What are the editing options?
Dan: Bourne, Diving Bell, Into The Wild, No Country, Blood
Me: hmmm, i think Bourne or no country
Dan: I think it will too

Dan: Are you predicting a No Country sweep?
Me: Why would you say Diving Bell?
Dan: The editing was the show in that movie. It was so full of fleeting imagery
Me: Hmmmm, interesting
Me: Well, Bourne is compared to French Connection as a perfectly edited film
Me: So it's hard to rule that out either
Dan: I'm biased because I didn't see Bourne
Me: No, i'm not predicting a sweep, because i don't think it will win best screenplay
Me: What do you think on screenplay front for adapted
Me: Can we go to that one?

Dan: Sure, that's a tough one

Dan: Maybe Atonement
Me: I think There Will Be Blood, it's an x variable how well the token foreign film will do
Me: Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her has won before
Me: I think There Will Be Blood is an interesting adaptation, from what I understand, it was a stretch for PT Anderson to adapt someone else's material when he has his own style
Dan: Blood strays too far from the source material to get it
Me: Historically, you win oscars for sticking close to it? I think Adaptation and Capote were both contenders in the adapted category and they were nothing like the source material
Dan: Not sure about that but it just seems like a loose adaptation from what I've read
Me: I think I'll say There Will Be Blood, still
Dan: okay

Dan: Original screenplay- I'll say Juno
Me: Juno's an obvious answer, I think Michael Clayton might also be in the running
Me: If Juno wins, there'll be this boring pattern established of the token quirky dramedy winning it, stemming back to Lost in Translation and Little Miss Sunshine
Dan: The Oscars are all about boring patterns!
Me: So i'd like to see Michael Clayton, but Juno's too big of a force to stop, it's managed to establish itself as a completely unique and unforseen development of a film even though we had Little Miss Sunshine last year

Me: ok, song?
Me: what do you say?
Dan: from Once
Dan: people love that soundtrack
Me: Yeah, I think so
Me: Enchanted is going to cancel itself out like Dreamgirls did
Me: And score?
Dan: hmmm
Dan: that may be Atonement too
Me: 3:10 to Yuma is on my wishlist
Me: I'd love for it to win an oscar since it's my favorite film of the year
Dan: I can't remember the score in Michael Clayton
Me: Is the Atonement score memorable?
Me: James Newton Howard is a fixture in the industry, i believe, though pretty swelling classic Hollywood stuff
Me: No, i think they like variety
Me: Maybe ratatouille
Me: That would be the suprise of the ceremony, but why not
Me: How about kite runner. How was that score?
Dan: I didn't see that

Me: For animated Persopolis vs Ratatouille?
Dan: Ratatouille, but then Happy Feet won over Cars last year
Me: Persopolis has been drawing raves
Dan: Dan: Raves but not attendence
Me: But Cars didn't make top 10 lists like Persopolis
Me: I mean Cars didn't make top ten lists like Ratatouille
Dan: I love if Persepolis won but I'm predicting the rat
Me: I think it'll be the rat because ratatouille made a lot of top 10 lists and drew in reviews

Me: But I’d like to note that Persepolis would have easily won last year or for 2005
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Acting Categories:
Dan: Best supporting actor?
Me: My personal choice is Tom Wilkinson, but Javier Bardem is unbeatable

Me: And that's good to get another good foreign actor in there

Dan: Yes - but theres usually a shocker Like Arkin last year
Me: Well, i don't feel like i have to accomodate historic patterns

Me: In 2003 and 2004, there were no shockers, in 2005 there were no shockers either, just 06 with Arkin and 02 with Brody and Zeta-Jones
Dan: me either but I like to acknowledge the mixing it up

Me: I think the main acting categories are pretty obvious, don't you think?
Me: Day-Lewis and Christie for the main acting leads, right?
Me: Some will say Courtland will beat Christie but people like Julie Christie, she's in line for a second one, and her film is picking up clout as evidenced by the fact that Away From Her was nominated for a best screenplay
Dan: I think she'll win
Dan: I'm predicting Hal Holbrook
Dan: He was the best thing about Into The Wild in my book
Me: Hal Holbrook?
Dan: Thats my wild card
Me: I don't think he'll get the beloved old person award that Martin Landau, Judi Dench, James Coburn and Alan Arkin have previously gotten
Me: Because he's not a beloved old guy
Dan: Are you kidding?
Dan: He is beloved as all. Get out

Dan: Most likely I'll be way wrong (Bardem is probably gonna get it) but I can't help but go with it, call me crazy
Me: I disagree that he’s beloved. , Alan Arkin and James Coburn were beloved icons who people felt were owed some dues
Dan: All my film friend fans love him
Me: Ok, i'm playing devil's advocate here but 10 times the number of people have heard of Alan Arkin before they've heard of Hal Holbrook
Me: I'm reading Holbrook's biography now and it looks like he was only in about 3 movies of note: Julia, Wall Street, and the Great White Hope, as well as a bunch of TV movies and Broadway
Dan: All The President's Men!
Me: Oh shit, he was deep throat in all the president's men, I didn't see that. I'll give you that. But he's not more beloved than Alan Arkin or James Coburn
Dan: Well man - all valid points but that's my wild card!
Me: Ok, what about supporting actress, that's a tough one

Dan: Blanchett so she can dedicate her Oscar to Ledger

Me: you think they'd vote based on that?
Dan: Not really but the idea is in the air and many predict her
Me: I honestly didn't think Amy Ryan was that great
Me: I wouldn't mind seeing Ryan
Dan: I have Gone Baby Gone!
Dan: I need to watch it
Me: I watched about 2/3 of it, I'll bet Amy Ryan starts to get emotional and crazy and do the good acting in the last 3rd, that's why I was unimpressed
Dan: Okay - I'll watch the movie then make my pick
Me: Do you think people are really ready to annoint Cate Blanchett twice?
Dan: Her performance was amazing
Me: It would be an interesting performance
Me: I think it will be great to see Day-Lewis honored again
Dan: I think he'll win

Me: I always felt he got the short end of the stick in Gangs of New York. What about picture?
Me: I think I’ll go with Tilda Swenson, what about picture?
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

Me: A There Will Be Blood upset would be interesting
Dan: I agree - it is tight between No country and Blood
Me: No Country's the front runner but it lacks substance, it's just a great exercise in genre recreation
Me: if There Will Be Blood is in the race at all, then i'll be strongly pulling for it
Dan: I disagree with NCFOM lacking substance
Dan: I thought it had a lot of weight
Me: Would you agree that it's something designed for a high brow crowd and will have many ordinary filmgoers scratching their heads?
Dan: I seriously don't think the Coens designed it for an intellectual demographic
Me: It really doesn't have much of a plot, don't you admit?
Me: I mean one guy chases another guy across the desert and one guy chases another guy
Dan:Why isnt that enough of a plot for you?
Me: That's what it would sound like if you were pitching the film because you don't know much about the characters?
Dan: I think you get a lot of notions of back stories
Me: Yeah, it's very subtle and back-handed
Dan: Did you read the book?
Me: No. It's subtle, I'll admit. And there's nothing to the plot other than that, I mean the storyline is incredibly bare. How would you pitch it?
Dan: A drug bust goes bad with no survivors, man comes upon it and takes large amount of money - the most evil man a brutal killer who sympbolizes a coming darkness chases him while a jaded fading sheriff follows their trail.

Dan: That's how I would pitch it
Me: I think you're mostly right
<!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->

1 comment:

Dan said...

The post is blank on my screen - when I select and highlight the type I can see it but otherwise blackness. Maybe it's my computer - I'll check it on another.