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Review by: Larry Thomas
Tonight is the one time of year when cinephiles all around the globe are united in their passion for all things Oscar. The 80th annual Academy Awards are being handed out, and for a while, it was questionable if the show would go on. Since the settlement of the writer’s strike, though, all should be well in Hollywoodland as we’re treated to the annual spectacle of glamour, inanity, and repetitive speeches, plus an occasional glimpse of true wit and genuine emotion.
No doubt you have your list of nominees at hand, ready to mark your choices. Here’s how it may shape up tonight.
Best Animated Feature – The nominees are Persepolis, Ratatouille, and Surf's Up. If there’s a sure thing in tonight’s Oscar derby, it’s Ratatouille. It seems to be unbeatable in this category. It’s also nice that all the nominees aren’t just kid’s films.
Best Original Score – The nominees are Atonement, The Kite Runner, Michael Clayton, Ratatouille, and 3:10 to Yuma. What should win? 3:10 to Yuma, as it was a fine, rousing score for this revisionist western. What will win? Probably Atonement, since the Academy has an affinity for all things British, and they won’t want this film to walk away totally empty handed.
Best Director – The nominees are The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, and There Will Be Blood. Although Julian Schnabel won a Golden Globe for directing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, conventional wisdom says the Coen Brothers will grab a pair of statues for their terrific work on No Country for Old Men.
Best Supporting Actress – The nominees are Cate Blanchett, Ruby Dee, Saoirse Ronan, Amy Ryan, and Tilda Swinton. Amy Ryan was electric in Gone Baby Gone, but Cate Blanchett will likely win as Best Supporting Actress for playing a man…Bob Dylan in I'm Not There. If she prevails, this will be the second time in Oscar history that a woman has won this category for a cross-gender performance. The first was Linda Hunt in The Year of Living Dangerously in 1982.
Best Supporting Actor – The nominees are Casey Affleck, Javier Bardem, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hal Holbrook, and Tom Wilkinson. This is a no-brainer. Javier Bardem should win, and will win, for playing the brutal, single-minded hit man in No Country for Old Men.
Best Actress – The nominees are Cate Blanchett, Julie Christie, Marion Cotilliard, Laura Linney, and Ellen Page. This one may be too close to call. Julie Christie seems to be the favorite for her touching portrayal of an Alzheimer’s victim in Away From Her. However, Marion Cotilliard snagged a Golden Globe for her turn as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, and ran a good campaign to sway voters. Still…Christie should take it.
Best Actor – The nominees are George Clooney, Daniel Day Lewis, Johnny Depp, Tommy Lee Jones, and Viggo Mortensen. There will be a multitude of rooters for Kentucky lads Clooney and Depp, but Daniel Day Lewis is the strong favorite to win his second Oscar for There Will Be Blood. Noticeably absent from the list is Will Ferrell, who was amazing in Stanger Than Fiction.
Best Picture – The nominees are Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, and There Will Be Blood. Despite the good points of all the nominees, the winner will be No Country for Old Men. It’s the Coen Brothers best film in years, and worthy of taking home the gold.
If the academy is even slightly interested in improving the awards, here are two suggestions. With the demise of original musicals on film, the category of “Best Original Song” has outlived its usefulness, as evidenced by three of the five nominees being from the same film, Enchanted. And they really should abolish the arcane and convoluted requirements as to what qualifies as a Foreign Language Film. The red tape precluded nominations for any of the foreign films that might actually have been seen by anyone. All the nominees are fairly obscure entries that have yet to be released in the US.
There you have it. Keep your list and check it against the winners as we all watch the 80th Annual Academy Awards tonight at 8 pm on ABC-TV.