Oscar Prediction Guide

“The Oscars. They are supposed to be the top notch thing in Hollywood. They are supposed to be the best of the very best…but sometimes I wonder.” – J Jammer

Last year's Oscar picks had your's truly beat our resident film critic by a score of 12 to 9, which means that I get to gloat about it now. This year, however I think its going to be a tough call. Jay has seen almost all of the films this year and I have only seen a handful. We also have a few picks from our newest critic Spoof, so all I have to help me this time around is my gut feeling and a few hot tips from Academy members who hinted at what they thought. But honestly, even if I knew how a lot of voting members voted, it really is meaningless. The Oscars are a total crap shoot. No one knows who is going to win, which is why Vegas always places odds on it.

This year had a lot of snubs in the nominations and a lot of surprises as to who did get the nod. What this means for who will win is anybody's guess, but it should make for an interesting awards show, regardless of whether or not the writers guild may be picketing in front of the theater.

So presented here is our 2nd annual exhaustive guide to all of the nominations to this year's Academy Awards. Take notes, watch the telecast and be sure to point fingers and laugh at us when we are totally wrong.

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

JJ - I saw all of them but There Will Be Blood. I knew Atonement, Michael Clayton and No Country for Old Men would be nominated. They just were packaged to be such. They were not horrible movies they were just not exciting ones. They are all depressing. AND Atonement is not a movie it’s a freakin’ postcard. It should not be nominated as Best Picture. The only thing it deserves to win is best cinematography. Juno is also slightly sad but over all it’s a happy film. Shockingly the ONLY happy film, I say that sarcastically since Oscars are so good at nominating films that make you happy your life is not like a movie. Monster’s Ball anyone? Didn’t think so. I want Juno to win, so bad. I was thinking of going, “Oh but I’ll pick what I think they’ll pick which is…” But I’m not going to. My pick is Juno. If it doesn’t win then I’m sure that No Country for Old Men will steal it for no good reason I can think of.

Judge - I have some big issues with "Atonement." If you are going to designate a film as the best that Hollywood has come out with for the year, you have to look at the big picture and frankly Atonement suffers from some of the most elementary, sit-com like plot points I've ever heard of. I think you can do a lot better than that. My pick is the odds-on favorite, "No Country for Old Men." It would also be nice to see the Cohen bros. take home the Oscar this time.

Best Actor:
George Clooney, "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"
Johnny Depp, "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Tommy Lee Jones, "In the Valley of Elah"
Viggo Mortensen, "Eastern Promises."

JJ - All I need to say here is HUH to Tommy Lee Jones….seriously? Let’s be more obscure than we already are Oscars…let’s do that. It’s always a good idea to be so opaque. I believe George Clooney did a fantastic job as did Johnny Depp, but I heard that Daniel Day-Lewis was just a blow away in his acting. So based on that and my feeling when I saw the trailer I’m picking Day-Lewis as the winner here.

Spoof- George Clooney: i like him, and he seems to be a big favorite amongst others higher up then myself

Judge - Gotta go with Daniel Day Lewis for this one. His character is so dark and dimensional. Depp pulled a fantastic performance out of Sweeney Todd, but I just dont think he can match Lewis side by side.

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett, "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie, "Away From Her"
Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en Rose"
Laura Linney, "The Savages"
Ellen Page, "Juno."

JJ - Away from Her, La Vie en Rose and The Savages get a big OBSECURE smack from me. I never saw them nor do I care to just because they were nominated. I saw really good films this year that had great acting by actresses. I don’t get this need to use movies no one ever sees. Is this because it’s the help the needy program the Oscars are performing here? This is why the Oscars fail every year…and continue to do so. NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE HELL THESE MOVIES ARE…no one sees them…or they never came near their city. It would be nice that Ellen Page would win. It would be…but hardly do quirky movies win against dramatic types. I like Cate Blanchett a lot. She’s awesome and untouchable for the most part. Since I’m going to be giving her supporting actress Oscar to someone else I’m going to pick her here because I think she deserves it. Phenomenal.

Judge - Agreed. My first comments when the announcements were made were "Who?" There are films here that no one has seen, however the Oscars are not a popularity contest (I almost said that with a straight face). But I have to go with Blanchett's performance from the "Elizabeth 2: Queen Harder" OK, that's not the title, but it may have well have been.

Best Supporting Actor:
Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"
Hal Holbrook, "Into the Wild"
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Charlie Wilson's War"
Tom Wilkinson, "Michael Clayton."

JJ - NO more with the long titles. Who wants to say a title to massage someone’s ego? Cut it for time, please. Thanks. I don’t know. No one really JUMPS out as awesome. I think they picked poorly here. Hoffman…no. Wilkinson…no, he was there in the film but he wasn’t THERE as noticeable. Bardem was just boring. I’ll pick Casey Affleck for the win. I saw him in Gone Baby Gone and he was good. How could he be any worse in a nominated film? But then again…I still pick him, though.

Judge - I'm rooting for Casey Affleck on this one. However I really think he's a one trick pony. If he can do something other than the doe-eyed, misunderstood sad sack he's done in every single performance he's made on film to date, I will change my tune. Honestly, I dont think he can. Still, I think he should get the Oscar for his performance in "The movie with the way-too-long title, by a bunch of guys you might know but dont really care about." But in the future Casey is going to need to be a lot more dynamic with his acting and with his choice of parts.

Best Supporting Actress:
Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan, "Atonement"
Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton."

JJ - Did not see I’m Not There. I plan on it, but I just have not. I’m sure Blanchett was great. And a big WHATEVER to Ruby Dee being nominated and no nods for Denzel Washington or Russell Crowe. That’s just a waste of space. She’s not even memorable in that part, I had to google her to remember who the hell she played. I saw Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton and that last scene she was in I knew she would be nominated. I could watch that scene again and again and, even, again. It was hot with the acting. She was powerful and when her character was pinned to the floor of hell she crumbled and it was such a pitifully beautiful train crash sight. She is my pick and I think no one deserves to win but her.

Judge - Word on the street from a few people I've talked to say Saoirse Ronan is the favorite to win it. I didnt see Michael Clayton, but Tilda Swinton's performance sounds impressive. However I really think that these awards need to be considered based on the actor's body of work. You may have a break-out roll in an indipendent sleeper one year, but play a stupid character with no acting ability the next. If the actor has the chops, they should get the nod. Just to pick someone for ONE performance doesnt seem right.

Best Director:
Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Jason Reitman, "Juno"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood."

JJ - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly—HUH? First of all why can’t the Best Picture list match the Best Director list? What’s so complicated about that? Oh you are so good at your job at directing but apparently not good enough for your movie to get a nod in the Best Picture category. Yeah…no. Jason Reitman. Since I’m complaining about matching the two I can’t pick a different director than my pick for Best Picture. That would just be stupid. Ha.

Spoof- I'd like to say Coen brothers, cause I like their work, but im guessing Paul Thomas Anderson

Judge - Its a misnomer to think that just because a film may win for best picture, the director is a shoe-in. My vote is for the Coens on this. From what I've been told, they are a couple of the easiest directors to work with and have consistently provided amazing films.

Foreign Film:
"Beaufort," Israel
"The Counterfeiters," Austria
"Katyn," Poland
"Mongol," Kazakhstan
"12," Russia.

JJ - This is based on me going to see this film when it comes out in a couple of months. I pick Mongol for no other reason than what I stated.

Judge - Like everybody else on the planet that is not a voting member of the AMPAAS, I havent seen any one of these. My pick will be for Mongol, based solely on the fact that we talked about it as being a big film that will be coming out this summer. In other words, this is a complete shot in the dark.

Adapted Screenplay:
Christopher Hampton, "Atonement"
Sarah Polley, "Away from Her"
Ronald Harwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood."

JJ -CRAP…that’s all I see. I am so pissed that The Kite Runner is not up there. It should have been nominated and since I finished the book after I saw the movie I can vouch for it being a well adapted screenplay. I will make a minor protest and I refuse to give my pick to anyone but The Kite Runner. I don’t pick in this category.

Judge - My pick is for the Coens again on this. This years awards could be very heavy towards one of two films: "No Country" or "There Will Be Blood" I dont think its going to be mixed up too much, but this is my choice. Then again, what do I know?

Original Screenplay:
Diablo Cody, "Juno"
Nancy Oliver, "Lars and the Real Girl"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco, "Ratatouille''
Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages."

JJ - I would say Diablo Cody, because she did do a fantastic job, but Nancy Oliver’s screenplay is far more unique and far more creative. It has wit and dramatic flair that oddly squeezes care out of people for a doll. I have to pick Nancy Oliver for Lars and the Real Girl.

Judge - Juno has been getting a lot of Hype in the past few months. And its been hyped in the right underground way, making it feel as if its genuine, versus a big marketing campaign done by the studio (which in reality is exactly what it is). But still, its a good movie and should be awarded for that reason and not because it had the most advertising money thrown at it.

Animated Feature Film:
"Surf's Up."

JJ - Someone is really smoking the good stuff or something…this is horrendous. Who has seen Persepolis? WHO? Thank you, I didn’t think so. Surf’s Up should NOT be on that list. That movie blew chunks and embarrassed penguins everywhere. Instead it should be Ratatouille, The Simpsons and The Bee Movie. I did not like The Bee Movie but it was way better than Surf’s Up, and The Simpsons were very popular and it’s animation and it has been around for most twenty-somethings lives. What a stupid snub. I pick Ratatouille.

Spoof- Ratatouille, dunno the first choice, and surf's up, didnt see it, but Ratatouille seemed less like animated fluff, more like an actual movie

Judge - This is like the Academy knowing that they had to throw a couple more titles out there just to give it the feeling of being unbiased. Seriously: Ratatouille wins this one, hands down.

Art Direction:
American Gangster
The Golden Compass
Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street
There Will Be Blood

JJ - Yeah…crappy list. Sweeney Todd deserves to win. There is this one part of the movie that has awesome visuals and then throughout the film. There’s no way any other movie nominated could even come close to having put in so much effort into this category and did it even half as well.

Spoof - I'm gonna say Sweeney Todd, since Burton movies usually have imaginative settings.

Judge - My hunch is that this is going to be a coin toss between "Blood" and "Sweeney." My guess is for Mr. Todd, so it looks like we are all in agreement on this: Sweeney had some really amazing looks to it. From the dark, dirty look of London which contrasts so heavily with the oversaturated colors of the fantasy/dream sequence. The film is just dripping with artistic creativity. It deserves it over the others.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Atonement
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

JJ - I mentioned this in my review for it. Atonement is the winner here. There is no way any movie listed came close to capturing as many great views as Atonement. There is one shot that pans the entire beach in one long shot and that, hands down, makes it the winner. –or I could be getting categories confused…but I did mention this in my review specifically and I called it a postcard.

Judge - My esteemed collegue and I disagree on this one. One continuous shot does not an award-winning movie make. Personally, I absolutely loved Assassination for its colors, framing and bleak, washed out look to the old West. There was a lot of work put into lensing this film. Atonement, on the other hand, looked a bit gimmicky. Just an opinion here, but I gotta go with Jesse James.

Sound Mixing:
The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men
3:10 to Yuma

JJ - I don’t know the specifics to this but I think 3:10 to Yuma deserve it. The sound was so cool in the fight scenes along with the music. It was exciting to listen to as well as see.

Spoof - Transformers, hands down, my choice :P

Judge - Hard not to pick something that's got lots of sound and complex layers. My guess is Transformers, but Bourne sounded pretty complex as well and comes in at a close second for me.

Sound Editing:
The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

JJ- Transformers.

- Transformers, again

Judge - Going to pick Bourne Ultimatum for this one just to be contrary to everyone else.

Original Score:
“Atonement," Dario Marianelli
“The Kite Runner," Alberto Iglesias
"Michael Clayton," James Newton Howard
"Ratatouille," Michael Giacchino
“3:10 to Yuma," Marco Beltrami.

JJ - I think The Kite Runner deserves an award but unfortunately not the one it’s nominated for. I heard about There Will Be Blood’s score and remembered the trailer and have to agree that it was haunting and not seeing it here grinds me. Ratatouille really? No. Atonement and Michael Clayton were forgettable. 3:10 to Yuma had a great score. That’s my pick.

Judge - Im picking Kite Runner for this, but my gut feeling will be "Atonement" Academy members love sappy crap like that.

Original Song:
"Falling Slowly" from "Once," Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush,"
"So Close" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted," Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.

JJ- I find it funny that Enchanted has three nominations. Normally when a film has more than one nomination in the same category you can bet on splitting the vote and that movie not winning, more likely than not. I’m still going to go with Enchanted and say “That’s How You Know”.

Judge - How much would it suck to have three of your songs nominated in the same category and NOT win? My official pick is "anything but Enchanted" just to be a smart ass.

"Across the Universe,"
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age,"
"La Vie en Rose,"
"Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street."

JJ - Sweeny Todd because those costumes were astounding and eye catching.

Judge - Im also picking Sweeney on this one, though Its tough to compare this to the complexity of costumes for the Elizabethan era.

Documentary Feature:
"No End in Sight,"
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience"
"Taxi to the Dark Side"

JJ - War and heath care have me wanting to PUKE…so I am not going to pick any of those Documentaries that have to deal with either of those topics. Over saturation I say. I pick, then, the only one that is left that has nothing to do with the two categories I just puked over (I hope): Taxi to the Dark Side.

Spoof - Sicko, Michael Moore seems to be getting more and more noticed since Bowling For Columbine

Judge - I think Michael Moore pisses off too many Academy members. My guess is that they will pick something else just to spite him. Personally, I think No End in Sight should win, just because I know the Academy likes to smack the Bush adminstration around whenever it gets the chance and this film definitely does that.

Documentary (short subject):
"La Corona (The Crown)"
"Salim Baba"
"Sari's Mother"

JJ- Salim Baba – random pick.

Judge - didnt see any of them, nor will I, since they usually play these things on a Tuesday night in one theater in Beverly Hills and I dont have any interest in driving into that area at night. (grin)

Film Editing:
"The Bourne Ultimatum"
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"Into the Wild"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

JJ - No Country for Old Men because they deserve a mention from me somewhere.

Judge - There will be Blood will win this. I am going out on a limb here, but that's my best guess.

"La Vie en Rose"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"

JJ - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End…because I saw it and liked it.

Judge - Will a guy in a fat suit beat actors with dots on their faces? CGI versus conventional makeup effects. Oscar likes to retain its old school roots, so I will say Norbit will take this one.

Animated Short Film:
"I Met the Walrus"
"Madame Tutli-Putli"
"Meme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)"
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)"
"Peter & the Wolf"

JJ - Peter & the Wolf because I remember that story.

Judge - Same problem with these as the documentary shorts. No one but academy members see them or even care about them. I'll pick Tutli-Putli just because it will be fun to see the presenters stumble across this title at the awards show.

Live Action Short Film:
"At Night"
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)"
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)"
"Tanghi Argentini," "The Tonto Woman."

JJ - Le Mozart des Pickpockets because it’s a clever title.

Judge - meh. whatever. I'll pick"At Night" for no discernable reason whatsoever.

Visual Effects:
"The Golden Compass"
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"

JJ- Transformers. Duh! And The Golden Compass was too noticeable that they were using visual effects. It was almost cartoony.

Spoof - Golden Compass, read the book, saaw some shots of the movie, I vote Golden Compass

Judge - Have to go with Pirates on this one. The PBS show "Wired Science" didn an interesting segment on the complexities of shooting this film. Industrial Light and Magic had their work cut out for them, making sure that it looked like two fantastic sailing ships battling it out in a maelstrom and not two boats spinning in a toilet bowl. Dont get me wrong: the third pirates film sucked, but the effects were innovative and revolutionary. They should get this one.

Well that's it for this year's picks. The awards show will be on February 24 on ABC. Tune in to see how close we got this year.

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