CPOscars. . . (2008)

This is a movie column, so Oscar predictions are requisite. I’ve done this before, and the predictions are always better than chance.

My secret? Well, even though I am a firm believer that luck is just probability taken personally, I know that me rooting for some one or some thing is “the kiss of death.” I was in Buffalo for four Bills Super Bowl appearances, and for the “no goal” incident. I moved to Chicago just as the Bulls stopped being good. Recently, I was rooting against the Giants and for Brock Lesnar.

So a good rule of thumb is: if I want to see it happen, it won’t. If I don’t want to see something happen, it will.

All right, all nonsense aside, the Oscars are usually pretty predictable. Even an untrained monkey could pick 3 out of four winners.

I’m a trained monkey!

At the risk of spoiling drama, let’s start with the exciting awards, then move down to the not so exciting awards. I do this mostly because I stole the code from Michaelangelo, and this is the order he had things.

Best motion picture of the year:

Atonement (Focus Features)
A Working Title Production
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
Juno (Fox Searchlight)
A Dancing Elk Pictures, LLC Production
Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.)
A Clayton Productions, LLC Production
Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
No Country for Old Men (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production
Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production
JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Immediately eliminate the first three films. Atonement is too British. Juno is “just a comedy.” Nobody should care about Michael Clayton. That leaves us with Coens vs. P.T. Anderson. I love the former and never really cared for the latter.

Therefore, There Will Be Blood is the winner.

Performance by an actor in a leading role:

– George Clooney in Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.)
– Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
– Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
(DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
– Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah (Warner Independent)
– Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises (Focus Features)

People like giving Daniel Day-Lewis awards. He has credibility as a “real” actor. He wins. Tommy Lee Jones was playing a Tommy Lee Jones type. Johnny Depp got a nom for singing with silly hair. Viggo’s first Oscar nomination is his reward. George Clooney is the token movie star.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:

– Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Warner Bros.)
– Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
– Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson’s War (Universal)
– Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
– Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.)

It’s Javier’s to lose. It is a memorable performance with a silly haircut. That’s all Oscar voters really need. I can’t imagine anybody else winning this thing. You know, unless they want to give an Oscar to Holbrook before he dies.

Performance by an actress in a leading role:

– Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Universal)
– Julie Christie in Away from Her (Lionsgate)
– Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose (Picturehouse)
– Laura Linney in The Savages (Fox Searchlight)
– Ellen Page in Juno (Fox Searchlight)

Blanchett is going to win supporting actress, so she isn’t going to win here. Ellen Page has a shot, but it feels a lot like a “the nomination is the reward” sort of deal. Laura Linney is awesome, but dark comedies tend to scare voters. I’m going to say Julie Christie wins, but I really can’t give a good reason for this thing. I don’t even know what Away From Her is.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role:

– Cate Blanchett in I’m Not There (The Weinstein Company)
– Ruby Dee in American Gangster (Universal)
– Saoirse Ronan in Atonement (Focus Features)
– Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone (Miramax)
– Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.)

Cate wins. Voters are impressed by gender-bending roles, and by impressions. Tilda Swinton is fairly androgynous, so she’s got a decent shot for future Oscars.

Best animated feature film of the year:

Persepolis (Sony Pictures Classics) Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
Ratatouille (Walt Disney) Brad Bird
Surf’s Up (Sony Pictures Releasing) Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

This year’s Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius award goes to Surf’s Up which has no chance in hell. It’s not bad for an animated penguin movie, but it isn’t going to win. Persepolis has weird-ass foreign film credibility, but Ratatouille was pretty much the best reviewed film of last year, animated or not. If not for this relatively new category, it might have joined Beauty and the Beast as the only other animated film nominated for Best Picture.

Achievement in art direction:

American Gangster (Universal)
Art Direction: Arthur Max
Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
Atonement (Focus Features)
Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Golden Compass (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Art Direction: Dennis Gassner
Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti
Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Art Direction: Jack Fisk
Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

I haven’t seen any of these flicks, honestly. The Golden Compass bombed, Sweeney Todd seems like every other Time Burton movie, and there is nothing exciting about another gangster movie. People are voting for There Will Be Blood in other categories, and Atonement is just sitting there, unloved.

Kinda like a dog in Anti-Cruelty.

People don’t want to see puppies die.

Achievement in cinematography:

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Warner Bros.) Roger Deakins
Atonement (Focus Features) Seamus McGarvey
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax/Patḧ| Renn) Janusz Kaminski
No Country for Old Men (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roger Deakins
There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Robert Elswit

Coin toss “king of the ring” tournament says: Deakins! Deakins will get a title shot at Summerslam!

Achievement in costume design:

Across the Universe (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky
Atonement (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Universal) Alexandra Byrne
La Vie en Rose (Picturehouse) Marit Allen
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount) Colleen Atwood

I do this thing every year, and every year I forget how little I care about these things. Honestly, people. I’m a boy. I don’t know from costume designs. I’m going to say Colleen Atwood, because her name sounds like it could be the name of that girl you had a crush on in the fourth grade before you even liked girls.

I would also like to say that I’d rather scissor off my pinky toe than sit through 6 minutes of Across the Universe A.K.A. Sargent Pepper 2: Electric Bugaloo.

Achievement in directing:

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax/Patḧ| Renn) Julian Schnabel
Juno (Fox Searchlight) Jason Reitman
Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.) Tony Gilroy
No Country for Old Men (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Paul Thomas Anderson

Well, I’ll say the Coens here, even though it doesn’t make sense to give the award for best directing to somebody who didn’t direct the winner for best picture. I figure that the ending of No Country turned off a lot of people, so it won’t win best picture, but still has a chance at best directing.

But really, I’m just hedging my bets between this year’s two favorites.

Whooo for hedging!

Best documentary feature:

No End in Sight (Magnolia Pictures)
A Representational Pictures Production
Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (The Documentary Group)
A Documentary Group Production
Richard E. Robbins
Sicko (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company)
A Dog Eat Dog Films Production
Michael Moore and Meghan O¡̅Hara
Taxi to the Dark Side (THINKFilm)
An X-Ray Production
Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
War/Dance (THINKFilm)
A Shine Global and Fine Films Production
Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

They just gave an award to Moore, not too long ago. He doesn’t need another one until he makes a film that can be called a documentary with a straight face. Therefore, the award goes to the only other nominee that I’ve heard of: No End in Sight. Is it any good?

Who cares?

Best documentary short subject:

Freeheld
A Lieutenant Films Production
Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
La Corona (The Crown)
A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production
Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
Salim Baba
A Ropa Vieja Films and Paradox Smoke Production
Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello
Sari’s Mother (Cinema Guild)
A Daylight Factory Production
James Longley

Where does one go to see short subject documentaries again? I assume they are shown on PBS or something several years after the fact. My tradition, since King Gimp, is to vote for the film with the name that is the most fun to say. Therefore, Salim Baba!

Salim Baba 2!

Achievement in film editing:

The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal) Christopher Rouse
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax/Patḧ| Renn) Juliette Welfling
Into the Wild (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment) Jay Cassidy
No Country for Old Men (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes
There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Dylan Tichenor

No Country for Old Men had the ballsiest third act editing I’ve ever encountered. I’m officially rooting for the fictional Roderick Jaynes. I’m hoping that the fact that Roderick Jaynes is a pseudonym, protects them from my “kiss of death”.

Okay so maybe it doesn’t count as editing if they didn’t even film those parts, but still! I voting for the guy who is fictional!

Best foreign language film of the year:

Beaufort A Metro Communications, Movie Plus Production
Israel
The Counterfeiters An Aichholzer Filmproduktion, Magnolia Filmproduktion Production
Austria
Katy ½ An Akson Studio Production
Poland
Mongol A Eurasia Film Production
Kazakhstan
12 A Three T Production
Russia

Umm. . .

. . .

. . . Austria?

Achievement in makeup:

La Vie en Rose (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
Norbit (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount) Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (Walt Disney) Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

This is the category for populism. Pirates made a jillion dollars; it wins. Plus, no one wants to be responsible for giving Norbit an award.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score):

Atonement (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
The Kite Runner (DreamWorks, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Participant Productions, Distributed by Paramount Classics) Alberto Iglesias
Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.) James Newton Howard
Ratatouille (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino
3:10 to Yuma (Lionsgate) Marco Beltrami

Let’s say Ratatouille and pretend that we had some sort of method for deciding. Although, 3:10 to Yuma bored me senseless; things usually get awards for doing that thing.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song):

– “Falling Slowly” from Once
(Fox Searchlight)
Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
– “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
– “Raise It Up” from August Rush
(Warner Bros.)
Nominees to be determined
– “So Close” from Enchanted
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
– “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Enchanted splits its votes, making way for Once. People like that movie, and nothing happens. The song must be really good then, right?

If nothing else the people have cute accents.

Best animated short film

I Met the Walrus
A Kids & Explosions Production
Josh Raskin
Madame Tutli-Putli (National Film Board of Canada)
A National Film Board of Canada Production
Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
Mme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven) (Premium Films)
A BUF Compagnie Production
Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
My Love (Moya Lyubov) (Channel One Russia)
A Dago-Film Studio, Channel One Russia and Dentsu Tec Production
Alexander Petrov
Peter & the Wolf (BreakThru Films)
A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production
Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

Wolves versus Pigeons versus Walruses (walri?). It depends if the fight is on land, sea or air. I think that I gotta go with the Walrus.

Best live action short film:

At Night
A Zentropa Entertainments 10 Production
Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
Il Supplente (The Substitute) (Sky Cinema Italia)
A Frame by Frame Italia Production
Andrea Jublin
Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets) (Premium Films)
A Kar Production
Philippe Pollet-Villard
Tanghi Argentini (Premium Films)
An Another Dimension of an Idea Production
Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
The Tonto Woman
A Knucklehead, Little Mo and Rose Hackney Barber Production
Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

I’m going to vote for the Eye-talians. Mostly because I could go for some chicken carbonara.

Achievement in sound editing:

The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal)
Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
No Country for Old Men (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Skip Lievsay
Ratatouille (Walt Disney)
Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Matthew Wood
Transformers (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Robots are neat. You know the NES peripheral ROB is a secret character in the new SMASH BROS game? Did you ever play “Burger Time”? I think that was one of the ROB games.

I don’t really know what Sound Editing entails.

Transformers will win because it cost a lot of money and needs to win something.

Achievement in sound mixing:

The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal)
Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
No Country for Old Men (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
Ratatouille (Walt Disney)
Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
3:10 to Yuma (Lionsgate)
Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
Transformers (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

O’Connell has been called the Susan Lucci of Sound Mixing. He’s never won an Oscar. This is his 20th nomination.

So obviously, he is a loser. I feel bad that Russell and Devlin are saddled with this gimp.

I thought that the sounds in The Bourne Ultimatum were pretty silly, particularly the loud whooshes for tiny weapons. So, it has a good chance to win. No Country probably deserves the award.

Whatever that’s worth.

Achievement in visual effects:

The Golden Compass (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World¡̅s End (Walt Disney)
John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
Transformers (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

Robots!

Adapted screenplay:

Atonement (Focus Features)
Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
Away from Her (Lionsgate)
Written by Sarah Polley
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax/Patḧ| Renn)
Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
No Country for Old Men (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

This one is too close to call.

It’s not that I am bored writing this Oscar Preview or anything like that.

Original screenplay:

Juno (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Diablo Cody
Lars and the Real Girl (MGM)
Written by Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.)
Written by Tony Gilroy
Ratatouille (Walt Disney)
Screenplay by Brad Bird
Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
The Savages (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Tamara Jenkins

This is the award for quirky screenplays. Juno, described by my buddy DC as “quirk porn”, is a lock.