R0BTRAIN's Bad Ass Cinema: Rob's Bad Ass Oscar Picks

Before I get to my Oscar picks, another actor that I really admire passed away this week. Since I was a kid, I’ve known Roy Schieder’s face. The guy was never on a Harrison Ford level for me or anything, but for kids my age, its hard not to hold a special place for his work in Jaws. One of the things that really makes this film work is the world that Spielberg puts you in is so complete before you ever really even get a good look at the shark. The town of Amity seems so real, with its plain townfolk and their everyday problems, and Scheider’s Chief Brody is an integral part of that universe.

I’m tellin’ ya, the crime rate in New York’ll kill you. There’s so many problems, you never feel like you’re accomplishing anything. Violence, rip-offs, muggings… kids can’t leave the house – you gotta walk them to school. But in Amity one man can make a difference.
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Brody is one of those characters that stay with you, and the main reason why is that everyman quality that Scheider gave to the role. It’s just so hard not to feel for him when he starts to get overwhelmed by this horrible situation, having to fight not only the giant monster, but the bureaucracy of small town politics. Scheider gave this role an awesome amount of humor, and great timing and every time he’s on screen its tough not to admire how convincing he is in any given situation.

This performance is so natural and perfect that it makes you sad that he wasn’t able to take the success of Jaws and turn it into superstardom. Sure, he was the lead actor on a TV series, but really Scheider deserved better than just being the main character on Seaquest DSV. This feeling was ever compounded when I got to see more of Scheider’s early 70’s work in The French Connection and The Seven-Ups. This was a hard working character actor who could carry a blockbuster if he needed to. His passing is a sad, sad occurrence that gave fanboys like me everywhere a great pause. Godspeed, Chief Brody, we’ll miss you.

Now, with that bit of business out of the way, we can get to my Oscar picks. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels kind of weird about Hollywood’s big night this year. With the writer’s strike going on so long, I wasn’t even sure if we were going to have the Oscars, and I would hope they would just cancel them instead of having the debacle that was the Golden Globes be repeated. Now that we’ve finally gotten the assurance that the show will go on, we can finally go ahead pick some winners.

I do want to say before I get started that 2007 was one of the best movie years of my life, and I think these Oscar nominations reflect that. Even just in the Best Picture race were three of my top 10 for the year, and the other two were quite excellent as well. I think this pretty much goes for all categories across the board. I can’t think of any huge snubs by Oscar this year, which is the first time in a long time that has really happened. Alright so here are my picks for who should win, will win, and who is the most bad ass example in each category for my own edification. I will say before hand that I’m not going to be covering certain categories, but those are for reasons of just not knowing enough about them (documentaries, short films, etc.) or I just don’t care about them.

Rob’s Bad Ass Oscar Picks

Achievement in Art Direction

The Nominees

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 tell ya, this one’s a little tough to call. Each film here is so different from the other nominees, from a WWII Drama to a 19th century Musical to a Fantasy Kid’s film. Each is a really excellent example of their particular genre, putting you completely into the world it’s supposed to. I think when it comes down to it, I’d probably pick Sweeney Todd here. 19th Century London is completely captured, but with this hyper-real sensibility that only a Tim Burton film could possess. As for most Bad Ass, I’d go with the 1970’s New York portrayed in Ridley Scott’s American Gangster. I love how gritty the film looks throughout, giving you exactly what you’d want from this era in the Big Apple.

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Who Will Win: Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Who Should Win: Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Most Bad Ass Art Direction: American Gangster

Achievement in Costume Design

The Nominees

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’m going with Sweeney Todd again here. I love how every costume in the picture is perfectly made to the period, but still able to accentuate a modern sensibility and the gothic stylings of the movie’s director. This goes for the most bad ass in the category too, as I really like the use of the darker palette to make each outfit ripe for the movie’s bloody antics.

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Who Will Win: Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Who Should Win: Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Most Bad Ass Costuming: Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Achievement in Film Editing

The Nominees

The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal) Christopher Rouse

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax/Pathé 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

I think this category is Roderick Jaynes’ to lose. His work in No Country for Old Men is absolutely fantastic, building up tension to the point of breaking, but never going too far with it. His editing in the film’s action scenes can account for so much of the film’s excitement, creating thrills that couldn’t be matched in ten Pirates of the Carribean or Transformers flicks. With that said, I am glad to see Christopher Rouse get a nom for The Bourne Ultimatum, as I can’t imagine how difficult it was to keep that film from just going into a frenzied mess. Rouse absolutely deserve to be put on this list for always keeping the audience aware of just what the hell was going on, even as it seemed that Jason Bourne wasn’t.

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Who Will Win: No Country for Old Men

Who Should Win: No Country for Old Men

Most Bad Ass Editing: The Bourne Ultimatum

Best foreign Language Film of the Year

The Nominees

>Beaufort A Metro Communications, Movie Plus Production

Israel

The Counterfeiters An Aichholzer Filmproduktion, Magnolia Filmproduktion Production

Austria

Katyń An Akson Studio Production

Poland

Mongol A Eurasia Film Production

Kazakhstan

12 A Three T Production

With favorites in this category, such as The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days not getting nominations for various reasons, I’m going with Genghis Khan to sweep thru this category like he did the known world when he was alive.

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Who Will Win: Mongol

Who Should Win: Mongol

Most Bad Ass Foreign Film: Mongol

Achievement in Makeup

The Nominees

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

Just say it to yourself; Academy Award Nominated Film Norbit. Now after you’ve finished throwing up in your mouth, hope that the Academy goes with one of the two other nominees here.

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Who Will Win: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Who Should Win: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Most Bad Ass Makeup: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Achievement in Visual Effects

The Nominees

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

It surprises me a little that Spider-Man 3 or 300 which created its entire world using CGI weren’t included in this category, but the three that are included are really the best of the lot. Honestly, I’ve been saying since it came out that Transformers was one of the best looking special effects films I’ve ever seen and I still maintain that. The movie convincing integrates giant robots into its film, even if the human characters seem completely fake and needlessly involved. The Polar Bear fight in Golden Compass was awesome and Pirates had its visual moments, but neither really come as close to ILM’s work on Transformers. As for most bad ass, its giant robots fighting vs. the final battle in Pirates, and Optimus beheading that one Decepticon wins out.

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Who Will Win: Transformers

Who Should Win: Transformers

Most Bad Ass Effects: Transformers

Achievement in Sound Editing

The Nominees

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)

Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood

Transformers (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)

Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

This one’s a good one, and I love the subtly of the work done in There Will Be Blood, but I think that No Country’s got it beat again. Skip Lievsay just did marvelous job here, helping create mood and atmosphere, even with the most mundane sounds. Top to bottom this may also be the most bad ass category over all, but again, I think No Country has them all beat. Check out that scene where the wrapper opens up while Anton Chigurh decides whether or not he’s going to kill a store clerk. That’s why this movie is going to win.

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Who Will Win: No Country for Old Men

Who Should Win: No Country for Old Men

Most Bad Ass Sound Editing: No Country for Old Men

Achievement in Cinematography

The Nominees

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/Pathé Renn) Janusz Kaminski

No Country for Old Men (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roger Deakins

There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Robert Elswit

Probably the most satisfied I’d felt when they announced the Academy Award Nominations was that Roger Deakins had been nominated twice in this one category. Deakins did absolutely phenomenal work in this category this year, and shot two of the most exceptionally beautiful films I’ve ever seen, so it befits that he should get the double nomination. Personally, I’d go with Assassination of Jesse James over No Country, but I don’t know that the Academy will feel that way. As for most bad ass cinematography, I’m going with Assassination’s iconography over There Will Be Blood’s or the Coen Bros’ masterpiece.

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Who Will Win: No Country for Old Men

Who Should Win: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Most Bad Ass Cinematography: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

The Nominees

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

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Bottom line, if Ratatouille doesn’t win, then there’s something wrong and the Academy needs to hang up this category.

Who Will Win: Ratatouille

Who Should Win: Ratatouille

Most Bad Ass Animated Feature Film of the Year : Ratatouille

Adapted Screenplay

The Nominees

Atonement (Focus Features)

Screenplay by Christopher Hampton

Away from Her (Lionsgate)

Written by Sarah Polley

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax/Pathé 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

The There Will Be Blood/No Country for Old Men battle royale keeps raging here. This one is super close, but I think again No Country for Old Men gets the edge due to the witty dialogue of the Coen Bros. This isn’t to say that Paul Thomas Anderson’s work isn’t phenomenal, but the Coen’s funny, moving and action-packed screenplay just gets the blood moving in a way that PTA’s cerebral screenplay isn’t able to do.

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Who Will Win: No Country for Old Men

Who Should Win: No Country for Old Men

Most Bad Ass Adapted Screenplay: No Country for Old Men

Original Screenplay

The Nominees

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

Original Screenplay is always the award that Oscar likes to give to the movie that they love, but don’t want to give Best Picture to. This brings the category down to Michael Clayton and Juno. While Michael Clayton is smart and is actually quite moving, I don’t think there’s any stopping Juno. The movie’s the Academy darling right now, and I think Diablo Cody’s witty dialogue manages to win you over just about as much as anything else in the movie does.

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Who Will Win: Juno

Who Should Win: Juno

Most Bad Ass Original Screenplay: Michael Clayton

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

The Nominees

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.)

Amy Ryan was pretty much looking like a lock about two months ago, but I think Blanchett’s performance may just be too strong. Both are very strong, but I just don’t think Ryan’s alcoholic drug user beats out Blanchett’s Dylan impression at the big dance.

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Who Will Win: Cate Blanchett in I’m Not There

Who Should Win: Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone

Most Bad Ass Actress in a Supporting Role: Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone

<bPerformance by an actor in a Supporting Role

The Nominees

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.)

Top to bottom, just as it is in most years this is the absolute best category of the entire evening. Yes, Javier Bardem is pretty much a lock, but I still feel like no category has a stronger list of nominees than this one does. It’s nice to see Hal Holbrook again, though his performance tended to be a little brief. Wilkinson does his usual awesome work in Michael Clayton, and Hoffman pretty much steals the entire movie as the CIA agent in Charlie Wilson’s War, but the real story is the iconic role of Anton Chigurh versus what I think is the absolute best performance of year in Casey Affleck’s Robert Ford. In the end, I think the Academy can’t go against convention, but an upset here would certainly be the biggest of the night.

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Who Will Win: Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men

Who Should Win: Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Most Bad Ass Actor in a Supporting Role: Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

The Nominees

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)

This one’s a tough one to pick from. Julie Christie’s performance in Away from Her is a brave one, plus she’s got the experience of an actress that is probably on her last go round to get a statuette. Ellen Page is the favorite with the offbeat crowd, and it really is a fantastic performance with Page’s Juno displaying a maturity that matches her childlike persona. Also there’s Cate Blanchett, whose managed to be nominated in a role she has already been nominated before for, and really should have won the first time. I’m giving Christie the edge here, because the Academy’s usually a big softy for these types of roles.

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Who Will Win: Julie Christie in Away from Her

Who Should Win: Ellen Page in Juno

Most Bad Ass Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

The Nominees

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)

This is an awesome list of nominees, from the subtle heartbreak of Tommy Lee Jones to the bad ass ambiguity of Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises. Clooney’s movie star charisma shines throughout one of his best performances in Michael Clayton and Johnny Depp would have probably been the favorite in any other year. I wouldn’t mind seeing any of these guys win best actor, especially Depp for his twisted throat cutter and Mortensen for being in the best fight scene on film all year, but this one has really already been decided, they just don’t know it yet. For performances in 2007, no one in this category can end up coming close to Daniel Day-Lewis. This is a towering performance that deserves every bit of accolades it has received, and now its going to get the big one. Daniel Day-Lewis may just be the greatest actor of this modern era, and now he’ll get another Oscar to back that claim up.

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Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Who Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood

Most Bad Ass Actor in a Leading Role: Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises

Achievement in Directing

The Nominees

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel

Juno (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), 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

I think all the nominees deserve to be here, though I would have preferred to have seen David Cronenberg or Tim Burton get their shot at Oscar’s prize. Once again, I think this one comes down to the Coens and PTA, and I’m pretty sure that Joel and Ethan will finally get that do-over they deserved for Fargo. Thing is, I can’t say honestly that Anderson doesn’t deserve the trophy here, because I think under anyone else’ supervision that There Will Be Blood could have been a complete disaster. The fact that Anderson could make the film so endlessly fascinating, even when there isn’t a lot going on onscreen is a testament to both he and his actors. Still, I think the Coens will probably get their night.

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Who Will Win: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men

Who Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood

Most Bad Ass Achievement in Directing: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men

Best Motion Picture of the Year

The Nominees

Atonement (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers

Juno (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production) A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd 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

This year’s Best Picture race has been a really tough one to predict. I think many that have seen There Will Be Blood are overwhelmed by its scope and power. Atonement’s sweeping romance has garnered it many awards, including the Golden Globe for Best Picture as well as the BAFTA. Michael Clayton Is a tense and riveting Thriller that I think is gonna stand the test of time when all is said and done. Juno is a heart-warming, smart, and witty Comedy that got a ton of momentum coming into Oscar season. Again though, I think the Coens finally get to take home the big one. Bottom Line, No Country for Old Men is an exhausting emotional ride that pulls at nearly every emotion you’ve got and still keeps going. This is movie making as well as it can be done, and its high time that Joel and Ethan got recognition for it.

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Who Will Win: No Country for Old Men

Who Should Win: No Country for Old Men

Most Bad Ass Motion Picture of 2007: No Country for Old Men