Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Two Cents Worth on the Oscar Awards

12 Feb 2008 - While the strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is putting a question mark on the Oscar Awards Night on Feb 24, the film industry can take comfort in the fact that the Oscars will be given away – one way or the other. Just like the Golden Globes, they could be dished out at a press conference although that would be too much of a letdown to a world ‘addicted’ to the glitter and glamour of the Oscar red carpet and awards show.

With billion$ at stake and only two weeks to go, there are rumours – and fervent hopes – that the strike will be settled at the ‘last-minute’ to allow Oscar Night to happen. This being so, let’s take a look at the main Oscar nominees and evaluate their chances – especially in the light of last Sunday’s BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards.

Category: BEST ACTOR
Contenders: George Clooney (Michael Clayton, pic), Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood); Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street): Tommy Lee Jones (In The Valley Of Ellah) and Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Comments: Among the five nominees, two (Clooney and Day-Lewis) have already won Best Actor Oscars, while Depp and Jones are in for their third nomination. This is the first time for Mortensen and we can safely rule him out. This leaves Depp and Jones as the favourites and I am rooting for Depp. However, there is a chance the Academy would pick Jones due to the seniority factor.

Contenders: Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age); Julie Christie (Away From Her); Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose); Laura Linney (The Savages) and Ellen Page (Juno)

Comments: This category is usually the toughest to pick considering the talents involved. Blanchett and Christie have won Oscars before while Linney is in for her third nomination. It is the first time for Cotillard and Page. Cotillard has been picked by BAFTA but I am rooting for Page. I am hoping that the Academy members will make a bold move this time around and go for young talent.

Contenders: Casey Affleck (Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford); Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men); Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War); Hal Holbrook (Into The Wild) and Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

Comments: Among the five, Hoffman had won the Best Actor Oscar for “Capote” in 2005 and this is his second nomination, as it is also for Bardem and Wilkinson. I am inclined to think that some Academy members are just being kind to Holbrook, naming him for just a 10-minute cameo-like appearance in the movie “Into The Wild”. Affleck is impressive as Robert Ford – but I think it is a toss up between Bardem and Wilkinson.

Contenders: Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There): Ruby Dee (American Gangster); Saoirse Ronan (Atonement); Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) and Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)

Comments: Other than Blanchett (who won Best Supporting Actress for “The Aviator” in 2004), the rest are first-timers. Having seen the performances of Dee and Ronan, I don’t think they are ‘meaty’ enough to win the Oscar. Again, this is a toss-up between Ryan and Swinton (who won the BAFTA for her role as a ruthless corporate lawyer, pictured right). I will go for Swinton too.

Contenders: Atonement; Juno; Michael Clayton; No Country For Old Men; There Will Be Blood

Comments: Among the five, “Atonement seems to be the favourite, having won Best Movie at both the Golden Globes and BAFTA. ‘Juno’ is a youth movie and is unlikely to take the Oscar although it is my personal choice. “Michael Clayton” looks a safe bet if the Academy members reject British import for a home-grown effort.

Contenders: Julian Schnabel (Diving Bell And The Butterfly); Jason Reitman (Juno); Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton); Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men) and Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)

Comments: Anderson and Gilroy are strong contenders but the Academy looks more likely to go for the Coen Brothers who also picked up the BAFTA award.


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