Friday, June 29, 2007

Oscar Predictions: Summer Edition

It's that time again. Time for me to geek out about the still-more-than-six-months-away Oscar nominations. I think we can safely say that none of the films that will end up on the Academy's short list have premiered yet. So we're still flying relatively blind. But as the trailers have started rolling in, along with the advance word from festivals, the adjustment of release dates, and the ever-ephemeral buzz, the picture has gotten marginally clearer.


  1. Atonement (Focus)
  2. Reservation Road (Focus)
  3. Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.)
  4. No Country For Old Men (Miramax)
  5. Charlie Wilson's War (Universal)

Also: Lions For Lambs (United Artists); In The Valley Of Elah (Warner Independent); There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage); The Kite Runner (Paramount Vantage); Sweeney Todd (Paramount); The Golden Age (Universal); Rendition (New Line); Lust, Caution (Focus); American Gangster (Universal); Love In The Time Of Cholera (New Line).

Atonement's no slam dunk, and maybe I'm overrating its chances because of the appeal it holds for me personally, but trailer gave an English Patient vibe that I could see Oscar voters going for. If it's good. It's probably unlikely that Focus Features will net two Best Picture nods, but I'm not yet ready to pick just one of their two entries. Michael Clayton could have genre problems as a legal thriller, but there just appears to be more meat on its bones than most legal thrillers. No Country For Old Men could put the Coen brothers back in the Best Picture race for the first time since Fargo, if the Cannes buzz bears out stateside. I'm hoping either this or PT Anderson's There Will Be Blood serves as the token auteur nominee.

Finally, my feeling is that the trio of politically-conscious Iraq/Afghanistan-themed will battle it out for one "slot." Not that the Academy will consciously restrict themselves, but they'll be so constantly compared to each other that it's inevitable one will emerge as the darling to the detriment of the other two. Right now, I'm going with Charlie Wilson's War, mostly because Lions For Lambs looks too talky and In The Valley Of directed by Paul Haggis. And I just can't.


  1. Joaquin Phoenix -- Reservation Road
  2. Daniel Day-Lewis -- There Will Be Blood
  3. John Cusack -- Grace Is Gone
  4. Denzel Washington -- American Gangster
  5. James McAvoy -- Atonement

Also: Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd); Benicio Del Toro (Things We Lost in the Fire); Tom Hanks (Charlie Wilson's War); Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner); Phillip Seymour Hoffman (The Savages); George Clooney (Michael Clayton); Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah).

Phoenix continues to look great, on paper at least. Cusack doesn't seem to be getting predicted anywhere else, which makes me wonder whether I've missed a pocket of poisonous buzz for his film. I ultimately think his role as a grieving widower on a road trip is just the kind of hokum he needs to nab his first Oscar nomination. Denzel enters the predictions on the back of the American Gangster trailer, which appears to give him a great anti-hero showcase. McAvoy, again, I worry that I'm prediction with my heart rather than my head, but his career certainly does seem to be reaching the point where he'd get a nomination, does it not?


  1. Marion Cotillard -- La Vie En Rose
  2. Julie Christie -- Away From Her
  3. Kiera Knightley -- Atonement
  4. Cate Blanchett -- The Golden Age
  5. Angelina Jolie -- A Mighty Heart

Also: Jennifer Connelly (Reservation Road); Halle Berry (Things We Lost In The Fire); Laura Linney (The Savages); Jodie Foster (The Brave One); Nicole Kidman (Margot At The Wedding); Reese Witherspoon (Rendition); Keri Russell (Waitress).

This is the only category where we know at least somewhat what's going on. Cotillard and Christie have received rapturous reviews, and with Best Actress historically being an easier category to crack for performances from the first half of the year (mostly because the field for quality leading roles for women is relatively thin), they seem to be positioned well. Jolie's reviews haven't been as strong, but if she makes it, it won't be based on the critics anyway. If this ends up being a weak year, I can definitely see her sticking around. I really didn't want to pick Blanchett because she's such a trendy choice, but the Golden Age trailer has me sold.


  1. Javier Bardem -- No Country For Old Men
  2. Tom Wilkinson -- Michael Clayton
  3. Clive Owen -- The Golden Age
  4. Mark Ruffalo -- Reservation Road
  5. Philip Bosco -- The Savages

Also: Steve Zahn (Rescue Dawn); Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson's War); Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood); Samuel L. Jackson (Resurrecting The Champ); Alan Rickman (Sweeney Todd).

The raves for Bardem's Old Men performance have been orgasmic, but given the fact that most of those raves came from Cannes (whose tastes often differ greatly from the Oscars) I'm not 100% confident. Still, he's the only one we've got solid word on. The other four just seem like good fits.


  1. Jennifer Jason Leigh -- Margot At The Wedding
  2. Romola Garai -- Atonement
  3. Meryl Streep -- Lions For Lambs
  4. Helena Bonham Carter -- Sweeney Todd
  5. Susan Sarandon -- In The Valley Of Elah

Also: Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There); Samantha Morton (The Golden Age); Saoirse Ronan (Atonement); Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton); Abbie Cornish (The Golden Age); Sigourney Weaver (The TV Set); Mira Sorvino (Reservation Road).

The Margot at the Wedding trailer could have doubled as an announcement that Jennifer Jason Leigh has entered the race. She looks fantastic, and more importantly, she looks like she's going to be the standout performer of her film. I still remain very high on Garai's chances, though the presence of Saorise Ronan as not only intra-film competition but intra-role competition makes me nervous. Streep's an educated guess based on the fact that Oscar can't get enough of her. That used to be true of Sarandon, too, and you figure she's got to get nominated again sometime.


Trey said...

No hope for Revolutionary Road, then?

RC said...

i did a top 5 best pic predixs last week...we only match up directly on atonement.

but, i did really bad at this point last year.

Joe R. said...

Revolutionary Road was, last I checked, set for 2008.

Anonymous said...

Julia Roberts is going to be coming back on the big screen in Charlie Wilson's War. Personally, after the time off that she has had, I think she is going to come back with a huge bang and take one of those nominations for Best Actress.