As we head into the turn on the Oscar year, we still don't have a movie that can be definitively termed a "lock." There's strong consensus around some films, certainly -- Atonement, Charlie Wilson's War, No Country For Old Men -- but nothing's a sure bet quite yet. Even in the acting categories, only a small handful of performances are pretty much guaranteed to endure (Cate Blanchett: clear up some mantle space). So here are my best educated guesses, frozen for posterity.
- Atonement (Focus)
- American Gangster (Universal)
- No Country For Old Men (Miramax)
- Sweeney Todd (Paramount)
- Juno (Fox Searchlight)
Also: Michael Clayton (Warner Bros.); There Will Be Blood (Paramount Vantage); Into The Wild (Paramount Vantage); Charlie Wilson's War (Universal); The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax).Truth be told, I'd like to swap out one of Sweeney/Juno for Michael Clayton but I'm not confident enough about which to drop. Unless Atonement gets brutalized by the critics, it looks safe for a nomination (I wouldn't call it a frontrunner for the win, though). Gangster's strong box office is strong in its favor while No Country has the critics. Any of that second five could surge its way to a nomination if it catches a wave of support in the next month.
- Joe Wright --
- Ridley Scott -- American Gangster
- Joel and Ethan Coen -- No Country For Old Men
- Tony Gilroy -- Michael Clayton
- Paul Thomas Anderson -- There Will Be Blood
This looks like a strong year for that 5th director slot that tends to favor iconoclastic directors without corresponding Best Picture nods. Anderson, Penn, Schnabel, and Lumet fit that mold perfectly. Predicting Gilroy probably means I'm still holding a torch for big Oscar success for Michael Clayton, but I really do think it could end up as a big winner. In general, I'd caution against drawing too many comparisons from American Gangster to The Departed in terms of its potential Oscar success, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Ridley Scott could finally get a Best Director trophy this year.
- Daniel Day-Lewis -- There Will Be Blood
- James McAvoy -- Atonement
- Denzel Washington -- American Gangster
- George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
- Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd)
The advance raves for Daniel Day-Lewis are already looking mighty similar to his raves for Gangs Of New York. This time around, they may end up pushing him all the way to a second trophy. The time seems right for McAvoy's ascendance to the Best Actor echelon. I wasn't crazy about Denzel in Gangster but enough will be to allow him to ride a Best Picture nominee to a nomination of his own. Clooney by all rights should get recognized for a career-best performance while Depp will either blow people away or disappoint them utterly. The second tier looks kind of anemic, with only a groundswell for Viggo or a late charge by Cusack or Amalric looking like genuine upset possibilities.
- Amy Adams -- Enchanted
- Marion Cotillard -- La Vie En Rose
- Ellen Page -- Juno
- Julie Christie -- Away From Her
- Kiera Knightley -- Atonement
Also: Laura Linney (The Savages); Jodie Foster (The Brave One); Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart); Cate Blanchett (The Golden Age); Nicole Kidman (Margot At The Wedding).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Javier Bardem -- No Country For Old Men
- Phillip Seymour Hoffman -- Charlie Wilson's War
- Tom Wilkinson -- Michael Clayton
- Casey Affleck -- The Assassination of Jesse James
- Paul Dano -- There Will Be Blood
Also: Hal Holbrook (Into The Wild); Max Von Sydow (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly); Philip Bosco (The Savages); Alan Rickman (Sweeney Todd); Tommy Lee Jones (No Country For Old Men).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Cate Blanchett -- I'm Not There
- Tilda Swinton -- Michael Clayton
- Jennifer Jason Leigh -- Margot At The Wedding
- Helena Bonham Carter -- Sweeney Todd
- Saoirse Ronan -- Atonement
Blanchett's about as locked a nominee as you can get. It's starting to look like she's unbeatable for the win, too, but seeing as I'm Not There doesn't figure to be that strong of a presence in other categories, I won't set it in stone yet. As strong as Supporting Actress has been in the last couple years, it's looking awfully anemic this year. Which is good news for someone like Tilda Swinton, who'd have been overlooked in years past. I'm still hoping Leigh can hold on, though her popularity may be more among prognostocators rather than those with an actual ballot. I'm calling "uncle" on Saoirse Ronan as the Atonement nominee since she's the one people keep coming around to. I tried, Romola Garai. I really did.
In other category prediction news:
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
2. Michael Clayton
4. Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
5. The Savages
Also: Ratatouille; Knocked Up; Eastern Promises; Lars and the Real Girl; Once.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
2. No Country For Old Men
3. American Gangster
4. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
5. There Will Be Blood
Also: Into The Wild; Charlie Wilson's War; Sweeney Todd; The Assassination of Jesse James; Away From Her.
1. Roger Deakins -- The Assassination of Jesse James
2. Eric Gautier -- Into the Wild
3. Janusz Kaminski -- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
4. Robert Elswit -- There Will Be Blood
5. Seamus McGarvey -- Atonement
Also: Roger Deakins (No Country For Old Men); Dariusz Wolski (Sweeney Todd); Rodrigo Prieto (Lust, Caution); Harris Savides (Zodiac); Edward Lachman (I'm Not There).