You'll be able to watch a proper Oscar ceremony come Sunday, Feb. 24, because the writers' strike is over. This means you'll get to spend about four hours watching rich, successful people congratulating themselves while they wear diamonds the size of your head.
The strike settlement is a relief, really, because I would've hated to see eggs getting thrown at the Coen brothers as they attempted to cross picket lines to get their little golden boy.
On second thought, that would've been kind of cool.
The Academy handed down some very nice nominations this year, and while the Coens' film was only my second-favorite of 2007, I'm looking for them to receive some long-deserved love Sunday night. The makers of Barton Fink, Fargo and Raising Arizona should finally get the top prize for No Country for Old Men, and it was a long time coming.
As for snubs, there were a few noticeable ones. I'll discuss them later.
My predictions are usually about 80 percent correct. However, please understand that this is only an estimate of my guessing powers, and when it comes to estimating, I'm only about 57 percent right.
Best Picture and DirectorI don't expect any big upsets here. While I liked Juno and Michael Clayton, I don't think they deserved their nominations in these categories. Sean Penn's Into the Wild and Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd got ignored here, and that's a shame. Burton made his best film to date, and Wild qualifies as Penn's first masterpiece.
There's talk of a Juno upset, but the Coen brothers and No Country for Old Men will get the big prize. However, my favorite film of 2007 was There Will Be Blood, so an award for that film would make me happy. You won't see me crying if No Country wins, though. I've matured a lot in the last five or six months.
Atonement, once considered the favorite, has not gotten very many prizes during awards season, and it seems to have fallen out of favor. It's a great movie, but it's not the year's best.
Overall, I'd say this is a decent crop of nominees. None of these films got me close to vomiting, unless, of course, that was the intention.
As for Best Director, this will be a night for the Coens. Due to the fact that I like Paul Thomas Anderson's Blood a little more, he would be the director I find most deserving. However, I will be just as happy to see the Coens triumph over the competition, which includes Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Jason Reitman (Juno) and Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
Should win (Best Picture): There Will Be Blood
Will win (Best Picture): No Country for Old Men
Should win (Best Director): Anderson
Will win (Best Director): The Coen Brothers
Best ActorThere's no real reason to discuss anybody but Daniel Day-Lewis in this category. I've heard some rumblings that Johnny Depp could take home his first Oscar for his brilliant performance in Sweeney Todd, but I truly doubt that will happen.
I love me some George Clooney (Michael Clayton) and Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises), yet they're the least deserving of nominations here, and the least likely to win. Tommy Lee Jones was superb in In the Valley of Elah, but he was better in No Country for Old Men, for which he was ignored.
Snubs include Emile Hirsch for his breakthrough work in Penn's Into the Wild. If more voters had seen Sam Riley channeling Ian Curtis of Joy Division in Control, I think we could've seen his name on this list. Philip Seymour Hoffman scared the piss out of me in Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, yet he was not recognized.
Like I said, there's no real point discussing the other nominees. This will be a night for Day-Lewis and his second Oscar.
Should and will win: Day-Lewis
Best ActressThe year's worst nomination goes to Cate Blanchett for her career-worst work in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, which was tiresome, abrasive and obnoxious. I love Blanchett, but her bad work here is akin to the screaming-banshee performance Sean Penn turned in for All the King's Men in 2006. Helena Bonham Carter deserved Blanchett's slot. Ignoring her brilliant work in Sweeney Todd qualifies as one of the year's most unfortunate snubs.
As for the rest of the field, it's pretty impressive.
Ellen Page's sweet, sarcastic turn in Juno has elevated her status, but it won't net her an Oscar just yet. Also losing will be Laura Linney for career-best work in The Savages. Both deserve their nominations, as does Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose, but this year's Oscar seems destined for Julie Christie. Her beautiful, sad performance as a luminous woman facing Alzheimer's in Away From Her has "Oscar" written all over it. It would be a crime if she were denied.
Should and will win: Christie
Best Supporting ActorWere I the god of Oscar nominations, I wouldn't have nominated Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson's War). It's a real good performance in an average movie, but there were performances that are more deserving. Tom Wilkinson was awesome in Michael Clayton, but I'd consider dropping him from the list next.
I absolutely loved Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild, and think he has a decent chance of scoring a sentimental win. However, the favorite here would probably be Javier Bardem for No County for Old Men, in which he plays one of the greatest screen villains since Hannibal Lecter.
Those missing include John Travolta for his magical fat-suit work in Hairspray. In fact, his omission might qualify as the most surprising snub. While he didn't have a chance in hell, Michael Cera was perfect as an awkward teen in Superbad.
My favorite in this category would be Casey Affleck for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (a film which I think was unjustly panned by Linsay Hernon). While I don't think he'll win, I was pleased to see his haunting work getting some recognition. Bardem will win here, and that's just fine with me.
Should win: Affleck
Will win: Bardem
Best Supporting ActressI dissed her a few paragraphs ago, but Cate Blanchett deserves an Oscar for her work as Bob Dylan in I'm Not There. It's easily the best performance among the nominees here, but I'm thinking 83-year-old Ruby Dee will edge her out for American Gangster, due to the sentimentality factor. That would be a slight shame, because everybody else in this category turned in better work, including Tilda Swinton as a sleazeball in Michael Clayton, Amy Ryan as another sleazeball in Gone Baby Gone, and Saoirse Ronan as a tragic liar in Atonement.
Should win: Blanchett
Will win: Dee