Monday, January 21, 2008

Can you pic the best pics?

The Oscar nominations will be announced during the wee hours Tuesday. In the spirit of fun (and public embarrassment), I'm venturing a guess on what will be nominated for best pic. If I get two right, I'll be happy.

Here are my predictions:

"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

What about you? Pick your poisons.

I think the following have a shot at unseating the above:

"Eastern Promises"
"The Great Debaters" (Go home team!)
"Into the Wild"
"Michael Clayton"
"Sweeney Todd"

And of the pictures I've seen, I'd go for these:

"Eastern Promises" ("Shower scene" rivals "Psycho's.")
"Into the Wild" (Emile Hirsch. Period.)
"No Country for Old Men" (I'm still wetting my pants. Coens' best pic since "Fargo.")
"Ratatouille" (I don't care if it is animation. It deserves best pic consideration, and I'm still hungry.)
"Zodiac" (Craft is just as tight as "No Country for Old Men," though both pictures left me a bit cold.)

And I still need to see "There Will Be Blood!"


Chris-Brad said...

Well, here we go again, Alexandyr. Here we go again!

I must stress that these are not necessarily my favorites. They are the films I think the Academy will nominate.

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country For Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"

First, the flicks we can agree on. Without question "TWWB" and "NCFOM" will get nods. These two are undoubtedly the best films of the year. And I think "Juno" gets in as it is this year's "Little Miss Sunshine." Even the Academy needs a little laughter and levity, especially in this downer of a category.

The rest, well, we'll have to agree to disagree.

I think "Atonement" has lost its luster. It just isn't that great of a film to begin with anyway. Sure, it it sweeping, feels epic, and looks beautiful. Even so, there are far better flicks to reward, and I bet the average Academy member will see it that way, too! Besides, the reason it got a nod and award from the Foreign Press Association was its British roots. Sorry, but no "Atonement" for me. In its place, though, will be some sort of foreign drama. For me this has to go to "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." Since it isn't qualified for the foreign language category, I bet a lot of voters will give it a nod for best picture.

Next is "Zodiac." Personally, I loved "Zodiac." Then again, I am a fan of anything by David Fincher. And despite its brilliance, its March release will hurt it. And its length and non-resolution will also diminish its chances. Instead I bet the Academy will go for "Michael Clayton." Now, I could not stand "MC." I thought it was overwritten and overacted. But George Clooney is a daling to the Academy's voters, and I bet that will give the flick the edge it needs.

As far as other wild cards are concerned, I would love to see a surprise and be wrong on several of these choices. Pleasant surprises would include nominations for: "Sweeney Todd," "Ratatouille," "Before the Devil Knows You're There," or "The Savages."

As far as your selection of other possibilities... "Eastern Promises" looked and felt like any other action flick turned drama (which is true of "American gangster," as well). "Into the Wild" could slip in, but it was such a let down for me. The book is perfect, but Sean Penn overdid it. But, being this is Sean Penn and he is another Academy darling, I wouldn't be surprised. And, finally, "The Great Debators." I read somewhere a review that called it a TV show dressed up like a movie. I couldn't agree more. Such great possibility, but so little result.

There you go. I look forward to seeing your response before and/or after the nominations. Good luck!

Alexandyr Kent said...

Shoot! I forgot to include "Butterfly" in the poll. Forgive me. That should have been in there.

Generally speaking, the best films have been really, really good during the last three years.

Narrowing the field down to five was difficult yet again. As a film lover, you have to love what's in theaters right now.

Here are some random notes:

* I think we're in a bit of a golden age for screenwriting, and I absolute dread the prospect of writing about next year's awards if the WGA strike lingers. Talk about the pending season of the suck.

* I'm actually curious to see if topical films like "Rendition" and "In the Valley of Elah" sneak into any of the categories. Not sure if they merit it, but you never know. They were certainly posturing for consideration. (I wasn't a fan of "Elah," but its acting was stellar.)

* I have a gut feeling about "Zodiac," but adding Fincher to the mix might be one too many auteurs for consideration: Coen bros., P.T. Anderson, Tim Burton, Cronenberg. We expect great work from these names, so they might get scrutinized harshly. Needless to say, I think these names are going to result in a big split in the categories of best pic/best director. I'd be surprised three films -- hell, two! -- double dip this year.

* Pics like "Juno" might earn a nod simply because they come from young filmmakers who surprise us. He's a Reitman, yes, but comparing his POV to his father's basically sums up a dramatic paradigm shift in contemporary comedy filmmaking. I could talk for hours on this.

* "Juno" as best picture? Screenplay and best actress, I can see. I'm not sure this comedy merits the big prize. Seems a bit slight, but what is refreshing about the film is that approaches an everyday topic with unpredictable energy. Then again, all that namedropping is a bit pretentious, and I'm not sure it will play well with older Academy voters. Is that contradictory enough for ya?

* If "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country" both get nods, I'm afraid they will cancel one another out in the voting in the pursuit to answer the question, "Who's the better auteur?" Perhaps my predicted split in movie/director category is in the making?

* In terms of predicting what might win, I'll be looking to cancel pics out by pairings. (I think I've made this point before.) "American Gangster" and "Eastern Promises" can be (unjustly) paired as crime dramas, and so can "Hairspray" and "Sweeney Todd" as musicals. "Lars" and "Juno" as indie comedies. "Zodiac" and "Gone Baby Gone" as investigative/crime thrillers. Films like "Michael Clayton" and "Into the Wild" seem to stand alone, and this could help their chances. See any more pairing here?

* I am a horrible prognosticator, so don't rush to agree with me.

* Though chris-brad may have won last year's war, I won the best picture battle by picking "The Departed.” … chris-brad, you just got served!

Chris Jay said...

If "Juno" gets best picture, I'm going to immolate myself in the streets. I have never heard so many teens talk like hip 30-something screenwriters in my life. Something tells me that burger phones were sitting in the stock rooms of local Hot Topic stores even before the movie opened in Shreveport-Bossier.
But yeah...Mott the Hoople is a great band.

I personally hope "No Country" takes Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor. I paid to see that movie five times, and that's a lot on my salary!

Chris-Brad said...

I will agree with you, Alexandyr, when you wrote the best films of the past few years have been really good. I mean, we have been treated to some great flicks these last three or four years. Even the "popcorn flicks" seem to have been better!

However, "Crash" is THE exception to that thought. What a letdown and embarassment. I am serious when I write not a single person I know enjoyed that film. Not a one. I remember a few years ago when it was nominated thinking it was a horrible choice and wondering what other film lost a best picture nod because of the inclusion of "Crash" by the Academy. And then it won. Yeah, I would have lost that category to you that year as well, Alexandyr!

And as far as "Juno" is concerned, Chris Jay, well I have seen better but I have also seen worse. I would prefer a dark comedy, like "The Savages," get the nomination, but "Juno" keeps getting the awards and talk.

Oh well. Lots of fun and bickering, I mean discussion, in the coming weeks.

And get ready to eat your words, Alexandyr. You may have won that category last year, but I am readying myself to embarass you again!

Alexandyr Kent said...

I completely agree with you, chris-brad, on "Crash." What a stinker. I guess we can take comfort in the fact that the best film, or the ones that last, rarely win top honors.

And somebody call the fire department. I saw Chris Jay wandering up and down Youree this morning with a dangerous look in his eye. Whatever you say, don't say the words "pork" or "sword" in his presence. Very delicate state, that one.

Baily said...

Fellas, fellas, fellas...I am so mad that Sweeney Todd didn't make the cut (insert diabolical laughter here).

My favorite film without a doubt this year was No Country for Old Men, even with the unsatisfying ending. I don't think I would have liked it any more with a neatly tied bow on the end. I love the Coens and fully support their choices...even in a packed theater where movie goers yelled WTF? to the credits as they rolled by.

Atonement is a stuffy British film, full of stuffy British actors, so of course the Academy had to hand it a nod.

Juno is just a way for the Academysaurus Rexes to seem hip. I absolutely hate that it's being dubbed this year's "Little Miss Sunshine." I fell off my couch laughing at LMS. Academically, I understand the comparison, but come on people!

I saw Michael Clayton by mistake. The ticket clerk at Tinseltown accidentally printed the wrong tickets, and so I just sat down and ate my popcorn. I didn't hate it. But, it wasn't the end all, be all that people were trying to make it out to be. I'm actually surprised that Clooney is still an Academy darling after last year's, well, we'll call it an acceptance speech for Syriana. I'm sure it did feel like a consolation prize, but it's still an Oscar, George!
I do love Tom Wilkinson, though.

And that brings us to TWBB. I haven't seen it yet. But, if I'm sure of anything in this life, I will like Daniel Day-Lewis's performance more than the film as a whole.

So, my vote, if I had one, would go to NCFOM. Hands down.

On a side note - will the striking writers wriggle into their tuxes and dresses if the picket lines are still in place? Or will they boycott this year's affair? Just wondering what you think.

Alexandyr Kent said...

chris-brad, we have competition in Baily. And it looks like the early local favorite is going to "No Country ... ." Hopefully "There Will Be Blood" will open this weekend.

Baily, I think the last buzzing three comedy films to be nominated -- "Sideways," "LMS," and "Juno" -- are signs of major shift in our tastes for humor. As the hours churn on, I'm starting to think more deeply about them. Why are comedies about mistake-making losers so important to us right now? Theories forthcoming ...

That's the beauty of Oscar season. It's taste-making time. It's time to take up arms and define what moves us. I loved "Into the Wild," but completely understand why others don't. (Being that I watched it in an empty theater, I have to accept my tastes, and most of our tastes, are in the minority.)

Anonymous said...