Friday, February 22, 2008

OSCAR Predictions, LOST, and MORE!

I smell Oscar! Haha, I should do a whole blog in the style of The Onion's Jackie Harvey. Item! In any case, it's all about the Oscar race. And yes, that rhymed, sucka. Man, this blog is off to quite the start ...

Anyways, with the Oscars on Sunday, I thought I should do a little write up, as per tradition. This year though, I am pleasantly able to kind of just sit back and enjoy without getting to opinionated. The reason? Well, 2007, as I've said many times here, was one of the best-ever years, at least that I've lived through, for movies - and certainly the best since I began this blog. It's looking like a no-brainer that movies like No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood will be honored, which is great, because they more than deserve it. Sure, there are some categories where I was annoyed with the movies that were omitted, and some movies I would have loved to see get more recognition (Assassination of Jesse James, for one ... King of Kong, for another). But, overall, there are so many great films that ARE nominated, that there are few potential winners that would be a gigantic letdown in the major categories. That being said, of course I have my favorites, so, on with the show ...

- What I'll do here is maybe a little bit different from years past - I'm basically breaking things down the same way, but rather than just the usual "Should Win, Will Win" categories, I'll instead designate who I'm rooting for. Alright, here we go:


- Who I'm rooting for: Daniel Day Lewis all the way - as great as some of the other choices are (Viggo in particular was amazing in Eastern Promises), DDL's performance in There Will Be Blood is one that will be talked about for years and years to come.

- Who will win: Daniel Day Lewis drinks your milkshake. No contest.


- Who I'm rooting for: Man, this is a tough one because Casey Affleck was awesome in Jesse James, as was Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton, as was Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson and Hal Holbrook in into the wild. But, come on, Javier Bardem kicked all kinds of ass in No Country - he deserves to win if only for being one of the all-time great Coen Bros. characters.

- Who will win: Javier Bardem no doubt, friend-o.


- Who I'm rooting for: Still have yet to see some of the nominated performances, so the favorite for me is surely Ellen Page, who to me was simply killer as Juno. How can anyone not love her?

- Who will win: This is a tough one to predict. It comes down to Ellen Page and Julie Christie, I think, and it's practically a toss-up between them. In the end, I will be rooting for Page, but predict a win for Julie Christie - it's just so rare for someone to win for a semi-comedic performance.


- Who I'm rooting for: Gotta go with Tilda Swindon. She was amazing in Michael Clayton, and she deserves recognition.

- Who will win: I'm picking Tilda Swindon. Michael Clayton will probably not get a lot of love this year, but this win will be it's one big pickup - bet on it.


- Who I'm rooting for: Honestly, I'd be happy if either No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood wins. Both stand as two of the best movies in years, and represent high points for the Coens and Paul Thomas Anderson, respectively. I give No Country the slight edge (see my Best of 2007 list for why), but both films were landmarks. I was also a big fan of Michael Clayton and especially of Juno, but I can't quite place them in the same tier as the aformentioned masterpieces.

- Who will win: Tough to call, again, but I'm going to go with No Country. The Coens are a proven commodity at the Oscars, and the movie is one of their best. when you add up the stellar cast, typically great screenplay, and remarkable direction, No Country wins out.


- Who I'm rooting for: No Country for sure - the Coens are master writers and this is one of their best.

- Who will win: Again, the Coens can't be beat when they're firing on all cylinders - No Country wins it.


- Who I'm rooting for: I've got to get on the Juno bandwagon here. It's a smart, funny script from Diablo Cody, and more than that it's just a totally unique vision and sense of humor.

- Who will win: This is the one category that Juno has a lock on. Sure, some say Diablo is overhyped, but do Oscar voters care? No, they don't.


- Who I'm rooting for: Another category where it's somewhat of a spoil of riches. But ultimately, No Country For Old Men was perhaps the Coens' best and most dynamic directing effort yet - the action scenes (I mean, that dog chase ... come on!) were some of the best and most intense ever put to film.

- Who will win: I think the Academy will agree with what I wrote above. You can't ignore There Will Be Blood, but at the same time, the Coens I feel are going to take it for No Country.


- Who I'm rooting for: I've only seen Ratatouille of the nominated films, but I was a huge fan and called it among the year's overall best movies. I was happy to see it in the screenplay category, but this is where it will win.

- Who Will Win: See above - Ratatouille all the way, unless there is a surprise Persepolis upset ... but I don't see that happening. Respect levels for Pixar are at an all-time high, and anticipation for Wall-E I think will help Brad Bird and co win out.


- ART DIRECTION: Sweeney Todd should win, and I believe it will - this great, great film is going to miss out on a lot of gold this year due to the stiff competition, but I think you have to acknowldge, at the least, the amazing style and look that Tim Burton and co brought to this one.

- CINEMATOGRAPHY: Finally, a nom for Jesse James! The movie could get a token win here, but more likely, cinematographer extraordinaire Roger Deakins will win for his other big movie this year, No Country For Old Men.

- COSTUME DESIGN: Again, Sweeney Todd should and will win. Once again, Tim Burton created a goth fantasyland that was a feast for the eyes, and Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter never looked creepier ... which is saying a lot!

- DOCUMENTARY: Ugh, how is there no nom for King of Kong?!?! A travesty, I tell you. In any case, looks like the Iraq War doc, No End in Sight, is poised to take this one.

- DOCUMENTARY SHORT: No clue on this one ... I'll pick Sari's Mother as I've heard a little buzz, I think?

- EDITING: Here's one where I've got to go with There Will Be Blood ... as No Country will lose points for its controversial and somewhat jarring ending. On the other hand, there's no doubt that PTA did a masterful job of stitching together the story of Daniel Plainview, in a manner that has elicited comparisons to such luminary films as Citizen Cane. PTA is looking at this Oscar and saying "Why don't I own this?"

- FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Haven't seen any of these, but apparently Mongol is all kinds of awesome, so that's my pick, and it's definitely on my need-to-see list.

- MAKEUP: How the #$%@ does Norbit get a nom here? Especially when movies like Stardust could have been nominated in its place! I mean, are you serious? It had better not win! My pick of the movies tha did get a nod is Pirates 3 - a movie that, no matter what else you thought of it, had absolutely terrific design, makeup, and costume work.

- ORIGINAL SCORE: There Will Be Blood should have been eligible in this category, but since it isn't, I will go with Ratatouille as my personal favorite, though I will predict Atonement to win just because it needs at least one victory, right?

- ORIGINAL SONG: Enchanted pretty much has to win, simply by the law of averages (by the way, how is Amy Adams not in the Best Actress race?). But anyways, who didn't love "That's How You Know" ? It will win, for sure. You can't fight Disney magic.

- SHORT FILM, ANIMATED: No idea about this one, though I've heard some buzz around I Met The Walrus, so that's my prediction to win it.

- SHORT FILM, LIVE ACTION - Another one where I am pretty much clueless, but I'll go with The Tonto Woman, no particular reason ...

- SOUND MIXING: I think this is one I'd give to No Country For Old Men. If there's one sound from a movie in 07 that stuck with me, it's Anton Chigurh's air-gun, a sound that made you jump, tremble, and want to shout at the characters on screen to run for their lives. I think No Country will win this one too, because I can't be the only one who felt that way.

- VISUAL EFFECTS - I think that Transformers will win this one, but for me the movie was essentially a dud, and I'd much rather see the much more artistically-inclined Pirates 3 take away the award. To me, the character f/x were simply stunning in this, as in the previous Pirates movies. But people tend to go for giant robots ... but, in my opinion, it's not good when your supposedly cutting-edge designs look less cool than those from a 20-year-old cartoon series.

And there are my picks. I've had a pretty good track record in the past, so we'll see how I do this time. But man, what a year for movies - I'm glad to see The Oscars going on the air post-Strike, if only to see instant classics like No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood get their much-deserved kudos in a national spotlight.

- Okay - have to about ...


- Alright, I'll make this quick ... last night's ep was another riveting ride. But to me it wasn't at that same grade-A level of the rest of Season 4's episodes to date, despite overall being entertaining and intense. The main sticking point for me was that there was a little something lacking in the plot structure. Basically, the flash forwards here toed the line between intriguing and annoyingly confusing. To this point, Season 4 of Lost has done an awesome job of achieving balance in its mysteries -- we've been posed a number of questions, but there's been that feeling that the truth behind the larger puzzle was slowly coming together, with all the pieces beginning to slowly but surely fall into place. Last night, to put it plainly, there were simply too many new mysteries introduced without enough reward for the viewer. I found myself wondering who Kate's son was (Claire's?), how he came to be, why Kate wouldn't allow Jack to testify, and why Jack didn't want to see Kate's son. And that's just for starters. I was intrigued, yes, but it was all just a little much to take in at once without any real payoff moments. Otherwise, this was another fun episode with some great character moments and the usual intense pacing. But it reminded me of some of the show's weaker episodes in that it felt like you were being led around aimlessly with no real endpoint in sight. On the plus side though, next week's episode looks awesome.

My grade: B+

- Some other quick TV opinions:

- Sunday's KING OF THE HILL was a classic episode. It almost felt like all of the various Dale and Bill plots that had been building for years and years finally came to a head, and yet at the end everything essentially stayed the same - a masterful trick. The tale of Bill meeting a seemingly great woman, who had a son fathered years ago by John Redcorn, who Dale is still oblivious about his role in fathering HIS son ... was just a hilarious, sad, superbly-written slice of animated sitcom greatness.

My Grade: A

- THE SIMPSONS, on the other hand, had one if the dreaded "three fantasy-stories" episodes, this time with a unifying theme of classic love stories, with members of The Simpsons clan subbed in for the likes of Bonnie and Clyde, Lady and the tramp, and Sid and Nancy. I will say, the Sid and Nancy segment saved it for me - Nelson as Sid Vicious was pretty hilarious, and using chocolate addiction as a substitute for drugs was surprisingly funny - I was actually surprised at what they got away with here. The rest of the segments were pretty bland, though it was amusing to see the Simpsons characters as canines in the Lady and the Tramp parody. Overall, not great, but could have been a lot worse ... and I still find these anthology episodes on average to be subpar.

My Grade: B

Alllright -------- I'm outta here as it's almost time for the weekend! Whoo, this should be a good one. Tuesday I'm off to NYC, but I should be back with an update or two before then. Rock on.

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