Niagara Gazette

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February 20, 2008

MOVIES: Here’s the buzz on Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony

Roll out the red carpet, it’s Oscar season once again.

Night & Day takes a look at the nominees in the major categories, the favorites and our predictions for the 2008 Academy Awards.

Best picture

• “No Country for Old Men” — The best film of the year rarely wins best picture. Looking at the best picture winners of this decade, one could argue the academy made the right choice just twice with their selections of “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2003 and “The Departed” in 2007.

This year, everything is in place for the year’s best film, “No Country for Old Men,” to bring home the Oscar. The overwhelming favorite, “No Country” is pitch-perfect. The direction is spot-on, the acting is top-notch and the story, featuring a suitcase full of millions and a trio of characters who have different stakes in the matter, grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. The film’s ending has been divisive, but that’s just part of its greatness.

• “There Will Be Blood” — A great epic, to be sure, but a different kind of epic. An intense character study of ruthless oilman Daniel Plainview, the cinematic scope of “Blood” is ambitious, but the focus is narrow.

In some ways, it’s like a darker “Lawrence of Arabia.” Very little context is given in the film. The story is dominated by Daniel Day-Lewis’ Plainview. In any other year, this superb film would likely be a front-runner, but this is no country for one man.

• “Juno” — Dubbed “The Little Movie That Did” by Entertainment Weekly, “Juno” is this year’s “Little Miss Sunshine,” last year’s surprise story on the Best Picture nominee list.

“Juno,” however, is leaps and bounds better than “Little Miss Sunshine,” which was a mostly forgettable film filled with forced, one-note characters. “Juno” is a sweet, sharp comedy about a pregnant teen. It starts off shaky, but wins the viewer over completely by the end. It’s good to see the academy nominating these films, but the nomination will be the reward.

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