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.
• “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.
• “Michael Clayton” — It’s another solid, serious George Clooney movie, this one about an attorney. Clooney films can keep getting nominations, but they won’t win until people actually talk about them.
• “Atonement” — The film adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel. Featuring World War II and upper-class Brits, this is custom-made for the Oscars. “Atonement” is this year’s “Shakespeare in Love” candidate, minus the buzz.
The favorite: “No Country for Old Men.”
N&D;’s pick: “No Country for Old Men.”
Daniel Day-Lewis is on screen for about 95 percent of “There Will Be Blood.” Without him, the film doesn’t work. With him, it soars.
This is a strong category, featuring Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises,” Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah,” Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd” and George Clooney in “Michael Clayton.” But to paraphrase the most memorable line from “There Will Be Blood,” Day-Lewis drinks the rest of these actors’ milkshakes. He drinks them up!
The favorite: Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”
N&D;’s pick: Day-Lewis.
By all accounts, Julie Christie is the odds-on favorite to win for her portrayal of an Alzheimer’s sufferer who develops a new romance in “Away From Her.”
But Night & Day is picking an upset here. The main reason for the success and acclaim of “Juno” was the outstanding performance of 21-year-old Ellen Page in the title role. Other nominees: Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose” and Laura Linney in “The Savages,” which was partially filmed and set in Buffalo.
The favorite: Christie in “Away From Her.”
N&D;’s pick: Page in “Juno.”
Best supporting actor
The nominees: Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men,” Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton,” Hal Holbrook in “Into The Wild.”
The favorite: Bardem in “No Country for Old Men.”
N&D;’s pick: Bardem.
Best supporting actress
The nominees: Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There,” Ruby Dee in “American Gangster,” Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement,” Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone,” Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton.”
The favorite: Blanchett in “I’m Not There.”
N&D;’s pick: Dee in “American Gangster.”
The nominees: Joel and Ethan Coen for “No Country for Old Men,” Paul Thomas Anderson for “There Will Be Blood,” Jason Reitman for “Juno,” Tony Gilroy for “Michael Clayton,” Julian Schnabel for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”
The favorite: The Coen brothers for “No Country for Old Men.”
N&D;’s pick: The Coens.
Roll out the red carpet, it’s Oscar season once again.
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- MOVIES: Could 'Knight’ catch 'Titanic’ wave? With $43.8 million this weekend, “The Dark Knight” becomes the year’s first movie to claim the box office throne for three straight weeks and appears destined to become at least the second-biggest film of all time.