Oscar Preditions 2007

    I’m out of the prediction business. For the last few years, all I’ve been doing is writing down what I’ve been reading, and my sources, while they get upset a few times every year, are very good. Their formulas mostly work. If I repeat what they say, I look smart but there really isn’t any creative or journalistic process going on. So, why bother?
    What I can do is give you my preferences. But here we run into more problems. About the time they announced the nominees and I made my list of films I needed to see, I got cast in a play and suddenly had no time. Plus, there were a few films that I simply didn’t want to see. Away From Her and The Savages deal with Alzheimer’s. I lived through a situation like that and I don’t want see movies about it. I decided this after seeing Iris a few years ago. Another problem is that when they shortened the time between the announcement of the nominees and the ceremony, they pretty much eliminated the practice of bringing nominated films back into distribution.  There are a few films in this category that I was very sorry I missed, namely I’m Not There and Into the Wild.
    Then I got the flu that’s going around.
    The upshot is that since I don’t want to express a preference in a race in which I haven’t seen all the films, I can only talk about three categories.  I’m not happy about it but it’s the best I can do.
    So, enough whining; here we go:

Animated Feature:
    First of all forget Surf’s Up. It’s a trifle and not very well executed either. Penguins may have carried the day last year in this category, but the other two entries are too strong this year.
    Which makes it tough for me to choose between the remaining two films. Brad Bird is a god to me and Ratatouille is a technical and comedic triumph, but I think Persepolis has more of a human center and I reluctantly favor it.

Lead Actor:
    It’s always fun to watch Tommy Lee Jones play Tommy Lee Jones but I imagine that after all these years, it’s pretty easy for him to do it. Viggo Mortensen subsumes himself into his roll in Eastern Promises, but I’m not sure that it’s a leading role. Johnny Depp was masterful in Sweeney Todd but well within his comfort zone, despite having to sing. As was Daniel Day-Lewis, who breathes fire for two hours as a troubled oilman and dissolves into a drunken stupor. We’ve seen it. What we really haven’t seen is the vulnerable underbelly of George Clooney’s slickster persona. He gets my nod.

Best Film:
    In this case I guess best means the film I enjoyed the most. That leaves out Atonement, which is a dreary affair, and There Will Be Blood, which is a great performance wrapped up in a mediocre movie.  The ending of No Country for Old Men left me confused and depressed so it’s out. I really can’t eliminate Juno, which is laugh out loud funny and very moving, except to say that I enjoyed Michael Clayton more and that’s all there is to it.

So there you have it. It has the virtue of being brief, at least.  Everybody make some popcorn and enjoy the ceremony tomorrow night.

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