Each year the act of predicting which artists will take home a Oscar becomes one of pop culture’s greatest guessing games. Someone picks a category, and everyone becomes a pundit. That includes us. We want your comments, too. Do you think our choices are right? Watch the show on Sunday night, and check back Monday morning for a recap of all the memorable moments.
British upstart James McAvoy and stick-thin Keira Knightley play a couple torn apart by World War II — and Knightley’s little sister, Saorise Ronan, whose despicable lies turn the lovers’ families against them. The book was excellent. The movie . . . eh, not so much.
Canadian cuteness Ellen Page is a knocked-up and very sarcastic teen who attempts to give her unborn child up for adoption to Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner. The script’s verbal pyrotechnics are impressive — as are Michael Cera’s bandied knees — but does it have the heat to beat out No Country For Old Men? In a word: no.
It’s George Clooney in the titular role as a fixer for a law firm. When one of the firm’s top lawyers has a mental breakdown in the middle of a deposition, Clooney’s called in to fix the mess, which has to do with a class-action suit against an agricultural manufacturing company. It’s complicated, but then again, good films sometimes are.
No Country For Old Men
When Josh Brolin stumbles across the remains of a drug deal gone bad, he pockets the cash and hightails it away from the scene. Unfortunately, both the law and a merciless, Terminator-like psychopath are hot on his trail. The killer, played by Javier Bardem, has a bad haircut and nasty temper. It’s a quiet, contemplative orgy of violence.
There Will Be Blood
Daniel Day-Lewis is oil prospector Daniel Plainview, whose business conflicts with the religious interests of Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), a preacher in a desolate California town. The lives of the two are inexorably intertwined after an accident at one of the wells. As time goes on, Daniel becomes a capitalist monster and Eli loses his faith. No film this decade has an uglier ending, although No Country For Old Men comes close.
Should win: It’s a toss-up between No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Both offer particularly bleak visions of America. In the former, the Coen brothers interpret Cormac McCarthy’s novel as an existential treatise on the meaninglessness of life; in the latter, Paul Thomas Anderson converts Upton Sinclair’s Oil! into a wrenching screed about the seductive evils of capitalism. (Yes, we just wrote “seductive evils.” So what?) That said, for pure brilliance and artistic achievement, No Country is the more successful film.
Will win: No Country For Old Men.
George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
Academy Award-nominated director George Clooney gets back in front of the camera to play a lawyer who stumbles upon a career-ending case, and at the same time, his conscience.
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Daniel Day-Lewis gives a chilling performance as Daniel Plainview, a meager silver miner who ascends to oil magnate. What he gains in fortune, he loses to greed.
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
A ruthless driver for the Russian mob in London, Viggo Mortensen is inducted into his crime family’s inner circle. But he’s derailed when he meets Naomi Watts, a midwife trying to discover the truth behind the death of a young girl.
Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd)
Johnny Depp portrays the Demon Barber of Fleet Street in this Broadway classic brought to the big screen. After serving time for a crime he didn’t commit, Depp goes on a murderous rampage.
Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah)
As the father of a Iraq war veteran gone missing, Tommy Lee Jones partners with Charlize Theron to unearth the truth behind the last days of his son’s life.
Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
Her imperial nature leaps from the screen. Whether shaking her fist at the Spanish Armada or waxing poetic about the rights of her English subjects, she’s all about passion and pride.
Julie Christie (Away From Her)
The ‘70s star still has plenty of acting chops, and playing an aging wife suffering from Alzheimer’s gives her a chance to demonstrate the depth of her subtleties.
Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
The young actress’s fragile and fierce portrayal of French songbird Edith Piaf shines a light on both sides of her personality while showing just how complex artists can be.
Laura Linney (The Savages)
There’s a bittersweet glow to the way she guides her brother and dad in this tale of a family reuniting around an aging parent. Linney has always used consummate nuance when it comes to this type of dramedy.
Ellen Page (Juno)
Riding a touching script that’s loaded with wiseacre quips, Page took her glib, preggers character on a long walk through teen-speak, winding up in the hearts of an audience that has anointed her cool kid of the year.
Should win: Cate Blanchett
Will win: Cate Blanchett