Oscar Results

Thoughts: It appears I’m not showing myself to be worth my salt at picking the Oscar winners. I am truly surprised by both Actress categories, and especially by the Editing award. And I couldn’t rise above the 60%. Ironically I scored the ‘reverse’ of what I wanted — 58% instead of 85%.

Note: I inadvertantly forgot to include Cinematography in my predictions. My prediction was for Atonement, which, unfortunately, lost tonight.

My Score: 11 of 19 (58%)

Best Achievement in Costume Design: CORRECT!
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: CORRECT!
Best Achievement in Makeup: CORRECT!
Best Achievement in Visual Effects: NOPE … The Golden Compass
Best Achievement in Art Direction: NOPE … Sweeney Todd
Best Achievement by an Actor in a Supporting Role: CORRECT!
Best Achievement by an Actress in a Supporting Role: NOPE … Tilda Swinton
Best Writing, Screenplay Best on Material Previously Produced or Published: CORRECT!
Best Achievement in Sound Editing: NOPE … The Bourne Ultimatum
Best Achievement in Sound: NOPE … The Bourne Ultimatum
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: NOPE … Marion Cotillard
Best Achievement in Editing: NOPE … The Bourne Ultimatum
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song: CORRECT!
Best Achievement in Cinematography: NOPE … There Will Be Blood
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score: CORRECT!
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: CORRECT!
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: CORRECT!
Best Achievement in Directing: CORRECT!
Best Motion Picture of the Year: CORRECT!

Oscar Predictions

After much thought and pointless delay, here are my official Oscar predictions. Posted a mere three days before big event, no less. These are, unfortuanately, not the same predictions I entered against Roger Ebert and his predictions. Without further ado, here they are.

Best Motion Picture of the Year:
Prediction: No Country For Old Men.
Why? It’s the most perfectly made movie. It’s the strongest contender. It’s the definite winner. As with another category a little further down the page, my heart is screaming for a different film. I want Juno to win, oh do I want it to win. It’s my personal Best Picture, my favorite of the year, but when predicting who will win, I must choose No Country. This isn’t picking who I want to win.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year:
Prediction: Ratatouille.
Why? I don’t think there’s a chance it will lose. The animation is phenomonal. The writing is great. It’s a touching film, which is surprising to some considering it’s about rats. I truly don’t think there’s a chance anything else will win. I could not be more confident about this prediction, and I’m more confident about this category than any other. As a side note, the official listings has this category near the “bottom”, but I’m bumping it to top because I think it’s just as important as “Best Picture”. I’m also making a subtle statement. Though it wouldn’t have won, it should have been up in the larger “Best Picture” category.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:
Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood).
Why? Does anyone doubt it? I want Clooney to win it, but I don’t think there’s anyone whose performance was even close to the caliber of Day-Lewis’s. The ironic part here is that it is one of his weakest performances — it is so close to his nominated performance in Gangs of New York that it’s disappointing. The accent is even similar. Still, it’s a brilliantly constructed character and performance and is the one to beat.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:
Prediction: Julie Christie (Away From Her).
Why? Both for the quality of her work in Away From Her, and as a recognition of sorts for her career. My heart really is screaming “Ellen Page!” but I know her chances are slim. To spit the dialogue of Juno out and make it sound effortless and real is definitely not as easy as it looked.

Best Achievement by an Actor in a Supporting Role:
Prediction: Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men).
Why? I am a horror and thriller fan, but no character I can think of is as creepy yet frighteningly realistic as Bardem’s Anton Chigurh. My heart goes out to Tom Wilkinson for his powerful performance, but I truly don’t think he’s the Academy’s pick.

Best Achievement by an Actress in a Supporting Role:
Prediction: Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There).
Why? I admit to not seeing all the films for which these actresses are nominated, specifically Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone. I always want to root for the youngest of the bunch, especially when they are truly young, but I think the honor for Saoirse Ronan is simply being nominated. Blanchett’s performance as Bob Dylan is so amazingly well done I can’t imagine this award going to anyone else.

Best Achievement in Directing:
Prediction: The Coen Brothers (No Country For Old Men).
Why? The direction of No Country was perfect, impeccable, flawless, and countless other synonyms for the same thing: masterful. I think Julian Schnabel and P.T. Anderson are very strong candidates here, but I think they are more than a few laps behind the Coens this time.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen:
Prediction: Juno.
Why? I love, love, love Ratatouille. It’s brilliant writing. But Juno is quick, smart, and, most importantly, impeccably structured. Forget the fact that Diablo Cody is now one of my few MySpace friends, I think she’s the one to beat.

Best Writing, Screenplay Best on Material Previously Produced or Published:
Prediction: No Country For Old Men.
Why? I have not read either novel, but Atonement is a strong contender here as well. Blood is only loosely based on Upton Sinclair’s “Oil!”. We may see a surprise victory here by The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which seemed impossibly hard to adapt.

Well, the big ones are out of the way and I’m very confident in my choices. There are few, and they are noted above, where I have some doubt, but I’m sticking to my guns with my picks. Now for the rest of the awards — those that aren’t as big, but just as important, in the film world.

Best Achievement in Editing:
Prediction: No Country For Old Men.
Why? The pacing is perfect. Perfect. The editing is absolutely flawless. If there is a runner up, it could only be Blood, but I don’t think it even comes close the Coen Brothers masterpiece.

Best Achievement in Art Direction:
Prediction: Atonement.
Why? There is a significant change I’m wrong, but I have to place my vote with Atonement. I think that There Will Be Blood and Sweeney Tood are incredibly strong contenders, and I think it’s very likely that Blood will take it, making it my runner up.

Best Achievement in Costume Design:
Prediction: Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Why? Why would it be any of the other nominees? Atonement may have set a new trend with Kiera Knightley’sbeautiful green dress in the movies pivotal love scene, but what can stand up against sumptuous Elizabethan gowns?

Best Achievement in Makeup:
Prediction: La Môme (La Vie En Rose).
Why? Up against a bad Eddie Murphy comedy and Pirates? One is an Eddie Murphy comedy, the other is significantly CG. I’ve heard nothing but incredible things about the makeup in La Vie En Rose, and though I’ve not seen it yet, it’s my official pick.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score:
Prediction: Atonement.
Why? The music simply drove this film forward. The score was amazing in this film. Hands down, my pick.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song:
Prediction: “Falling Slowly” from Once.
Why? I have not seen this film but have only heard good things. I have heard negative things about the music in August Rush, however. The other three nominees are all from Enchanted. I loved Enchanted, but I didn’t find any of the songs Oscar worthy. Mathematical odds are definitely for the reimagined fairy tale, though.

Best Achievement in Sound:
Prediction: Ratatouille.
Why? No Country For Old Men as the runner up. There is a subtle difference between “Sound” and “Sound Editing”, but they are indeed two very different things. It’s the difference between how sound was used and how it was placed into the film. I think that this animated film takes the statue here.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing:
Prediction: There Will Be Blood.
Why? As dark as this film was, it would have been nothing without the sound. My runner up is Ratatouille, but I think Blood is the clear victor here, even over the brilliantly edited masterpiece No Country For Old Men.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects:
Prediction: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
Why? Though it was longer than it needed be, and not as entertaining as it’s two precessors, the effects were seemless and amazing. Davey Jones alone was a visual feast. Transformers had extremely complicated effects, but they weren’t noticeable and obviously CG. The bears in The Golden Compass were brilliantly executed, but I think my overall disappointment in that film is pushing me away from it.

Best Short Film, Live Action; Best Short Film, Animated; Best Documentary, Short Subject; Best Documentary, Features; Best Foreign Language Film:
Prediction: These are the only categories I will not be make any predictions in simply because I have not seen a single nominee. In previous years, I was actively participating in the East Lansing Film Festival and Film Society and was able to see most, if not all, of these. This year, however, I’m at a loss.

This Sunday, this will be one of thousands of sites with updated lists of winners as they are announced, only this site is only one of hundreds (as opposed to thousands) that will be comparing the announced winner with the predictions made here. I think I get an 85% right.

Review – Atonement (2007)

Atonement (2007)
Starring: Kiera Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan, and Vanessa Redgrave
Directed by: Joe Wright
Written by: Christopher Hampton, based on the novel by Ian McEwan
Rated: R
Rating: **** (four stars out of five)

Atonement is a movie not easily forgot, for more than just a few reasons. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous (more on that later). The acting is nigh on perfect. The direction is flawless. But it’s the story, the writing, that is the real star of this film.

I will admit that I have not read McEwan’s novel even though it’s been recommended to me countless times. After seeing this film, I will also admit that it’s been added to my reading list. I can therefore not judge how well the novel translated onto the screen. I can only make assumptions based on how well the adaption is, and my assumption is that is ridiculously well done.

Aside from the colorful and sumptuous cinematography, the pacing of this film is perfect. With the stamping of each letter on a typewriter, the story gains momentum in a truly unforgettable way. The music moves to the tapping of the keys, the scenes cut and drive forward with each typed letter. The use of the typewriter works perfectly with the material presented in the film.

We open on a young Briony Tallis, typing away frantically on her typewriter, finishing her latest masterpiece. It’s a play to be performed for her older brother Leon when he arrives to the English manse in which she lives with her wealthy family. What follows afterwards carefully builds to Briony crying wolf. We meet Paul Marshall, Leon’s friend, whom we immediately discover has a dark secret. We meet Briony’s older sister Cecilia (Knightley). Knightley plays her with ease, showing a maturity she hasn’t had a chance to show in her career yet. We also meet Robbie Turner (McAvoy), the Tallis’ gardener who’s education has been paid for by Briony’s father.

Most importantly, we see Cecilia and Robbie together, and the sexual tension and mutual attraction is immediately apparent. They meet at the fountain in a scene full of sexuality. It is this scene that Briony witnesses from her bedroom window. It is this scene of attraction between two young lovers that Briony misunderstands — or rather, can’t understand because she is so young. This perfectly played and directed scene becomes the centerpiece for the rest of the film.

That night, she stumbles upon Robbie and Cecilia in the heat of passion. By the end, Robbie is in prison by Briony’s word, as incorrect as her word may be.

Several long years later, Robbie is trying to make his way through war-torn France back to the beach to be evacuated back to England. Cecilia has moved into a small apartment and is working as a nurse. Briony, who now understands exactly what she did, has begun working at a military hospital as a nurse as well, trying her best to pay penance for what she’s done.

The film’s ending monlogue, delivered by Vanessa Redgrave, reveals the true meaning of the title, and just how harmful a single lie can be.

The Oscar’s are, unfortunately, going to largely look over this film. I hate saying this about such an amazing and beautiful film, but it’s the weakest contender amongst the Best Picture nominees. The only award I think it will bring home at the end of the day is Best Cinematography. The scene at the beach of Dunkirk, a 5 1/2 minute miracle of a shot, is simply one of the most amazing shots I’ve ever seen. It deserves the award for that scene alone.