Final 2007 Academy Award Predictions

With the Oscar nominations being announced Tuesday morning, I guess it’s time for me to make my final Oscar nomination predictions, like it or not. This year I waited longer than usual – the reason: this year’s ballot is more difficult to predict than ever, due to an ongoing Writer’s strike and a slew of great films. But without further ado, here are my bold predictions:

Best Picture:

This year’s Best Picture race is more difficult to predict than any in recent memory, but one thing is for sure: Joel and Ethan Coen’s brilliant No Country for Old Men will be nominated. Apart from making more top 10 lists than any other film from 2007, No Country has already received nominations from all of the major Guilds and has swept nearly all of the critics’ awards.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood will also likely receive a Best Picture nomination next week, thanks to its recent nominations from the Directors and Producers Guilds. Ditto for Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton which has held strong through the award season.

The final two spots are nearly impossible to predict. Atonement has been a frontrunner long before anyone saw the film, but its recent absence from the Producers, Directors and Writers Guilds have nearly diminished its chances, even though it did win Best Picture at the Golden Globes.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has also received strong support from critics and the Guilds. The Academy may choose to honor it in the Best Picture category, since it did not make the final cut in the Foreign Film category.

Instead, I’m betting Sean Penn’s Into the Wild and Jason Reitman’ Juno will make the final cut. Into the Wild has been gaining momentum in the past few weeks after scoring four Screen Actors Guild nominations and a Directors Guild nomination. Juno, despite its Golden Globe loss to Sweeney Todd, has been doing very well at the box office and recently received a Producers Guild nomination.

Best Director:

Fortunately, the Best Director race is a little less crowded. The race seems to be down to six contenders, with three of them being shoe-ins: Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men), Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) and Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) will all receive nominations. In the past, actors who direct have also faired very well, which is good news for Into the Wild‘s Sean Penn.

The Directors Guild nominations consisted of the above four directors, plus Michael Clayton‘s Tony Gilroy. I’m betting that the beauty of Atonement will give Joe Wright the boost he needs to receive his first Academy Award nomination.

Best Actor:

If one thing is certain at this year’s Academy Awards, it is that Daniel Day-Lewis will receive a nomination for his overpowering performance in There Will Be Blood. Academy favorite George Clooney will likely join him for his performance as the lead character in Michael Clayton and newcomer Emile Hirsch should find that his weight-changing performance in Into the Wild will earn him a nomination.

The Screen Actors Guild gave its final two spots to Eastern Promises‘ Viggo Mortensen and Lars and the Real Girl‘s Ryan Gosling, but I’m betting the Academy’s choices are in films that were more commercial, with Sweeney Todd‘s Johnny Depp and Atonement‘s James McAvoy.

Best Actress:

This year’s Best Actress race has three of the finest lead female performances in recent memory: Julie Christie‘s heartbreaking performance as an Alzheimer’s patient in Away From Her, Ellen Page‘s sassy pregnant performance in Juno, and Marion Cotillard‘s brilliant portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose. All three will certainly be nominated.

The final two spots, however, are a bit more difficult to predict. Keira Knightley will probably make the cut, thanks to a fine performance in Atonement and a strong fan base. But four others are close on her tail: The Savages‘ Laura Linney, Enchanted‘s Amy Adams, Elizabeth‘s Cate Blanchett and A Mighty Heart‘s Angelina Jolie – whom I’m betting will sneak in despite the fact that Heart opened several months ago.

Best Supporting Actor:

If this category turns out like I think it might, Casey Affleck will have lost out to a slew of actors that were in more ‘Oscar-friendly’ films, including No Country for Old Men‘s Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones, Into the Wild‘s Hal Holbrook, Michael Clayton‘s Tom Wilkinson and There Will Be Blood‘s Paul Dano. Dano seems like an outsider who could still lose out to either Affleck or Phillip Seymour Hoffman of Charlie Wilson’s War. But, given the momentum of There Will Be Blood, I’m betting Dano gets the final spot.

Best Supporting Actress:

As of right now, it appears that Gone Baby Gone‘s Amy Ryan and I’m Not There‘s Cate Blanchett will battle it out until the end for the gold, but right now we can count on both being in the running. Tilda Swinton‘s evil performance in Michael Clayton will also be in the running, but it’s difficult who else will be.

Given the recent surge for Into the Wild, I’m betting Catherine Keener will receive her first Oscar nomination since receiving one for her breakthrough role in Being John Malkovich. I would love to see Marisa Tomei honored for her great performance in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, but both she and the film seem to have been forgotten around the award circuit. If Atonement does better than expected, Saoirse Ronan may win a nod, but many voters may think she’s too young to be honored so highly. They won’t, however, think American Gangster‘s Ruby Dee is too young, and I’m betting they’ll honor her with the last spot.

Best Original Screenplay:

As long as I’ve been around, I don’t remember any screenwriter gaining such a name for him or herself as Diablo Cody – with perhaps the exception of Charlie Kaufman. Perhaps it’s because she’s a former stripper, or perhaps it’s because she has written the freshest, funniest comedy of the year in Juno – either way, she’ll be nominated.

Even if he comes up short on a Best Director nomination, Tony Gilroy will likely be awarded with a nomination for his Michael Clayton script. Lars and the Real Girl and The Savages should also find room in the Best Original Screenplay race.

The final spot could go to either of two tragic pregnancy comedies: Knocked Up‘s Judd Apatow was considered one of the top entertainers of the year while Waitress‘ Adrienne Shelly could be honored before her tragic death.

Ratatouille is more like to spoil Apatow’s chances, but giving his popularity in 2007, I’m giving him the marginal lead.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Although it seems likely that Atonement‘s popularity will pull it above Zodiac in this category, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Best Adapted Screenplay nominees will match that of the Screen Actors Guild: No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into the Wild and Zodiac will all receive nominations.

Why Zodiac? Because this seems to be the best bet for a major nomination for a film that has placed on more than 200 critics’ top 10 lists.

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