Oscar Nods ’08

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The nominations for the 80th Annual Academy Awards were announced early morning today, which showcase the stream of excellent movies that began last fall. It’s been an absolutely amazing year for movies, and this list of nominations reflects that with so many genuinely worthy candidates competing against each other. It’s hard enough to predict the winners, but now with all of the nominees being so deserving, it’ll be even tougher.

Leading the pack were “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” with eight nominations each. “Michael Clayton” and “Atonement” came next with seven, followed by “Juno” and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” with four. Last were “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and “La Vie En Rose” with three, and “American Gangster,” “Into the Wild,” and “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” each with two.

As expected, Best Actor nominations went to George Clooney for “Michael Clayton” and Daniel Day-Lewis for “There Will Be Blood” with one of them most likely receiving the win. I was happy to see nominations for Johnny Depp and Viggo Mortensen beside the two front-runners for their work in “Sweeney Todd” and “Eastern Promises,” respectively. Most of all, though, I was thrilled that Tommy Lee Jones finally got recognized for one of his two deeply moving performances last year. The Academy awarded him with a nomination for his work in “In the Valley of Elah.”

In Best Supporting Actor, Casey Affleck got nominated for his breakthrough in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and Hal Holbrook was nominated for “Into the Wild.” Tom Wilkinson received a nod for “Michael Clayton,” and Philip Seymour Hoffman, of his three movies last year, received his nomination for “Charlie Wilson’s War,” as expected. The probable winner of this group, though, is Javier Bardem for his haunting serial killer in “No Country for Old Men.”

Cate Blanchett received two nominations, one in Best Actress for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” and the other in Best Supporting Actress for playing Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There.” From a queen to a singing legend? That’s quite a range. Beside Blanchett was Julie Christie for “Away from Her,” Marion Cotillard for “La Vie En Rose,” and Ellen Page for “Juno.” Although Ellen Page is the obvious crowd favorite, the award could very well go to Julie Christie or Marion Cotillard instead. The delightful surprise for me was Laura Linney’s nomination for “The Savages.” She deserves the nomination so much, and I thought for sure she was going to be overlooked. Angelina Jolie for “A Mighty Heart” is conspicuously absent from this category, and I’m thinking that Laura Linney might’ve slipped out from under her and took the spot.

Aside from Cate Blanchett in Best Supporting Actress, there was the surprise of veteran Ruby Dee for “American Gangster.” She was alongside Amy Ryan for “Gone Baby Gone,” Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton,” and the young Saoirse Ronan for “Atonement.” It’s surprising that Vanessa Redgrave didn’t obtain a nomination for “Atonement,” as well, but I suppose two supporting ladies from that movie would’ve been a bit much.

“Ratatouille” got its well-deserved nomination in Best Animated Film, which will most likely result in a win. It has a strong chance against “Surf’s Up,” which beat out the likes of “Bee Movie” and “Beowulf” for the third slot. Filling the second slot was “Persepolis” as it originally got denied a spot in Best Foreign Film.

In Best Cinematography, it’s curious to note that Roger Deakins got nominated for his work in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” along with “No Country for Old Men.” Beside that are nominations for the work in “Atonement,” “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” and “There Will Be Blood.” While all had superb cinematography, Deakins’ latter work should be taking the prize.

The artist Julian Schnabel did indeed end up getting nominated for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” alongside Jason Reitman for “Juno,” Tony Gilroy for “Michael Clayton,” Paul Thomas Anderson for “There Will Be Blood,” and Joel and Ethan Cohen for “No Country for Old Men” in the category of Best Director. It’s surprising that the lesser known Schnabel got nominated over Joe Wright for “Atonement” and Sean Penn for “Into the Wild.” Out of the nominees, the brotherly directing duo should definitely win.

Best Documentary nominees were “No End in Sight,” “Operation Homecoming,” Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” “A Taxi to the Dark Side,” and “War/Dance” with “Sicko” or “No End in Sight” most probable to win. Of the nominations, three of them focused on the conflict in Iraq.

Best Foreign Language Film sure was a shock. The nominees came from Israel, Austria, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Russia, and I haven’t heard of any of them. My question is why not the Romanian “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days”?

Strange to me was the fact that Johnny Greenwood’s score from “There Will Be Blood” wasn’t nominated for Best Original Score. There is, however, the scores from”Atonement,” “The Kite Runner,” “Michael Clayton,” “Ratatouille,” and “3:10 to Yuma” with “Atonement” being the probable winner.

“Once” got one recognition in the category of Best Original Song for its song “Falling Slowly.” “Enchanted” gathered its three nominations in this one category, leaving Amy Adams hanging.

The big story behind Diablo Cody probably makes her the front-runner for Best Original Screenplay with “Juno.” Other nominees include Nancy Oliver for the under appreciated “Lars and the Real Girl” and Tony Gilroy for “Michael Clayton.” I was pleasantly surprised to see Tamara Jenkins for “The Savages,” and it’s remarkable for any animated film to get nominated for its screenplay, but Brad Bird snagged a nomination for “Ratatouille.”

The category of Adapted Screenplay contains Sarah Polley for “Away from Her,” Ronald Harwood for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” but most notable are the heavy-hitters Joel and Ethan Cohen for “No Country for Old Men,” Christopher Hampton for “Atonement,” and Paul Thomas Anderson for “There Will Be Blood.”

And lastly, the nominees for Best Picture contained no real surprises, and I actually predicted them correctly last night: “Atonement,” “Juno,” “Michael Clayton”, “No Country for Old Men,” and “There Will Be Blood.” It’s usually the case that whichever movie wins Best Editing ends up winning Best Picture, so it’s worth noting that “Juno,” “Michael Clayton,” and “Atonement” are missing. Does this leave the soul-lost oil tycoon to compete against the creepy killer? Or does “Juno” really have enough praise and popularity to be this year’s potential upset? My bet is still on “No Country for Old Men” to win, but we’ll have to wait and see in about a month from now.

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