2007-2008 OSCAR PREVIEW

There’s no business like show business, and there’s no show business like the Academy Awards. This year’s ceremony marks the 80th Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The shindig will feature all of Hollywood’s glitter and glam as well as some in-depth commentary on outfit choices down the red carpet. The Oscars will take place on Sunday, Feb. 24 at the Kodak Theatre. You can watch it on television on ABC beginning at 8 p.m.

Nominees:JunoAtonementMichael ClaytonNo Country for Old MenThere Will Be Blood

The Academy has done fairly well with the Best Picture category this year. Typically, it seems there’s only one, maybe two, pictures nominated that actually deserve the nomination.

This year, the most deserved three are Atonement, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Michael Clayton is the ultimate dark horse in this competition. Juno is a bit too cute, too over-constructed for its own good, which is why it feels almost like a courtesy nomination. (Although Little Miss Sunshine did manage to pull an upset a couple years ago.)

No Country for Old Men will most likely take this award for all the buzz and excitement surrounding the film. It’s a very good film, very tightly constructed, showing the Coens stripped down to a minimalist edge.

But actually, Atonement deserves the Oscar if only for its development of literary movement. Adapting a novel and creating movement is often one of the most difficult aspects of film.

Nominees:George ClooneyDaniel Day-LewisJohnny DeppTommy Lee JonesViggo Mortensen

This year’s Best Actor nominees create memorable characters that range from demon barbers to Russian mobsters. As a “fixer” for a law firm, George Clooney (Michael Clayton) takes moviegoers to the ugly side of a corporate legal battle. An oil-soaked Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) shows us just how far greed can push a man. Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd) uses razors to cut more than just hair. Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah) is heartbreaking as a father attempting to justify his son’s death. And of course, Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises) is “just a driver.”

This is a great year for the Best Actor category; all but Mortensen have been nominated before, and most have already taken home gold statues.

This year there is absolutely no debate over who should win. Although everyone who is nominated is extremely well-deserving, Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance is truly epic. As a well-respected actor with a perfect performance on his hands, Daniel Day-Lewis will be bringing home another Oscar to accompany his first.

Nominees:Cate BlanchettJulie ChristieMarion CotillardLaura LinneyEllen Page

This year’s nominees for Best Actress are from a variety of movie genres. Ellen Page was nominated for a comedy-heavy drama (Juno), and just like the film, she has become this year’s underdog for the award. Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) was nominated for her reprisal of the role of Queen Elizabeth. Laura Linney earned a well-justified nomination in the dark drama The Savages. Julie Christie’s portrayal of a wife suffering from Alzheimer’s (Away From Her) has garnered much acclaim. And although Christie has probably solidified herself as this year’s frontrunner for the Best Actress Oscar, it is Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) who is most deserving of the honor. Her biographical depiction of the French singer Edith Piaf was inconceivably brilliant. Cotillard paints a beautiful, mesmerizing portrait of Piaf’s transformation from a young street singer, to a middle-aged rising star and finally to an old, drug-addicted iconic singer. Unforunately, La Vie En Rose has not been a very popular film, which, combined with its foreign status, will likely result in Cotillard being snubbed.

The nominees for Best Actor in a Supporting Role provide just as much diversity as did the Best Actor nominees. Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James) plays a young wannabe bandit who gradually becomes disillusioned. Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) is terrifying as a killer in search of his money. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War) is a rebellious CIA agent. As a retired soldier, Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild) is touching as a new friend to an adventuresome young man. And Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton) plays a brilliant lawyer suffering from mental instability.

Although Casey Affleck and Tom Wilkinson are both excellent and well-deserving, the Oscar should and probablywill go the way of Javier Bardem. Bardem creates arguably the most memorable character of the year in his portrayal of Anton Chigurh.

Cate Blanchett is predicted to carry this category for her portrayal of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There. Her performance in the film doesn’t really compare to certain other performances she has put in. The Academy has a love for seeing famous people imitated well on screen, and Cate Blanchett is especially proficient at it, garnering a previous nomination for The Aviator in which she portrayed Katharine Hepburn.

Ruby Dee is a throwaway nomination for just yelling and slapping Denzel Washington on screen. Saoirse Ronan has this spectacular brooding intensity for the short time she’s seen on screen, and Amy Ryan is probably the closest one to overtaking Blanchett as a struggling mother in Gone Baby Gone. The award is going to Blanchett all the way.

The Coen brothers are the pack leaders because they have turned in a huge critical and commercial success with No Country for Old Men. It would have been nice to see the brothers win for a more Coen-esque film. No Country has the Coens sheared down, but they are the frontrunners nonetheless.

P.T. Anderson has a familiar place on the list with There Will Be Blood; his style of directing is precise and focused. Juno is all in the script, not the directing. Also nominated are Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton. Notable missing directors: Tom Tykwer for Perfume, Danny Boyle for Sunshine, David Lynch for Inland Empire, Joe Wright for Atonement and Todd Haynes for I’m Not There.

This year provided some creative and entertaining original stories; all of the nominees have every reason to win. The favorite of the year is Juno. The movie creates great characters and an adorable style. It may not be the most original in the story itself, but in the way it is told and executed, Juno is a winner.

With the spectacular looking films this year, cinematography is an important category, encompassing lighting, framing, color palette and often camera operation. Atonement trumps the other films for its transition between subdued hues in the battle scenes to rich, saturated ones of the castle house at the beginning of the film.