Why Your Favorite Movie Will Not Be Nominated for Best Picture

January 14, 2008

It’s hard being away from the Salad for more than a day or two. It’s actually really easy, and nice to get away sometimes, but staying away too long makes you depressed and nutty. Thankfully, things are finally quieting down at my “day job,” and I can get back to my true love: Academy Award prognosticating! (I should say, however, that notwithstanding Notwithabang’s post earlier today, traffic is actually down slightly over the last week. Though I’m sad to see traffic go down, I can only assume my absence has a direct correlation. I’m flattered; now come back.) So, for today, here are my pics for Best Picture and Best Director, and tomorrow we’ll get back to reviews. (coming soon: 3:10 to Yuma, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and maybe Into the Wild)

Last night’s Golden Globes and today’s Producers’ Guild awards settled nothing. Though it may seem impossible, this thing looks even harder to predict than the upcoming Kucinich-Clinton battle royale in Michigan. Here are the current standings according to my algorithm:

1) No Country, 6.198

2) There Will Be Blood, 3.412

3) Michael Clayton, 2.992

4) Into the Wild, 2.426

5) Diving Bell, 2.163

6) Juno, 1.803

7) Atonement, 1.549

8) American Gangster, 1.225

9) Sweeney Todd, 1.22

10) Hairspray, .906

11) 3:10 to Yuma, .706

12) Eastern Promises and The Great Debaters, .549

Let’s start with what we know: No Country, and There Will Be Blood will be nominated for both Best Picture and Best Director. Everything else is still undetermined. We can also write off 3:10, Eastern Promises, and The Great Debaters. Eastern Promises and The Great Debaters were Golden Globe nominees and didn’t appear on anyone else’s radar. Seeing as the Globe’s decided to honour 7 films this year, it’s pretty safe to say that these were the odd two in. 3:10 was the beneficiary of a SAG nomination for its cast. The SAG awards have the lowest correlation between their nominations and the oscars of the Guilds. This is largely because they have a different focus. The movie with the best overall cast is not necessarily the best movie.

1) Hairspray, Sweeney Todd, and Juno: These three movies are all fighting for the musical/comedy slot. Hairspray was a SAG nominee and nominee for Comedy/Musical at the Globes, but has the weakest critical support of the three. Juno seems to have lost its momentum, going from beloved-little-movie-that-could to backlashed-blockbuster faster than you can say Little Miss Sunshine. Last night it sure seemed that Juno peaked too soon as it got shut out of the Globes; today it got nominated at the Producer’s guild. Then there’s Sweeney. Incredible reviews, but no love from the DGA for Tim Burton. It won last night for Comedy/Musical, but that award doesn’t have the best record. I can’t help but get the feeling that Sweeney was hurt the most by the Writer’s strike. Juno had lots of talk-show promotion, and Sweeney almost none. It never got that publicity push to separate it from the pack. Chances: Juno 50%, Sweeney 40%, Hairspray 10%

2) American Gangster and Atonement: I’m positive that Atonement is this year’s Cold Mountain, a big portentous epic that YOU CANNOT MISS because IT WILL BE NOMINATED, then isn’t. In theory, it should be a lock after last night, the GG/Drama winner going on to get nominated for Best Picture 11 out of the last 11 years. But the only people who seem to really like this movie are the Hollywood foreign press. I’m not sure how it can get nominated without any guild support. Then again, it should appeal to old people and it’s an old-fashioned epic in a new-fashioned year. American Gangster, on the other hand, has a number of things holding it back: 1) The Departed won last year; 2) Denzel’s performance was obscured by The Great Debaters; and 3) it probably came out too early. If it had been released to great box office and great reviews in December things would be different. Atonement 60%, American Gangster: 15% (note: these do not add up to 100)

3) Into the Wild, Michael Clayton, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Two of these movies will be nominated for best picture, and the other one will likely be nominated for Best Director. Unless Atonement sneaks in; in which case look for a 3/5 picture director match instead of the customary 4/5. Got that? All these movies have good guild support and good critical support. The first two are being held back by their box-office as both did disappointing business. The last has almost no commercial expectations. Diving Bell has lots of momentum, while Michael Clayton as the three pick should be safe. Then again, that’s the slot Dreamgirls was in last year. Into the Wild 60%, Michael 45%, Diving Bell 35%

Final Predictions:

Picture: No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, Juno, and Into the Wild (SAG has to be worth something).

Director: The Coen Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Sean Penn, Julian Shnabel, Tony Gilroy

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5 Responses to “Why Your Favorite Movie Will Not Be Nominated for Best Picture”

  1. stopsnitching Says:

    But if there is no ceremony, will anyone watch the Oscars? More importantly will they count for the list?

  2. furrypaws Says:

    I disagree with your assessment of Atonement. Cold Mountain was edged out by five VERY Oscar-y movies. On the other hand, Atonement is the film this year that most conforms to Oscar trends of the last two decades. It’s a historical epic/romance with good reviews and a well liked cast and no huge flaws. The only other three films that would be obvious contenders in past years are American Gangster (Oscar-ed lead actor, epic rise-and-fall of hustler storyline), Michael Clayton (go mid-90’s legal dramas! go Clooney!) and Eastern Promises (well Oscar-ed cast/director and elegantly put together crime tale). Juno? No Sunshine, too pregnant. No Country? Too bloody and, also, what music will they play when it wins(?!?!?). Into The Wild? Too little buzz.

    That’s not to say that these films won’t get nominated – I agree with your “new-fashioned” statement. But the Academy won’t go full steam ahead with all this weird new shit without hedging their bets with the one old-fashion good look.

  3. dailysalad Says:

    Furrypaws: you are correct in your claim that “Cold Mountain” was edged out by 5 oscary movies and most confirms to our platonic ideal of a “best picture nominee.” That is why I ultimately included it in my picks. I disagree with our claim that EP is traditional oscar fair, especially your rationale. Neither Mortenson nor Cronenberg bag have been nominated, (though Viggo will be this year. Book it!)and its more graphic than your traditional crime film.

    But you raise an interesting question. What would be the platonic ideal nominees? 1) Atonement. 2) The Great Debaters. 3) The Kite Runner. 4) There will be Blood. 5) Hairspray. Gotta love it.

    I’m including “There Will be Blood” because the academy always nominates unconventional movies; they just give the big prize to someone else. See:
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?guideID=1043363689781&type=page&id=cat12077

  4. furrypaws Says:

    “My bad.” – Jack Donaghy

    Cronenberg hasn’t ever been nominated, though the adapted screenplay nod was certainly a consolation prize. And I am told that Viggo was essential to the success of the Ring trilogy. What I meant to say is that they are not strangers to the Oscars, especially not with their lead actress being such a consistently hot commodity (and she looks nice too). And yeah it’s graphic but No Country nullifies any harmful effect that excessive violence may have on the voting (except for No Country itself). Also, while I don’t want to get into EP vs. History of Violence, EP is more Oscar acceptable in all areas than History of Violence was. I foresee a second and third apology to Cronenberg in a nomination for both Director and Film.

  5. Isaac Says:

    I am a terrible critic of most things – I’m a great consumer – I usually just enjoy myself and like seeing movies/food/tv/books entertain and inform me.

    That being said, I really didn’t like Eastern Promises. Other than a couple great scenes and some good acting, there was something off about it. I would be very disappointed if it won, and I don’t even think it should get nominated.
    No Country made me angry. Very very angry.
    My vote goes to “Meet the Spartans”.


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