Last night I returned home from six days in Paris, which will be the subject of a longer post when I am once again soaked in vin rouge and longing for the City of Light.
Although that will probably be in about 15 minutes, I won't be writing that post today. Sorry kids.
Today it's all about my favorite exercise in self-veneration: The Academy Awards! Teaching a film class has allowed me to wallow even more completely in the frivolity that is the awards show to end all awards shows. Seriously people, what other broadcast allows you to watch people whose income surpasses the Gross National Product of Poland mutually masturbate one another for 267 minutes? What's not to love?
Picking Oscar winners isn't about what the best films in each category are. Oh no. You've got to factor in lifetime achievement, how well-liked the nominees are in Hollywood circles, how good the ad campaign for the film is, how many times the individual has been nominated without a win, and, of course, actual artistic merit. All in all, picking the Oscar winners is much akin to picking winners in any high school election. Why people campaign based on their qualifications for a job is beyond me. I wish a kid would just grow a set of balls and put what they all want to on their posters: "Johnny Student for Class President--Quit kidding yourselves, I'm more popular and you know it."
Here are my picks for the 80th Annual Academy Awards, followed by my "Dark Horse" choice (also known as my "Hedging-my-bet-so-I-can-say-I-told-you-so" choice):
Best Picture: Such a good year for films! For once I agree with every nomination, and I've got a tough call here. Ebert is sticking to his guns and calling Juno the honest-to-goodness best film of the year. But he certainly isn't dumb enough to pick it to win Best Picture. As much as I enjoyed Juno there ain't no way it can compare to No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood or Atonement. I honestly cannot decide which is a better film, No Country or Blood. Atonement was everything the Academy used to love in a film--a period piece with elaborate set-pieces, a sweeping love story and strong performances--but it ain't going to happen this year. Juno is this year's "Hey, look! We're still hip!" nomination. And poor, poor Michael Clayton. Such a great film. Such great, great performances--but the competition this year is stiffer than R. Kelly's dick in a middle school.
Winner: No Country for Old Men
Dark Horse: There Will Be Blood (of course, if this film wins, it'll change picks for other major categories...)
Best Actor: Daniel-Day Lewis. Period.
Dark Horse: Seriously?
Best Actress: Will the Academy be turned off by that chilly acceptance speech by Julie Christie? Will they feel bad that Blanchett was nominated twice and didn't take home any gold? Uh-oh, Cotillard was in a BIO-PIC! Nah, Christie's strong performance and lifetime work will prevail.
Winner: Julie Christie
Dark Horse: Ellen Page. And I would totally love it.
Supporting Actor: Sorry Phillip and Tom. I really am. You two were so damn great. But Javier Bardem was a force of nature with a bowl-cut. Here's what I "call it, Friend-o"
Dark Horse: Wilkinson and Hoffman both deserve one, but they won't win
Supporting Actress: Tough call here, and the category I'm least sure about. Could be Blanchett because she was great in Elizabeth, but the movie was blah. I'm going to go with Tilda Swinton for Michael Clayton. C'mon, the movie got THREE acting nods. It's gotta win something, right?
Winner: Tilda Swinton
Dark Horse: Amy Ryan
Best Director: Don't you people watch the Oscars? You know how rare it is for a director to win this and not Best Picture?
Winner: Joel and Ethan Coen
Dark Horse: Paul Thomas Anderson
Best Screenplay: It's got all the momentum and is a very good choice...
Winner: Diablo Cody for Juno
Dark Horse: Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton. It's a fabulous script--and a bit more "true" than Cody's. And the Academy might be feeling bad for Michael Clayton...
Adapted Screenplay: Some good adaptations this year. But...
Winner: Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Dark Horse: Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Achievement in Cinematography: Man, Deakins is up for this award twice! Superstar! He deserves it for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, but he'll win it for...
Winner: Roger Deakins, No Country for Old Men
Dark Horse: Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood
Achievement in Editing: Well now, someone who doesn't exist is nominated this year!
Winner: Roderick Jaynes, No Country for Old Men (I really want to see who accepts this!)
Dark Horse: Christopher Rouse, The Bourne Ultimatum
Art Direction: The Academy is a bunch of suckers for elaborate in this category. Thus...
Winner: Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Dark Horse: Atonement
Costume Design: See above...
Winner: Sweeny Todd
Dark Horse: Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Original Score: It's a fucking travesty they disqualified Johnny Greenfield's absolutely amazing score for There Will Be Blood.
Winner: Atonement--that typewriter-based score was pretty damn awesome.
Dark Horse: I don't even remember the other nominees!
Original Song: Does anyone care?
Winner: "Falling Slowly" from Once. This is a really beautiful song. And the scene in which they play it is really touching, too.
Dark Horse: Those three nods for Enchanted should cancel each other out.
Best Documentary: No End in Sight
Animated Film: Ratatouille
Makeup: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Visual Effects: Transformers
Sound and Sound Editing: I never, ever get these picks right. So I 'm not even going to bother.
There you go, kids. See you at 8:30!