Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oscar predictions! 2008!


Our literary endeavors here at Stevereads must wait a bit, while we present to you that annual matter of mystery and magic, our Infallible Oscar Predictions.

Our old friend Locke issues dire prognostications about this year's Oscars: the writers strike, he says, will deprive us all of the red carpet, the demented gibberings of Joan Rivers, the rambling two-hour acceptances speeches, the glitter and the glitz. This would be a bit sad, but even if it happens, the Academy will still make its choices and hand out its awards, and so our Infallible Predictions still have a place in the world. So without further ado, here's how the next Oscar race will break down:

Best Supporting Actress: Well, there are a few applicable names here - Ruby Dee, for instance, turned in a fairly credible performance in American Gangster, and of course poor little Amy Ryan will get a nod for her poor little turn as a poor little character in Gone Baby Gone. It's possible that the eerily Dakota Fanningesque Saoirse Ronan from Atonement will get a mention, or even Tilda Swinton for her entirely commonplace turn in Michael Clayton. But every other name is mere ballast; the winner will be Cate Blanchett for her weirdly evocative impersonation of a young drug-addled Bob Dylan in I'm Not There.

Best Supporting Actor: Again, there's ballast - Javier Bardem has, against all reason, been bruited as a candidate on the strength of his entirely one-dimensional, boring performance as a killer in No Country for Old Men, and likewise the great Philip Seymour Hoffman is mentioned for his disappointingly cartoonish comedy-act in Charlie Wilson's War, but really this category comes down to a slug-fest between Youth and Old Age. On the side of Youth, there's roasting tobacco addict Casey Affleck, who pretty badly embarrassed himself in Gone Baby Gone but who turned in a genuinely creepy, nuanced, and fantastic performance in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. On the side of Old Age, there's Hal Holbrook, who's purely, delicately brilliant in Into the Wild. Of course we here at Stevereads believe that in such a contest Old Age should win, if only for decorum's sake - after all, even though every performance Hal Holbrook gives these days is great (his two appearances in The West Wing absolutely shine, even in a series full of bright lights), simple actuarial reality denies him many more, so the award should go to him. But we learned our lesson on this point last year, when we sentimentally hoped Peter O'Toole would win Best Actor for Venus over Forrest Wittaker for The Last King of Scotland. O'Toole's performance had strength, sadness, command, and presence, just as Wittaker's did - but O'Toole also added a masterly subtlety that no actor half his age could bring. The Last King of Scotland is an intelligent, powerful movie, one you'll watch four or five times. But Venus is so much more than that, so much more brilliant and personal, a movie you paradoxically don't need to rewatch often, because it strikes right inside you on the first viewing, mainly due to O'Toole's brilliantly unsparing performance. In Lawrence of Arabia he gave us an indelible portrayal of vigorous YOUTH; in The Lion in Winter he gave us an indelible portrayal of middle age; in My Favorite Year he gives us an indelible portrayal of that flickering-quick period in any man's life when he's no longer middle aged but he's not yet old, and in Venus he gives us an indelible portrayal of male old age - naturally, we hoped he'd win his first Oscar for his trouble. And we were disappointed. Perhaps overly chastened by this, we're going to err on the side of error and say Casey Affleck will win here.

Best Actress: Again, it wasn't a particularly promising year - certainly there was nothing whatsoever to rival much less equal Helen Mirren's beautiful performance as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen. But there are nevertheless some worthy efforts, including the always-reliable Laura Linney in The Savages and the quirky Julie Christie for her quirky performance in Away from Her. If there is no Gawd, Ellen Page will be nominated for her insidious work in Juno, and it's possible Angelina Jolie will be nominated for her genuinely affecting work in A Mighty Heart - but the simple truth is that thanks to the fanatically unrelenting omniprescense of the papparazzi, Jolie will never again endure serious consideration as an actress. Fortunately, there's Marion Cortillard as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose - a miniature performance, but still a effective miniature performance.

Best Actor: Several worthy performances this time around, and oh, so few of them will get mentioned or nominated! Instead, we here at Stevereads are morbidly certain that instead the ferociously talentless Johnny Depp will be nominated for his bathetic, embarrassing performance in Tim Burton's execrable Sweeney Todd. The excellent Ryan Gosling might get nominated for his boring work in the thoroughly insulting movie Lars and the Real Girl, but is there much hope George Clooney will get a nod for his thrilling work in Michael Clayton, or has he done one too many Danny Ocean movies? Denzel Washington deserves at least a nomination for his amazing work in American Gangster, but there isn't any real doubt who'll win this category: it'll be Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood. Hell, the Academy would be afraid to give it to anybody else.

Best Director: Oddities and longshots abound in this category, which is surely a good sign for the vigor of the industry as a whole. True, Sidney Lumet might get nominated - his Before the Devil Knows You're Dead is a fine piece of work - and he's an industry dinosaur. But there's also Julian Schnabel, who might get nominated for is hyper-manipulative Diving Bell and Butterfly. The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, will certainly be noticed for No Country for Old Men, but Sean Penn will likely also get a nomination for Into the Wild. There Will Be Blood can't help but bring a nod to weirdo-talented director Paul Thomas Anderson. But like we said, it's a category for wildcards, and it's a wildcard who will win this time around: Ben Affleck, for his astounding debut Gone Baby Gone.

Best Picture: Well, this is it, isn't it? All the other categories are only consolation prizes for this one, and the field is clogged with potential winners. Charlie Wilson's War is a possibility, as is the aforementioned Diving Bell and Butterfly. We hope Michael Clayton will get a mention, but what about Lions for Lambs, or Into the Wild, or even (gakk) Sweeney Todd? It seems certain No Country For Old Men will get nominated, and There Will Be Blood is equally likely. Ridley Scott's jarring American Gangster might get nominated, and currently Atonement (a brilliant, indelible piece of work) is the odds-on favorite to win, well ahead of any other potential contender. But we here at Stevereads will have none of any of that. The 2008 Best Picture will go to Gone Baby Gone, and that's just as it should be.

So there you have it! The winners and losers of 2008's ill-fated Oscar Night! For those of you who need a recap, we thoughtfully provide one:

Best Picture: Gone Baby Gone
Best Director: Ben Affleck
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis
Best Actress: Marion Cortillard
Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck
Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett

And as always, no need to thank us.

39 comments:

brian said...

I stopped reading after you called Bardem's Chigurh "boring"! Are you mad. Steve, you didn't even see the film, did you?? I am CALLING you out! I'll be back later after I settle down enough to read the whole thing.

brian said...

I do, however, commend you for making your predictions BEFORE the nominations are even announced. Gone Baby Gone likely won't even be nominated. Do they really want to recognize yet ANOTHER Boston crime movie? No way. I'll have my predictions soon.

brian said...

Also, if Ben Affleck wins Best Picture AND Best Director, then we are ALL already dead.

steve said...

I did indeed see 'No Country for Old Men,' and I do indeed maintain that Bardem's Chigurh (sounds like something you need a pinch of salt to correct) is boring. In fact, the whole movie is damn near boring. I'd say it was the pinnacle of mainstream bleak nihilism, but we've got 'The Road' to go through next year ...

steve said...

And I don't know what you're insinuating about Ben Affleck! 'Gone Baby Gone' IS a great movie, a fantastic directing effort - what difference does it make if its director once starred in 'Gigli'?

brian said...

Or 'The Sum of All Fears', or 'Pearl Harbor', or 'Jersey Girl', or 'Paycheck', or 'Surviving Christmas', or 'Bounce', or...

brian said...

Uh oh. I just realized something. I loved 'No Country..'. I loved 'The Mist'. I LOVED 'Cloverfield'! I'm a FRACKIN nihilist.

brian said...

Best Picture: 'No Country For Old Men'
Best Director: Joel & Ethan Coen
Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis for 'There Will Be Blood'
Best Actress: Amy Adams for 'Enchanted'
Best Supporting Actor: Jarvier Bardem for 'No Country...'
Best Supporting Actress: What the hell? Cate Blanchett

Kevin Caron said...

Guys: wait for the nominations. It's just two more days, after all. Especially you, Steve - with a track record like yours ('infallible' - bwah ha ha!) you need all the help you can get...

Locke Peterseim said...

Let me point out that Steve doesn't "win" the Oscars by being correct about his picks (as Kevin correctly points out, they are almost always hilariously wrong) -- he "wins" by getting people to gasp and sputter at the silliness of his myopic choices. (Huh, Ben Affleck made a film about Southie... if Affleck had cast Peter O'Toole instead of Morgan Freeman and slightly altered Lehane's book so the missing girl was a beagle and the local PI was in fact a talking dolphin, Steve would have declared it the Greatest Film EVER Made and stopped going to the movies altogether, since there would be no point anymore.)

Gianni said...

And let's not forget his timeless pick of Tobey Maguire for Seabiscuit...

Sam said...

Where is this "Southie" place? Sounds lame.

Locke Peterseim said...

Ah yes, Seabiscuit -- that's the most fun, when Steve makes his 'iron-clad, sure-thing' picks in AUGUST. (Jake in Jarhead was another one -- our Steve sure is a sucker for wide-eyed pretty boys.)

That said, I certainly liked Gone Baby Gone and I am second only to Steve in my forever championing of Our Boy Ben (and Little Brother, too -- though his work in Jesse James was his real standout this year, not GBG).

Beepy said...

Steve, how can you make all these Oscar predictions when (as you've told me more than once) you don't go to the movies? Or did you mean that you don't go to movies with GIRLS?

Beepy said...

Although you also rate books without reading them...

steve said...

No I don't, but hey - welcome back to the site!

steve said...

As for the rest of you with your mocking ways, just you wait and see! Oh, and Locke? While you're sneering about beagles and wide-eyed pretty boys, might you also regale our readers with a certain STUNNING VICTORY of mine, in the whole winner-picking exercise? Just in the interest of fairness, is all ....

Locke Peterseim said...

I assumed you'd already told anyone who would listen... yes, a few years ago Steve was actually RIGHT with one of his wild, iconoclastic picks: he predicted that The Pianist would win for Adrian Brody and Polanski (or something like that -- I've since lost all e-mails from those days).

One single "STUNNING VICTORY" out of dozens of outright losses. So yes, Steve, you are the '07 Miami Dolphins of Oscar picking. You are 1-and-78. Remember that one boxer who won one bout and lost every single other fight? Oh, right, you don't -- because One "Victory" is called a "fluke." Blind pig, acorn. Stopped clock. You're like one of those Weekly World News (RIP) "psychics" who at one point in the '50s said "I see... I'm looking into the cloudy future, and... it's becoming clearer... I predict a major U.S. political leader will die somehow in office in the next 10 to 30 years." And then when that prediction (out of hundreds) came true, you spend the rest of your "predictin' career" trying to coast on your one lucky guess.

So by all means, folks. On the basis of his being right ONCE in the past 20 years (to be fair, that is he was right ONCE when he bucked CW and went against the forerunners) then go ahead and plop down everything you have in Vegas on Steve's picks. It's a sure-fire recipe for... well, um, for something. At least it's a recipe.

Locke Peterseim said...

for example, in the continued interest of fairness, there's a pretty good chance Steve will be right about Daniel Day-Lewis and Blanchett. But those are also two of the major frontrunners (not "forerunners" as I used the wrong term in the previous post). So what we're not arguing here is that Steve gets 'em ALL wrong -- just the majority of them, and almost (ALMOST, Pianist aside) always when he goes wildly out on a limb, which is about 80% of his picks.

To further belabor the allegory, he's like a guy who stands at the roulette wheel all day and night, always throwing hundreds of dollars down on a single number. Over the course of a day he loses hundreds of thousands of dollars, but on one spin his number hits and he wins about $3,000 back. Yay!

Sam said...

Plus he lives in this lame "Southie" place

Imani said...

Joan Rivers is still alive? I hope she auditions for the role of Satan in that sure-to-be-awful film adaptation of Paradise Lost, then.

steve said...

Gone. Baby. Gone.

brian said...

Sorry Steve. You pick for Best Picture has already lost.

brian said...

Of course, my choice for Best Actress is out of the running, as well.

Kevin Caron said...

Okay, to recap:

Because they couldn't wait 2 days for nominees to be picked, Brian is down to everything but Best Actress (with his Steve-worthy nonsense pick of Amy Adams missing the nomination completely) and the great Swami Steve has lost his picks for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor. Pretty good so far!

Feel free to make new picks, Steve, from those actually nominated. And stop trying to form sentences with the words "Oscar" and "Affleck" in them.

Locke Peterseim said...

Here's the sad, small secret of Oscar picking -- it's not mysterious or sexy or obscure: Entertainment Weekly is almost always spot-on -- this year, with the exception of the Director category (which is always notoriously hard to handicap), EW was dead-on in several categories and only off by one in the rest.

Granted, EW can get bamboozled and blindsided by dark horses like everyone when it comes to picking the actual winners next month (we're all still smarting from the Eddie Murphy loss last year), but overall, EW is usually your first and last best stop for accurate Oscar prognastication.

Steve, um, not so much.

(But of course, the words "Oscar" and "Affleck" already HAVE been uttered together, from the podium no less, and as I've said before, I agree with Steve that one day Our Ben's day will come -- give the amazing sure-handedness of Gone Baby Gone, I'd say Our Boy has a best director Oscar SOMEWHERE down the road in his future)

brian said...

I took a chance with Adams. It was a dark horse pick, to be sure, but most certainly deserving. Considering that the competition was fairly weak this year, I though she had a good shot.

Of course, I forgot that the Academy almost never recognizes performances from a comedy AND certainly not one geared towards Children.

Locke Peterseim said...

Now we know how to quit him.

Kevin Caron said...

I agree that Adams is deserving of an Oscar nod - I only meant the pick was nonsense from the standpoint you mention - that the Academy would never go for it, what with the heads-up-the-asses and all.

Beepy said...

Ouch, my prediction was that Locke would be the first one to mention "asses" in this comments field (he's always the odds on favorite) but surprisingly it was Kevin.

Kevin Caron said...

I'd like to thank God, and the Academy...

brian said...

Steve,

Are you going to make new picks or stick with your originals?

Locke Peterseim said...

I'm sure Steve will stick with his original picks -- they are, after all, infallible. He'll just wait for the Academy to change its nominations.

Or this is one of those points where the Steveverse diverges from the universe the rest of us poor saps are stuck in. It's like all those comic book stories: when an event happens that does not jib with reality (such as the Academy not nominating Gone Baby Gone and Affleck), a separate, linear "Steveverse" breaks off from the time-space continuum. So come Feb. 24th, Steve will actually be watching an Oscars telecast on which Ben and GBG WILL win.

Kevin Caron said...

*laughs so hard coffee shoots out nose*

Gianni said...

So what do we do with the Steve we're stuck with? I guess we just continue to make fun of his Oscar predictions.

Locke Peterseim said...

The problem is that each time a "Steve 'error'" causes a new Steveverse to splinter off from the space-time continuum, a new "Steve" must also splinter off to lord over it and wallow in his and its infallibility.

As you can imagine, each of these splinters diminishes, ever-so-slightly, this reality's "Steve." And as often as Steve is "wrong," there are hundreds of thousands of alternate Steveverses out there, each with its own SteveLord. As a result, what we're left with here, in our pathetic "reality," is a worn-down, weak and silly uber-Steve.

Sadly, this only perpetuates the process, as the more "our" Steve is "lessened," the more likely he is to make even more ridiculous pronouncements and predictions.

It's really only a matter of time before he proclaims that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a "shoo-in" for a 2009 best-actor Oscar. (But will it be for Shazam or Witch Mountain?!?! Only "Steve" knows!)

steve said...

MY Oscar telecast is going to be SWEET.

steve said...

However, just to show that I adhere more closely to 'reality' than Locke would have you all believe, I will, in fact, post my picks from among the Academy's woefully ill-advised nominations. I'll mull, cast the tea leaves, consult with my vast experience in the industry, and have picks here for all of you to view with awe, very shortly.

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