Monday, December 03, 2007

2008 Oscar Predictions

It's a little early but I'm lining up my early predictions for best film. These will be updated as the award season goes on.

One thing I'm struck by - early in the year there did not seem to be many Oscar-worthy contenders. More and more these quality films are being saved for release in the few weeks before award nominations begin. Perhaps the only Oscar-worthy films from early this year are Zodiac and Hairspray. Personally, I did not find Hairspray likely to make the cut but I throw it in as the only comedy/musical of note this year.

What's striking about this year, in fact, is that all the Oscar contenders this year are in fact hard-hitting, often bloody, testosterone driven dramas. The type of gritty-realism we used to see in the Seventies. Those worthy of the cut are truly outstanding films from today's auteurs working at the height of their talents. There are not a lot this year, but those there are are a tough lot to choose from.

Here, then, is my early list:

"Zodiac" - Fichner's tone poem to the 1970s sleuthing out of a serial killer is pitch perfect, and his best movie to date. This should propel him into Best Director ranks. Coming out early in the year, it may be forgotten, however, at Oscar time.

"3:10 to Yuma" - director James Mangold offers this post-modern interpretation of an old-fashion Western morality tale without a wasted beat or line of dialog. As good or better than Unforgiven, it's a perfect little movie in almost all respects: if only it didn't have such good competition, and get a bit lost at the box office.

"Michael Clayton" - Clooney turns to writer/director Tony Gilroy to deliver this year's adult thriller. The "Erin Brochovich"-style tale of corporate badness is a bit thin gruel, but like our other contenders, the art of cinema language comes back into vogue in this film with verve. Not the best movie, but with its crowd-pleasing bow it could make a "Crash"-style appeal for the most votes.

"No Country for Old Men" - the Cohen Brother's masterpiece is the most richly textual movie of the year. This is my favorite of the list. A tough movie with a nihilistic that Hollywood rarely rewards...but with this yin to Fargo's yang, the Cohen Brother's achieve a kind of iconic movie significance that only a rare film in a great while achieves. If it isn't nominated, it would be the travesty of the year.

The final film to make the cut I would not yet have seen - with American Gangster and Lions for Lambs both going down at the box office, and the small but critically acclaimed "Once" lost in the springtime memories, my money is on the yet-to-be-released "There Will Be Blood" by the amazing director of Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson.

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