Chad's Oscar Picks - Writer's Digest

Chad's Oscar Picks

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Hey, screenwriters--

The 80th Academy Awards are barely 72 hours away, so I figured it was time to have the only conversation more divisive than politics: OSCAR CHOICES. I gotta say-- overall, it's a pretty good batch of nominees, although personally, I would've created a new award for "Most Bad-Ass Movie I Could Sit and Watch Forever Without Getting Bored" and given it to The Bourne Ultimatum. I'm lobbying the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences to put that in for next year.

Anyway, here are my picks for this year. And-- since we're writers-- I'll start with the two most important categories...

Original screenplay
What I want to win: "Juno" - Diablo Cody
What I think will win:
"Michael Clayton" - Tony Gilroy(the Academy never votes for comedies... although, to be fair, people loveJuno, so we'll see...)

The other nominees:
"Lars and the Real Girl" - Nancy Oliver

"Ratatouille" - Brad Bird (story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird)

"The Savages" - Tamara Jenkins


What got completely robbed of a nomination: Knocked Up - the smartest, most honest romantic comedy in years (And to all the people who said it was misogynistic: A) you're wrong, and B) so what? Judd Apatow writes more openly and honestly about the pain and fears of masculinity than anyone else out there... and that trumps misogyny. If it was even misogynistic. Which it's not.)
What also got robbed of a nomination: Once - okay, maybe this didn't deserve a best "original screenplay" nomination, but it's certainly one of the most perfect examples of a musical-- on stage or screen-- in the last several years.


Adapted screenplay

What I want to win:

"There Will Be Blood" - Paul Thomas Anderson

What I think will win:

"There Will Be Blood" - Paul Thomas Anderson
(although it could also go to "No Country for Old Men," which would be okay. Both were amazing movies, but "There Will Be Blood" stays with you in a way "No Country" doesn't)

The other nominees:
"No Country for Old Men" - Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

"Away from Her" - Sarah Polley

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" - Ronald Harwood
"Atonement" - Christopher Hampton (Explain something to me... how did this steaming pile of Ambien get nominated for anything? Am I missing something? Do people no longer need romantic chemistry in their love stories? Is clear motivation not a requirement of twenty-first century screenwriting? Have we forgotten about "stakes?" Or are we allowed to forgive an agonizingly dull story as long as we have pretty pictures to look at-- and Kiera Knightley, which, to be fair, does almost forgive the whole thing. But not quite.)

Best motion picture of the year
What I want to win:

"There Will Be Blood"

What I think will win: Again, a toss-up between

"There Will Be Blood" and "No Country For Old Men"

The other nominees:
"Juno"
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"
"Atonement"


Achievement in directing

What I want to win:

"There Will Be Blood" - Paul Thomas Anderson

What I think will win: Again, a toss-up between

"There Will Be Blood" and "No Country For Old Men" (although to be fair, I think There Will Be Blood is a more challening undertaking for a director)

The other nominees:
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" - Julian Schnabel
"Juno" - Jason Reitman
"Michael Clayton" - Tony Gilroy

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Who I want to win: Daniel Day-Lewis - "There Will Be Blood"
Who I think will win: Daniel Day-Lewis - "There Will Be Blood"

The other nominees:
Johnny Depp - "Sweeney Todd”
George Clooney - "Michael Clayton"
Tommy Lee Jones - "In the Valley of Elah"
Viggo Mortensen - "Eastern Promises"
Who got completely robbed of a nomination: Matt Damon for "The Bourne Ultimatum" (okay, maybe not really-- but if there were an award for "Coolest Ass-Kicker," he'd have it sewn up)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Who I want to win: Laura Linney - "The Savages" (I know it's weird, but I love Laura Linney. She should win everything, as far as I'm concerned. Every movie should just star Laura Linney, playing everything. If she starred in the next Jason Bourne movie, my head might explode.)

Who I think will win: Marion Cotillard - "La Vie en Rose"

The other nominees:
Julie Christie - "Away from Her"
Cate Blanchett - "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Ellen Page - "Juno"

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Who I want to win: Javier Bardem - "No Country for Old Men"
Who I think will win: Javier Bardem - "No Country for Old Men"

The other nominees:
Casey Affleck - "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Philip Seymour Hoffman - "Charlie Wilson's War"
Hal Holbrook - "Into the Wild"
Tom Wilkinson - "Michael Clayton"

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Who I want to win: Cate Blanchett - "I'm Not There"
Who I think will win: Cate Blanchett - "I'm Not There"

The other nominees:
Ruby Dee - "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan - "Atonement"
Amy Ryan - "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton - "Michael Clayton"

Best animated feature film of the year
What I want to win: "Ratatouille" (Brad Bird may be one of the smartest, most creative storytellers working today)
What I think will win: "Ratatouille"

The other nominees:
"Persepolis"
"Surf's Up" (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Did anyone see this movie?!)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
What I want to win: Jonny Greenwood's score for "There Will Be Blood," which somehow didn't even get a nomination. What do you expect from the same people who keep falling over Atonement?
What I think will win: "Atonement" - Dario Marianelli

The other nominees:
"The Kite Runner" - Alberto Iglesias
"Michael Clayton" - James Newton Howard
"Ratatouille" - Michael Giacchino
"3:10 to Yuma" - Marco Beltrami

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
What I want to win: "Falling Slowly" from "Once" - Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (if you don't own this CD-- BUY IT. Today.)
What I think will win: "Falling Slowly" from "Once" - Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

The other nominees:
"Happy Working Song" from "Enchanted" - Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from "August Rush" - Music and Lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas
"So Close" from "Enchanted" - Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from "Enchanted" - Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz


Achievement in art direction

What I want to win: "The Golden Compass" - Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
What I think will win: "There Will Be Blood" - Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

The other nominees:
"American Gangster” - Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
"Atonement" – Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
"Sweeney Todd" - Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

Achievement in cinematography
What I want to win: "There Will Be Blood" - Robert Elswit
What I think will win: "There Will Be Blood" - Robert Elswit

The other nominees:
"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" - Roger Deakins
"Atonement" - Seamus McGarvey (to be fair, this is the one nomination I think this film deserves; unfortunately, gorgeous pictures don't make a story)
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" - Janusz Kaminski
"No Country for Old Men" - Roger Deakins

Achievement in costume design
What I want to win: "Across the Universe" - Albert Wolsky
What I think will win: "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" - Alexandra Byrne

The other nominees:
"Atonement" - Jacqueline Durran
"La Vie en Rose" - Marit Allen
"Sweeney Todd” - Colleen Atwood

Achievement in film editing
What I want to win: "The Bourne Ultimatum" - Christopher Rouse (come on-- if there's one thing this film does deserve, it's every technical award it's up for-- its action scenes and camera work are extraordinary)
What I think will win: "There Will Be Blood" - Dylan Tichenor

The other nominees:
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" - Juliette Welfling
"Into the Wild" - Jay Cassidy
"No Country for Old Men" - Roderick Jaynes

Achievement in makeup
What I want to win: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" - Ve Neill and Martin Samuel
What I think will win: "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" - Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

The other nominees:
"La Vie en Rose" - Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
"Norbit" - Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji

Achievement in sound editing
What I want to win: "The Bourne Ultimatum" - Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg(this movie was made by its sound... the scene where Jason Bourne chases Desh across the rooftops, and the fisticuffs in the apartment may be my favorite action scene from any movie ever)
What I think will win: "There Will Be Blood" - Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood (although I think the dark horse here could actually be "Transformers")

The other nominees:
"No Country for Old Men" - Skip Lievsay
"Ratatouille" - Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
"Transformers" - Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Achievement in sound mixing

What I want to win: "The Bourne Ultimatum" - Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
What I think will win: "Transformers" - Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

The other nominees:
"No Country for Old Men" - Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
"Ratatouille" - Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
"3:10 to Yuma" - Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe

Achievement in visual effects
What I want to win: "Transformers" - Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier
What I think will win: "Transformers" - Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

The other nominees:
"The Golden Compass" - Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" - John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier


Categories I am completely unqualified to comment on, so I'm not going to comment on them:
Best documentary feature
Best documentary short subject
Best animated short film
Best live action short film
Best foreign language film

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