The Oscar Pre-Game and a Much Delayed 2007 List

Some marathon movie viewing this week has finally caught me up with most of the major Oscar contenders for Sunday night's broadcast, as well as left me comfortable enough to make a "soft" list of my personal favorite films of 2007. "Soft" because there's still so much I wanted to see but didn't, and "soft" because I'll come out right now and say I'm sure there were plenty of technically better films this year, but these were the ones I enjoyed the most.

But first, my lame-o Oscar predictions and wishes:

Best Actor: I know everyone and their mother is betting on Daniel Day-Lewis for THERE WILL BE BLOOD, and I guess I'll throw my hat in there, too. That being said, I would be absolutely a-flutter if Viggo Mortensen took the bald guy home for the underrated EASTERN PROMISES. And I'd be lying if I didn't say how much I loved George Clooney in MICHAEL CLAYTON.

Best Supporting Actor: Hands-down this goes to Jarvier Berdem for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, despite the (inaccurate in my mind) complaints that he deserves to be in the Best Actor category. He doesn't. Each actor in NCFOM supports the story - the whole point is that there isn't a lead to identify with. Barring that, there's a mushy spot in my heart to accommodate both Hal Holbrook and Tom Wilkenson. Especially Wilkenson - that opening monologue in MICHAEL CLAYTON rocks it hard, baby.

Best Actress: Ellen Paige and Cate Blanchett don't have a chance. I didn't see THE SAVAGES. Which leaves either Julie Christie or Marion Cotillard. I think the Academy will continue its trend of awarding hot older babes and give it to a deserving Christie (AWAY FROM HER - biggest tear-jerker of the year?). Though I'd be happy either way.

Best Supporting Actress: Routinely the least predictable category, I have no idea where this should or will go. I've seen four of the five nominations (missed I'M NOT THERE), so I'm going to go with Ruby Dee for AMAERICAN GANGSTER, although I think we should give it to Amy Ryan so the wonderful GONE BABY GONE gets some props.

Best Director: Again, I've got to give it up for the Coen Brothers. Although maybe they'll split the top two contenders and give it to Paul Thomas Anderson for the muscular THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Beware the potential spoiler of Julian "pajamas" Schnabel for THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, although since I don't think that was nominated for anything else I don't see it getting such a major award. I admit this is one of the films I haven't seen so it may rise in my estimation later.

Best Picture: Both my much-abused heart and brain point to NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN here, although I guess my biggest surprise was how happy I was (with one glaring exception) with the picks this year. While JUNO is a cute film it simply doesn't sit in the same band row as the other picks. Is that cruel? I've seen this same indie music laden hyper realized dialog a number of times in the past, and even though this manges to rise above its trappings to a really satisfying ending doesn't make it a Best Picture/Director/Screenplay/Actress contender. Sorry. I know comedies typically get the short shrift here, but there were more deserving films that could have taken JUNO'S place.

A few others, sans the pithy comments:

  • Best Screenplay (Original): MICHAEL CLAYTON, though I think it will go to JUNO
  • Best Screenplay (Adapted): NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
  • Best Music - Original Song: "Falling Slowly" from ONCE (hooray!)
  • Best Music - Original Score: ATONEMENT since THERE WILL BE BLOOD got disqualified
I further predict that Jon Stewart will be funnier than Ellen was, and that we will once again be bored by long speeches and interludes that make no sense.

And without further ado, my personal favorite films of 2007, in rough order:

  1. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
  2. ONCE
  3. THERE WILL BE BLOOD
  4. ZODIAC
  5. HOT FUZZ
  6. GRINDHOUSE (theatrical version)
  7. THE DARJEELING LIMITED
  8. EASTERN PROMISES
  9. THE LOOKOUT/MICHAEL CLAYTON/GONE BABY GONE *
  10. THE MIST/TRANSFORMERS **
* There should be a special award for actors/writers taking a shot at directing and churning out frikkin' killer genre films.

** What can I say? Besides the wonder of GRINDHOUSE, these two films were the most visceral fun I had at the movies this year. I know...TRANSFORMERS is a pretty bad movie, but I had a blast watching it on the big screen.