The Academy Award nominations will be announced tomorrow morning, and my interest is one born only of routine and addiction.
I've been guessing the winners each year since 1987, when I was only nine years old. I was studying the show with a near-religious fervor before that, from watching it from under my sheets so my parents wouldn't hear, to once ending up in a Key West gay bar because it had the only working TV I could find. And for longer than I can remember, I've been predicting the nominations - at least since 1990 when I made my first go-against-the-grain pick (that Miller's Crossing would eke out a nomination over The Godfather Part III; I was wrong).
I don't really care about the Oscars anymore, I truly don't. In the distant past (ie. the '80s), undeserving films would win, but at least they were still good undeserving films. Over the past few years, though, we've seen some truly awful films win Best Picture (Crash, A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator). It's happened so often I feel the award has been fatally devalued. And I still can't get over Roberto Benigni's Best Actor win.
Of course, because I'm an addictive personality of the highest order, I still must predict tomorrow's nominees. Not because I care, because trust me I don't, but because I - dammit, OK, I might care a little. Just a little.
Into the Wild
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Surprisingly, I've only seen two of these films (No Country and There Will Be Blood), and both are richly deserving. Juno emerges in this year's "quirky indie" slot (previously filled by Little Miss Sunshine, Sideways, Lost in Translation and a host of others). Atonement is stuffy and British, and Into the Wild was directed by Sean Penn, an Academy favorite. Sometimes that's all it takes.
If life was fair: Once
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild
Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
Lewis is the only lock here, though Mortensen would be in a perfect world. Though most experts are putting Hirsch just out of the top five, I actually think Depp is the easiest drop here because of the relative failure of his film.
If life was fair: Christian Bale, Rescue Dawn
Amy Adams, Enchanted
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose
Keira Knightley, Atonement
Ellen Page, Juno
Nobody is really predicting Adams here, but I'm thinking a relatively weak year for actresses could allow Hollywood to reward its latest "rising star" with a nomination (think Julia Roberts' nom for Pretty Woman). Of course, the same argument could be made for Page, who is a lock.
If life was fair: Keri Russell, Waitress
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Max Von Sydow, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Bardem is going to win. The other four are window-dressing.
If life was fair: James Marsden, Hairspray
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
Almost every critic's award has gone to Blanchett or Ryan, and Dee should be there seeing she's been acting for over 50 years without Oscar recognition.
If life was fair: Leslie Mann, Knocked Up
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country For Old Men
Sidney Lumet, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Sean Penn, Into the Wild
Joe Wright, Atonement
The 83-year-old Lumet will almost certainly be recognized, and he might even pull off a win considering he's been nominated four times previous and never won (his earliest being 1958's 12 Angry Men and most recently 1983's The Verdict).
If life was fair: John Carney, Once