Trying to choose the winners of the Academy Award® Oscar® is no picnic. Never has been, but every year I try, and every year I miss some.
All year long, I track the winners of film festivals and the various awards. Not all. That's impossible. I try to track the ones I think might influence voters of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS®).
The cold facts are these: AMPAS is composed of voting members that come from the guilds, i.e. unions, who work in the movie industry. The largest voting block is the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), followed in a random order by the Writers Guild (WGA), Directors Guild (DGA), and Producers Guild (PGA), etc.
Then there are the so-called "technical guilds," e.g., cinematographers, film editors, sound mixers, lighting designers, etc., and all of these have a cadre of technicians. Next come the "artistic guilds," and they are the folks who design, decorate, and execute sets, costumes, hair, makeup, etc. Plus, there is a plethora animators, running the gamut of everything necessary from enhancing major motion pictures to bringing those cute little critters who populate animated movies to life.
Of course, these members are subject to influence by their guilds and others such as film critics and film festival juries, but it basically comes down to how the AMPAS members vote when faced with that annual final ballot. However, I am going with the data I have collected, and these are my conclusions (not including some of the tech stuff and short films):
Best original score: Dario Marianelli, ATONEMENT, because I REALLY like the last name!
Best song: "Falling Slowly," ONCE, written by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova .
Best cinematography: THERE WILL BE BLOOD.
Best supporting actress: Amy Ryan for GONE BABY GONE. *
Best supporting actor: Javier Bardem for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.
Best actress: Julie Christie for AWAY FROM HER.
Best actor: Daniel Day-Lewis for THERE WILL BE BLOOD.
Best animated feature: RATAEOUILLE, paws down.
Best documentary: SICKO, Michael Moore. * *
Best foreign-language feature: THE COUNTERFEITERS, Austria. * * *
Best original screenplay: JUNO, by Diablo Cody.
Best adapted screenplay: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, by Ethan & Joel Coen.
Best director(s): Ethan & Joel Coen, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.
Best motion picture feature (best picture) - NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.
My rationale? NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN has won more major guild and critical awards than any other nominee, including the DGA, PGA, SAG, and WGA. I think it is finally the year the Coen brothers reap their rewards. However, one interesting note, JUNO has garnered more box office than any of the other "best picture" nominees, and has been dubbed, "The little movie that could".
* - - NOTE - Ruby Dee (MICHAEL CLAYTON) has won only one major award in the best supporting actress category, but it is the SAG award, and she is a sentimental favorite of AMPAS (as was her late husband Ossie Davis). However, the actress who has won most awards in this category, including influential critics awards such as the National Board of Review, plus the BFCA, L.A., N.Y., S.F., and Boston critics' awards is Ryan. Therefore, I'm going with Ryan with a possible Dee.
* * - - NOTE - The best documentary feature category is a tough one, but I'm going with Michael Moore's SICKO, because it has won more awards in this category, with NO END IN SIGHT running strong. Then, there is TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE that got out of the gate late. Who knows? Only the envelope does.
* * * - - NOTE - This year, the BFLF category is a disaster. Many respected critics agree. Unfortunately, AMPAS made it so. AMPAS either fixes the mechanism by which foreign movies are selected before the awards next year, or the category will become a mockery. See my previous blog post for much more on this year's BFLF nominees.