By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
Did you honestly think a silly little thing like the writers' strike would stop the Oscar nominationsor my flood of irrelevant predictions for them? Especially when I was totally right with last year's column about how Basic Instinct 2 would be completely shut out? So let me trot out a whole new batch of can't-fail Academy Awards buzz. This year's lucky (and, if they show up, scabby) nomineesannounced on the 22ndwill most assuredly be a bracing mixture of the "Wow!" and the "What the fuck?" I predict:
BEST PICTURE No Country for Old Men ("I didn't get it," a friend told meand that's recommendation enough); Michael Clayton (The truth can be adjustedand so can the Oscar list to include this enjoyable popcorn movie posing as art); There Will Be Blood (Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea); Atonement (It spans many years of thwarted passion and many months of hype); The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (a stroke of genius, ba dum pum).
But don't rule out: Into The Wild (A vote for this might encourage Sean Pennto stay behind the camera); Juno (a much better title than The Jamie Lynn Spears Story); Sweeney Todd (a/k/a There Will Be Blood and Singing. Bravo! Blech); American Gangster (just for the line, "Fuck me like a cop, not a lawyer!"); 3:10 to Yuma (Yuma, Oprah, Oprah, Yuma).
BEST FEMALE ACTOR (Yes, we do it the correct way here): Julie Christie, Away From Her (though I can't remember why. Kidding, bad joke. Actually, she broke my heart, threw it to the ground, stomped on it, and put it right back in); Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose (Flawless lip-synch plus turtley old-age makeup equals guaranteed Oscar nod. But are we sure she's not a drag queen?); Ellen Page, Juno (the nomination poor Christina Ricci never got. And it's the rare edgy movie that can't offend anyonethe 16-year-old has the baby but doesn't keep it. Learn it, Jamie Lynn); Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart (though Angie surely won't accept the nomination until they legalize gay marriage); Keira Knightley, Atonement (She didn't have much to do except look snooty and get fucked against the wall, but she was great in Pride and Prejudice and she's really pretty).
But don't rule out: Amy Adams, Enchanted (Once in love with Amy . . .); Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (No one liked it, but it takes a very special film to unite the entire populace); Laura Linney, The Savages (She's always amazingand no, I didn't see The Nanny Diaries).
BEST MALE ACTOR Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd (such a cutie, even when holding a grudge and a scalpel); Emile Hirsch, Into the Wild (this year's Ryan Gosling); George Clooney, Michael Clayton (Has there ever been a nomination for charisma alone? Sure, Jude Law got two of them); Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood (But there won't be scenery after he gets through chewing it. I kid. He was actually genius as the oily oil man with the newscaster voice); Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl (last year's Ryan Gosling).
But don't rule out: Russell Crowe, 3:10 to Yuma (Hollywood loves him for killing the gay guyin the movie); Denzel Washington, American Gangster (He put the "hero" back in heroin); Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Standard (such gravitasand a dimpled butt is always a plus); Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell . . . (Blink if you liked him); Frank Langella, Starting Out in the Evening (though he didn't look like Nixon at all); James McAvoy, Atonement (those lips, that nose).
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE ACTOR Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone (Go, baby, go!); Saiorse Ronan, Atonement (this year's Abigail Breslinand don't say, "Who's Abigail Breslin?"); Catherine Keener, Into the Wild (Her dippy hippie livened up the wilderness); Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There (This time, she rocked. But what was Kate Hepburn doing in a Bob Dylan movie?); Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton (She was mesmerizingly good, practically turning the whole flick into The Witch and the Wardrobe).
But don't rule out: Romola Garai, Atonement (She atoned for Saiorse Ronan's doings); Vanessa Redgrave, Atonement (She atoned for Romola Garai's doingsand her performance was three of the strongest seconds in the film); Ruby Dee, American Gangster (extra points for slapping Denzel).
BEST SUPPORTING MALE ACTOR Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (He had to endure small-dick jokes and dialogue like, "Let me be your sidekick tonight so you can examine my grit and intelligence." Plus his piece, I mean his part, was way bigger than Brad Pitt's. In fact, the camera lovingly lingered on his dewy saucer eyes for 160 long minutes); Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men (Another cuckoo assassin! They'll flip a coin and decide he had grit and intelligence); Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton (The Full Monty guy got naked again, but with extra pills and pathos. He broke my heart etc., etc.); Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild (a master class in acting, but he should get nominated anyway); Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War (It took him two years, but he's broken that fucking Oscar curse! Maybe!).