Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Oscar predictions: "No Country For Old Men" vs. "There Will Be Blood"

This year, the Oscars will be held February 24. Two movies, "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country for Old Men," both excellent, have 8 nominations each. Although I saw "No Country for Old Men" several weeks ago, I was only recently able to see "There Will Be Blood," and it made me start wondering which movie will win in what categories. I looked up the categories of their nominations, and I thought I would share my thoughts on the two.

First, though, we need to know a little bit about the two movies. From, the summaries and nominations (categories in which they will compete are italicized):

"There Will Be Blood"
"In his ruthless pursuit of wealth, misanthropic oilman Daniel Plainview tricks a local farmer into signing away his valuable drilling rights and rejects his own son, H.W., when the boy loses his hearing in an accident. As he becomes increasingly isolated and unstable, Daniel places his trust in a vagrant claiming to be his half-brother, and finds his position unsettled by H.W.'s return and the growing popularity of the farmer's son, now an evangelical preacher."
Nominations - Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Achievement in Art Direction, Achievement in Cinematography, Achievement in Directing, Achievement in Film Editing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, Achievement in Sound Editing, Adapted Screenplay

"No Country For Old Men"
"When Llewellyn Moss comes upon a corpse-strewn drug-deal-gone-wrong in the middle of a barren West Texas range, he takes the bag of cash he finds at the scene and soon draws the attention of the county sheriff investigating the crime. Sheriff Bell will become Llewellyn's best hope for survival, however, when he finds himself the object of a relentless pursuit by hired killer Anton Chigurh, a murderous sociopath."
Nominations -
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Achievement in Cinematography, Achievement in Directing, Achievement in Film Editing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, Achievement in Sound Editing, Achievement in Sound Mixing, Adapted Screenplay

I decided I would go through each category they share and give my thoughts on how the two compare to each other. I can not necessarily say who will win that category, because I haven't seen all the other movies nominated, but I will say who I think will win in one of these two movies does.

Category: Achievement in Cinematography
Other Nominees: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "Atonement," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
I will go out on a limb and, even though I have seen none of the other three movies, say that "TWBB" wins this hands down. That's one of the things I noticed throughout the movie: the entire things, all 138 minutes of it, is shot to perfectly accent the scene taking place. There are some great effects using contrasts in light, as well as distance. "No Country" had some similar types of things, but not on the scale of "TWBB."

Category: Achievement in Directing
Other Nominees: "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Juno," "Michael Clayton"
"Michael Clayton" is the wildcard for me, because sadly, I have not seen it. From what I hear it was excellent, and with 7 nominations, one less than "No Country" and "TWBB," it seems that critics liked it too. But like I said, I will only say who will win between "No Country" and "TWBB." And in that competition, I would have to lean towards the Coen brothers, and "No Country for Old Men." the Coens are responsible for movies like "Fargo," "O Brother, Where Art Thou," and "The Big Lebowski," and have been nominated for several Academy Awards, with Joel Coen winning in the Directing category for Fargo in '96. The director of "TWBB," Paul Thomas Anderson, has been nominated for an Oscar five other times, and has done "Magnolia" and "Boogie Nights." I'm no expert, and I don't really know completely what goes into winning Best Director, but I would go with "No Country."

Category: Achievement in Film Editing
Other Nominees: "The Bourne Ultimatum," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Into the Wild"
This is another category I don't know much about. I would pick "TWBB," but I don't know what to look for, so who knows. It did have some great cuts and such.

Category: Achievement in Sound Editing
Other Nominees: "The Bourne Ultimatum," "Ratatouille," "Transformers"
This is another one that I would predict "TWBB" winning with a strong margin. The score and the way sound is used in this movie is amazing. The orchestra is used to wonderful effect, and the sound (or lack thereof) that went along with Daniel's son H.W.'s loss of hearing worked marvelously. I went to see this with Drew, and as we walked out of the theater that was one of the things we both immediately latched onto, along with the cinematography. "No Country" was good, but I can't say much about it with "TWBB" in the running.

Category: Adapted Screenplay
Other Nominees: "Atonement," "Away From Her," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Having read neither "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair or "No Country for Old Men" by Cormack McCarthy, I can't tell you how true these were to the books, but if I had to pick one it would be "No Country." It just seemed a lot more cohesive. While both their plots had their own oddities, "No Country" fit together a bit better than "TWBB." Both were good, and I don't know how much the original books affect the decision for this category so I can't give a definite answer, but like I said, if I were forced to pick, I would pick "No Country."

Category: Best Motion Picture of the Year
Other Nominees: "Atonement," "Juno," "Michael Clayton"
The big one. It's a tough call, but I would have to just go with "No Country for Old Men." The entire thing, from screenplay to dialogue and action to sound and visuals just seems to all come together better than "There Will Be Blood." And I would call "No Country" to win the entire category, even over the other movies. I've seen a bit of "Juno," and while I liked what little I saw, it's not going to win. And I just can't see "Atonement" doing so either. "Michael Clayton," once again, is the wild card, but I feel confident enough in "No Country" that I would put it over that anyway.

So there are my predictions. And on a side note, I have one more. I think "TWBB" will win Best Actor as well, for Daniel Day-Lewis' performance. He was amazing. So, any disagreement? Let me know what you think, on these movies and categories or on others. And I'll see you on the red carpet (that is, if the writer's strike doesn't cancel the ceremony!).


christopher said...

I saw Michael Clayton, and I loved it. I noticed that among the friends with whom I watched the film, it seemed that we liberals enjoyed the film more than the more conservative friends. Of course, with George Clooney, you can always expect a little bit of liberal tones.

Anyway, I love the film. Whatever that's worth.

Drew said...

I do not understand people who do not like Daniel Day-Lewis. His performance was incredible in TWBB! Sure, there were a lot of other things going right in that movie, but he was the core of what made it such an experience to watch. Even now, nearly a week after the viewing, I am still cogitating on some of the decisions his character had to go through and the mindsets he experienced. That would never happen if he had given anything less than a superb performance.

prb said...

Due to my financial conditions I haven't been able to watch any nominated movies this year. But the award season has always been a hobby of mine. I've been keeping up with reviews. My friends and I usually have a pool on each awards ceremony. So far the consensus of my colleagues is that "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" will take a few (such as screenplay adaptation) or at least be a serious contender especially for a foreign film. Also Atonement was getting great reviews in general but I didn't see it getting them from the ones that count. Overall I'd say your picks are pretty good. I don't know much about "Michael Clayton" the reviews I've seen have been good but not calling for Oscars. Overall I think your predictions are pretty good.