Silver thinks gold

Feb. 20, 2008, midnight | By Alisa Lu, Kiera Zitelman, Brittany Allen | 16 years, 2 months ago

The ballots are in, and the Oscar goes to...

It's been a rough year for Hollywood. The writer's strike has skewered most of the year's good television, "Epic Movie," was allowed to enter a public theater and golden god Heath Ledger died tragically in his Manhattan apartment. To generalize, the epics have been slumming, the romantic comedies have been trite and the action has been paltry — what's a cine-freak to think?

Have no fear, Oscarites—the nominees for this year's Academy Awards, airing at 8 p.m. on Feb. 24, are worthy films; they've just been hiding. If you need a hint as to where to place your Oscar night bets, look to SCO: from Ellen Page's subtly sassy performance in "Juno," to the rodent-tastic comedy of "Ratatouille," writers, Brittany Allen, Alisa Lu, Boris Vassilev and Kiera Zitelman are here to guide you in the right direction.

And the nominees are... "Persepolis," "Ratatouille," "Surf's Up"

Brittany says: Too easy. Even though the edgy "Persepolis," landed on the nominee list, I'm thinking this will be yet another golden year for Disney/Pixar. Adorable, gourmet-inclined household pests and a sinister food critic played by Peter O'Toole? Why isn't this film up for Best Picture?

Alisa says: With a movie whose story centers on an adorable rat who aspires to be a chef, Pixar did not go wrong with "Ratatouille." Originally the name of a French stewed dish, "Ratatouille" tells the story of a talented rat who manages to secretly run the kitchen of a French four-star restaurant while trying to overcome numerous blockades in his quest for fame in the culinary world. "Ratatouille" has been nominated in five different categories for the Oscars, and rightfully so, as this movie is incredibly well-made and adorable. It easily outshines its competitors "Persepolis" and "Surf's Up."

Boris says: Who could err with dazzlingly animated rodents and quirky humor, Pixar-Disney style? But despite being a record-breaking and graphically pleasing film, "Ratatouille" seems more of the usual animation fare. Truly original in this category is "Persepolis," which tells the very somber story of an Iranian girl going through the revolution, fighting back in her own way and developing a unique identity – all in the scope of an animated film. Thus, I am putting my vote with the black and white tones of "Persepolis."

Kiera says: Definitely "Ratatouille." Even the French loved the eighth Disney-Pixar film, which broke the record for the largest-grossing animated feature film ever released in the country. In the United States, as well, it opened to nearly unanimously positive critical reactions and box office success. "Ratatouille" had some extremely impressive animation – particularly the liquids and foods, both of which were central to the story, looked absolutely realistic. But beyond the financial, critical and technical elements, "Ratatouille" is just plain fun. And that's what an animated feature film is all about.

And the nominees are... "Juno," "Lars and the Real Girl," "Michael Clayton," "Ratatouille," "The Savages"

Brittany says: There were elements of "Juno," I liked, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the snappy dialogue was a little contrite—so just to be contrary, I'm casting my Best Original Screenplay vote for "Lars and the Real Girl." In this under-the-radar dramatic comedy, misfit Ryan Gosling plays a social outcast unable to deal with the rest of the world, an affliction that drives him to find love with a plastic, blow-up mate. At times touching and often hilarious (thanks to some great comedic writing from Six Feet Under's Nancy Oliver) this little gem of an Oscar nom deserves the gold in my book.

Alisa says: With a script chock full of comedy, satire and wit, "Juno" easily won over both critics and movie-goers — pulling in over $100,000,000 and earning a 93 percent fresh rating on the movie critics site ( Rotten Tomatoes ). "Juno" takes a fresh look at teen pregnancy and tastefully showcases the trials the title character must overcome in her search for love and acceptance. The writers manage to capture both the obstacles Juno goes through and her reactions using the sarcasm that made almost all movie-goers fall in love with the film.

Boris says: The world's most cynical teenager caught in the oldest bit of difficulty known to people or the shut-in man wholesomely in love with his mail-order inflatable buddy? Though both are budding with originality, I am going to have to give this one to "Lars and the Real Girl" over favorite "Juno" just for the oddball characters, both real and plastic, portrayed in the film.

Kiera says: It seems like everybody loves "Juno," including me. But let's face the facts – it clearly is not in the same category as the other Best Picture nominees, serious dramas. "Juno" is a great comedy, and surely writer Diablo Cody deserves a victory for Best Screenplay. Notoriously hard-to-please Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert was just one of many who raved about its witty dialogue. "Juno" is at once sarcastic, insightful and hilarious, and deserves at least a Best Screenplay win.

And the nominees are... Cate Blanchett ("I'm Not There"), Ruby Dee ("American Gangster"), Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement"), Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone"), Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton")

Brittany says: Kudos must go to Cate Blanchett for donning the shades of Robert Zimmerman, a.k.a as the great folk king Bob Dylan, the untraceable, enigmatic subject of this year's surreal "I'm Not There." Even if by this point we've basically seen Blanchett pull all the tricks a human actress (or an Elvin queen) can be expected to pull in her vibrant, fabulous career, in this role she strays completely from the path—and gender—of previous performances. Five stars for sheer gumption.

Alisa says: Double-nominee Cate Blanchett's cross-dressing turn as musician Bob Dylan sounds odd but is in fact, really good. Though Saoirse Ronan is chilling as Briony Tallis in the adaptation of Ian McEwan's "Atonement," Blanchett overshadows the 13-year-old with her portrayal of Dylan at the height of his fame. The three-time nominee won her first Oscar, a Best Supporting Actress award, for her depiction of Katherine Hepburn and she will win again for her depiction of another celebrity.

Boris says: For sheer actor's craft, this one should go to Cate Blanchett for her portrayal of Bob Dylan, cropped hair and all. Even "Atonement's" young Saoirse Ronan's performance is eclipsed by Blanchett's prowess in crossing the lines of time, gender and culture to depict one of America's great musical icons.

Kiera says: While Cate Blanchett will probably be disappointed with a loss in the Best Actress in a Leading Role category, her role as Bob Dylan in "I'm Not There" should be enough to get her a win as a supporting actress. Blanchett starred alongside the late Heath Ledger, Richard Gere and Christian Bale, all of whom took turns as Dylan. Blanchett was by far the best of the bunch, playing Dylan in his skinny, electric years. She is completely believable as the legendary male singer, and the risk she took for the role should pay off in the end as she takes home a win in the Best Supporting Actress category.

And the nominees are... Casey Affleck ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"), Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War"), Hal Holbrook ("Into the Wild"), Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton")

Brittany says: Soulless, evil men just might sweep all the best actor awards of 2008: as the terrifying but spellbinding (in a I-can't-look-away-from-this-massacre sort of way…) murderer Chigurrh, Javier Bardem is excellent, completely and totally. I just hope this role doesn't chuck him headfirst into the old Actor's Graveyard, resting home for people who can no longer get parts or get taken seriously as anything but serial killers or cruel, unusual power-mongers. See: Billy Zane.

Alisa says: After winning the Golden Globes, the Screen Actor Guild and the British version of the Oscars (BAFTA awards), Bardem will continue his winning streak for his chilling portrayal of villain Anton Chigurh in "No Country for Old Men." Bardem's imposing presence as the cold-blooded Chigurh is completely believable and with a simple stare, he can express Chigurh's ruthless personality. It seems like the second time will be the charm for Bardem, who was first nominated in 2001 in the Best Actor category but did not win for his role in "Before Night Falls."

Boris says: It seems like the verdict is unanimous on this one, at least. Javier Bardem is the heavyweight in this category, and anybody who doesn't agree can take it up with the unsettling villain Anton Chigurh he plays in "No Country for Old Men" and his odd killing instrument. Chirugh pulls off the role with a terrifying demeanor and a very unsettling frozen smile, a true transformation from the amiable character he is in real life and blows away the competition in Hal Holbrook and Phillip Hoffman, whose do-gooder tactics just can't stand up to his evil. The dark side would be so proud.

Kiera says: Javier Bardem plays one of the creepiest characters in film in "No Country for Old Men" and his performance is certainly Oscar-worthy. His grim smile as he kills victim after victim is particularly remarkable, setting him apart from overacting movie murderers who make the mistake of flashing toothy grins while they go in for their killings. Bardem's character also has fabulous hair – for a murderer. Dark strands seem to be magnetized to his face, making for a chillingly good killer. Aside from his physical appearance, Bardem's voice is a chief contributor to his character's coldness. Bardem has already won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award for his performance, making him the popular favorite for the Oscar.

And the nominees are... Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth: The Golden Age"), Julie Christie ("Away From Her"), Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"), Laura Linney ("The Savages"), Ellen Page ("Juno")

Brittany says: Already toting the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical and the BAFTA Best Actress award, Marion Cotillard seems likely to ride home from the Academy Awards next month with a little golden friend in tow, but the hype is well deserved. In her sweeping depiction of Edith Piaf in 2007's "La Vie en Rose," Cotillard is poignant and believable—not to mention a very good singer.

Alisa says: As the troubled Piaf in "La Vie en Rose," Marion Cotillard captures every emotion perfectly and manages to bring depth to Piaf's tragic life, which included the deaths of the love of her life and her daughter along with numerous drug addictions. Piaf herself would be sobbing at the end of Cotillard's tear-jerking performance.

Boris says: Marion Cotillard gives a mesmerizing performance as songstress Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose." Cate Blanchett seems to be growing stale playing monarchy and "Away From Her's" Julie Christie and "The Savages'" Laura Linney just can't stand up to Cotillard's portrayal of the troubled singer. Though there is always the outside chance that Ellen Page's quirky Juno will snatch this award, Cotillard seems to have it in the bag.

Kiera says: I'll have to disagree with my cohorts on this one. In "Away From Her," Julie Christie plays an Alzheimer's victim with a controlled presence. She doesn't overact or underact, but puts in just the right effort, to seal a remarkable performance that should garner her an Oscar win. The other nominees – save for Marion Cotillard – were neither especially popular nor generated early Oscar buzz (except for talk from a few misguided, rabid "Juno" fans), and Christie has a good chance of beating Cotillard in this category.

And the nominees are... George Clooney ("Michael Clayton"), Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"), Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd"), Tommy Lee Jones ("In the Valley of Elah"), Viggo Mortensen ("Eastern Promises")

Brittany says: I'm completely torn on the Best Actor nominations this year; the respective Viggo, Johnny and George shrines in my closet all beg for my vote with their dreamy puppy dog stares while my inner snooty-film-critic pleads for Daniel Day-Lewis. In his performance in January's "There Will Be Blood," as the ruthless prospector Daniel Plainview, Brit Day gives a truly chilling performance: he's sinister, sly and perfectly believable with a flawless turn of the century American accent. It should be noted that the other nominees are all extremely worthy candidates, but Mortensen, Depp, Clooney and Jones have all given better performances previously in their careers, while Lewis' turn as Plainview just might be his crowning achievement to date.

Alisa says: Although the Academy nominated a slew of talented actors in the Best Actor category this year, Daniel Day-Lewis's outstanding performance as the greedy oil baron Daniel Payview in "There Will Be Blood" simply stands out. Day-Lewis is the perfect antagonist with his legendary acting skills that won him his first Best Actor Oscar in 1989 for "My Left Foot." Though the other nominees all gave fantastic performances in their respective films, Day-Lewis's turn as the misanthropic Payview will win him his second Oscar trophy.

Boris says: Tough competition this year in the Best Actor category. With big names like George Clooney, Viggo Mortensen andJohnny Depp and even bigger roles in Michael Clayton, a motivated mob driver and the demon barber Sweeney Todd, respectively, the rivalry is fierce. But with his most vicious and brutal role since "Gangs of New York's" Bill Cutting, Daniel Day-Lewis has this Oscar in the bag as Daniel Plainview, the ruthless oil prospector in "There Will Be Blood."

Kiera says: Most likely, Daniel Day-Lewis of "There Will Be Blood." Day-Lewis is the popular favorite, even over such opponents as Johnny Depp of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" and George Clooney of "Michael Clayton," who won a Best Supporting Actor award two years ago for "Syriana." Day-Lewis dominates the screen with his accent and unique grimaces. "There Will Be Blood" is nominated in eight categories this year, and Best Actor win should be one of many for "There Will Be Blood."

And the nominees are... "Atonement," "Juno," "Michael Clayton," "No Country for Old Men," "There Will Be Blood"

Brittany says: I cannot tell a lie; while all the Best Picture nominees are quality films, none of them seem to have that extra "oompf" that makes a good picture great. "There Will be Blood" is exquisitely sinister and well directed, but Daniel Day-Lewis's quality turn as lead Daniel Plainview outshines the film as a whole. "No Country for Old Men," is a little too thorough in its explorations of human anatomy, the plot of "Atonement" seems a little thin when strung out against the big screen and "Juno," the gimmick-pick of Oscars 2008 was big-hearted and sweet, but…well, don't make me say it. "Michael Clayton," this year's ultimate dramatic thriller, comes closest to delivering the goods. With the welcome aid of George Clooney, high energy and an excellent script, this film is the most well-rounded of all the nominees—not to mention I'd trust veteran director Sydney Pollack with my life, considering all his successes on the silver screen. But if I had it my way? The Oscar would go to the year's most poignant yet comic, self-deprecating yet unique, all around most excellent cinematic feat of 2007: "Superbad."

Alisa says: Over the past few years, the Golden Globes have not lived up to their reputation of accurately predicting the Oscars. This year, they will finally end their three-year losing streak after picking "Atonement" for the Best Motion Picture Drama award. The film's awe-inspiring cinematography, strong cast and emotional dialogue vaults it above the other nominees "Juno," "Michael Clayton," "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood." Though "Atonement" has neither the action of "No Country for Old Men" nor the witty dialogue of "Juno," the drama takes the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions and is just the type of film the Academy of Motion Pictures loves.

Boris says: So will the Oscar goes to, the cutesy, oddball indie comedy about the pregnant teenager, the somber love story, the film with the most bodies since "Grindhouse," the money grubbing thriller with everyone's favorite ex-"ER" doc or the deep study of human greed and cruelty? Though it seems the audience either find the movie utterly witty and awesome or resigns it to a sad indie film attempt, I think of all the films, "Juno" is the only one with the capacity to entertain the audience in a more than saddening or grotesque way, so I'm putting my chips (no pun intended) on this oddball comedy.

Kiera says: Compared to the other main Oscar categories, Best Picture is the most unpredictable – though, one can safely assume that director Jason Reitman and the cast of "Juno" won't be making an acceptance speech. Of the other four nominees, "There Will Be Blood" is the likely winner. The film is engrossing and thought-provoking, as well as it boasts some of the best acting, directing, musical and cinematography of the year. The film is a well-rounded nominee, and director Paul T. Anderson should be writing his acceptance speech right now.

Alisa Lu. Alisa is an (almost) junior in the magnet, which is not a good thing, since it means she will be looking like a zombie for the next few years. While not obsessing over school, she can be found on reading sappy stories and then … More »

Kiera Zitelman. Kiera Zitelman goes by many names and Photo Booth effects. She enjoys being able to drive and representing Kensington. She likes her dog, Sophie, and her human friend of the same name. Kiera owns one-third of a hot dog toaster and one-fourth of a movie … More »

Brittany Allen. Brittany Allen is a sleep-deprived CAP SENNNNNIOORRR with a penchant for treading the boards in the Blair auditorium floor. When not spreading the love in Silver Chips Online, she acts as co-director of Blair's Young Thespian club with the fabulous and all-powerful Caitlin Schneiderhan. She … More »

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