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Scene picks the Oscars

Cassie Belek | Friday, February 22, 2008

Get ready for the best night of the year as Oscar turns 80 and we breathe a sigh of relief that the show can go on after the 100-day writers’ strike. We’ll see if host Jon Stewart can fair better his second time around or if we’re left praying that Billy Crystal would just come back and host again. And even though we can’t wait to see the best-dressed starlets and the monstrous suit that Johnny Depp will inevitably show up in, the real reason for Oscar night is to honor the industry’s best. Assistant scene editors Cassie Belek and Stephanie DePrez give their picks on who will take home the Oscar gold. Tune in Sunday at 8:00 p.m. on ABC to see if they’re right.

Best Supporting Actor

Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”). Hal Holbrook is brilliant and heartbreaking in “Into the Wild” and I would love to see him take home the Oscar just for being an adorable old man, but Javier Bardem is guaranteed to win for “No Country for Old Men.” He deserves it too. Bardem portrays a man who on the outside appears to be a psychopathic killer, but really, his character just operates by different principles and a different morality. Bardem makes it so that by the end of the film, we don’t hate his Anton, but we do fear him.

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone”). This is really the only major Oscar category that is still wide open. Ryan had some serious momentum going into awards season, but now Cate Blanchett, Ruby Dee, Saoirse Ronan and Tilda Swinton have all caught up. However, Ronan is unlikely to win since hers is the only acting nomination for “Atonement,” which had a disappointing morning when the nominees were announced. The race comes down between Ryan and Blanchett (who impressively morphed herself into Bob Dylan), but I’m going to give it to Ryan just because I loved her so much in Season Two of “The Wire.”

Best Animated Film

“Ratatouille.” Although I was pleasantly surprised by the nomination of “Surf’s Up” (it really should have been nominated at the Golden Globes too), nothing can stop the juggernaut that is Disney-Pixar. “Ratatouille” was received with such universal praise, that it is considered one of Disney-Pixar’s best. Its critical and box office reception was enough of a victory considering the film’s concerns about marketing something with a funny name centered around rats handling the food we eat. In fact, many people believed that “Ratatouille” should have been nominated in the Best Picture category, something that hasn’t been done since 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast,” when there was no separate category for animated films.

Best Original Score

“Atonement.” Since “Into the Wild” and “There Were Be Blood” were excluded from this category, I’ll throw “Atonement” a bone and go with it. Just for the record, my pick would have been “There Will Be Blood,” but it was disqualified due to a little something called Rule 16, which determined that the score wasn’t eligible because it included pre-existing music. Nevertheless, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenewood did a phenomenal job adding to the madness we felt watching Daniel Day-Lewis on screen.

Best Original Song

“Falling Slowly” (from “Once”). It’s called vote-splitting folks, and that’s what’s going to ruin Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz’s chances with “Enchanted.” The Disney duo are geniuses, but Glen Hansard and and Markéta Irglová’s captivating performance of “Falling Slowly” is more than deserving. In “Once,” the music is the film so it’s only fitting that it gets a win in the original song category.

Best Cinematography

“There Will Be Blood.” I wish “There Will Be Blood” had been nominated in a different year than “No Country for Old Men” because it deserves so many more awards than it will win. But this category is one that should go to Roger Deakins for his impossible shots in the film about an oil tycoon who loses his humanity to his ambition. There was one shot in particular in the film that made me gasp and turn to my friend to see if she had the same reaction. Films don’t usually take my breath away for those reasons.

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”). Day-Lewis’ Daniel Plainview is a force to be reckoned with in “There Will Be Blood.” Much like Charles Foster Kane in “Citizen Kane,” when Daniel is on screen no other character matters. Day-Lewis, who stayed in character even when the cameras turned off, intensely portrays the crazed effects of a man driven by ambition until he finally drinks Paul Dano’s milkshake once and for all. We can only hope that Day-Lewis’ acceptance speech will be as touching as his Heath Ledger-inspired speech at the Golden Globes.

Best Actress

Julie Christie (“Away From Her”). Her strongest competitor is Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”) with Ellen Page (“Juno”) gearing up for the surprise attack, but Christie will certainly add the Oscar to her already-filled awards shelf come Sunday. She last won the Oscar for 1965’s “Darling.” A win for Christie would be validation for older actresses throughout Hollywood.

Best Adapted Screenplay

“No Country for Old Men.” The adapted screenplay and director categories will be (slightly) early indications as to whether or not “No Country” will win best picture. It’s true that “No Country” was most captivating in its silences, -but the dialogue we did hear was brilliant. Its main competition is “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” which just won the BAFTA, but look for the Academy to show its love for “No Country.”

Best Original Screenplay

“Juno.” The indie comedy gem won’t win best picture so original screenplay will be its consolation prize. That comes as no surprise since original screenplay is usually the best bet for indies anyway. Remember last year’s “Little Miss Sunshine”? And while the script isn’t perfect, Diablo Cody deserves the Oscar for expressing young voices without dumbing them down. “Juno” is filled with heart and wit, and we have the mind and pen of Diablo Cody to thank for that.

Best Director

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (“No Country for Old Men”). It’s about time isn’t it? These are the fine filmmakers who brought us “Fargo” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and now they’ve brought us the dark and suspenseful “No Country,” the film they may become best remembered for. However, Julian Schnabel could upset the duo in their quest for Oscar gold. He won the Golden Globe in January and his “Diving Bell” failed to garner a best picture nod. The Academy could decide to share the wealth on Sunday.

Best Picture

“No Country for Old Men.” If you haven’t been able to tell from my previous predictions, I’m going with “No Country for Old Men.” The choice seems almost too predictable, but that’s what everyone said about “Brokeback Mountain” and we saw what happened there (Really? “Crash”?) The acting is impeccable, as is the directing and everything else. However, I think the upset watch goes to “Michael Clayton” and not “Juno.” “Michael Clayton” managed to garner multiple acting nods, a director nod and an original screenplay nod. Let’s just say that it’s bringing its own set of weapons to compete with “No Country’s” cattle gun and sawed-off shotgun.