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By website-editor on 30.1.2024

Luke Walter’s Oscar Showdown

Followinging on from my predictions last week, here are my tips for the hotly contested acting awards, up for grabs are male and female awards for best actor/ess and best supporting actor/ress.

Daniel Day Lewis has Best Actor written all over his performance in There Will Be Blood. Best Actor remains not a terribly strong field, with the likes of George Clooney (Michael Clayton) and Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah) put in good, but not Oscar winning performances. The only nominee whose performance goes the distance with Daniel Day Lewis is Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises, but it is Daniel Day Lewis who remains the sole contender. Johnny Depp as Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street completes the Best Actor category.

The most unpredictable of all categories has got to be Best Actress. The field is wide open; Cate Blanchett is probably the narrow front runner for Elizabeth: The Golden Age which, by most standards, was a box office flop. Ellen Page is more likely to be the favourite; her role in Juno went down well with the critics and is seen by many as a rising star despite being something of a Hollywood unknown. Marion Cotillard , the star if La Vie en Rose, is the dark horse of the Best Actress category and her nomination is one of the few surprises- Keira Knightley’s Oscar snub being the foremost surprise. Completing the list is Laura Linney for her role in The Savages and Julie Christie for Away From Her.

Justice has been served to Casey Affleck, nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, one of the best films of 2007, has been overlooked this awards season, but credit is deserved to Affleck for his portrayal as the coward Robert Ford. Javier Bardem is an exciting actor, he has been nominated for his terrifying role in No Country for Old Men; he picked up the Golden Globe in this category and is the favourite. The time will come when it is rare not to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman nominated for a single gong at the Academy Awards. He has been nominated for Charlie Wilson’s War as opposed to his other flick, The Savages; he is a contender as always. Tom Wilkinson does deliver Oscar worthy performances; however he was weaker than Clooney in Michael Clayton and is outside the front running. Completing the list is Hal Holbrook for Into the Wild, it was a shame not to see this featured in the Best Film category and equally disappointing not to see young Emile Hirsch nominated for Best Actor.

Cate Blanchett has received a second nod for her role in the Bob Dylan biopic, I’m Not There, portraying the man himself. Blanchett is an artist, however there was other talent out there that deserved a nod; one can name Samantha Morton in the independent British film, Control. Ruby Dee who starred alongside Denzel Washington in American Gangster has been nominated; not an especially strong individual performance from Dee, it was enhanced by the presence of Washington. Atonement does feature in the acting categories but it was neither Keira Knightley nor James McAvoy, but the talent of young Saoirse Ronan who has been nominated here. A film which did deserve some kind of recognition was Gone, Baby, Gone, but given the controversy surrounding the plot of the film, it is understandable as to it being overlooked except for Amy Ryan, who has been nominated for her performance. Tilda Swinton completes the list for her role in Michael Clayton.

As always you can never truly predict the decisions of the Academy, the shortlist is testimony to that. Surprises are all too often in Hollywood, as sadly we know all too well since the untimely departure of Heath Ledger. The Academy Awards remains the place where talent is confirmed as well cemented, and will forever remain the highlight of the awards season, strike or no strike.

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