The Oscars are now just 3 hours away. Here are my final predications and notes on every category.
Picture (not very competitive): No Country for Old Men has it in the bag. While it's not perfect, none of the other four has what it takes to unseat it. None has even emerged as a darkhorse favorite like we usually have such as Little Miss Sunshine last year or notably Crash 2 years ago. Personal pick: Atonement.
Actor (not very competitive): Last year it was the ladies' racies that were easy to predict; this year it's the reverse. All but the very skeptical are predicting Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood). Personal pick: Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah).
Actress (competitive): In recent weeks, it looks like Julie Christie (Away from Her) is the clear favorite, but she's still facing competition, primarily from Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), but also Ellen Page (Juno). Personal pick: Laura Linney (The Savages).
Supporting Actress (very competitive): The most hotly contested of the acting races. The only sure thing is that Saorise Ronan (Atonement) won't get it. Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There) was the early favorite, but few saw her film (and she won recently), then Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) emerged as the favorite for a moment, until Ruby Dee (American Gangster) gained surprised momentum from her SAG award, but then Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton), snagged the BAFTA, tilting the favor her way. Dee may be the sentimental favorite, and I have a nagging suspicion that I should stick with my guns and say Ryan, but I'm going to flip flop and say it will go to Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton), but for the fact that if Michael Clayton doesn't win this award, it probably won't get anything. Personal pick: Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone).
Supporting Actor (somewhat competitive): Havier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) looks set to pick this one up, although there is some talk that Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild) could steal it as a sentimental favorite. Personal pick: Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford).
Director (not very competitive). Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men) a.k.a. "The Coen Brothers" will walk away with this Oscar tonight, with only the very slightest chance it will go to avante garde Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) instead. Personal pick: The Coens (No Country for Old Men).
Adapted Screenplay (not very competitive). No Country for Old Men should take this easily, unless that bizarre ending scares voters away toward There Will Be Blood. Personal pick: Atonement.
Original Screenplay (not very competitive). Juno is the clear frontrunner, for its winning blend of humor and thoughtfulness. However, wouldn't it be interesting if Michael Clayton stole this one? Personal pick: Juno.
Cinematography (somewhat competitive). This is an interesting one. Roger Deakins should be the frontrunner, since he's up for both No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, however, that may work against him here, splitting votes, to pave the way for There Will Be Blood to win. Personal pick: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
Art Direction (competitive). The wild card in many of the tech categories is how much the Academy will respond to Sweeney Todd. EW picked it as their choice over more traditional Atonement. But I think it will go to spare There Will Be Blood, which has a lot of love these days. Personal pick: Atonement
Costume Design (competitive). Again, Sweeney Todd is the wild card here. While the costumes were ornate, I thought they were rather drab. Atonement on the other hand has that green dress, which is like iconic now, and while a film shouldn't win this for one ensemble, there was other good work there too. Personal pick: Atonement.
Film Editing (not very competitive). It would be a real upset for an action movie like The Bourne Ultimatum to take this away from the probable best picture winner, No Country for Old Men. Personal pick: No Country for Old Men.
Score (not very competitive). Atonement should beat Ratatouille for this, and not just because of the innovative use of a typewriter as a musical instrument--it's beautiful music. Personal pick: Atonement.
Song (not very competitive). Surprised it's not competitive? Sure Enchanted looks like the favorite with three nominations in this category, but Enchanted was a fabulous movie because of Amy Adams and its clever script--no one remembers the songs. So none of the three emerges from the pack. In contrast, "Falling Slowly" was a poignant moment in Once, so it should easily win. (Too bad Once's "When Your Mind's Made Up" didn't get a nod too.) Personal pick: "Falling Slowly" (Once).
Documental feature (somewhat competitive). I'm disappointed I didn't get to see Taxi to the Dark Side, but I did see the two frontrunners, Sicko and No End in Sight, the latter of which is the favorite, although I found Sicko more affecting. Personal pick: Sicko
Documentary short (competitive). Everyone says Freeheld will win, but Sari's Mother may have a shot. Although I haven't seen it, I'm rooting for Freeheld based on the trailer and its subject matter: workplace benefits discrimination against same-sex couples. Personal pick: Freeheld.
Foreign Language Film (not very competitive). With Persepolis and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days eliminated from the contest (not to mention The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, La Vie en Rose, or The Orphanage), The Counterfeiters (Austria) should win. Personal pick: None (haven't seen any of the nominees).
Animated Feature (somewhat competitive). As cool as it would be to see this go to innovative Persepolis, I think Pixar can clear room in their trophy case for another Oscar for Ratatouille. Personal pick: Persepolis.
Animated Short (competitive). The Beatles interview turned animation of I Met the Walrus is the favorite, but Madame Tutli-Putli could also get it. Personal pick: I Met the Walrus.
Live Action Short (competitive). I haven't seen any of these, and I've read predictions for At Night, Tanghi Argentini, and The Tonto Woman. I guess I'll go with the latter, for no good reason. Personal pick: None (haven't seen any of the nominees).
Makeup (not very competitive). Have you seen Marion Cotillard? She's young and beautiful. That she was transformed convincingly into Edith Pilaf both as a young, middle age, and old woman for La Vie en Rose is astounding. Plus, the Academy cannot let Norbit become "Academy Award-Winning Norbit." Personal pick: La Vie en Rose.
Sound Mixing (competitive). Hard to see with these. Action film with the big boom or drama wit the big impact? I'm hoping the latter, for the layering of sounds in No Country for Old Men was crucial for building suspense, and it was done so well. Still, Transformers would be the traditional pick. Personal pick: No Country for Old Men.
Sound editing (competitive). But when it comes to the sound effects themselves, it's hard to ignore the sheer volume and creativity required for an action film. Still, I'm crossing my fingers the academy will pick the better action film, The Bourne Ultimatum, over Transformers, which wasn't my cup of tea. Personal pick: The Bourne Ultimatum
Visual effects (not very competitive). Okay Transformers, here's your Oscar. Personal pick: Must I? Transformers.