Monday, January 28, 2008

Divining the Oscars

With the American Society of Cinematographers, the Directors Guild, and the Screen Actors Guild having all recently bestowed their honors, the favorites among the nominees for the 80th Academy Awards are taking shape. Robert Elswit, nominated once before (for the beautiful black-and-white Good Night, and Good Luck) was recognized by his cinematographic colleagues ("Hey, I know you!") for his extraordinary work in There Will Be Blood, and that gives him an edge in the category.

No Country For Old Men's Joel and Ethan Coen won out over fellow nominees Paul Thomas Anderson, Tony Gilroy, Sean Penn, and Julian Schnabel, on Saturday, Jan. 26, nabbing best director(s) kudos from the DGA. That makes the Brothers Coen the odds-on favorites for the Academy Award: Since the DGA began prizing its directors in 1949, only six of its choices have failed to go on to Oscar wins. (DGA trivia note: the last time the Guild honored two men as best feature-film directors was 1961, when the winners were Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for West Side Story.

As for the four acting slots, Sunday, Jan. 27th's SAG Awards went to Ruby Dee (supporting actress, American Gangster), Javier Bardem (supporting actor, No Country For Old Men), Julie Christie (lead actress, Away From Her) and Daniel Day-Lewis (lead actor, There Will Be Blood). If you're doing an office Oscar pool, you could do worse than follow the SAG line.

Monday, January 07, 2008


It was the early double-0s, Paul Thomas Anderson was in London, living the ex-pat life, feeling a bit homesick when he saw a hefty little volume beckoning from the shelves of a bookstore.

"There were these huge red letters with exclamation marks, saying OIL!, you couldn't miss it from a mile away amid a million other books," recalls the director, who bought the book -- Upton Sinclair's 1926 novel -- read it, and a few years later turned it into the astounding There Will Be Blood. Starring the astounding Daniel Day-Lewis.

"`What the hell is that? That looks good.' And this was six or seven years ago and I dare say everybody was kind of curious what the hell oil was exactly. What is this stuff? Why do we like it so much?'

"You know, when you’re home the only thing you want to do is get out of there, and then when you’re thousands of miles from home all you want to do is be back home. So to pick up a book and be reading about my backyard, was really warming. But to be reading a story that took place in the 20s and saying `Jeez, this all seems so familiar, the insanity that people had over this black, goopy stuff. You think, we’ve come a long way haven’t we?"