Friday, January 11, 2008

As Good As Guild

And the HIGH-larious puns just keep comin'.

Well, this crummy strike may put a damper on awards season, but not on my spirits! I still get excited about all these pointless backslaps and no amount of management-labor conflict is gonna change that.

If this were a normal awards season, I would be writing today about two of the most reliable Oscar indicators making their presences known recently. This year, who knows? Not me. But I'll forge ahead nonetheless.

In the Best Director category, there has been no better predictor than the Directors Guild of America awards. Most years, the Academy and the DGA are in lockstep for their directorial nominees. So if you want a slam dunk in your office's Oscar pool, you might want to put your cash on these ponies, recently nominated for 2008 by the DGA:

Paul Thomas Anderson -- There Will Be Blood
Joel and Ethan Coen -- No Country for Old Men
Tony Gilroy -- Michael Clayton
Sean Penn -- Into the Wild
Julian Schnabel -- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Three of those films are in my top three of the year (see list at right). Haven't seen the other two yet, but the director on one of them, P.T. Anderson, is one of my favorite directors, so I'm very happy to see him get a nod. Penn made the 2007 movie that most affected me, but both Anderson and the Coens are modern day masters. Tough call.

And meanwhile, in another part of the forest, a different, somewhat more currently newsworthy guild also announced it's awards nominees. Yes, the Writers Guild of America took time out from their busy negotiating and picketing schedule to name their writing nominees for 2008. The way things look right now, the 2009 list will be considerably shorter. 2008 nominees for Original Screenplay are:

Judd Apatow -- Knocked Up
Diablo Cody -- Juno
Tony Gilroy -- Michael Clayton
Tamara Jenkins -- The Savages
Nancy Oliver -- Lars and the Real Girl

Haven't gotten to The Savages yet. Of the other four, I most admire the screenplay for Michael Clayton. Lars and the Real Girl is a sweet little fable with an audacious concept at its center, but the writing was a bit slight. Knocked Up is hilarious, but also feels a little lightweight. I'm not as sold on Diablo Cody and the script for Juno as many others are. I think it forces its characters to trip over their own tongues too often to be a great screenplay. Good, not great.

2008 Adapted Screenplay:

Paul Thomas Anderson (based on the novel Oil by Upton Sinclair) -- There Will Be Blood
Joel and Ethan Coen (based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy) -- No Country for Old Men
Ronald Harwood (based on the book by Jean-Dominique Bauby) -- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sean Penn (based on the book by John Krakauer) -- Into the Wild
James Vanderbilt (based on the book by Robert Graysmith) -- Zodiac

The same three I have trouble choosing between in the director's race reappear here. Talented gentlemen all.

If your office Oscar pool goes all the way down to the writing categories, those are probably safe bets.

The Writers Guild announced more nominees besides (including TV writing awards), but that's a story for another blog entry.

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John and Dave talks Oscar nomination predictions