We knew the various critics groups would go for No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, as the National Society of Film Critics did Saturday. This means each film gets a boost during this all important ballot-filling season. What fascinates me is whether the Academy goes the same way as the critics. (Tom O'Neill goes underground with the NSFC voting.)
Remember, each segment of the Academy has different sensibilities. The directors and writers are more likely to go the way the critics do. The actors tend to be more mainstream, more inclined toward sentiment and emotion. (I listened to some actors tear apart No Country, intelligently.) But No Country is in good shape. So is Juno. And Michael Clayton. These are movies that everyone--including the more mainstream Academy groups, like the actors, execs, producers and publicists--can get behind. (Time's Richard Corliss thinks the Academy voters aren't mainstream enough.)
This year there are many, many movies actually vying for slots. Which means there will be votes all over the place, and the Top Five Best Picture slots will be hotly contested. The margin of difference between slots five, six and seven will be very slim.
The Academy's biggest branch, the actors, love George Clooney, Sean Penn, and Denzel Washington. That could push Into the Wild or The Great Debaters into best picture, my fellow Oscar-watcher Pete Hammond insists. But I think that neither movie movie will get enough votes from writers, editors, directors, and craftspeople. Penn has played rough on movie sets with various crews over the years, which could come back to bite him. There is a popularity contest aspect to the Oscar race. (Check out Edward Copeland's Oscar Best/Worst Actor Survey; it's fascinating to see how many great actors won career prizes for movies that that they aren't necessarily remembered by. I had forgotten that Richard Dreyfuss won for The Goodbye Girl.)
I suspect Into the Wild will land a nom for Hal Holbrook, who has factored in many Emmy races over the years, but not the Oscars.
Charlie Wilson's War is playing well with the Academy; it should get noms for supporting actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, maybe writer Aaron Sorkin.
There Will be Blood gets Daniel Day Lewis and directing, at least, if not much more.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly gets writing and maybe, veteran Max Von Sydow. The directors should go for Julian Schnabel but he hasn't endeared himself to anyone as he makes his PA rounds. He's a NY outsider who is not a member of the club. But the movie is much admired.
There are often splits between picture and director. So we may see Diving Bell in picture but not director, American Gangster not in picture but Ridley Scott in director, Atonement in picture but not Joe Wright, Juno in picture but not Jason Reitman, PTA in director but TWBB not in picture, etc. (My votes are tallied every week at MCN's Gurus 'O Gold and the LAT's The Buzzmeter.)
Tamara Jenkins is doing well enough with The Savages to make me wonder if Laura Linney, who has been sadly overlooked so far, might not creep into best actress over Angelina Jolie or Keira Knightley, who aren't necessarily sure things.
The critics groups aren't paying much heed to Atonement, Sweeney Todd or American Gangster, but they played well for many Academy voters. Atonement gets a big boost from its 17 entries on the long list of the BAFTAs, the British Academy Awards. It needs a lift: while it's doing well at the boxoffice, I sense some Academy resistance.
The full National Society voting is on the jump:
NATIONAL SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS AWARDS VOTING FOR 2007 FILMS:
1. There Will Be Blood (48) ‚Äì Paul Thomas Anderson [Paramount Vantage]
2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (28) ‚Äì Julian Schnabel
3. No Country for Old Men (27) ‚Äì Joel and Ethan Coen
Best Foreign-Language Film
1. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (57) ‚Äì Cristian Mungiu [IFC]
2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (42) ‚Äì Julian Schnabel
3. Persepolis (18) ‚Äì Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
1. Paul Thomas Anderson (47) ‚Äì There Will Be Blood [Paramount Vintage]
2. Joel and Ethan Coen (29) ‚Äì No Country for Old Men
2. Julian Schnabel (29) ‚Äì The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Best Non-Fiction Film
1. No End in Sight (43) ‚Äì Charles Ferguson [Magnolia]
2. Sicko (20) ‚Äì Michael Moore
3. Terror‚Äôs Advocate (18) ‚Äì Barbet Schroeder
1.Daniel Day-Lewis (66) ‚Äì There Will Be Blood [Paramount Vantage]
2. Frank Langella (34) -- Starting Out in the Evening
3. Philip Seymour Hoffman (21) -- The Savages, Before the Devil Knows You‚Äôre Dead
Best Supporting Actor
1. Casey Affleck (37) - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [Warner Bros.]
2. Javier Bardem (30) ‚Äì No Country for Old Men
3. Philip Seymour Hoffman (29) ‚Äì Charlie Wilson‚Äôs War
1. Julie Christie (53) ‚Äì Away from Her [Lionsgate]
2. Marion Cotillard (50) ‚Äì La Vie en Rose
3. Anamaria Marinca (28) ‚Äì 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Best Supporting Actress
1. Cate Blanchett (42) ‚Äì I‚Äôm Not There [The Weinstein Company]
2. Amy Ryan (29) ‚Äì Gone Baby Gone and Before the Devil Knows You‚Äôre Dead
3. Tilda Swinton (23) ‚Äì Michael Clayton
1. Tamara Jenkins (28) ‚Äì The Savages [Fox Searchlight]
2. Paul Thomas Anderson (19) ‚Äì There Will Be Blood
3. Ronald Harwood (17) ‚Äì The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
1. There Will Be Blood (51) ‚Äì Robert Elswit
2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (40) ‚Äì Janusz Kaminski
3. No Country for Old Men (33) ‚Äì Roger Deakins
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]