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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reaction to DGA and WGA Noms

Within the last week, both the DGA and WGA have announced their nominations for their respective awards. Not too many surprises. Although, I will say that after the shutout of "Atonement" and "Sweeney Todd" in both guild awards, they're in serious trouble. What happened?

That's part of the beauty with the awards season. It changes so much from week to week that it's impossible to speculate a film's award potential. So many times in the past has a film that looks like an awards juggernaut, has fallen off the planet. I'm not saying these films are completely dead, but things are looking grim.

Below is my reactions and analysis of these races.

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

ANALYSIS:
The DGA does the best job at predicting the lineup for the Best Picture Oscar. So, does that mean this is the final five? As much as I like this list, I still think you have to strongly consider "Juno" making a spot. Then, you have to remember about "Atonement" and "Sweeney Todd", which are still a threat.

Anyway, let's talk about this race. Tony Gilroy probably is the ultimate long-shot for this category. "Michael Clayton" is known more for its writing and I think that will hurt him. The DGA loves actors turned directors, so Sean Penn has to be taken seriously. I just don't think his name will carry him to a victory.

To me this is a three (actually four) man race between the Coens, Anderson, and Schnabel. I have yet to see "Diving Bell", but Schnabel is known for his beautiful compositions (believe he's a painter). Remember this is a foreign language film, so it has to be damn good to be even be considered. Anderson, who is known more for his writing not directing, is finally being considered for his ambitious work in "Blood". This film is absolutely beautiful with some long takes and Anderson capturing the desert with some power. The Coens also went the desert route and again captured it beautifully. This is by far their best work since "Fargo" and are the only second time nominees (actually only Joel is a second time nominee from "Fargo", which Ethan didn't direct).

"No Country" has been beating "Blood" in most head to head match-ups and that's why you really can't pick against them right now. They'll probably win the Globe for directing and probably pick up the DGA. Anderson made a statement that he is the most talented auteur under 40 alive today and I think his day will come. I have no reason to doubt that, but I just don't know if it will be in 2008.

WGA ORIGINAL NOMINEES:
Diablo Cody, "Juno"
Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Tamara Jenkins, "The Savages"
Judd Apatow, "Knocked Up"
Nancy Oliver, "Lars and the Real Girl"

ANALYSIS:
It's good to see Judd Apatow get recognition for his hilarious script in "Knocked Up". He's not going to win, but at least he got nominated. This category is full of independent films and it's great to see Jenkins' "Savages" and Oliver's "Lars" on the short list, but they probably don't have a legit shot. This is really a two writer race between Diablo Cody and Tony Gilroy. Gilroy has a lot of respect in Hollywood, but it's hard to overlook and not award Cody's "Juno". I really have a hard time seeing her not win this award.

WGA ADAPTED NOMINEES:
Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"
Joel & Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Ronald Hardwood, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Sean Penn, "Into the Wild"
James Vanderbilt, "Zodiac"

ANALYSIS:
"Zodiac" getting the nomination was a nice gesture to show that the WGA didn't forget about the spring release. Sean Penn is having a great year and Ronald Hardwood is even getting some love for his foreign language film. Sadly, I don't see any of them competing. It's a two film race and probably it will be the same result as it has been most of the year. As a "hardcore" Anderson fan, I don't even consider "Blood" to be one of Anderson's best writing jobs. This is more of a film that showcases his directing. The Coens adaptation has been getting praise all year. The WGA awards should be no different.

*POSSIBLE AWARD SPOILER ALERT*
I read on Tom O'Neil's The Envelope that this could be the second consecutive year that the WGA tipped off their winners. Rather than announcing the nominees in alphabetical order, they announced them in no order at all. Oddly enough "No Country for Old Men" and "Juno" led off their respective lists. Considering both films are the frontrunners, it's hard to imagine this was purely a coincidence. Last year they made the same mistake, but fixed it very quickly. If I find out anymore details, I'll keep you posted.

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