WHY JUNO WILL WIN BEST PICTURE: Because it’s funny. Because it manages the difficult trick of being funny and serious and heartbreaking all at once, and sometimes simultaneously. Because Diablo Cody is a hot young talent and people want to reward her. Because it’s a comedy and comedies tend to pick up undecided Academy voters late in the game over dramas. Because Jason Reitman did a good job. Because people are really impressed with Ellen Page.
WHY JUNO WILL NOT WIN BEST PICTURE: Because it’s kind of slight. Because Diablo Cody, while talented, is also considered by many – and not unfairly – to be somewhat precious and twee (hamburger phone? Really?). Because anybody who wants to reward Cody or Page or Reitman can vote for them in the appropriate categories. Because Cody and Page and Reitman aren’t even going to win their own categories, let alone contribute to winning the big one. Because nobody really talks that way.
WHY ATONEMENT WILL WILL BEST PICTURE: Because it’s a costume drama, and that’s always a dependable voting bloc in the Academy. Because James Purefoy and Keira Knightley are incandescent on screen. Because it has an excellent literary pedigree. Because it’s about war, kinda, which is always dependable for votes.
WHY ATONEMENT WILL NOT WIN BEST PICTURE: Because costume dramas have as many haters as they do boosters. Because two other movies this year have literary pedigrees, one of which (There Will Be Blood) is arguably more impressive. Because although it’s set in a time of war, there are in fact no battle scenes. Because every year, there’s an “honor just to be nominated” film, and this year, it is Atonement.
WHY MICHAEL CLAYTON WILL WIN BEST PICTURE: Because it’s a sharp, intelligent legal thriller, and far and away the best one in a year of numerous very good sharp intelligent legal thrillers. Because George Clooney gives the best performance of an already storied and brilliant career. Because Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton do even better. Because it trades in suspense for existential sadness and makes you enjoy it. Because it’s just gorgeously shot and paced and wholly professional in every way. Because “I am Shiva, the God of Death!”
WHY MICHAEL CLAYTON WILL NOT WIN BEST PICTURE: Because sharp, intelligent legal thrillers only very rarely do well at the Academy Awards. Because trading in suspense makes the movie perhaps somewhat predictable. Because it’s solid and excellent in an unassuming, unpretentious way, which means it has a harder time getting votes because it’s not big and showy and waving its metaphorical hands around. Because there are acting categories to reward good actors.
WHY NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN WILL WIN BEST PICTURE: Because it’s well past time to reward the Coen Brothers. Because Javier Bardem’s villain is an instant classic, a nightmare piece of cinematic history. Because Josh Brolin had a really, really good year and this was the best part of it. Because it’s languid like a hot Texas day – and just as menacing. Because did we mention the Coen brothers are well past overdue for some little golden statues?
WHY NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN WILL NOT WIN BEST PICTURE: Because people might like There Will Be Blood better. Because the last fifteen minutes of the movie feel, to some, to be kind of aimless and draggy. Because Javier Bardem is going to win Best Supporting Actor in a landslide, so why recognize him here. Because Because the Coens are possibly the new Martin Scorcese.
WHY THERE WILL BE BLOOD WILL WIN BEST PICTURE: Because Daniel Day-Lewis fucking owns the screen for nearly three hours. Because Paul Danno matches up to him. Because the oil-gush is dramatic and intense. Because Paul T. Anderson is likewise overdue for a little golden statue. Because it’s relevant, in a historical sense, to modern energy issues. Because I drink your milkshake.
WHY THERE WILL BE BLOOD WILL NOT WIN BEST PICTURE: Because Daniel Day-Lewis is doing the standard “shout a lot and be showy” method of winning an Academy Award, even if he is doing it well. Because he’s got his own statue to win. Because Anderson doesn’t have as storied a career as the Coens do. Because a lot of people don’t like the score. Because the last twenty minutes really go off the rails in some people’s eyes.