Peter Jackson’s casting on The Lovely Bones has been note perfect thus far (what with Rachel Weisz and Ryan Gosling snagging the crucial parental roles), so I’m going to trust him on thirteen-year-old Ms. Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon (and we’ll be seeing Ronan very soon as the daughter of Michelle Pfeiffer in Amy Heckerling’s I Could Never Be Your Woman, due out September 15th). The only conceivable concern would be Ronan’s Irish heritage, but most Irish people don’t become full-blown drunks until their sixteenth birthday.

Based on Alice Sebold’s novel about a murdered teenage girl who watches from the afterlife as her family struggle to stay together in her abrupt absence, The Lovely Bones is already something of a frontrunner for the Oscars in 2008 (it’s obscene to be considering such things in July of 2007, but an absurd pageant like the Academy Awards demands absurd coverage). Having read the script, I think Jackson’s on the verge of making his tightest film since The Frighteners, and, perhaps, his most emotionally resonant picture yet; the last several pages of my draft aren’t tear-stained because just because I’m an enormous sap.

There are still several key roles yet to cast – most notably Susie’s killer and the flamboyant grandmother. I’ve been set for some time on Julie Christie for the latter, and figure Jackson could do worse than Andy Serkis for the former. But I’d like to see him continue to go outside of his company for someone a little more fearsome, which is why I’m now adamantly pro-Bart the Bear.