Sundance is for pussies.  Real men stay in Los Angeles and yammer about the Oscar nominations.  But since I couldn’t make the trip to Park City this year…

After many months’ worth of errant speculation (it seems like only yesterday that I was applauding the preemptive positioning of Paul Haggis’s In the Valley of Elah), it is at last time to get on with the winnowin’.  Early tomorrow morning (January 22 @ 5:30 AM PST), I’ll be stumbling into my living room to dutifully live blog the Oscar nominations as they are announced by a duo of previous winners (I’m pulling for Ernest Borgnine and Linda Hunt – with Borgnine exclaiming, “Holy smokes, you’re a broad!?!?”).  This means I won’t be closing Cheetah’s for the first time since Viva Laughlin was canceled (we all grieve differently); it also means I’m almost done boring you silly with editorials in which I purport to take the pulse of the voters, when all I’m doing is trading emails with Lou Gossett, Jr.  And then I’ll take a month or two off before diving into it again (I hear Fool’s Gold is playing like gangbusters with the HFPA – if only because they can’t wait to ask Kate Hudson a slew of insensitive Owen Wilson questions at the upcoming junket).

But before I get to making a mess of the 2008 fracas, allow me to offer up my final, far-from-humble predictions for the 2007 nominees.  If you’ve been tracking my week-to-week vacillating at David Poland’s Movie City News (where I’ve served as a “Guru of Gold 2.0″), my calls on the major awards should come as no surprise.  If, however, you don’t make it a point of tracking my every out-of-CHUD endeavor, my what surprises await!  

FYI, I’m going to skip the Documentary Short, the Live Action Short and the Animated Short categories because I’d just be guessing.  Like I’m not guessing on Sound Mixing or Visual Effects…

Best Animated Feature

Ratatouille
Persepolis
The Simpsons Movie

A year without a substandard DreamWorks Animation effort is a happy one, especially when the other three nominees are so unquestionably superior.  Persepolis‘ nomination will take the sting out of its Best Foreign Film snub; and, to hear voters who aren’t complete imbeciles (i.e. those not on the Foreign Film committee), the Marjane Strapi/Vincent Parronaud collaboration has a legitimate chance at upsetting Brad Bird’s Ratatouille.

Best Foreign Language Film

Beaufort (Israel)
The Unknown (Italy)
Mongol (Kazakhstan)
The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (Brazil)
12 (Russia)

Whenever Italy puts a Giuseppe Tornatore film up for consideration, it’s practically a guaranteed nomination.  Though he’s made nothing worthwhile since Cinema Paradiso (one of the few films Harvey Weinstein actually improved via crass truncation), he is beloved.  There was some controversy over the Israeli selection (The Band’s Visit was disqualified), but Beaufort is apparently an effective, straightforward war film; this is why the big, rousing Mongol gets in, too.  12 is 12 Angry Men in Russian, so that’s got to slip by.  And The Year My Parents Went on Vacation… that’s just an educated hunch.

Best Documentary Feature

Sicko
Lake of Fire
Taxi to the Dark Side
Autism: The Musical
No End in Sight

Michael Moore might’ve pissed off a lot of folks with his grandstanding acceptance speech for Bowling for Columbine, but after getting his knuckles rapped in the form of a (highly deserved) Fahrenheit 9/11 snub, he seems to be back in favor.  It helps that Sicko is (until its regrettable stunt of a finale) the most well-crafted and even-handed work of Moore’s career.  Taxi to the Dark Side is a sentimental favorite due to its poster getting inexplicably censored by the MPAA, while Lake of Fire is just flat-out undeniable.  I think No End in Sight wins for being an airtight denunciation of the Bush administration’s Iraq folly, but, man, is it dry.

Best Music, Original Score

Dario Marianelli – Atonement
Michael Giacchino – Ratatouille
Alexandre Desplat – Lust, Caution
Jonny Greenwood – There Will Be Blood
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Dario Marianelli is going to win.  The other four… I’m very confident about Giacchino, Desplat and Greenwood.  I’m wishing on Cave and Ellis; if there was any justice in this world, they’d be the frontrunners.  

Best Music, Original Song

“Guaranteed” by Eddie Vedder – Into the Wild
“Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – Once
“Ladies Choice” by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman – Hairspray
“That’s How You Know” by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – Enchanted
“Grace is Gone” by Clint Eastwood and Carole Bayer Sager – Grace is Gone

This is a two-horse sprint between Vedder and Hansard/Irglova.  But if the younger voters split on these tracks, one of the show tunes (most likely “Ladies Choice”) could pull an upset.  Vedder will really be fucked if “Rise” also scores a nomination – and, yes, this would knock out Clint (who’s almost out of it anyway, but I just can’t see the Academy going a year without their boy).

Best Makeup

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Sweeney Todd
La Vie en Rose

The big question: was Marion Cotillard truly “uglied up” for La Vie en Rose?  

Best Visual Effects

Transformers
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Spider-Man 3

If The Golden Compass sneaks in, Spider-Man 3 is (undeservedly) out.

Best Sound Editing

Transformers
Ratatouille
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
The Bourne Ultimatum
300

Spider-Man 3, Beowulf or, again, The Golden Compass could supplant one of the bottom two titles.

Best Sound Mixing

Transformers
The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
300

Seems right.  I just met one of Bourne‘s mixers on the set of Eagle Eye, so I’m pulling for him.  If I meet any other nominated mixers between now and then… we’ll have to see.  Kirk was awfully cool.

Best Editing

Roderick Jaynes – No Country for Old Men
Christopher Rouse – The Bourne Ultimatum
Jay Cassidy – Into the Wild
John Gilroy – Michael Clayton
Tatiana S. Riegel and Dylan Tichenor – There Will Be Blood

Will Jaynes be punished yet again for his fidelity to the Coen Brothers?  And is there anyone who still doesn’t know that Jaynes is the Coen Brothers?  

Best Costume Design

Atonement
Sweeney Todd
Hairspray
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
La Vie en Rose

This is Atonement‘s to lose.  And if it does lose, it’s Sweeney Todd‘s to snatch.

Best Art Direction

Sweeney Todd
There Will Be Blood
Atonement
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

If it’s going to be a No Country for Old Men year, it’ll bump Harry Potter.

Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins – No Country for Old Men
Roger Deakins – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Janusz Kaminski – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Robert Elswit – There Will Be Blood
Eric Gautier – Into the Wild

Deakins competes against himself (I’d vote for Jesse James), and Elswit wins by default.  Harris Savides should be in here for Zodiac or American Gangster.

Best Writing: Adapted Screenplay

Joel and Ethan Coen – No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson – There Will Be Blood
Ronald Harwood – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sean Penn – Into the Wild
Christopher Hampton – Atonement

This group is locked.  There is no dark horse.

Best Original Screenplay

Diablo Cody – Juno
Tony Gilroy – Michael Clayton
Tamra Jenkins – The Savages
Brad Bird – Ratatouille
Nancy Oliver – Lars and the Real Girl

Judd Apatow’s got a shot at bumping Oliver, but, sadly, I don’t see it happening.  Of course, I’d go with Evan and Seth over Judd, but Sony never campaigned for Superbad.

Best Director

Joel and Ethan Coen – No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson – There Will Be Blood
Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sean Penn – Into the Wild
Jason Reitman – Juno

Reitman has been snubbed all season long, but the Juno love is real and it’s not exclusive to Cody and Page.  Obviously, Gilroy is the odd man out in this equation, but I’ve had some illuminating conversations in the last few days; I think Reitman is in.

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There
Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton
Saoirse Ronan – Atonement
Jennifer Garner – Juno

I hate to knock out Catherine Keener, but Garner’s Oprah appearance can’t be underestimated.  Ronan is fine in Atonement, but she’s out of her league in this group; if anyone gets in from Atonement, it should be Vanessa “Fucking” Redgrave.  

Best Supporting Actor

Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men
Casey Affleck – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton
Hal Holbrook – Into the Wild
Tommy Lee Jones – No Country for Old Men

And if this isn’t the No Country for Old Men show, maybe Phillip Seymour Hoffman (for Charlie Wilson’s War) supplants Tommy Lee.  I doubt it.  And, really, how do you not nominate Tommy Lee for No Country for Old Men?  He’s the fucking heart of the film!

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose
Julie Christie – Away from Her
Ellen Page – Juno
Angelina Jolie – A Mighty Heart
Keira Knightley – Atonement

If it’s a really bad day for Atonement, Blanchett edges out Knightley.

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood
George Clooney – Michael Clayton
Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises
Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd
Emile Hirsch – Into the Wild

Once you get past the top two, the rest are subject to snubbing.  Ryan Gosling, Denzel Washington and James McAvoy are all serious candidates, and you can always make a case for Tom Hanks (even though Charlie Wilson’s War is done).  But I’m very confident that this is the group.

Best Picture

No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Juno
Into the Wild
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I could admit I’m wrong and replace one of the last two titles with Michael Clayton, but this has been my five for a few weeks now.  It’s a matter of pride now.  Many of my peers believe Michael Clayton is the only serious challenger to No Country for Old Men.  They’re probably right.  I’m just stubborn.  

I invite you to grade my predictions in the corresponding message board thread.  And I implore you to be mean.