- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2008

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. (AP) - “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” led with eight Academy Awards nominations each yesterday, among them best picture and acting honors for Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem — but it remained in doubt whether any stars would cross striking writers’ picket lines to attend the ceremony.

“No Country for Old Men,” a crime saga about a drug deal gone bad, and “There Will Be Blood,” a historical epic set in California’s oil boom years, will compete for best picture against the melancholy romance “Atonement,” the pregnancy comedy “Juno” and the legal drama “Michael Clayton.”

“Atonement” and “Michael Clayton” trailed with seven nominations each, including best actor for George Clooney in the title role of “Clayton.” The lead players in “Atonement,” Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, were shut out on nominations, however, with teenager Saoirse Ronin the only performer nominated for that film, for supporting actress.

Oscar winner Cate Blanchett had two nominations as best actress for the historical pageant “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” and as supporting actress for the Bob Dylan tale “I’m Not There.”

The Writers Guild of America refused to let its members, on strike since Nov. 5, work on the Golden Globes, which prompted stars to avoid the show in solidarity. Globe organizers were forced to scrap their glitzy telecast and, instead, announce winners in a swift, humdrum news conference without anyone on hand to accept the prizes.

Guild leaders have said that if the strike continues, they will not allow writers to work on the Oscars, either, which might leave nominees and other celebrities forced to choose between attending the biggest night in show business on Feb. 24 or staying home to avoid crossing picket lines.

Assuming the show comes off as scheduled, ABC will broadcast the Oscars live from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre. Jon Stewart, who recently resumed “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central without the help of his striking writers, will serve as Oscar host, a job he also filled two years ago

The acting categories generally played out as expected, with a few surprises, including best actress nominee Laura Linney for “The Savages” and best-actor nominee Tommy Lee Jones for “In the Valley of Elah.” Neither performance had been high on the awards radar so far this Oscar season.

Best actress looks like a two-person duel between Julie Christie, an Oscar winner for 1965s “Darling,” as a woman succumbing to Alzheimer’s in “Away From Her” and Marion Cotillard as singer Edith Piaf in “La Vie En Rose.” Both won Golden Globes, Miss Christie for dramatic actress, Miss Cotillard for musical or comedy actress. Yet they face strong competition from Miss Blanchett, Miss Linney and relative newcomer Ellen Page as a whip-smart pregnant teen in “Juno.”

Mr. Day-Lewis, an Oscar winner for 1989’s “My Left Foot,” grabbed another best-actor nomination as a flamboyant oil baron in “There Will Be Blood,” for which he could emerge as the favorite.

Along with Messrs. Day-Lewis, Clooney, Mortensen and Jones, the other nominee was Johnny Depp, who won the Globe for musical or comedy actor as the vengeful barber in “Sweeney Todd.”

With a Golden Globe and universal acclaim for his performance as a relentless killer, Mr. Bardem looks like the closest thing to a front-runner this Oscar season, which is unusually wide open for best picture and other top categories.

Mr. Bardem is up against Casey Affleck, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Charlie Wilson’s War”; Hal Holbrook, “Into the Wild”; and Tom Wilkinson, “Michael Clayton” in the supporting actor category.

Joining Miss Blanchett and Miss Ronin in the supporting actress category were Ruby Dee for “American Gangster,” Amy Ryan for “Gone Baby Gone” and Tilda Swinton for “Michael Clayton.”

Snubbed along with Miss Knightley and Mr. McAvoy was “Atonement” director Joe Wright. Besides Mr. Gilroy, the directing nominees were Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood”; Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, “No Country for Old Men”; Jason Reitman, “Juno”; and Julian Schnabel, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”

The Coens and Mr. Anderson also were nominated for writing the screenplay adaptations of their films.

Also left out of the Oscars completely was the hit musical “Hairspray.”

The fairy-tale comedy “Enchanted” had three of the five best song nominations.

Michael Moore, who castigated President Bush over the war in Iraq in his best-documentary acceptance speech for “Bowling for Columbine” in 2003, is back in Oscar contention with his health-care documentary “Sicko.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide