Though we’ve kicked Entertainment Weekly’s Dave Karger’s teeth in when it comes to the overall number of correct predictions for the last few years, our track record has unfortunately not extended to the Best Picture category. (Not that Brokeback Mountain helped anyone two years ago; and we can’t necessarily be blamed for, after Crash’s victory, assuming the worst a year later with Babel’s stack of nominations.) Another year, another seemingly soft frontrunner in this category. But if we’re going down, we’re going down with the rest of the Oscar-fluffing bitches. So who are we to argue that, after recent wins by The Departed and Million Dollar Baby, Oscar voters might not continue feeling all 1970s about themselves, choosing yet another arty, bloody, masterfully directed anti-actioneer? (If Atonement is in the fifth-wheel slot, it’s not only because of its lack of a Best Director nod, but also because the template for a Best Picture has perceptibly shifted away from Merchant-Ivory Land, to the delight of IMDB voters everywhere.) That’s the hitch, though. This year sees two equally-nominated, equally-beloved, equally-backlashed jocksterpieces duking it out. No Country for Old Men has settled in as the Best Picture-elect, and the Coens hold a far more esteemed cachet than Paul Thomas Anderson, but their film’s implosive anti-climax can’t just be shrugged off. Atonement and Michael Clayton’s nominations suggest there are still some voters who prefer their Best Picture contenders to suck them off until the money shot, preferably if it kills off either a woman or a woman’s career aspirations. Say what you will about the “Show me the MILKSHAKE!” corniness of There Will Be Blood’s last scene, the movie does decisively not end on a question mark. Neither, for that matter, does Juno, which lamely and writerly pays off on its promise to begin and end with a chair (unfortunately not one wired for 2,000 volts). But if the perhaps more beloved Little Miss Sunshine couldn’t hustle its way to a big win last year against an arguably weaker field, don’t expect a chick flick to deflate the dickless Oscar’s hard-on for manly bluster. We can’t be wrong three years in a row. There Will Be Testosterone.
Will Win: No Country for Old Men
Should Win: No Country for Old Men
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.