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OSCAR PREDICTIONS

It's the Friday before the Academy Awards.  Thankfully, the writer's strike ended in enough time for Jon Stewart to get some help with his jokes, and for the entire ceremony to proceed without a political cloud overhead.  Not even Michael Moore, nominated for his healthcare tirde "Sicko," should be able to infuse political partisanship into an audience simply relieved be there.

It's with obvious sadness that the Oscars will feature a snapshot of Heath Ledger - not on stage - but on screen, in memoriam, as a result of his untimely death.  I do not want to see his picture; I already miss his work. 

As for the event itself, it will highlight one of the modern cinema's finest years, for the most part. "Into the Wild" wasn't nominated for much and "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," was shut out of the Best Foreign Film race.  "Zodiac" never got any awards traction; neither did "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."  That film was made by Sidney Lumet, age 83.

As for the Best Picture nominees, I was swept away by Ethan and Joel Coen's terrifying work, "No Country for Old Men."  Paul Thomas Anderson's moody and dark oil film "There Will Be Blood," showcased Daniel Day-Lewis, the finest actor of my time, in few and fascinating ways.  "Atonement," Joe Wright's adaptation of the lovely Ian McEwan novel made excellent work of the original text.  "Michael Clayton," was the best put together film of the year.  George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton were exceptionally cast in Tony Gilroy's legal thriller.  And then there's little baby "Juno," the sweetest film of the year.  Michael Cera, an underappreciated and brilliant actor hung tough with 2007's blessed surprise, Ellen Page.  Diablo Cody dropped her phone sex and stripper gigs to write the best original script of the year.

And so, without further delay, here are The Moviegoer's 2007 Oscar predictions:

Best Picture
Will Win:  "Atonement"
Should Win:  "No Country for Old Men"

Best Director
Will Win:  Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Should Win:  Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Best Actor
Will Win:  Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"
Should Win:  Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"

Best Actress
Will Win:  Julie Christie, "Away from Her"
Should Win:  Julie Christie, "Away from Her"

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win:  Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"
Should Win:  Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win:  Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"
Should Win: Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There" and Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton" tie!

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win:  Diablo Cody, "Juno"
Should Win:  Diablo Cody, "Juno"

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win:  Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Should Win:  Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, "No Country for Old Men"

THE BEST OF THE REST

Best Animated Feature:        "Ratatouille"
Best Art Direction:                "Atonement"
Best Cinematography:           "There Will Be Blood"
Best Costume Design:           "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Best Documentary Feature:    "No End in Sight"
Best Documentary Short:       "Sari's Mother"
Best Film Editing:                  "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Best Foreign Language Film:   "The Counterfeiters"
Best Make Up:                        "La Vie en Rose"
Best Music (Score):                "Atonement"
Best Music (Song):                 "Falling Slowly" from "Once"
Best Short Film (Animated):    "Peter and the Wolf"
Best Short Film (Live):             "The Tonto Woman"
Best Sound Editing:                 "Transformers"
Best Sound Mixing:                  "Transformers"
Best Visual Effects:                  "Transformers"

I will be live blogging here throughout the ceremony so please check back.  The Academy Awards will be on ABC, Saturday, February 24th at 7:00 p.m. CST.

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