It is the time of year when stars shine bright and the paparazzi line up at Hollywood's Kodak Theater while moviegoers sit in front of the small screen (TV), equally anticipating whose name will be read from the envelope and receive the golden statue at this year's 80th Annual Academy Awards ceremony.
Jon Stewart will host Hollywood's biggest award event, which is broadcasting live at 8 p.m. Feb 24. on ABC. There may be less glitz and glam due to the writers' strike, but the show must go on. If the strike is resolved, though, the red carpet may be as crowded as ever.
As the votes of the Academy members are being tallied, it is a year of many predictable nominees, but, as always, there will surely be some surprises. The Academy, which consists of over 6,500 individuals from every field of entertainment, will decide the nominees' fates on award night.
2007 has been a fantastic year for cinema, which is evident in the strong list of nominees. But for those who still are baffled about who will win, here is a guide to nominees that will help in one of the most competitive years in recent memory.
"Atonement," "Juno," "Michael Clayton," "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood"
The Best Picture category is one of the most coveted, and most of these films have a decent shot at having its name read on award night.
The frontrunner in this category is "No Country for Old Men," a story of a Texan who stumbles upon drugs and money with a killer in pursuit. In pursuit of "Men" is "There Will Be Blood," which could be a possible upset. The dark horse in this race is audience favorite "Juno," which tells the story of a pregnant teenager. The older members of the Academy, though, are less likely to embrace it.
Will win: "No Country for Old Men"
Should win: "No Country for Old Men"
George Clooney ("Michael Clayton"), Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"), Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"), Tommy Lee Jones ("In the Valley of Elah") and Viggo Mortensen ("Eastern Promises")
As a mad oil tycoon in "There Will Be Blood," Day-Lewis is so phenomenal, Clooney recently said that he has given up hopes of winning. While the win shouldn't be surprising, the nominations for this category certainly were.
Viggo Mortensen shocked audiences in a nude fighting scene as a ruthless London gangster, as Jones moved us as a patriotic father searching for his son who disappeared after returning from Iraq.
If there's any competition, it's going to come from Clooney as a smart attorney or from Depp as a murderous singing barber, but don't expect any upsets here.
Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis
Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth: The Golden Age"), Julie Christie ("Away from Her"), Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"), Laura Linney ("The Savages") and Ellen Page ("Juno")
Best Actress is a three-way race that's sure to surprise. Christie brilliantly plays an Alzheimer patient, while Page seems to instinctively act the role as a smart-aleck pregnant teenager. Cotillard plays a memorable role as the late French singer Edith Piaf in a musical biography. All with an equal shot at winning, judging by precursor awards, Christie seems to have an edge over Page and Cotillard.
Will win: Julie Christie
Should win: Ellen Page
Should win: Ellen Page
Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"), Javier Bardem ("No Country for Old Men), Phillip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War"), Hal Holbrook ("Into the Wild") and Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton")
If you thought I sounded sure that Day-Lewis will win Best Actor, then consider me 100 percent for Javier Bardem winning here. Playing the violent villain in "No Country," Bardem, who acted so naturally, gives us a character that should be remembered for some time.
Will win: Javier Bardem
Should win: Javier Bardem
Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett ("I'm Not There"), Ruby Dee ("American Gangster"), Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement"), Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone") and Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton")
Two actresses have a 50/50 shot at winning the statue here. One contender is Blanchett for playing, of all things, Bob Dylan, in the quirky biopic. The other is Broadway's Amy Ryan as a trash-talking Bostonian, grieving after the disappearance of her young daughter.
In a category that is more kind to newcomers, Ryan has won key precursors and has a more conventional role. However, Blanchett is an Oscar favorite, being nominated in two categories.
Blanchett has a slight edge as a seasoned actress, though Ryan could swoop in for the prize.
Nominated in a blink-it-or-you-miss-it role, Dee could spoil the night, as she won in a big upset at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in a film that was once to be a frontrunner.
Will win: Cate Blanchett
Should win: Amy Ryan
In other top categories, brothers Ethan and Joel Coen should grab Best Director for "No Country for Old Men."
Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" can fly in for the win in a visually fantastic film.
While "Juno" may not win in its other three categories, at least it should find an award as the Best Original Screenplay: Former dancer and first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody deserves the win for her witty and smart dialogue.
The Best Adapted Screenplay category has a far less clearer picture of who the winner could be. Once a front runner, being left behind in other major categories, "Atonement" could find itself winning this nomination for the screenplay by Christopher Hampton, but the Coen Brothers can sneak in with "Old Men."
For every nominee there is always one that didn't make the cut. The biggest snubs went to "Talk to Me," "Zodiac," "The Simpsons Movie," "Crazy Love," "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," "A Mighty Heart" and "Waitress." These films didn't receive a single nomination.
Cate Blanchett stole the spot in the Best Actress category that belonged to Angelina Jolie for her amazing portrayal as Marianne Pearl, the wife of slain journalist Daniel Pearl in "A Mighty Heart."
Ryan Gosling should have received his second Oscar nomination for the comedy "Lars and the Real Girl," starring as a delusional that falls in love with a mannequin.
In the supporting categories, "Juno" should have dominated with Award-worthy performances by Jennifer Garner, J.K. Simmons, and Allison Janney.
David Fincher was robbed a spot as Best Director for the true-crime mystery "Zodiac" as well as a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination. Pie-comedy "Waitress" should have cooked up a nomination for Best Original Screenplay in a film written, directed, and acted by the late Adrienne Shelley.
The last and maybe biggest snubs come from smaller categories. "Crazy Love," an interesting and wild love story, should have received a nomination for Best Documentary. In the animated category, "The Simpsons Movie" got replaced by the mediocre-at-best "Surf's Up."
In a year of fantastic achievements in film, we'll have to wait another 10 days to find out who will go home with a golden statues in hand.