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Oscars 2008: No Country But Plenty Of Oscars For Old Men


We’ll do it all again in 12 months time.” – Matthew Toomey, 27 February 2007


That time has come. Another Oscars has been run and won. I’ve got to admit that I’m pretty happy with the results. There were a few nice surprises and for the most part, the most deserving films and craftsmen won a little golden statue.


A had the chance to preview them on 612ABC radio this morning with Spencer Howson at 7:35am. I hope a few people got the chance to tune in.


Here’s my “quick” wrap of the night…


Oscars Gambling


I take pleasure in winning money on the Oscars. Sports betting agencies don’t have much of a clue (although they’ve gotten better over the years). When you consider that I study the form all year round, it gives me a nice advantage…


I through one last minute bet on - $10 on Tilda Swinton at $12. I already had $20 on her but 2 friends each wanted a $20 bet on Ms Swinton (they can thank me later) so I placed a $50 wager all up. I wish I’d have put $500 on her in hindsight.


To quickly review my performance…


$300 on the Coens to win best director at $1.66 which returned $498.

$300 on Cate Blanchett to win best supporting actress at $2.10 which returned $0.

$20 on Ellen Page to win best actress at $13.00 which returned $0.

$30 on Tilda Swinton to win best supporting actress at $18.00 which returned $540.

$20 on Juno to win best picture at $11.00 which returned $0.


So for $670 worth of bets, I got $1,038 back. That’s a profit of $368. I have to remember to take off the $100 I lost on the Globes. So in the end, I wind up with a profit of $268 for this award season. Let’s now add that to the cumulative leaderboard…


1996 – profit of $750 – won on Susan Saranadon

1997 – profit of $300 (cumulative profit $1,050) – won on Frances McDormand

1998 – loss of $250 (cumulative profit $800)

1999 – loss of $250 (cumulative profit $550)

2000 – profit of $620 (cumulative profit $1,170) – won on Kevin Spacey and Michael Caine

2001 – loss of $190 (cumulative profit $980) – won on director Steven Soderbergh

2002 – profit of $480 (cumulative profit $1,460) – won on Halle Berry

2003 – profit of $275 (cumulative profit $1,735) – won on Catherine Zeta-Jones and Adrian Brody

2004 – profit of $150 (cumulative profit $1,875) – won on Sean Penn

2005 – profit of $214 (cumulative profit $2,089) – won on Hilary Swank

2006 – profit of $350 (cumulative profit $2,439) – won on Reese Witherspoon

2007 – profit of $1,463 (cumulative profit $3,912) – won on Eddie Murphy at Globes, Alan Arkin & West Bank Story at Oscars

2008 – profit of $268 (cumulative profit of $4,280) – won on Tilda Swinton and the Coen brothers


That takes my winning streak to 7 years on trot. If you didn’t get on this year, don’t forget to follow my tips in 2009. I’m already picking out the favourites. J


Oscars Competition


Right-e-o. Many people will be waiting for this. I ended up picking 5 very tricky categories this year. No one scored a perfect score and if I had entered, I’d have only managed 1 out of 5. Overall, I went 13 from 24.


3 entrants scored 3 out of 5 – they were Adam Conwell, Matt Gordon and Jessica Velm. Close but not close enough.


The winner this year was Sam Dagan and he becomes the first 2 time champ in my Pick The Oscars contest. Sam won back in 2003 (the year there were lots of upsets). Sam scored 4 out of 5 and only missed out on best actress. If you want to see how you went, here were the winners in the 5 categories I nominated:


Best Picture – No Country For Old Men

Best Actress – Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)

Best Supporting Actress – Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)

Best Sound Mixing – The Bourne Ultimatum

Best Foreign Language Film – The Counterfeiters


Denzel Washington presented the best picture Oscar. He is currently 53 years of age. The tie breaker question wasn’t needed however with just 1 person on 4 out of 5.


Thanks to everyone who entered and make sure you try again next year.


Richard Wilkins


I’ve just sat through Richard Wilkins half-hour snooze fest where he interviews people on the red carpet. I have never liked Wilkins. He’s an idiot. I just had to say it. Could he ask one half-decent question?


No Country Goes The Distance


It’s been the favourite for a long time. When I first profiled the Oscar contenders back on 13 November 2007, I had this to say… “If I had to go out on a limb at this point, my tip for best picture is No Country For Old Men. Ethan and Joel Coen won a screenwriting Oscar in 1996 for Fargo but one of their great films (and there’s been a lot of them) has never won the best picture Oscar. I think this is their time. I’ve heard nothing but good reports. ”


So there you have it. Films like Brokeback Mountain have been beaten at the post but No Country For Old Men has gone all the way. It won pretty much every lead up award and won the most Oscars tonight with 4. It won best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actor (Javier Bardem). That’s a nice suite of awards to win. I’d like to have seen Juno get the top prize but I can’t begrudge No Country’s victory. It’s a brilliant film.


Acting Surprises


The actress and supporting actress categories promised surprises and they delivered. For best supporting actress, favourite Cate Blanchett was beaten by long shot Tilda Swinton (4th in the betting market). I had $20 on Swinton early in the piece at 20-1 because I thought she was the best thing in Michael Clayton and that the category was wide open. Voters took a while to catch on as Swinton won no early lead up awards. Thankfully, she won the prize that mattered. I’ve been a fan of Swinton since I saw her in The Deep End and I’m happy to see her win. Well done!


In the best actress category, I was pretty sure Julie Christie was going to win. She’s loved by so many. I was very surprised to see an unknown French actress named Marion Cotillard steal the prize for La Vie En Rose. When I saw La Vie En Rose last year, I was amazed by Cotillard’s performance. I said to my roommate that I think I just saw an Oscar winning performance. I was right. Cotillard stands out and it’s a hell of a performance. I still think Ellen Page in Juno was better but that’s a matter of opinion. Cotillard becomes only the second actress to win the prize in a foreign language film (following Sophia Loren).


Incidentally, all 4 acting winners (the other two being Daniel Day Lewis and Javier Bardem) were all non-Americans. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1964. There you have it.




My favourite film of the year, Juno, managed to win 1 of its 4 nominations. Not too bad. Diablo Cody picked up best original screenplay. Cody is 29 years of age and prior to writing this script, she worked as a stripper and a phone sex operator. Can I call that a Cinderella storty? I can’t wait to see what she writes next. I don’t think she’ll ever need to go back to her old job…


The Bourne Ultimatum


The Bourne Ultimatum was nominated for 3 awards and won all 3. These were for sound mixing, sound editing and film editing. Only No Country For Old Men won more awards. This is a surprise but good recognition for the Bourne trilogy. I liked all 3 films and it’s easily been the best action series we’ve been treated to in a while.




My favourite romantic film in years, Once, took out best song for “Falling Slowly”. I’m glad this little independent film got some recognition. Stars Marketa Irglova and Glen Hansard performed the song live and got to accept the award. One of the highlights of the night.


Sadly Overlooked


Roger Deakins is one of the great cinematographers in the business. His work includes The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, The Big Lebowski and A Beautiful Mind. He’s been nominated for 7 Oscars and this year he was tipped to win – he was nominated twice actually – once for Jesse James and once for No Country For Old Men. He is still waiting for his Oscar statue. He lost this year to Robert Elswit for There Will Be Blood. It’s tough for Deakins because this was a great year for cinematographers and Elswit deserved it just as much. Elswit’s credits include Michael Clayton, Good Night & Good Luck, Punch Drunk Love and Magnolia. I wish they both could have won.


The unluckiest losers are still Kevin O’Connell and Greg P. Russell. O’Connell has been nominated 20 times and Russell has been nominated 12 times. Tonight, they were nominated for Transformers. They lost out to The Bourne Ultimatum. With 0 out of 32 between them, you’ve got to start thinking that perhaps it’s never going to happen. Perhaps they’ll get an honorary Oscar one day (ala Peter O’Toole).


Jon Stewart


There weren’t as many highlights in this year’s ceremony as I’d have liked. A few of the acceptance speeches could have used some spice. Jon Stewart’s jokes weren’t too bad. He was a decent host but nowhere near Steve Martin. Can we get Steve back for next year???


The Full List


If you’re interested in a full list of winners, here they are…


Best Picture: No Country for Old Men
Best Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men)

Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Best Actress: Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose)
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Best Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)


Best Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody (Juno)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men)


Best Animated Feature: Ratatouille
Best Foreign Language Film: The Counterfeiters (Austria)


Best Documentary Feature: Taxi to the Dark Side
Best Documentary Short: Freeheld


Best Animated Short: Peter and the Wolf
Best Live Action Short: Le Mozart des Pickpockets


Best Cinematography: There Will Be Blood
Best Film Editing: The Bourne Ultimatum
Best Score: Atonement
Best Song: “Falling Slowly” from Once
Best Sound Mixing: The Bourne Ultimatum
Best Sound Editing: The Bourne Ultimatum
Best Art Direction: Sweeney Todd
Best Visual Effects: The Golden Compass
Best Costume Design: Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Best Makeup: La Vie Rose


A Final Thought


I’m going to steal my final thought from blogger Tom O’Neill on his website at http://goldderby.latimes.com/. It sums up this year’s Oscars perfectly and how the winners were somewhat unexpected…


“Just think for a moment about the wins in the top eight races tonight: Six went to pix about a wacko serial killer ("No Country") or a psycho oil baron with murder on his mind ("There Will Be Blood"). Together they won picture, director, adapted screenplay, screenplay and actor.


The other two categories went to, well, somewhat lighter fare: a film about a drug-addicted chanteuse ("La Vie en Rose") and a pregnant teen with a bad 'tude ("Juno").


The last time a flick about a serial killer hacked its way through the Oscars was in 1991 when "The Silence of the Lambs" swept and darkness set over five of the top eight races. "Silence" made a real killing, becoming only the third film ever to win these top five prizes: picture, director, actor (Anthony Hopkins), actress (Jodie Foster) and screenplay.


Another ominous fact: this year, for the first time ever, three of the four acting trophies went to villainous roles -- best actor to Daniel Day-Lewis as a monstrous oil baron, supporting actor to Javier Bardem as a coin-tossing grim reaper, and supporting actress Tilda Swinton as a vicious corporate exec trying to snuff lady-killer George Clooney."


That’s it from me. To all, a good night. And don’t forget, we’ll do it all again in 12 months time.