Who gets the gold? Oh, the suspense!

It’s that time of year again! Where’s Joan Rivers?

Kara Nesvig

The Oscars are kind of boring, right? Anyone with an attention span comparable to that of a normal college student’s knows this. While of course we respect the Academy’s exalted golden history, we’re not always thrilled with watching retrospective clips from said past over the course of a four-hour broadcast. And if we have to listen to Beyoncé or Celine Dion murder “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” again Ö

Well, anyway, everyone knows there’s tons of room for improvement in the ol’ dog and pony (and film honoring) show. But what the Oscars are here to do – honor the best of the best, the cream of the crop, tip of the top – is really great. We all love movies, even if we’d rather go see “Rambo” instead of “In the Valley of Elah.” So in case you haven’t seen some of the nominated flicks this year but still want to be able to make an informed decision when placing your bets come Oscar Day, I’m here to help. (Even if I usually care more about what the celebrities wear than what they win and the last nominated movie I was passionate about was “Titanic” back in 1997.) Just call me Jean Shallot. And now, on with the show!

Best Supporting Actress
ï Cate Blanchett, “I’m Not There”
ï Ruby Dee, “American Gangster”
ï Saoirse Ronan, “Atonement”
ï Amy Ryan, “Gone Baby Gone”
ï Tilda Swinton, “Michael Clayton”

All right, let’s hash this thing out. We know that the Academy likes to give it up for the older ladies, so that keeps the legendary Ms. Ruby Dee at the forefront. (I also just like saying “Ruby Dee.”) She grabbed a statuette at the SAG Awards, which is always a good way to look into Oscar’s crystal ball to see who’ll nab the man. Amy Ryan did a pretty great job of playing the bad mommy who loses her little girl in “Gone Baby Gone,” but it’s not the strongest performance in the category, nor is Tilda Swinton’s in “Michael Clayton.” I’d like to see the Oscar go to Saoirse Ronan, who at just 13 was not the Briony I pictured in my head while reading “Atonement” but made that role the standout of the film. It would also be great to see The Great Cate (following in the footsteps of Kate Hepburn, obviously) get the gold for her super-cool rendition of Bob Dylan, Wayfarers and wiry frame perfectly recreated, in “I’m Not There.” Her transformation was scarily dead-on. She even learned to walk like a guy! Cate’s great and deserves all the accolades she’s already received.

The Oscar SHOULD go to … Cate Blanchett or Saoirse Ronan
But the Oscar WILL go to … Ruby Dee

Best Supporting Actor
ï Casey Affleck, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”
ï Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men”
ï Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Charlie Wilson’s War”
ï Hal Holbrook, “Into the Wild”
ï Tom Wilkinson, “Michael Clayton”

Sorry dudes, but Bardem’s got this one in the bag. You already know it. He managed to be this absolutely terrifying homicidal psychopath while still making me fall head-over-heels in love with him … that probably wasn’t the desired effect the Coen brothers had in mind, but even still, the Oscar is his. “No Country for Old Men” was pitch-perfect and Bardem was the shining beacon. I love Philip Seymour Hoffman, mainly because he played Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous,” but this is the year of “Old Men.” (Actually, that seems to be the Academy’s theme every year, what with all the Clint Eastwood love.)

The Oscar SHOULD and WILL go to … Javier Bardem

Best Actress
ï Cate Blanchett, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
ï Julie Christie, “Away from Her”
ï Ellen Page, “Juno”
ï Laura Linney, “The Savages”
ï Marion Cotillard, “La Vie en Rose”

I’m still a bit miffed at the ol’ Academy for not nominating the wonderful Amy Adams for her pitch-perfect role as a Disney princess come to live in “Enchanted.” That film could have been just another forgettable romantic comedy with good moral values if another actress had taken her place, but Adams took Princess Gisele and ran with her to the echelons of acting glory! So I’m bitter, because I loved that movie. But as it is, the race for Best Actress is a tight one. We’re eliminating Cate Blanchett right now because “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” wasn’t popular with audiences or critics even though Cate is a doppelganger of Queen Liz I, and is always amazing in every movie, ever. Laura Linney won’t win either, because “The Savages” is a bit obscure for the mainstream and hasn’t been accoladed as much as its counterparts. As adorable as Ellen Page may be, she’s got no chance against Julie Christie, who could win more as a retrospective of her contribution to film than for her excellent portrayal of a woman with Alzheimer’s in “Away from Her.” She took home the SAG Award as well. (See Ruby Dee.) But Julie’s got a huge roadblock in the form of Marion Cotillard, who blew me out of the water with her portrayal of French torch singer Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.” Cotillard is graceful, tortured, heartbreaking, wonderful. In my opinion, Cotillard deserves the Oscar. But will the Academy agree?

The Oscar SHOULD go to … Marion Cotillard
The Oscar WILL go to … Julie Christie

Best Actor
ï Johnny Depp, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
ï Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”
ï Viggo Mortenson, “Eastern Promises”
ï George Clooney, “Michael Clayton”
ï Tommy Lee Jones, “In the Valley of Elah”

Bravo, Johnny Depp, for breaking into the notoriously stuffy Academy with your second wacky character! I still think you should have won for the first incarnation of Captain Jack Sparrow, before “Pirates of the Caribbean” became such a bloated franchise, but I digress. This year, you and Oscar are not to be. The Oscar’s going to Daniel Day-Lewis, fellas. And rightly so, ’cause Arthur Miller’s son-in-law is talented, picks diverse film roles, and it shows with “There Will Be Blood.” Sorry, Viggo, TLJ, and Clooney, it’s not your year either. (Clooney should get an award for only increasing in attractiveness as he ages, though. Maybe they’ll incorporate that one into the Oscars in a couple years.)
The Oscar SHOULD and WILL go to … Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Director
ï Julian Schnabel, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
ï Jason Reitman, “Juno”
ï Joel & Ethan Coen, “No Country for Old Men”
ï Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will be Blood”
ï Tony Gilroy, “Michael Clayton”

Of course Best Director is gonna go to the Coen bros, who did a pretty awesome job with “No Country for Old Men.” But the Oscar is theirs, unless the Academy pulls a stunner like the time they gave the Oscar to that horrible movie “Crash” instead of to “Brokeback Mountain,” which coincidentally also featured dudes in cowboy boots. Who knows, maybe Jason Reitman could steal the Oscar with a 16-year-old girl, but yeah, it’s unlikely. How predictable you are, Academy Awards! How predictable!

The Oscar SHOULD and WILL go to … The Coen Brothers

Best Picture
ï Atonement
ï Michael Clayton
ï No Country for Old Men
ï Juno
ï There Will Be Blood

Bringin’ out the big guns for this one! Who will win the oh-so-coveted baldie? Will it be “No Country for Old Men”? (Yes.) Or will ‘little-indie-flick-that-could’ “Juno” sweep the carpet from underneath its feet? (No.) The frontrunner this year is so obviously “No Country For Old Men” that we don’t have to bother discussing it. “Atonement” is beautiful and will win for best cinematography; “Juno” is cute but will probably leave empty-handed; “Michael Clayton” was decent but certainly no standout; and “There Will be Blood” was genuinely great and would have won had “No Country for Old Men” been such a strong critic favorite this year. No contest.

The Oscar SHOULD go to … It’d be neat to see it go to “Juno,” but my mom loved that movie more than I did.
The Oscar WILL go to Ö “No Country for Old Men”