Oscar Week: A Last-Minute Upset?


It's in the air, people. As Oscar Sunday approaches, rumors are flying that No Country for Old Men is no longer a lock as Best Picture. Academy voters hate that damn ending and the fact that we never see the Josh Brolin character get his. Colossal stupidity, of course, but idiot thinking is part of the Oscar process. The hot skinny has it that Juno, the populist candidate, and Michael Clayton, the throwback to the 1970s when Academy voters were last comfortable with movies, are gaining ground. Suddenly, the Coen brothers are Hillary Clinton and Juno and Michael Clayton are on the Obama ticket for change. The Crash upset over Brokeback Mountain two years ago is being cited as precedent. But homophobia was the force that brought down Brokeback — no cornholing cowpokes for Oscar's old-guard, thank you very much. Before weighing in yourselves, take a look at the platforms each movie is running on:

Juno promises you a movie you'll take to heart, an Oscar nominated performance by new star Ellen Page and the only Oscar nominated screenplay ever written by a former stripper and phone sex operator. And Juno is raking in big bucks — $125 million so far. On the downside, the teen pregnancy issue is glibly sidestepped and the character of Juno is irritating the shit out of some people with her smartass patter set to a Kimya Dawson soundtrack.

Michael Clayton promises a movie with a moral center, a leading actor (George Clooney) who was just dubbed by Time magazine as "The Last Movie Star," Oscar nominated supporting performances by Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton, a solid first-time director in Tony Gilroy, who also wrote the script, and — crucial point here — no bloody violence. On the downside, the movie is barely hitting $50 million at the box-office and, well, it actually delivers as a movie with a moral center.

I'd like to try an experiment on this blog and ask you to cast your vote for either Juno or Michael Clayton as a possible Best Picture winner. Let's see if an upset really is in the wind.

The Travers Take Main Next


Peter Travers

Rolling Stone senior writer Peter Travers has reviewed movies for the magazine for more than 20 years. Send your comments and questions to him here.

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