Margaret Hair: And the winner could be ...

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Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

— When "Crash" won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2006, my apartment building screamed.

Most of the people in the building let out some exclamation about that particular movie taking the prize for the year's best - not because we were surprised, or that we especially cared. Most people don't care who wins Academy Awards, and most would admit that the winners (or nominees) aren't always the best choice.

But a lot of us watch the ceremony anyway (this year's Oscars airs at 6 p.m. Sunday on ABC). And to an extent, there are those nominees we know should win, and those we know will win - without necessarily seeing any of the movies involved.

With that in mind, here are a few compiled predictions from film enthusiasts - or cynics, depending on word choice - around Steamboat Springs:

Best Picture

"No Country for Old Men"

The Coen brothers ("Blood Simple," "Fargo") come back with an unpredictable, deeply disturbing and highly familiar story that shows its characters at their absolute worst and their most honest.

Also nominated: "Atonement," "Juno," "Michael Clayton" and "There Will Be Blood"

Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"

Daniel Day-Lewis only emerges from his life as a family man and a cobbler - or whatever else he chooses to do with his time - once every six years or so. When he does, it's worth it. Here, he delivers the only conflict in "There Will Be Blood," a movie with a title that promises violence and delivers it with Day-Lewis's inner battles.

Also nominated: George Clooney ("Michael Clayton"), Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd"), Tommy Lee Jones ("In the Valley of Elah") and Viggo Mortensen ("Eastern Promises")

Best Actress

Ellen Page, "Juno"

Managing to work through an occasionally over-confident script, Page gives an accessible breakthrough performance as a quick-witted, reluctantly pregnant 16-year-old. It's not easy to deliver adult emotion in a high school movie, and Page does it.

Also nominated: Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth: The Golden Age"), Julie Christie ("Away From Her"), Marion Cotillard ("La Vie En Rose") and Laura Linney ("The Savages")

Best Supporting Actor

Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"

So chilling with that bowl-cut and compressed air gun.

Also nominated: Casey Affleck ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"), Phillip Seymour Hoffman ("Charlie Wilson's War"), Hal Holbrook ("Into the Wild") and Tom Wilkinson ("Michael Clayton")

Best Supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett, "I'm Not There"

The movie itself didn't have much resonance, but Blanchett did as one of six actors portraying a multi-faceted Bob Dylan.

Also nominated: Ruby Dee ("American Gangster"), Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement"), Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone") and Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton")

Best Director

Joel and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"

Seamless performances from everyone in the film, faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's murder mystery, knowledge of the place and its people - all to strike fear into West Texas.

Also nominated: Julian Schnabel ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"), Jason Reitman ("Juno"), Tony Gilroy ("Michael Clayton") and Paul Thomas Anderson ("There Will Be Blood")

Best Adapted Screenplay

"No Country for Old Men"

While "No Country" is the strongest adaptation of someone else's story (easily invoking all the intended fear and confusion), this category could go to any of the nominees.

Also nominated: "Atonement," "Away From Her," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "There Will Be Blood"

Best Original Screenplay

"Juno"

Nancy Oliver's "Lars and the Real Girl," a touchingly innocent romance between Ryan Gosling and a sex doll, is probably the most original idea. And no one in "Juno" talks like a real person. Still, there are too many hilarious one-liners and easy, sentimental moments in Diablo Cody's script for it to go unnoticed.

Also nominated: "Lars and the Real Girl," "Michael Clayton," "Ratatouille" and "The Savages"

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