From now until the 2008 Oscars air on Sunday night, I'll be breaking down the five contenders for Best Picture, giving you the scoop on why each film could win and why it might not stand a chance. Today, I'm kicking off the series with a closer look at There Will Be Blood.
Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood is a stark and stunning look at greed, power, and success viewed through the lens of the oil boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The bulk of its acclaim has come for Daniel Day-Lewis's performance as tycoon Daniel Plainview, but the movie has many other things going for it, as its eight Oscar nominations — for diverse categories including cinematography and sound editing — show. To see how I think There Will Be Blood will fare in the Best Picture race, just read more.
Why It Might Win
- Three words: Daniel Day-Lewis. His Daniel Plainview is a greed-driven maniac, neglecting all — social conventions, religion, even his own son — in the service of his quest for power, fortune, and oil, oil, oil. Delivering the year's biggest movie catchphrase ("I drink your milkshake") is just the icing on the cake.
- It's well-rounded. As its Oscar nominations show, it's strong in a number of different filmmaking categories, from the visual (including Best Art Direction) to the auditory (Best Sound Editing). It's still a shame that Jonny Greenwood's score was disqualified, because his music added yet another compelling dimension to the film.
- It's ambitious. Through its focus on Plainview (and its secondary story of Paul Dano's young prophet), it seeks to tell a bigger story about religion, greed, community, and fatherhood.
Why It Might Not Win
- It could have used some editing. As I noted in my review, the movie is a series of interlocking conflicts that can, at times, detract from the central story. A few of the subplots just didn't feel necessary enough to justify the film's 158-minute running time.
- Day-Lewis truly does make this movie. The Academy could be content with rewarding him with the Best Actor nod and giving the overall prize to another film.
- It could be a victim of its own success. Its ambiguous ending could be frustrating for some viewers, and voters who heard the movie described as "the next Citizen Kane" could have expectations too high for this film to meet.
Chance of winning: Moderate to good
Photos courtesy of Paramount Vantage