Oscar Quiz: Ugh, Multiple Choice? We Prefer Essay Questions, But...

George Clooney plays a law firm "fixer" in "Michael Clayton," a compelling throwback to the dramas of the '70s.
George Clooney plays a law firm "fixer" in "Michael Clayton," a compelling throwback to the dramas of the '70s. (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 24, 2008; Page M01

LOS ANGELES -- Last year was too easy. It was as if our Oscar Buzz Probe could read the names through the sealed envelopes before they were opened: Mirren, Whitaker, Hudson, Arkin, Scorsese and "The Departed." Six for six. Spooky. But even the CIA could have gotten four right.

This year? We found it necessary to recalibrate the Probe, fiddle with the formula, factor in "Clooney Points" and the "Juno Enigma." Lot of lab work. Just look at the Best Supporting Actress multiple choices: Tilda? Ruby? Cate? Tough nuts! It's like the SATs. You might as well not even go to college. But we did our prep. Went glassy-eyed on the blogs, attended the press feedings/screenings and covered more awards shows than ever before. We showed up at the Golden Globes -- and they didn't even have them. And the Screen Actors Guild show, where we learned never ever to call them the Sags.

Here's what the Probe knows.

* * *


Did you know there is now an entire job sector devoted to oscaroprognostication? These are highly trained people who watch movies and guess for a living. How can the Probe compete? The Envelope, a file stuffed with Oscaranalia over at the Los Angeles Times, obsessively tracks the best guesses of 33 Oscar forecasters. While these deep thinkers may not be able to agree on whether to order bubble or still at Osteria Mozza, they are unanimous (33 to 0) in their opinion that Anglo-Irish super-intense Method actor Daniel Day-Lewis will be victorious for his super-intense oilman Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood," a character who confesses, "I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed," and whom the Vanity Fair blogger nicely dubs a "petrosexual."

"I'll tell ya, I don't like Daniel Day-Lewis," said George Clooney at the Oscar luncheon earlier this month. "I don't know if any of you guys have met him, but I caught him stealing." But seriously. "It's a funny thing about comparing art," said Clooney, nominated for the legal thriller "Michael Clayton." "There's someone like Daniel Day-Lewis who screws the whole thing up because he's so good. He raises the bar for everybody in the room every time he works." Etc. Clooney didn't even need to mention Viggo, Johnny and Tommy.

"The race for Best Actor really is over and done with, and anybody who suggests otherwise is guilty of fostering competition for the sake of it," concludes David Kenealy of the Awards Daily blog. "Let us not indulge in fantasy scenarios for the hell of it. The time for such speculation has come and gone."

That fantasy scenario is: Clooney Points. The 5,000-plus voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences worship the guy. Why?

"He's better at the job of being a movie star than I think anybody has ever done it," said Tony Gilroy, the writer-director of "Michael Clayton." "The things that he does and the way that he does them and the effortlessness that seems to go into it -- I mean, he really is the Michael Jordan of movie stars."

Probe pick: DDL regardless.

* * *

CONTINUED     1              >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company