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Best Picture Breakdown: Juno

Just a few more days before the 2008 Oscars air on Sunday night! I've been breaking down the five contenders for Best Picture this week, giving you the scoop on why each film could win and why it might not stand a chance. Having examined There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton and Atonement, today's nominee is Juno.

This charming, disarming "little" movie climbed all the way up to take a place among big Best Picture nominees like No Country for Old Men and Atonement. Who's "little" now, punk, huh? Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking) directs a talented cast in this tale of one quirky teenage girl's pregnancy and the young couple poised to adopt her baby. Screenwriter Diablo Cody's sharp dialogue and well-crafted story combined with great direction, quality performances and a fun soundtrack make for a highly endearing film. To see how I think this movie might fare in the Best Picture race,


Why It Might Win

  • Well, frankly, it's freaking adorable. Despite the growing number of Juno haters out there providing an intense backlash, there are plenty of us Juno backers who say this film is incredibly enjoyable. It's sweet, it's funny, it reminds us of a more innocent time. And we like that. Of all the movies in this category, Juno is the only feel-good one. Unlike the creepy, dark feeling left in your stomach after No Country for Old Men or the heaving sobs induced by Atonement, Juno might elicit a happy tear or two, but then you can just go out for cheeseburgers and get on with life. It's nice.
  • Similarly, it's possible the Academy won't want to reward a darker movie because, as the Best Picture winner is sometimes considered a representation of our life and times, it may be too bleak a message to give the award to, say, There Will Be Blood. It would be joyful and satisfying to hand the award to something as affirming as Juno.
  • Juno's win might be a matter of simple math. As New York Magazine writer David Edelstein points out, it could happen that "No Country and There Will Be Blood split the nihilist-horror vote and little old edgy feel-good smash hit Juno sneaks in."

Why It Might Not Win

  • It's a known fact that comedies rarely win out over dramas at the Oscars. This will probably be one of those "it's nice just to be nominated" situations.
  • As I mentioned above, there has been an incredible backlash to Juno's popularity. The Academy might be having second thoughts about this one.
  • Juno could garner awards in other categories — most likely a win for Diablo Cody — thus fulfilling the Academy's urge to honor the film.
  • It might actually still be too little. Universal themes of motherhood and teenage angst aside, Juno may be slightly too homespun and humble to take home the grandest prize of the night.

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight

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