Posted at 4:20 PM on February 19, 2008
by Euan Kerr
In seeing "Michael Clayton" over the weekend, I saw my final Best Film nominee, and it really makes a whole lot of the categories a lot more interesting.
Writer/director Tony Gilroy's tale of a corporate law firm 'fixer' who almost gets fixed himself is a challenging puzzle of a legal thriller which serves up a hearty helping of entertainment, great performance, family strife, and moral dilemma.
George Clooney acquits himself admirably as the title character (although he's unlikely to take the Best Actor award away from Daniel Day-Lewis.)
Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson, nominees for best supporting actress and actor respectively, must be considered serious contenders for their performances as other corporate lawyers on either side of a farm chemical lawsuit. Swinton is always fascinating to watch, and when she's on screen she dominates with her portrayal of corporate counsel Karen Crowder as a woman almost torn apart by the pressures of what she is doing to protect her company.
Wilkinson (who I have enjoyed since his bittersweet role in"The Full Monty") plays another lawyer collapsing under the stress of what he is doing, but his re-birth is also fascinating to watch.
So where does this leave us? I wouldn't be surprised to see the Academy spread the major awards across the five best picture nominees, with "Michael Clayton" or "Atonement" taking the best picture prize, best director going to the Coen brothers, best actor to Daniel Day-Lewis, best original screenplay to Juno. The best actress is still a mystery.