"There's no way Daniel Day-Lewis won't win," George Clooney told The Envelope during a video interview at the Oscar nominee luncheon and recently insisted to Time. That's what all the pundits (save one cliff-jumper) believe, but I remind you that he also predicted he'd lose in the supporting slot when up against Paul Giamatti ("Cinderella Man"). And all of the pundits have been wrong before, like they were the last time they insisted that Daniel Day-Lewis ("Gangs of New York") would win for a different sinister role after he swept the precursor awards.
However, jawdroppers happen all the time at the Oscars. (Remember when the wrong Richard — Dreyfuss — beat Burton?) If they didn't, we bloggers would be out of biz and the Oscars no fun to watch.
The reason that the shockeroos occur is because Hollywooders are a bull-headed, contrary-minded lot and often they don't tip their cards. They also don't like to admit that they're going against the pack — everybody's got to be a team player, after all — but, alone at home where no one is looking and with sly smirks on their faces, they fool Oscarwatchers now and then by checking off their ballots for Marcia Gay Harden or Juliette Binoche.
I think there's a fascinating hint of the Clooney upset to be spotted in the videos of two alleged academy voters, those reelgeezers who blabbed their voting preferences on YouTube.
It's clear they don't think much of Day-Lewis' ham-boning in "There Will Be Blood" — bashing it with scowls and derision — but, strangely, they don't tell us who they're going to vote for instead, as they do in most other categories. They really don't need to. Throughout the videos, they swoon, gush and giggle with delight over every mention of "Michael Clayton" (which, mind you, has seven head-scratching nominations, including best picture) and George Clooney.
Just like the rest of Hollywood. He's the ultra-cool kid in a Clooney-crazy town, the most beloved swashbuckler since Jack Nicholson, who holds the record for most wins by a male actor (three). Clooney's never lost an acting award and has never before been nominated in lead. We don't know his secret voting strength across the whole academy electorate once this matinee star has managed to snag a bid from the snobs in the acting branch.
Sure, Clooney must defy the Slap the Stud Syndrome, but rare others have, like the also-jaunty Russell Crowe back in the days when everyone thought him hip. Usually, the studs have to wait till their hair is as gray as Paul Newman's was when he beat Day-Lewis' equivalent: another Brit (Bob Hoskins in "Mona Lisa") who won every — and I mean every — walk-up award. (P.S. Notice the current color of Clooney's locks? Good enough?)
Lastly, you naysayers cry: but it's obvious that Day-Lewis' performance is so superior to Clooney walking through "Clayton!" Of course, but how many times do I have to tell you? They are not voting on the best flicks and perfs of the year. The greatest actor who ever lived went to his grave as Oscar's biggest loser (Burton — seven defeats), leaving behind on this planet the likes of Goldie Hawn with a chunk of academy gold. Voters are telling us who they like and who they don't, who's in the club and who's out. In their minds, Clooney is president of the club. Can they resist the chance to cast their vote for him?
And since I can never resist a chance to beat up on "The Hours," let me cite the other example I like most to flog. Nobody gave Nicole Kidman an Oscar for one scene in a plastic nose in a movie called the worst of the year by Time, New York Daily News and Newsday. They were welcoming her into the club as a solo star and desperately wanted to give her a hug after busting up with Tom Cruise.
Nowadays, Clooney is the chap they'd most like to embrace.
I realize that this prediction must seem like I should be locked up with Britney Spears, but someday soon we're going to see another Oscar win beamed in from Neptune. Of all the possibilities this year, this one would make the most sense. Not logically, but Hollywood "sense." And because I'm as much of a daredevil as Clooney, I'm calling it.