Wednesday, February 23, 2005

My Annual Academy Award Predictions

There is a wide belief among “Star Trek” fans that each of the even numbered films invariably succeed while each of the odd numbered inevitably face lukewarm critical and fan reaction. The proof would seem to be irrefutable. My Academy Award predictions seem to follow a very similar, though opposite, pattern. 2001 and 2003’s predictions were nearly spot on, only diverging from the Academy by three or four statuettes. In 2002, I was trounced. If the pattern holds, this Sunday is going to be ugly. Nevertheless, I will venture a guess or two…

Best Picture:"The Aviator""Finding Neverland""Million Dollar Baby""Ray""Sideways"

“The Aviator.” I know most people are predicting “Million Dollar Baby” and they may well be right but I am sticking with the Hughes biopic. As good as the other three are, none are in serious contention—their honor is in their nomination. I am predicting (hoping?) that the Academy plans on righting decades of wrongs and honoring Scorsese on Oscar night.

Director:Martin Scorsese, "The Aviator"Clint Eastwood, "Million Dollar Baby"Taylor Hackford, "Ray"Alexander Payne, "Sideways"Mike Leigh, "Vera Drake"

“The Aviator” isn’t his finest film, by far. How Martin Scorsese, the director of such masterpieces as “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas” has avoided getting an Oscar up till now is a source of massive debate and controversy in the filmmaking world. It is shameful that the Academy has passed over this great director so many times. No one can dispute the fact that he is due and he deserves it. Coupled with the fact that Eastwood is already a multiple winner makes this Scorsese’s year. If I am wrong, it will indeed be Eastwood. The other three nominees are not contenders. For those of you who are betters, ignore my prediction. The Director’s Guild of America awarded their prize this year to Eastwood, an almost certain indication that he’ll take home the Oscar for the same. Call me an optimist.

Best Actor:Don Cheadle, "Hotel Rwanda"Johnny Depp, "Finding Neverland"Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Aviator"Clint Eastwood, "Million Dollar Baby"Jamie Foxx, "Ray"

Several months ago, I managed to get tickets to an advanced screening of Michael Mann’s powerful, “Collateral.” I left the theater amazed at not only the film, but the superb transformation of comic actor Jamie Foxx. That very week, I saw the first trailer for Foxx’s next film, “Ray.” I remember telling those around me that this was the year of Jamie Foxx and that he was already the undisputed winner of the Oscar. I stand by that prediction. While I do not consider “Ray” to be worthy of its Best Picture nomination, its star is nothing but worthy. In an especially weighty and rich field of contention, Foxx’s portrayal of Ray Charles is one we’ll be talking about for years to come.

Best Actress:Annette Bening, "Being Julia"Catalina Sandino Moreno, "Maria Full of Grace"Imelda Staunton, "Vera Drake"Hilary Swank, "Million Dollar Baby"Kate Winslet, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"

Hilary Swank. It’s just that simple. Just as no one could touch her in the ring in “Million Dollar Baby,” no one will even come close to a knockout on Sunday with her hat in the ring.

Best Supporting Actor:Alan Alda, "The Aviator"Jamie Foxx, "Collateral"Morgan Freeman, "Million Dollar Baby"Thomas Haden Church, "Sideways"Clive Owen, "Closer"

For most of these, the nomination is the award. Foxx is not in serious contention because he will already be taking home the greater prize. It will come down to Morgan Freeman’s quiet pathos or Thomas Haden Church’s manic humor. I am going to go out on a huge limb here and put forward Thomas Haden Church.

Best Supporting Actress:Cate Blanchett, "The Aviator"Laura Linney, "Kinsey"Virginia Madsen, "Sideways"Sophie Okonedo, "Hotel Rwanda"Natalie Portman, "Closer"

It’s Madsen vs. Blanchett. The hard-working, never-rewarded, girl-makes-good vs. the established star who turned in a difficult and delightful performance as one of the screen’s most beloved icons. Like the Supporting Actor category, I am going to throw all caution to the wind and go with Virginia Madsen for her portrayal in “Sideways.” Besides, there’s good karma in the “Sideways” nods. (What I want to know is, where is “The Village’s” mesmerizing newcomer, Bryce Dallas Howard!?)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay):Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, "Before Sunset"David Magee, "Finding Neverland"Paul Haggis, "Million Dollar Baby"Jose Rivera, "The Motorcycle Diaries"Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, "Sideways"

As much as everyone would love to see “Sideways” win this one (and it still has a chance), the odds-on favorite has to be the powerfully gravimetric script for “Million Dollar Baby.” Simple and profound, it’s a likely and deserved choice. Linklater’s nomination is an appropriate and sweet gesture.

Writing (Original Screenplay):John Logan, "The Aviator"Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"Brad Bird, "The Incredibles"Mike Leigh, "Vera Drake"Keir Pearson and Terry George, Hotel Rwanda

This category will come down to the moving and gut-wrenching “Hotel Rwanda” and the clever and serpentine “Eternal Sunshine...” Witticism and existential quandaries will win the day, however, when the award goes to screenwriting superstar Kaufman for “Eternal Sunshine…”

Best Foreign Film:"As It Is In Heaven" (Sweden)"The Chorus (Les Choristes)" (France)"Downfall" (Germany)"The Sea Inside" (Spain)"Yesterday" (South Africa)

“The Sea Inside” will take this one. Controversial, yet deeply humanistic and inspiring, it will beat out its lesser known and seen competitors. If there is a dark horse in this category, it is the critically acclaimed, “Downfall” about the last days of Adolf Hitler. Like others on this list, it has yet to be released.

Best Animated Feature Film:"The Incredibles""Shark Tale""Shrek 2"

Where exactly is “The Polar Express” and why in the name of all that is holy is Robert Zemeckis’s original and brilliant animated insta-classic not nominated? Based on this field, Pixar’s “The Incredibles” will walk away with this one.

Best Documentary:"Born Into Brothels""The Story of the Weeping Camel""Super Size Me""Tupac: Resurrection""Twist of Faith"

I have not seen any of the nominees, not even the box-office smash, “Super Size Me.” Shame on me. I will forgo a prediction for this one. For those of you who won’t let me get off so easily, I’d put my money on “Born Into Brothels.”

Art Direction:"The Aviator""Finding Neverland""Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events""The Phantom of the Opera""A Very Long Engagement"

“The Phantom of the Opera” got a lot of talk in this area, but Schumacher’s kitsch will be his undoing. While the French “Engagement” will put up a good show, Dante Ferretti and the rest of the gang at the phenomenal CineCitta Studios in Rome will fly “The Aviator” to a win.

Cinematography:"The Aviator""House of Flying Daggers""The Passion of the Christ""The Phantom of the Opera""A Very Long Engagement"

What a wonderful list of nominees. Represented here are lush and sumptuous examples of what true cinematic art looks like. All are worthy. But only “The Aviator” will triumph.

Film Editing:"The Aviator""Collateral""Finding Neverland""Million Dollar Baby""Ray"

“The Aviator” will continue its near-dominance Sunday night, easily taking the Best Editing statuette.

Costume Design:"The Aviator""Finding Neverland""Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events""Ray""Troy"

“The Aviator” again. You don’t make Kate Beckinsale and Cate Blanchett look that beautiful and then turn around and give the award to a skirt-clad Brad Pitt.

Makeup:"Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events""The Passion of the Christ""The Sea Inside"

“The Passion” has to find its way into the ceremony somehow and this will be it. No one who has seen the story of Christ’s merciless torture will question the award’s deservedness.

Original Score:"Finding Neverland""Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban""Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events""The Passion of the Christ""The Village"

My personal darling category, this year’s nominees are especially good. “The Passion” is epic, powerful and moving, “The Village” is moody and evocative, “Finding Neverland” is melodious and gentle (I have not seen or heard “Snicket”), but the great leveler will be the maestro himself, John Williams for his simultaneously thunderous, soaring, and medieval charming “Harry Potter.”

Sound Editing:"The Incredibles""The Polar Express""Spider-Man 2"

All brilliant choices, but Spidey will sling his way to victory here.

Sound Mixing:"The Aviator""The Incredibles""The Polar Express""Ray""Spider-Man 2"
“Ray” reminded the world that Ray Charles is a musical giant. The Oscar for Best Sound Mixing will remind us all why.

Visual Effects:"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban""I, Robot""Spider-Man 2"

He may have seemed like a cartoon in the first film, but Spider-Man takes on a believability in the sequel that utterly transcends the superhero, box-office behemoth, pop culture genre that he finds himself in. Here is a superhero we can believe in on many levels.


Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

So I didn't do terribly, but I didn't do glowingly either. In years past, I've always built my predictions on the format of "Will Win" and "Should Win." This year, I neglected to do that. If I had, it wouldn't have changed my predictions but it would have stacked the "Should Win" deck.

I can honestly say that in the majority of predictions that I got wrong, the "better man" won and I was actually very satisfied.

8:43 AM  

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