Quondam Dreams

Friday, February 03, 2006

Early Oscar Predictions

I had this teacher in high school who used to tell us that when in doubt, we should go with our first instincts, because we were smarter than we thought. He also told us that if we were curious about the effects of any drugs, we should just save our money and ask him. He had, after all, been at Woodstock. So, possibly dubious advice, but it's enough to introduce my first round of Oscar picks. These are based on past years' trends, and are subject to change as the mail-in deadline gets closer. And, of course, my Magic 8-Ball will have something to say as we get closer to the actual event.

Picture: Brokeback Mountain

Like they're going to give it to any of the other ones.

Then again... the voters do tend to like slightly quieter movies, like Crash and Good Night, And Good Luck. Munich packs quite a wallop. Heck, if the vote splits enough, Capote could sneak in there. I'm really only going with Brokeback Mountain at this point because the Academy likes cowboy movies.

Director: Steven Spielberg for Munich

The directors' branch tends to be a bit more adventurous with their choices than a lot of people give them credit for. They'll buck conventional wisdom if direction was enough of a factor in another movie. Much like past winner Traffic, Munich is a film whose impact is found largely in the direction. I just don't think that direction was as big a factor for Brokeback Mountain. Plus, Spielberg has really gone to bat for Munich, which has not gone unnoticed.

(I'm sure I'll end up posting something about the need for Spielberg to defend making Munich; for now, please see Tony Kushner's excellent piece on the subject.)

Anyway, it's Spielberg. He's money.

Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote

For the lead roles, always go with someone playing a real person. In the event that more than one nominee is playing a real person, go with the person who made themselves look less attractive. Hello, Truman!

Actress: Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line

Now, it could be argued that the fact that Felicity Huffman is playing a true-to-life character and took chances with hear appearance may allow her to triumph, but Reese Witherspoon hits back on two fronts: Some of the voters will doubtless feel bad about not voting for Joaquin Phoenix, and that Walk the Line isn't up for Best Picture, so this will be their attempt to make it up to the movie; and, as June, she sports some impressive hair. Also, let's face it: In a close call, the Academy would rather go with the under-30 winner than the over-40 one. Yes, it's a shame. But there you go.

Supporting Actor: Paul Giamatti in Cinderella Man

Supporting Actor tends to function as a career achievement award. Paul Giamatti will probably win this year for his work in Sideways. It's kind of like when Russell Crowe won the Lead Actor statuette for Gladiator a few years back, when the voters made up for not giving him the supporting Oscar for The Insider. (Come on, you really thought Russell Crowe won for his work in Gladiator? Have you ever SEEN Gladiator?)

Supporting Actress: Amy Adams in Junebug

Supporting Actress is where you're most likely to have an unexpected winner. We can eliminate Frances McDormand right off the bat, as she's too big a name. Playing the strong female sidekick to a quirky male lead is usually enough to get a supporting actress into contention -- see Jennifer Connolley in A Beautiful Mind -- but I just don't think that Catherine Keener's what they're looking for. Rachel Weisz has the momentum, which is the kiss of death in this category -- see Virginia Madsen. That leaves two young women who've been in the game for a while, and who are finally getting some much-deserved notice. This is exactly the sort of person the Academy loves giving stuff to -- think Marisa Tomei and Mira Sorvino. Unfortunately for Michelle Williams, she was on Dawson's Creek, and it'll be another few years before the voters forget. Amy Adams has done a lot of TV, which could be an issue. However, some of it is The Office, and none of it is Dawson's Creek.

All that said, I may end up going with Rachel Weisz in the end.

Original Screenplay: Good Night, And Good Luck George Clooney and Grant Heslov

Solid, thoughtful script co-written by Famous Actor. The people who've actually seen it tend to think quite highly of the script. Plus, we're about due for a Crash backlash. Yes, it was smart to send out screener copies to just about anyone who can vote for everything (something like 130,000 went out), but come Oscar voting time that won't be the only DVD the voters have lying around. I do think Crash is a good script -- I just don't think it's better than most of the other nominees.

Adapted Screenplay: Munich Tony Kushner and Eric Roth

Given half a chance, movie people will vote for theater people, and theater people will vote for movie people. Hey, didn't Tony Kushner win that whole "Pulitzer Prize" thing? I think he did. Anyway, Munich is both an interesting adaptation and a solid screenplay, and I'd like to think that the writers' branch will recognize that. (By the way, did you read that Tony Kushner op-ed I referenced 'way up there? Because you really should.)

Assorted thoughts on other awards:

Memoirs of a Geisha was a really pretty movie. It has to be; there's not much compelling story to which to pay attention. It will probably do well in costume design and art direction -- though I think it may face some costuming competition from Pride and Prejudice, because costumers have seen enough movies set in that place and time to have something to which to compare it. Geisha may eke out a win for score if the usual John Williams vote isn't too split.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room may just upset audience favorite March of the Penguins in the documentary feature category -- but you know what would totally kick ass? A win for Murderball.

Prediction I'm most likely to stick with over the next month: God Sleeps in Rwanda for documentary short.

Best title: Nominated animated short The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello. You know, there was a time when I would have seen all of the nominees in this category by now, and would have been able to make an educated prediction. That time was called "college".

Animated feature: If Corpse Bride wins, it's because the rest of the vote was split between the excellent Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and the excellent Howl's Moving Castle. And yet, I kind of hope that it happens, because Tim Burton's acceptance speech has the potential for greatness -- not for what he says, but for how confused he looks. Not that it matters; the voters will probably go for Wallace & Gromit, as well they should. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that the director has a history of showing up and making amusing speeches. Miyazaki? Not so much.

So, there you go. Predictions, Round 1. Heed them at your own risk.


  • One of the very few things I miss about forum is the Magic 8 Ball predictions....

    Still, I'm kind of wondering if we're going to end up with the "Matt & Ben" schoolboy chums trifecta: Phillip Seymour Hoffman for Best Actor, Dan Futterman for adapted screenplay, Bennett Miller for directing.

    By Blogger dubiousbiologist, at February 4, 2006 at 2:27 AM  

  • So why didn't 'Grizzly Man' get a documentary nomination?

    Any ideas?

    The Hollywood Idiot

    By Anonymous Leemer, at February 4, 2006 at 8:30 PM  

  • Bernard: I'll post them here as well. Everybody wins!

    Leem: Because the documentary nominating process gives new meaning to the term FUBAR. I'll post a link to an explanation later if I can find a coherent one.

    By Blogger Rose, at February 5, 2006 at 2:32 PM  

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