Monday, January 30, 2006

Oscar nomination predictions

Well, I actually intend to get up around 8 AM tomorrow, which is pretty unheard of for me, but I always like to watch the Oscar nominations get announced and then write about them on the blog. As such, I figured it would be good to put my predictions up, to serve as more grist for tomorrow's piece. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. I included a few "surprise" nominations, mostly because they always seem to have a few. If they always went for the obvious then they'd be the BFCS, and there'd be no need to predict.

The predictions are in order of how sure I am they'll be nominated.

BEST PICTURE
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck
Crash
Walk the Line
Capote
My thoughts: 1996 redux! Modestly-budgeted critics' faves dominate in the absence of world-beating Hollywood fare. WALK THE LINE makes it, since it's a crowd-pleaser, but how much love is it getting? I honestly can't see what might sneak in... A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE? Awesome as it is, it's "edgier" than they go for, even in a year like this.
Where's Munich?: If the movie was a bigger hit, I'd include it here, but it's not doing especially well at the box office. Also, it's not a very huggable movie- BROKEBACK may be controversial, but it's also a movie fans can embrace emotionally, whereas MUNICH fans are more apt to engage with that film in a political or intellectual way, or to groove on the Spielberginess of it, Armond White-style. The Academy only recognizes a Spielberg movie when it's a mainstream AND critical success. Another thing is that it's not an actor's movie- considering most of the AMPAS is comprised of actors, that's a problem. Plus Spielberg already has three Oscars as well as an honorary, so he isn't exactly overdue.

BEST DIRECTOR
Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Paul Haggis, Crash
David Cronenberg, A History of Violence
Peter Jackson, King Kong
My thoughts: Lee and Clooney are the only real locks here (look for a possible Clooney upset for director come Oscar night). Haggis could fall by the wayside if the film is perceived as primarily an actors' showcase (much like AS GOOD AS IT GETS in 1997), and if this happens I can see Bennett Miller getting bumped up for CAPOTE. Cronenberg is in the critics'-fave spot previously occupied by Lynch (MULHOLLAND DR.), Almodovar (TALK TO HER), Meirelles (CITY OF GOD), and Leigh (VERA DRAKE), although I can see Allen possibly taking the spot too- though without a Weinstein behind him a la BULLETS OVER BROADWAY it'll be tough. Jackson is an out-of-nowhere prediction- they clearly like the guy, and KONG is an ambitious epic production that was miles better than it had any right to be. When they choose two non-best-picture nominees in this category, the second tends to be more mainstream. Spielberg only gets in if MUNICH gets picture, and I don't see that happening (see above); likewise, Mangold contents himself with a best picture nod. Although if they'll nominate Peter (THE FULL MONTY) Cattaneo anything's possible...

BEST ACTOR
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck
Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale
My thoughts: Hoffman has it sewn up, barring a late minute surge by Ledger (star of the best pic frontrunner) or Phoenix (the only previous nominee in the bunch, and who could possibly be a safe, "straight" choice for older voters). Strathairn makes it on the GOOD NIGHT groundswell, although he could pull a Giamatti and end up staying home, since Murrow isn't an especially deep or show-offy role. Crowe and Howard are possiblities, but Crowe may still be seen by many as a phone-throwing thug (who already has gotten plenty of Oscar love) and Howard is playing a pimp/rapper (Eminem's best song win in '02 aside, are they ready for rap?). I predict Daniels (despite category fraud) for being hilarious and for making the most of a quasi-comeback role, although he would be a surer thing if he had a studio with a proven Oscar track record behind him, instead of Samuel Goldwyn films.

BEST ACTRESS
Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
Felicity Huffman, TransAmerica
Dame Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger
My thoughts: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz... so many good female performances this past year, and none of them are listed above. Anyway... Reese, Felicity and the Dame are in, given their dominance of the critics' and guild awards thusfar. It gets tricky after that, but even then it's not all that interesting. I'm getting Knightley gets the PYT nod over Zhang Ziyi, since in the clips I've seen of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA I've yet to see anything from Zhang that would justify anything but a nomination for Best Art Direction. And this category is typically friendly to previous nominees and comedic performances, and Allen fits in both aspects. Charlize Theron could make it instead, but NORTH COUNTRY didn't make much of a dent in the public consciousness. Still, you never know.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
Terrence Howard, Crash
My thoughts: Some have predicted Gyllenhaal to get snubbed here, but I don't think so- I say he rides BROKEBACK's frontrunner status to a nod here. Giamatti and Clooney are givens- the former as a consolation prize for last year, the latter as a "best in show" for SYRIANA as well as an attaboy for a good year all around. And I'd have to say Dillon's pretty safe too, since he tends to get singled out from the CRASH cast for his performance. Howard gets singled out quite a bit, though he's here just as much for HUSTLE AND FLOW as for the Haggis film. Although I can see anyone from Bob Hoskins (MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS) to William Hurt (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE) to Donald Sutherland (PRIDE & PREJUDICE) sneaking in there. Why didn't they campaign Jeff Daniels in this category? He could've cleaned up.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Catherine Keener, Capote
Maria Bello, A History of Violence
Thandie Newton, Crash
My thoughts: One thing to remember with the supporting actress category is that voters tend to favor supporting female turns that "support" another nominate-able performance, so this category is heavy with nominations for films that feature multiple Oscar-worthy actors. Who benefits here? Williams has critical plaudits and showy scenes in her favor, but Keener's role is much more low-key (not usually the Academy's thing), so playing a real person in a movie that stars the best actor front-runner is of great help. Newton also benefits (I hate to call it "coattailing") since she gives the most notable female performance in an actor- and Oscar-friendly film, despite a lack of previous awards this season. Weisz and Bello (along with Williams) have garnered much of the critical attention of late, squeezing out Amy Adams, whose film might be judged too small, and whose performance might be seen as the film's whole raison d'etre, to make the cut here. Frances McDormand could always get nominated for NORTH COUNTRY (she has a history with the Academy, after all), but unless Theron gets a best actress nod I don't see it happening.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Crash
Good Night, and Good Luck
Match Point
The Squid and the Whale
Syriana
My thoughts: CRASH and GOOD NIGHT make it on the virtue of being best picture nominees, and MATCH POINT gets in for being Academy-fave Woody Allen's "comeback" effort. SQUID has gotten the lion's share of critics' awards, which means more in this category than it would in one of the higher-profile ones. SYRIANA seems the tenuous of the lot, given the 11th-hour category switcheroo ruling- who knows how many adapted screenplay votes got invalidated as a result? If SYRIANA suffers, expect CINDERELLA MAN or (wouldn't this be awesome) THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN to step into its place.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Brokeback Mountain
Capote
Munich
A History of Violence
The Constant Gardener
My thoughts: The Academy likes when acclaimed authors write screenplays (Arthur Miller, anyone? John Irving?), so BROKEBACK (Larry McMurtry) and MUNICH (Tony Kushner) ought to get nominated on that basis alone. Likewise, CAPOTE gets the nod to match its best picture nomination, and HISTORY OF VIOLENCE its best director. Finally, THE CONSTANT GARDENER steps into SYRIANA's spot as the political, convoluted liberal-guilt offering in the category (although I like both films a great deal, which doesn't hurt). If the writers wish to go another way, there's always PRIDE & PREJUDICE, which distilled the classic novel into a workable two hours, although much of the attention has been given to the direction and performances rather than the adaptation. Beyond that, I just don't know...

How will I do? Tune in tomorrow and see!

2 comments:

Jason_Alley said...

Excellent list of predictions, dude. I suspect you're going to be right-on about almost all of it. I just hope "Crash" doesn't get a bunch of nominations - on account of being lame and all.

DC Cab Rider said...

I LOVED Crash. And am glad to see it getting some awards. Good predictions there. I always like to make oscar predictions too. I see we both thought History of Violence was going to do better than it did.