Friday, February 23, 2007

Final Oscar Predictions

These are the nominees I am putting all my money on this year. Take it for what it's worth, but if you are in an office pool or betting online, you could do much worse than these picks since I don't care one bit what movie wins what. It's all about using your head not your heart.

Best Picture

The Departed
Little Miss Sunshine
Letters From Iwo Jima
The Queen

In all the years I have been studying the Oscars, I’ve never seen a Best Pic race this wide open. Normally you can spot the winner months in advance. This year however, I feel any of these films can win. They all have something going for them and something going against them – The Departed is too crude and violent but will win Best Director and other big awards. The Queen is too small and TV movie-like, but Helen Mirren will win Best Actress and the Brits, who make up a large majority of the Academy, love the film. Little Miss Sunshine has no director nod and is a comedy, but took won the SAG, PGA, WGA and will probably take home Original Screenplay. Babel has middling reviews but a Golden Globe for Best Pic and the most Oscar nominations out of the 5 nominees. Letters From Iwo Jima has taken home countless Critics Awards and is being seen right now for the first time by many voters, but is in Japanese. So who knows? The Departed is the favorite, but the actors simply didn’t embrace the film enough for me to consider it. Letters is too little too late I think, plus Clint just won. It is the dark horse pick though and would be typical academy fare. The Queen has always been a long shot, and the Best Actress trophy will be its prize. So it comes down to Little Miss Sunshine vs. Babel. It’s a toss-up, but Babel is a big, epic, important film that hits hard emotionally. It could go to any of these films really, but I have to go with Babel.

Prediction: Babel
Preference: Babel

Best Director

Martin Scorsese - The Departed
Clint Eastwood - Letters from Iwo Jima
Paul Greengrass - United 93
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu- Babel
Stephen Frears - The Queen

There really shouldn’t be any arguing over who will take this prize home. It’s Scorsese’s year and another snub would seriously diminish the Academy’s credibility. I think they know that and out of sheer obligation finally award the man. Coming in second will probably Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu or Clint Eastwood. Paul Greengrass’s United 93 is the lone director and no lone directing nominee has ever won. And Stephen Frears doesn’t do much visually to distinguish The Queen from the other films.

Prediction: Martin Scorsese – The Departed
Preference: Martin Scorsese – The Departed

Best Actor

Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland
Peter O’Toole – Venus
Will Smith – The Pursuit of Happyness
Ryan Gosling – Half Nelson
Leonardo DiCaprio – Blood Diamond

Forrest Whitaker should take this one pretty easily as well. Peter O’Toole is his biggest threat and will siphon away some votes from older voters. Will Smith is great in The Pursuit of Happyness, but he will be back soon enough. Leo was very good in Blood Diamond, but better in The Departed. And Ryan Gosling represents the only nomination for the $3 million grossing Half Nelson.

Prediction: Forrest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland
Preference: Ryan Gosling – Half Nelson

Best Actress

Helen Mirren – The Queen
Meryl Streep – The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet – Little Children
Penelope Cruz – Volver
Judi Dench – Notes on a Scandal

There is really no need to break this race down, since it has been over since day one. Helen Mirren is locked in for the win. No one else should come close, although personally I liked all 4 other performances more.

Prediction: Helen Mirren – The Queen
Preference: Kate Winslet – Little Children

Best Supporting Actress

Rinko Kikuchi - Babel
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Adrianna Barraza - Babel
Abigail breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
Cate Blachett - Notes on a Scandal

Picking anyone besides Jennifer Hudson is really risky here. She has the type of showy LOOK AT ME performance that the Academy eats up. Both the Babel ladies wouyld be worthier reciepients, but vote splitting is inevitable. Cate Blanchett is great in Notes on a Scandal, but she won just 2 years ago. Abigail Breslin is the biggest threat to upset here, and is he wins, look for that yellow VW bus to cruise all the way to Best Picture.

Prediction: Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Preference: Rinko Kikuchi - Babel

Best Supporting Actor

Eddie Murphy – Dreamgirls
Alan Arkin – Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earl Haley – Little Children
Mark Wahlberg – The Departed
Djimon Hounsou – Blood Diamond

This is the toughest acting race to call. Eddie Murphy is definitely the favorite, taking home the BFCA, SAG, and the Globe. Alan Arkin is nippin at his heels though, taking the BAFTA a couple weeks back. He is also the deserving vet. I don’t think Wahlberg really stands a chance, being only the 4th or 5th best performance in the film, but a vote split between the top 2 guys could occur and there are certainly passionate followers of The Departed. Djimon Honsou is very good in Blood Diamond, but it’s not happening this year. And Jackie Earl Haley is amazing in Little Children as well as the being the comeback story of the year, but the role is too polarizing and dark to garner enough wide support. In the end, I think Murphy pulls it off, even with those Norbit ads. The role is baity and showy and the Academy loves singing roles.

Prediction: Eddie Murphy – Dreamgirls
Preference: Jackie Earl Haley – Little Children

Best Original Screenplay

Michael Arndt - Little Miss Sunshine
Guillermo Del Toro - Pan's Labryinth
Peter Morgan - The Queen
Guillermo Arriaga - Babel
Iris Yamashia - Letters from Iwo Jima

Little Miss Sunshine is thought to be the favorite, and rightfully so. But The Queen won the Globe and strikes me as very mature and important which appeals to the Academy elite. Babel is the dark horse here I think, and if they are giving it Best Pic, then it may pull something off here as well. Pan’s Labyrinth was a great choice for a nomination, but being foreign and a fantasy film is too much for it to overcome. The Letters from Iwo Jima nod shows that the film has support, but it would need to take picture as well to even be considered here. The surprise critical darling almost always takes this as a consolation prize (Sideways, Eternal Sunshine, Lost in Translation), which makes Little Miss Sunshine your safest bet.

Prediction – Little Miss Sunshine
Preference – Little Miss Sunshine

Best Adapted Screenplay

William Monahan - The Departed
Alfonso Cauron et al. - Children of Men
Patrick Marber - Notes on a Scandal
Todd Field & Tom Perrotta - Little Children
Sacha Baron Cohen et al. - Borat

This should be a cake walk to the podium for William Monahan and The Departed. No other film in the category really stands a chance. Notes on a Scandal has juicy and wicked dialogue, but Patrick Marber’s luck with Closer is well documented. Children of Men is an amazing achievement in directing, not writing. Little Children is way too dark, but should be a solid #2. And Borat doesn’t even really have a script.

Prediction: The Departed
Preference: Little Children

Best Animated Feature

Happy Feet
Monster House

I haven’t seen any of the nominees, but Pixar has a good track record with the Academy. No one saw Monster House and Happy Feet was popular, but Cars seems like more of an animation achievement that the others.

Prediction: Cars

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