Oscar 2005: Picks and Predictions

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Article by Mark Dujsik

Since the whole ignorance approach worked last year, I guess I'll try it again.  No overanalyzing; just my gut picks.  Then again, since there'll be no Lord of the Rings sweep this year, it's going to be a bit harder.  Anyway, the race: It's an all-out brawl in some categories.  Putting the front-runners in some categories in a hat and picking at random might work just as well as following the rest of the award season.  My method is a bit better... or maybe not.  All right, who should and will win:

BEST PICTURE

The Nominees: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray, Sideways

My Choice: The Academy gives us a good, if predictable, set of nominees this year.  Finding Neverland is my bottom choice, but the rest are all worthy competitors.  Million Dollar Baby's character-driven story is as emotionally involving as any film this year.  Ray manages to give an honest portrayal of the life of one of music's few, true legends.  Sideways is a great human comedy.  But The Aviator makes the story of Howard Hughes a grand Hollywood epic, an insightful character study, and a great American tragedy.

My Prediction: I remember a time before it came out when Finding Neverland was the favorite, but the lack of a directing nod leaves it out.  Sideways is also out, because it missed the editing nomination.  That leaves us with three possibilities, although I'm going to say Ray is out of the running too.  The Aviator has the most nominations and is the epic of the group, but right after I saw Million Dollar Baby I knew it was going to win this award.  I'm holding to that.  (Michael Medved will just have to deal with it.  Personally, I just hope it shuts him up.)

The Winner: Million Dollar Baby

BEST ACTOR

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

My Choice: Another solid category, with fine performances all around.  Clint Eastwood is at his best, and Johnny Depp's quiet, subtle turn is a nice departure from his brilliant ability to hone quirky caricatures.  Don Cheadle gives one of the most moving performances of the year, deftly portraying a modern unsung hero.  Leonardo DiCaprio has never been better than he is as Howard Hughes in a devastating portrayal of genius unlocking a madness that's right under the surface.  Any other year, I might give serious consideration to all of them, but this year belongs to Jamie Foxx.  As the late, great Ray Charles, Foxx captures the physicality of the role, but this is no mere caricature.  By bringing us the inner workings of Charles, Foxx gives the performance of the year.

My Prediction: Depp might have some support after missing out last year, and DiCaprio is gaining respect.  Seriously, though, does anyone really think someone will beat Foxx to this one?

The Winner: Jamie Foxx, Ray

BEST ACTRESS

The Nominees: 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

My Choice: Sadly, I can only choose between two (I always seem to be behind in this category for some reason).  I'm extremely happy Kate Winslet received a nomination, and her performance as an unflappable carefree spirit mixed with tender moments of vulnerability is great work.  Hilary Swank, though, rises slightly above her by taking what essentially could be a hick stereotype and turning it into a passionate, heartbreaking study of determination.

My Prediction: Another category that comes down to two very probable possibilities.  Swank has won before and beat Annette Bening five years ago, and I think it'll happen again.  Maybe.  Look for Imelda Staunton to possibly upset them both.

The Winner: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The Nominees: Alan Alda, The Aviator; Thomas Haden Church, Sideways; Jamie Foxx, Collateral; Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby; Clive Owen, Closer

My Choice: Alan Alda's good, but his nomination is a head-scratcher.  Morgan Freeman continues to be one of the finest actors around, and Jamie Foxx's counterpoint to Tom Cruise's hitman is solid.  Thomas Haden Church makes a cad somewhat likable but still keeps an aura of mystery around his real intentions.  Clive Owen stands out in his film and among these nominees as a sadsack doctor whose demons are right below the surface, ready to strike.

My Prediction: This is probably the toughest category to predict, although it usually is.  We've got Church, the newcomer, who's won a lot of acclaim and awards for his performance.  The same goes with Owen.  Then there's Alda, the veteran, but I'm going to say Freeman, the other veteran, will finally get his long overdue Oscar. 

The Winner: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The Nominees: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator; Laura Linney, Kinsey; Virginia Madsen, Sideways; Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda; Natalie Portman, Closer

My Choice: Laura Linney is as dependable as ever, and surprise nominee Sophie Okonedo conveys strength in a hopeless situation.  As the only woman who seems to understand a worrywart author, Virginia Madsen is sweet and sincere.  Cate Blanchett starts out as a caricature of Katharine Hepburn but slowly manages to convey the complexity of the enigmatic actress.  Just like her co-star Owen, Natalie Portman stands out from the crowd with her mature portrayal of a young woman who seems the innocent in a group of egocentrics but has some dark secrets of her own.

My Prediction: All of these women have a reasonable chance, but Blanchett has the most reasonable.

The Winner: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator

BEST DIRECTOR

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

My Choice: No comment on Mike Leigh, since I haven't seen his film.  Clint Eastwood and Taylor Hackford did great jobs of trusting their respective stories, and Alexander Payne has pretty much perfected his approach to the human comedy.  It's Martin Scorsese who deserves this award, though, for putting us into the mindset of a manic genius and having the guts to make a three-hour long character study and make it utterly fascinating.

My Prediction: This is basically another two-man race.  Eastwood has an edge, what with the DGA award, and the last time I thought Scorsese had this award for the taking, I was wrong.  This time, I hope I'm right.

The Winner: Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Nominees: As It Is in Heaven, Sweden; The Chorus, France; Downfall, Germany; The Sea Inside, Spain; Yesterday, South Africa

My Choice: n/a

My Prediction: The Sea Inside

The Winner: The Sea Inside

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The Nominees: The Incredibles, Shark Tale, Shrek 2

My Choice: Apparently, they'll let any kid-friendly movie in here, even if it is the underachieving Shark TaleShrek 2 is an on-par sequel, but The Incredibles is way too much fun.

My Prediction: Maybe the Academy will want to start a Godfather-like win for a sequel in its newest category, but I doubt The Incredibles will lose.

The Winner: The Incredibles

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Nominees: Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke, Before Sunset; David Magee, Finding Neverland; Paul Haggis, Million Dollar Baby; Josť Rivera, The Motorcycle Diaries; Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, Sideways

My Choice: Sideways

My Prediction: Million Dollar Baby

The Winner: Sideways

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Nominees: John Logan, The Aviator; Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Keir Pearson & Terry George, Hotel Rwanda; Brad Bird, The Incredibles; Mike Leigh, Vera Drake

My Choice: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

My Prediction: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The Winner: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

BEST ART DIRECTION

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

My Choice: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

My Prediction: The Phantom of the Opera

The Winner: The Aviator

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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

My Choice: The Aviator

My Prediction: House of Flying Daggers

The Winner: The Aviator

BEST SOUND MIXING

The Nominees: The Aviator, The Incredibles, The Polar Express, Ray, Spider-Man 2

My Choice: The Aviator

My Prediction: Ray

The Winner: Ray

BEST SOUND EDITING

The Nominees: The Incredibles, The Polar Express, Spider-Man 2

My Choice: The Incredibles

My Prediction: Spider-Man 2

The Winner: The Incredibles

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The Nominees: Finding Neverland, Jan A.P. Kaczmarek; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, John Williams; Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Thomas Newman; The Passion of the Christ, John Debney; The Village, James Newton Howard

My Choice: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

My Prediction: Harry Potter and the Pirsoner of Azkaban

The Winner: Finding Neverland

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

The Nominees: "Accidentally in Love" from Shrek 2; "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" from The Motorcycle Diaries; "Believe" from The Polar Express; "Learn to be Lonely" from The Phantom of the Opera; "Look to Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" from The Chorus

My Choice: "Accidentally in Love" from Shrek 2

My Prediction: "Accidentally in Love" from Shrek 2

The Winner: "Al Otro Lado Del Rio" from The Motorcycle Diaries

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

The Nominees: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Ray, Troy

My Choice: The Aviator

My Prediction: The Aviator

The Winner: The Aviator

BEST EDITING

The Nominees: The Aviator, Collateral, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray

My Choice: The Aviator

My Prediction: Million Dollar Baby

The Winner: The Aviator

BEST MAKEUP

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

My Choice: The Passion of the Christ

My Prediction: The Passion of the Christ

The Winner: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

The Nominees: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I, Robot, Spider-Man 2

My Choice: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

My Prediction: Spider-Man 2

The Winner: Spider-Man 2

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Nominees: Born Into Brothels, The Story of the Weeping Camel, Super Size Me, Tupac: Resurrection, Twist of Faith

My Choice: n/a

My Prediction: Born Into Brothels

The Winner: Born Into Brothels

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

The Nominees: "Autism Is a World," "The Children of Leningradsky," "Hardwood," "Mighty Times: The Children's March," "Sister Rose's Passion"

My Choice: No idea

My Prediction: "Autism Is a World"

The Winner: "Mighty Times: The Children's March"

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

The Nominees: "Birthday Boy," "Gopher Broke," "Guard Dog," "Lorenzo," "Ryan"

My Choice: No idea

My Prediction: "Birthday Boy"

The Winner: "Ryan"

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

The Nominees: "Everything in This Country Must," "Little Terrorist," "7:35 in the Morning," "Two Cars, One Night," "Wasp"

My Choice: No idea

My Prediction: "Little Terrorist"

The Winner: "Wasp"

Predicted film with the most awards: Million Dollar Baby

Predicted number of awards: 5

Film with the most awards: The Aviator

Number of awards: 5

Copyright © 2005 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.