Oscar 2006: Picks and Predictions

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BEST PICTURE

The Nominees: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, Good Night, and Good Luck., Munich

My Choice: Crash is the weak link among the nominees, falling behind the others in its forcing of its central theme.  Good Night, and Good Luck. is a prime example of lean filmmaking, even though it sacrifices some of the more important issues of the McCarthy scare.  Brokeback Mountain is solid, even if it falls into melodrama a few times, and its emotional complexity evolves in the mind after time.  That leaves us with two near-masterpieces.  Capote is a devastating biopic that actually illuminates our perception of Capote's own In Cold Blood.  The obvious choice of what should win, though, is Munich.  No film this year packed such an emotional, thematic, and political punch as Steven Spielberg's most mature and complex work to date.

My Prediction: You can count three out almost immediately.  If you want proof that Capote doesn't stand a chance, just take a look at its most recent advertising, making the deliberate character study look like a thriller.  Good Night, and Good Luck. has the period look and political relevance that could make it an obvious choice, but it's just not.  Sadly, Munich never caught any momentum.  Ask pretty much anyone, and they'll tell you it's Brokeback Mountain's year.  However, the film isn't nominated for Best Editing, which is almost a prerequisite for any Best Picture winner, and despite what Bill O'Reilly may say, the Academy is a little more conservative than you might think.  Yes, it's won almost every critic's group award, guild award, etc., but I think the dark horse Crash is going to pull an upset.  Unlike Brokeback, it actually teaches a lesson, and the Academy loves socially relevant movies, no matter how heavy-handed they be.

The Winner: Crash

BEST ACTOR

The Nominees: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote; Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow; Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain; Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line; David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck.

My Choice: Some really fine choices this year.  David Strathairn does a fantastic channeling act bringing Edward R. Murrow's unflappable integrity to life.  Terrence Howard makes the somewhat silly Hustle & Flow compelling.  As Johnny Cash, Joaquin Phoenix sounds just like him in the musical numbers and gives us a wrenching view into his personal torment.  In terms of revelations, Heath Ledger is one in Brokeback Mountain, adding a tragic turn to what many missed as an unhealthy relationship.  But Philip Seymour Hoffman's turn as Truman Capote gives the character actor his most challenging and successful role to date.  His portrayal is no where near caricature but a brutally honest look at the ambition that gave Capote his greatest success and perhaps led to his downfall.

My Prediction: Strathairn's campaign is pretty silent, almost an acceptance he won't win.  As much as the Academy loves edgy roles, Howard's nomination is his prize.  Ledger certainly has a bit of an edge since he's so young, but Phoenix is also in the same age range and has a lot more going for him.  He learned to play guitar and sing, and the role in and of itself is the stuff the Academy loves.  He's really the major competition to Hoffman, who's been deservedly sweeping awards left and right and will more than likely be able to add an Oscar to his mantle.

The Winner: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote

BEST ACTRESS

The Nominees: Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents; Felicity Huffman, Transamerica; Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice; Charlize Theron, North Country; Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

My Choice: For some reason, I always fall short in this category.  Charlize Theron gives a great performance, but Reese Witherspoon adds a level of wisdom to Walk the Line that is undeniable.

My Prediction: If you want the safest bet this year, this is the category.  Judi Dench's nomination is no surprise but her winning would be the biggest one of the year.  Keira Knightley is young, but I highly doubt anyone will take her nomination to heart.  Theron won already, and her nomination is just the Academy saying keep up the good work.  Felicity Huffman could possibly pull an upset, but this has been Witherspoon's year since the film was released.

The Winner: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The Nominees: George Clooney, Syriana; Matt Dillon, Crash; Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man; Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain; William Hurt, A History of Violence

My Choice: William Hurt is in about ten minutes or less of A History of Violence, and his role is mainly interesting for the curiosity factor.  On the other hand, George Clooney does a lot in Syriana, but what exactly about his performance honestly stands out.  Seems his nomination is on account of his output this year on other fronts.  Matt Dillon similarly is caught up in Crash's momentum.  Even Jake Gyllenhaal is solid in Brokeback, but he's in Ledger shadow.  Honestly, this is a really, really weak category this year, so Paul Giamatti gets my pick simply for his previous snubs.  I suppose he's also the best of the nominees.

My Prediction: I'm assuming the curiosity factor led to Hurt's nomination, and Gyllenhaal getting caught up in a Brokeback sweep is unlikely.  Dillon has a solid body of work prior to this, and that could lead to something.  So does Giamatti, though, and clearly the Academy listened to the disappointment when he missed out on his nomination for Sideways last year.  That could easily mean a win any other year, but for some reason, Clooney seems prime to win.  If he does, I'll be scratching my head.

The Winner: George Clooney, Syriana

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The Nominees: Amy Adams, Junebug; Catherine Keener, Capote; Frances McDormand, North Country; Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener; Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

My Choice: I missed Junebug and The Constant Gardener (I'll try to watch the latter before the awards and update this).  Catherine Keener is great in a small role (her last line especially stands out), but it is a fairly small role.  Frances McDormand quite good even though her role becomes a plot device late in the film.  Like Ledger, Michelle Williams is a revelation, giving real depth to the emotional and psychological devastation that ensues when she discovers her husband's secret.

My Prediction: Keener is very unlikely to win, and McDormand already has her Oscar for a far better role.  Williams, unfortunately, has not picked up the momentum of her film, but Amy Adams has been picking up a bit of steam.  It seems Rachel Weisz is on her way to the award.

The Winner: Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener

BEST DIRECTOR

The Nominees: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain; Bennett Miller, Capote; Paul Haggis, Crash; George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck.; Steven Spielberg, Munich

My Choice: One of the problems with Crash is first-timer Paul Haggis' over-direction.  George Clooney's sophomore feature is lean and immediate.  Ang Lee gets the most out of quiet moments.  Bennett Miller's directorial debut is amazing, but Steven Spielberg's work in Munich, as I mentioned before, is his most mature and complex work to date.

My Prediction: Miller and Clooney are too new to win, and while the same could be true for Haggis, he could pull through with his film.  Spielberg is Spielberg and always has a chance but a lot less this time around.  No matter which way the Best Picture race goes, it's a almost forgone conclusion that Lee will get a well-deserved but late Oscar.

The Winner: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Nominees: Don't Tell, Italy; Joyeux NoŽl, France; Paradise Now, Palestine; Sophie Scholl - The Final Days, Germany; Tsotsi, South Africa

My Choice: N/A

My Prediction: Tsotsi

The Winner: Tsotsi

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The Nominees: Howl's Moving Castle, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

My Choice: N/A

My Prediction: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

The Winner: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Nominees: Larry McMurty & Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain; Dan Futterman, Capote; Jeffrey Caine, The Constant Gardener; Josh Olson, A History of Violence; Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Munich

My Choice: Munich

My Prediction: Brokeback Mountain

The Winner: Brokeback Mountain

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The Nominees: Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, Crash; George Clooney & Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck.; Woody Allen, Match Point; Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale; Stephen Gaghan, Syriana

My Choice: Match Point

My Prediction: Crash

The Winner: Crash

BEST ART DIRECTION

The Nominees: Good Night, and Good Luck., Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha, Pride & Prejudice

My Choice: King Kong

My Prediction: Memoirs of a Geisha

The Winner: Memoirs of a Geisha

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Nominees: Batman Begins, Brokeback Mountain, Good Night, and Good Luck., Memoirs of a Geisha, The New World

My Choice: The New World

My Prediction: Brokeback Mountain

The Winner: Memoirs of a Geisha

BEST SOUND MIXING

The Nominees: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha, Walk the Line, War of the Worlds

My Choice: King Kong

My Prediction: Walk the Line

The Winner: King Kong

BEST SOUND EDITING

The Nominees: King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha, War of the Worlds

My Choice: War of the Worlds

My Prediction: King Kong

The Winner: King Kong

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The Nominees: Brokeback Mountain, Gustavo Santaolalla; The Constant Gardener, Alberto Iglesias; Memoirs of a Geisha, John Williams; Munich, John Williams; Pride & Prejudice, Dario Marianelli

My Choice: Munich

My Prediction: Brokeback Mountain

The Winner: Brokeback Mountain

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

The Nominees: "In the Deep" from Crash; "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow; "Travelin' Thru" from Transamerica

My Choice: "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow

My Prediction: "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow

The Winner: "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

The Nominees: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Memoirs of a Geisha, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Pride & Prejudice, Walk the Line

My Choice: Walk the Line

My Prediction: Memoirs of a Geisha

The Winner: Memoirs of a Geisha

BEST EDITING

The Nominees: Cinderella Man, The Constant Gardener, Crash, Munich, Walk the Line

My Choice: Munich

My Prediction: Crash

The Winner: Crash

BEST MAKEUP

The Nominees: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Cinderella Man, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

My Choice: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

My Prediction: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

The Winner: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

The Nominees: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, King Kong, War of the Worlds

My Choice: King Kong

My Prediction: King Kong

The Winner: King Kong

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Nominees: Darwin's Nightmare, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, March of the Penguins, Murderball, Street Fight

My Choice: N/A

My Prediction: March of the Penguins

The Winner: March of the Penguins

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

The Nominees: "The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club," "God Sleeps in Rwanda," "The Mushroom Club," "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin"

My Choice: N/A

My Prediction: "God Sleeps in Rwanda"

The Winner: "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin"

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

The Nominees: "Badgered," "The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation," "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello," "9," "One Man Band"

My Choice: N/A

My Prediction: "The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation"

The Winner: "The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation"

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

The Nominees: "Ausreisser (The Runaway)," "Cashback," "The Last Farm," "Our Time Is Up," "Six Shooter"

My Choice: N/A

My Prediction: "Six Shooter"

The Winner: "Six Shooter"

Predicted film with the most awards: Brokeback Mountain

Predicted number of awards: 4

Film with the most awards: (tie) Brokeback Mountain, Crash, King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha

Number of awards: 3

Copyright © 2006 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.