Saturday, February 26, 2005

Academy Awards: Best Guesses

You’ll note that I didn’t call this predictions. And “Oscar Coin Flip” doesn’t have the right zing.

Usually, I’m pretty good at prognosticating. In 2002, I tied for first place in Daily Variety’s Oscar pool, and that was against actual industry types. But with no front-runners and little enthusiasm in this year’s race, many categories remain up in the air.

You’d think that would free up Academy voters to make some surprising choices. Here’s one prediction: that ain’t gonna happen. I expect them to be even more hidebound than usual.

On to my best guesses, in the main categories first:


Director: Clint Eastwood, MILLION DOLLAR BABY

Actor: Jamie Foxx, RAY

Actress: Hilary Swank, MILLION DOLLAR BABY

Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman, MILLION DOLLAR BABY

Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, THE AVIATOR

Original Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND

Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor, SIDEWAYS

The last category would be the hardest decision for me personally. BEFORE SUNSET is my favorite of the five films, but Paul Haggis’ script for M$B is the best of the nominees, a true marvel of construction that improves on its source material. That said, I’d vote for Payne & Taylor. Because comedy is hard, and I don’t want SIDEWAYS to go home empty-handed.

I’d love to see Don Cheadle, Clive Owen and Virginia Madsen receive statuettes on stage, or from their seats, or from their cars on the 405, depending on what producer Gil Cates has planned. But I doubt it’ll happen.

And now, as they say on GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, the rest:

Animated Feature: THE INCREDIBLES

Art Direction: THE AVIATOR

Cinematography: THE AVIATOR

Costume Design: THE AVIATOR

Documentary Feature: BORN INTO BROTHELS

Documentary Short: AUTISM IS A WORLD

Film Editing: THE AVIATOR

Foreign Language Film: THE SEA INSIDE (Spain)



Original Song: “Learn To Be Lonely,” THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Short Film, Animated: RYAN

Short Film, Live Action: LITTLE TERRORIST

Sound Editing: SPIDER-MAN 2

Sound Mixing: THE AVIATOR

Visual Effects: SPIDER-MAN 2

Cinematography is the real toss-up, as evidenced by what happened at the ASC awards. It represents THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST’s best chance for an Oscar. But for brilliantly executing Martin Scorsese’s complex visual scheme (like recreating the look of three-strip Technicolor), THE AVIATOR’s Robert Richardson gets the nod. I don’t think the Academy will be able to resist giving an Oscar to Andrew Lloyd Webber, especially in a year when all five nominated songs are pretty poor.

Prediction #2: Chris Rock will do fine. But he won’t turn this mother out, either.