Okay, the last three posts have been sort of on the dour, serious side, and only one was totally about movies, so lets try something lighter and more "everyone can enjoy"-style, eh?
Let's do the "Oscar Predicting" thing, or start doing it anyway. These things take time, and why do it all in one shot?
I'll start on "Best Picture," as good a place as any to start, no?
Nominated: "The Aviator," "Finding Neverland," "Million Dollar Baby," "Ray," "Sideways"
Should've been nominated: "Kill Bill: Vol. 2," "Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind"
Should win: "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" (note: yes, "should wins" can and will include "should've been" nominees." Bob's blog, Bob's rules)
Likely winner: "Million Dollar Baby"
Analysis: I know I'm a broken record on this, but I'll repeat it one more time. "Kill Bill" is one of the best films of this young decade, this young century, and far and away the best film made this year. In terms of sheer difficulty, Quentin Tarantino set himself an impossible dramatic task in undertaking the "Bill" epic; and that he pulled it off so well as to be more dramatic, more thrilling, more moving, more comedic, more inspirational and more a work of raw, pure filmmaking than any of the other (worthy) nominees in this category only makes it much more clear what visionary works we're dealing with here. In the plainest allegory I can think of, not only did Quentin choose the heaviest stone, he threw it further than even the guys throwing lighter stones. The "Bills" are efforts of an Atlas, while the other nominees are merely Herculean.
But it's not nominated, so someone else has to win. In my estimation, the "someone else" to beat is "Million Dollar Baby." Not only because I feel it's the best of the nominated films, but I also believe it is the most likely winner given traditional Academy voting patterns. "Aviator" is good but not great Scorsese, and while everyone knows he's "due" I'm just not feeling that the momentum is with the film. "Baby" is topical, popular, and is exactly the sort of film that The Academy loves when it's done properly: A small-ish, character-driven drama full of pathos, drama and a sucker-punch of an emotional hook. It's also full of actors the Academy has liked before and still likes, (and it won multiple SAGs, so the powerful actors-bloc is behind it) and it's the most recently-released of all nominees which does play a factor.
The wedge here is that "The Aviator" is still popular in it's own right, and it's nostalgiac recreation of Hollywood's own Golden Age resonates big in Academy circles. And yes, Scorsese is due. While I don't think "Aviator" has the momentum or the votes to win, what could happen is a split between "Aviator" and "Baby" that would knock both from competition and instead lead to a win for a dark horse like "Sideways." Don't bet on it, though.
Nominated: Martin Scorsese ("Aviator"), Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby), Talyor Hackford (Ray), Alexander Payne (Sideways), Mike Leigh (Vera Drake)
Should've been nominated: Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill: Vol. 2), Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind), Kerry Conran (Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow)
Likely winner: Too close to call.
Longshot: Alexander Payne
Analysis: This is the toughest race of the year. Eastwood and Scorsese are both "due" in their own right, and their respective films are the 1st and 2nd contenders for the big prize to boot. The recent DGA win speaks heavily in Clint's favor, but the Academy voters may give this one to Scorsese if "Baby" becomes the assumed winner of Best Picture (the Director award occasionally seems to get used as the "Best Picture Runner Up" prize.)
The same unlikely voter-split scenario could occur here, too, which I can only imagine would favor Payne.
Toss those two around in "comments" for awhile, more predictions and commentary to come on this. Promise.