So... Now that the happy dancing over "Dreamgirls" not having a shot as Best Picture is done, let's get on with it:
The Departed, Letters From Iwo Jima, Babel, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen.
I still haven't seen it (soon enough) but just about everyone I know who HAS is kinda surprised "The Queen" got in there. The pervailing buzz seems to be "performance peice, really good BBC movie, not BP material." Dunno, didn't see yet, doesn't matter, not gonna win.
I may have to start a new review policy for "Babel." From now on, when I'm reeeeaaaally generous to a flawed but well-meaning movie and it goes on to be hugely overrated come awards season, I'm gonna start knocking off points. This is getting ridiculous. Oh, and SHAME on the Academy for snubbing "United 93." The gossip will be that it couldn't get a nod because too many members were too afraid to watch it. If so, the word for them is COWARD.
Having now seen "Letters From Iwo Jima," I can no longer be surprised that it's there. It's the best WWII movie since "Saving Private Ryan." It even raises the profile, imo, of "Flags of Our Fathers" both by association and by the genuine "whoa" of seeing the way the two stories intersect. Clint Eastwood: Best living actor-director. Period.
My gut says that "Departed" and "Little Miss Sunshine" are the frontrunners. Both are atypical as Oscar fair: A violent crime flick and an R-rated family comedy. I'd be more fond of a "Departed" win, largely because Scorsese deserves it at this point but also because I think it's the overall better and more deserving film.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling, Forest Whitaker, Peter O'Toole, Will Smith
Wow. Great list this time around. All great actors, all solid turns, all largely worthy. It's Whitaker's to lose, but Peter O'Toole's resigned not-long-for-this-worldness on the talk show circuit may tip it in his favor.
Penelope Cruz, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, Dame Judi Dench, Kate Winslet
Yeah, Helen Mirren will win. Long time coming, etc, etc. Cruz is mainly lucky she got a second chance at being taken seriously by U.S. audiences after her first few "hot new thing" duds threatend to render her the female Yahoo Serious. Winslet would be a worthy upset, but as "Little Children" hasn't been seen by, well, ANYONE she will sadly have to be content with the honor of starring in one of the only Oscar nominated performances destined to provide "Mr. Skin" with a literal pile of usable clips. Thank the gods for her.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Jackie Earle Haley, Mark Whalberg, Djimon Honsou, Eddie Murphy, Alan Arkin
Money says Murphy, gut says Arkin. THRILLED to see the appreciation for Jackie Earle Haley, who between "Little Children" and "All The Kings Men" had an amazing comeback from child star oblivion... in two movies NOBODY got to see. Hopefully, this means more work.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Adriana Barraza, Abigail Breslin, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Hudson, Rinko Kikuchi
TWO from "Babel?" Eh... Barraza gave a good performance, at least, and Kikuchi gave a GREAT one, contributing to the problem that I keep forgetting that her deaf-mute Japanese teenager was the not-even-really-that-related third bit from "Babel" and not a seperate, exponentially better movie of it's own. Breslin, the little girl from "Little Miss Sunshine," will not win but WILL be the most often-photographed celebrity in the entire audience.
Does it make me a bad person that I want Jennifer Hudson to NOT win this... not because of her performance, which was decent in an otherwise shitty movie... but because her win would lend retroactive credibility to the national shame known as "American Idol?" If so, well... tough. I have what I consider to be a rational position on "Idol": namely, every person involved in it's inception and continued existance should be sitting in a windowless cell in Guantanamo Bay have jumper-cable clamps affixed to their reproductive organs by Keifer Sutherland.
Clint Eastwood, Paul Greengrass, Stephen Frears, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Martin Scorsese
Gotta hand it to AMPAS, in a year where THE story in directing was the "three amigos" of spanish origin, they picked for a BD nod the one who's movie wasn't that good. This is a tough one, here's my read: If Martin Scorsese wins this, it means "Departed" will NOT get picture and this is his consolation/"sorry to ignore you for the last few decades" prize. One way or another, I see another weird "split" year.
The sticking-out one is Greengrass for "United 93." By Academy rules, "everyone" only votes for picture while the other categories are voted on by folks with the same jobs, explaining how U93 could be in for Director but not Picture. With no one else from it nominated, it could be that theres STRONG sentiment in there for it so the prize could be his.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Little Miss Sunshine, Babel, The Queen, Letters From Iwo Jima, Pan's Labyrinth
Wow, "Pan's?" Pleasant surprise. "Sunshine," I believe, has it in the bag for this one.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Borat, Children of Men, Departed, Little Children, Notes On a Scandal
Okay, let's get this out of the damn way: "Borat" is nominated here because it is technically "based on" the Ali G sketches. Still kinda hazy logic if you ask me, but on the other hand.. "Borat" is an Academy Award nominee!!!!!!! Oh, and "Departed" will probably win.
More categories next post.