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2004 Roundup
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2004 Oscar Pool Picks



Let's hit it!  (My picks are in bold.  Now updated to show real winners in red.)


Adapted Screenplay

This one's going to be tough.  I don't think that "Sideways" is going to win much all night, but it's here where they might be able to make a hit.  I don't think this is the kind of year where one movie sweeps all the awards, either.  We can't give this award to foreigners, so "The Motorcycle Diaries" is out, and "Before Sunset" doesn't look to be written so much as improvised.  I thought the script for "Finding Neverland" was good, but not great; the film is driven by many moments that were clearly borne of the dynamic onscreen.  If "Sideways" doesn't win, I think "Million Dollar Baby" will...hey, I'll leave it to you.

Original Screenplay

I still find it a minor shocker that a cartoon was nominated for best original screenplay; I think it also highlights a year where the writing was generally average across the board.  I think that "The Aviator" and "Eternal Sunshine..." are the only ones with a shot here, with the edge going to Charlie Kaufman's warped script, who will see that the third time is a charm.  (He lost in previous years for "Adaptation" and "Being John Malkovich.")

Documentary Feature

I could almost SWEAR that "Tupac: Resurrection" was released in 2003, making it an odd entry into this year's Oscar pool.  It was great, but "Super Size Me" was spectacular; its strongest points had nothing to do with the director's 30-day McDonald's binge, but in fact the state of the union when it comes to fast food, overeating, lack of exercise and people not giving a damn about any of it.  I didn't see the other three nominees, but I still feel good about the pick!

Foreign Language Film

In a stunning turn of events, I haven't seen any of these five films.  So, I'll go with history--France (which gave us "The Chorus") is 9 for 32 in Oscar Foreign Language Film history, which is better odds than the other four countries can give us.  However, the last time I picked France's film to win was for "Amelie", which I was sure would be a shoo-in...and it lost.  Shows you what I know.

Animated Feature Film

For the first time, there are two legitimate films that could win this award, created the year that the first "Shrek" was released to give it a better shot at winning an Oscar.  The irony will come when "The Incredibles" wins this year over "Shrek 2."


Hmm...I didn't see the last two films on that list, so we'll throw those out.  "The Passion", well, it was a good looking film with some truly fantastic shots, but I don't think it measures up to the visuals in "Daggers" or "The Aviator."  Once again utilizing my rule that foreign films just shouldn't win the important awards, I'm going with "The Aviator" by a hair over "Daggers."

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Cate Blanchett, "The Aviator"

  • Laura Linney, "Kinsey"

  • Virginia Madsen, "Sideways"

  • Sophie Okonedo, "Hotel Rwanda"

  • Natalie Portman, "Closer"

I won't lie to you--once I read that Portman requested her nude shots from "Closer" be removed, I lost some respect for the movie and her role in it.  Still, I think she was awesome in this part, her best work since "The Professional" and the kicker on a great year that also included good work in "Garden State."  It's still not going to be enough to knock off Blanchett, who is finally going to win an Oscar for being one of the best half-dozen actresses working today.

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Alan Alda, "The Aviator"

  • Thomas Haden Church, "Sideways"

  • Jamie Foxx, "Collateral"

  • Morgan Freeman, "Million Dollar Baby"

  • Clive Owen, "Closer"

This might be my toughest pick of the litter.  Not because of Alan Alda, though...who the FUCK decided his six minutes of screen time were that good?  Again, another mark of a so-so year at the movies.  It's nice to see Church get nominated for his role in "Sideways"; I don't know if I thought the acting was all that great, but he was really funny throughout.  The thing that's tough here is that Foxx and Owen did the best work in this category, but I think that Foxx is going to win later, so I don't want him winning too many awards.  But, I like Foxx, and I liked "Collateral" a lot, so it would be nice to see him win here.  Owen is the best, and at varying points, the ONLY reason to watch "Closer"; he's on top of his game in the film.  But then there's Freeman, who has that stare...ahh, I don't know.  We'll go against type and pick the foreigner.

Actress in a Leading Role

  • 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"

I didn't see "Vera Drake", but nothing in the press tells me she's got a shot against Swank; if I had to guess, this will be the biggest voting blowout of the night, even though we'll never know the final tally.  Winslet's work in "Eternal Sunshine" gets noticed, at least, even if she would have a tough time winning this year.

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Don Cheadle, "Hotel Rwanda"

  • Johnny Depp, "Finding Neverland"

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Aviator"

  • Clint Eastwood, "Million Dollar Baby"

  • Jamie Foxx, "Ray"

Wow, what a lineup!  Save for Eastwood--who amazingly got nominated for playing himself--this is just a solid lineup of performances; if any of the other four guys wins, I'm going to be happy.  But, this is Foxx's year; he carries off his best Ray Charles impersonation and teaches you some things about the guy that you would never have believed had you not seen it come to life onscreen.  I think the voting would shake out with Leo in second place; man, I loved his work in "The Aviator."  You can see why Scorsese keeps wanting to work with him...he's found his next De Niro.


  • Martin Scorsese, "The Aviator"

  • Clint Eastwood, "Million Dollar Baby"

  • Taylor Hackford, "Ray"

  • Alexander Payne, "Sideways"

  • Mike Leigh, "Vera Drake"

About 85-90% of the time, the winner of the Directors Guild of America Feature Film Award wins the Oscar, and that was Eastwood.  The end.

Best Picture

  • "The Aviator"

  • "Finding Neverland"

  • "Million Dollar Baby"

  • "Ray"

  • "Sideways"

I'm still really not sure how "Sideways" was nominated for Best Picture; was it one of the five best films I saw last year?  Was it one of the five best pictures that the majority of people saw last year?  Really baffled there.  I gave Opening Weekend ratings to "The Aviator", "Finding Neverland" and "Million Dollar Baby", so you can't really go wrong with any of them...but, of those, "Million Dollar Baby" just rises a little bit higher than the others, thanks to across-the-board great acting and a story that you probably haven't seen before.  Besides, every other year we have to give the Best Picture Oscar to a non-gladiator or fantasy film, and a boxing movie with heart fits the bill real nice-like.


In no particular order (in other words, alphabetical order, since it reads better that way).  Note that for most of these, I pulled them right out of my ass.  Red ones, I got right; green ones, I got wrong.

  • Art Direction:  "The Aviator"

  • Costume Design:  "The Aviator"

  • Film Editing:  "Ray" (right answer:  "The Aviator")

  • Makeup:  "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events"

  • Score:  No idea, so let's go with "Finding Neverland"

  • Song:  "Believe", from "The Polar Express" (right answer:  "The Motorcycle Diaries")

  • Sound Editing:  "Spider-Man 2" (right answer: "The Incredibles")

  • Sound Mixing:  "The Incredibles" (right answer: "Ray")

  • Visual Effects:  "Spider-Man 2"

And, for Documentary Short Subject and the two Short Film categories, I leave it all to you.  Good luck!


Comments?  Drop me a line at

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09