2004 Oscar Pool Picks
Let's hit it! (My picks are in bold.
Now updated to show real winners in red.)
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.
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
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
Actress in a Supporting Role
Cate Blanchett, "The Aviator"
Virginia Madsen, "Sideways"
Sophie Okonedo, "Hotel Rwanda"
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"
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
Catalina Sandino Moreno,
"Maria, Full of Grace"
Imelda Staunton, "Vera Drake"
Hilary Swank, "Million Dollar Baby"
Kate Winslet, "Eternal Sunshine of the
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"
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.
"Million Dollar Baby"
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
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")
"Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events"
Score: No idea, so let's go with
Song: "Believe", from
Express" (right answer:
"The Motorcycle Diaries")
2" (right answer: "The
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