2005 Oscar Pool Picks
Sorry for the delay on this--I was trying to
see as many films as I could before writing this up. Let's hit it! (My picks are in bold.
Actual winners in red.)
Actor in a Leading Role
I'll be jumping up and down if Howard wins,
gets up to the podium and gets all of the audience members to start
pounding the sky with "WHOOP DAT TRICK! WHOOP DAT TRICK!"
But, what probably will happen is what should have happened years
ago--Hoffman will finally win an Oscar for what has already been a
fantastic career of making movies. Howard has been impressive
for years, but he has never had the chances to shine like Hoffman
has...and, with the SAG Award and almost every major city's film
awards along with the National Board of Review award for acting, it
will be shocking if anyone else wins this Oscar.
Actor in a Supporting Role
This one is as tough for me as Best Picture
will be; that's because I think that four of these five guys (Hurt,
a former winner, won't get the love for his
under-10-minutes-of-screen-time part here) are in the running for
winning this thing. When push comes to shove, I think voters
won't give it to Dillon (at the end of the day, he's still Matt
Dillon, you know?) or Clooney, whose performance is okay but not
really the kind of part you would look back five years from now and
say "Wow, that Clooney guy was monstrous in "Syriana." That
leaves Giamatti and Gyllenhaal, and I'll go with Gyllenhaal because
he gives his film so much over the course of its running time, with
equal parts humor, sadness and rugged cowpoke lover.
Actress in a Leading Role
Everyone loves Felicity Huffman, and while I
don't know why everyone loves her, I do know that the love folks
have for her will serve her well...just not this year.
Witherspoon, who I truly dislike, really was awesome in "Walk the
Line" and has won enough awards from the acting and film critic
fields to make it seem like she can take home the trophy.
Also, critics loved Huffman in "Transamerica" but I'm betting that
many of the Academy voters had to rent that film in order to see
what all of the hype was about...and, by that time, they certainly
had already seen "Walk the Line" and had a pre-formed opinion about
the Witherspoon performance. I'll guess we'll see on that one.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Catherine Keener, "Capote"
Frances McDormand, "North Country"
"The Constant Gardener"
Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain"
Adams faces a similar problem to what
Huffman is facing, with a twist--yeah, almost no one saw "Junebug"
(I'm guessing not more than 10 people on this mailing list have seen
it), but those that did weren't that wild about the overall film
because it simply isn't very good. Adams's performance is the
singular good thing to come out of "Junebug", but it's not good
enough to make you want to sit through the film; Weisz, who has been
good in other works and great in a great film like "The Constant
Gardener" is a more likely selection to win this prize because her
work is solid in a universally-praised film that feels important.
If Keener wins for what I thought was an absolutely-nothing-special
part in "Capote", I will summarily shoot myself.
I didn't see "Howl's Moving Castle", but I
don't know that it will matter--like Huffman, everyone loves
"Wallace and Gromit" creator Nick Park. And, Park has won
three Oscars for previous animated short films. Done.
I didn't see "Pride & Prejudice", and that's
important here, because sometimes these lush period pieces take home
the prize ("Howard's End", "Restoration", "Shakespeare in Love" and
"Dangerous Liaisons", for example). Sadly, I have a strange
feeling that this is going to hurt me here. Of the other four,
"King Kong" really does have a spectacular production design; its
first hour set in New York and on the freighter are a tad bit
lighter on the special effects than hours two and three, but
throughout the film the look is right out of the old school, from
the cityscapes to the jungle pieces to the action sequences that
take wide views as opposed to rapid-cutting close-ups where you
can't see shit (i.e., "Batman Begins."). I am surprised that "Brokeback
Mountain" is not nominated in this category; I thought its look and
set direction were excellent.
I expect "Brokeback Mountain" to win here;
this almost always goes to sweeping adventure films and epic dramas,
and that eliminates "Batman Begins" and "Good Night, and Good Luck."
right away, despite being cool looking films. I loved the look
of "The New World", but the version I saw was 15 minutes shorter
than the theatrical release, and probably featured more useless
shots of spiders crawling up trees and other nonsense. I
didn't think the work in "Memoirs" was THAT good; further, it
features many shots of California-starring-as-Asia and part of me
feels this is dirty!
As you may know, the winner of the
Director's Guild of America award for film direction almost always
wins the Oscar for Directing...only six times have the two awards
been given to different people since 1949. One of those six
times was in 2000, when Ang Lee won the DGA Award for his work on
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" but lost to Steven Soderbergh
I think that Lee, who won the 2005 DGA Award for "Brokeback
Mountain", will win both prizes this go-round.
I did not see "Darwin's Nightmare" or
"Street Fight", but the hype machine behind "March of the Penguins"
(not to mention muthafuckin' Morgan Freeman!) might be too much to
stop. I saw "Murderball" and "Enron" and thought both were
better movies, but admittedly, "Penguins" is that rare film that is
a great family film, it's good-looking, it's painstakingly
put-together (come on, would YOU want to film a flick about penguins
over the course of a couple years in sub-zero conditions?) and you
will walk away smarter.
Foreign Language Film
For the first time in a while, I didn't see
any of the foreign films nominated this year, but the one that I
wanted to see the most was "Paradise Now", and so I'll stack the
chips on that one. Sure, Palestine has never won an Oscar for
any of their past films (uh, it looks like none have ever even been
nominated), but so what...it's time for a miracle!
This year, this award is really tough.
Critics and The Golden Globes voters (I hesitate to consider them
critics also) have given everything they can to "Brokeback", and
with good reason--it's a great movie. But, there are something
like six or seven thousand people that make up the voting pool for
the Academy Awards, and many of them are not nearly progressive
enough (i.e., they are old-school senior citizens who like their
adventure films, ahem, straight up) to fall in love with giving a
gay cowboy movie an award that cements "Brokeback" as an all-time
great. That said, I am getting the feeling that "Capote"--also
a great film that will win over not only the Academy's younger
members but that old-school set, who will strangely look past the
main character's more muted homosexuality--will win this award.
Even getting past all of that, I think that "Crash" and "Good Night,
and Good Luck." are great films that could pull off the upset.
So tough...but, I think "Capote" will barely edge out "Brokeback."
I would love to be wrong here, though.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
"The Constant Gardener"
"A History of Violence"
The dice are in the cup...I'm stirrin' it
up...and...it's..."Brokeback." Maybe, for me, it's what
director Ang Lee did with the lack of dialogue in certain sequences;
maybe it's the quotables when the characters do decide to speak to
each other. But, the work done to expand on a short story to
give us a feature-length film is good work here. "Capote" is
my sloppy seconds pick in this category.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
I still don't know what happened in "Syriana",
and in "The Squid and the Whale", I know what happened and it
happened fast; can an 85-minute film have a script that wins an
Oscar? Of the three that are left, the story for "Crash" is
excellent, it involves many characters but we get to know all of
them in such a short amount of time; the dialogue truly crackles
(how tense was your experience, just five minutes into the movie?);
even dialing up the tension a notch for movie purposes, there is
still a lot of truth in what happens to these characters--notably
the BLACK characters--as they move through the events of the film.
Look, if your script can make Ludacris, Sandra Bullock and
muthafuckin' Matt Dillon look like great actors, you need to be
winning an Oscar for your work.
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.
Costume Design: "Memoirs of a
Film Editing: "Munich"
(right answer: "Crash")
"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith"
(right answer: "The Chronicles of Narnia")
Music (Score): I can't get it out
of my head: "Brokeback Mountain"
Music (Song): Dare to dream:
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp", from "Hustle & Flow"
Sound Editing: "King Kong"
Sound Mixing: "Walk the Line"
(right answer: "King Kong")
Visual Effects: "King Kong" (Note:
how the fuck
"Chronicles of Narnia" got nominated here is beyond my scope
of understanding; its special effects were dogshit. How
did "Narnia" get an effects nod over "Star Wars"????)
And, for Documentary Short and the
two Short Film categories, I leave it all to you. Good luck!
Comments? Drop me a line at