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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

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.

Animated Feature

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.

Art Direction

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!


  • "Brokeback Mountain"

  • "Capote"

  • "Crash"

  • "Good Night, and Good Luck."

  • "Munich"

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 for "Traffic."  I think that Lee, who won the 2005 DGA Award for "Brokeback Mountain", will win both prizes this go-round.

Documentary Feature

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

  • "Don't Tell"

  • "Joyeux NoŽl"

  • "Paradise Now"

  • "Sophie Scholl--The Final Days"

  • "Tsotsi"

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's time for a miracle!

Best Picture

  • "Brokeback Mountain"

  • "Capote"

  • "Crash"

  • "Good Night, and Good Luck."

  • "Munich"

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)

  • "Brokeback Mountain"

  • "Capote"

  • "The Constant Gardener"

  • "A History of Violence"

  • "Munich"

The dice are in the cup...I'm stirrin' 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 Geisha"

  • Film Editing:  "Munich" (right answer: "Crash")

  • Makeup:  "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

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
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