Monday, January 30, 2006

T'is time.

I don't think I have to tell you not to take these predictions seriously, or (hah!) use them as a template. Forecasting is really not my thing (see my results for SAG last night - 2/5!), and trying to anticipate the Academy's choices gets more frustrating with each passing year (perhaps because I think they're going to be risky when they ultimately go totally safe, and vice versa). Can't win. Last year, I went bold and "foresaw" a total Finding Neverland shut-out, thinking the weightiness of Hotel Rwanda's subject matter would securely land it in the Best Picture slot instead. Didn't happen, and the former film got a whopping seven nods. The point? Oscar is not consistent with surprises; years like 2004 (City of God's out-of-nowhere four nods; the Best Actress mix-up; etc) are few and far-between. Therefore, we must look to the Best Director branch this year to give us our fix this year (let's hope it's something good like Cronenberg or Wong), but otherwise, look for the same old suspects Tuesday morning. So I've more or less gone very conventional this time around with a few exceptions here or there...

1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Good Night, and Good Luck
3. Crash
4. Capote
5. Walk the Line
6. The Constant Gardener
7. Munich
8. Match Point

The first three are safe, and the latter two seem likely at this point (Capote has the guild support; Walk the Line has the box office and universal love in Hollywood). But the next two films in line (Gardener, Munich) have decent chances as well; the Meirelles film has been enjoying a resurgence of sorts lately, while the fast-fading and controversial Munich might get some residual votes (remember how The Green Mile was apparently hated by everyone but still managed to garner a Picture nom back in 2000?). The miserable Match Point may make it in (no!) just because it's made by Woody Allen, but it's too little seen, with very spotty precursor love. He has a good shot in the Director race though, considering his history with that branch.

1. Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
2. George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
3. Paul Haggis, Crash
4. Bennet Miller, Capote
5. Fernando Meirelles, The Constant Gardener
6. David Cronenberg, A History of Violence
7. Steven Spielberg, Munich
8. Woody Allen, Match Point
9. Wong Kar-Wai, 2046

The first three seem solid; the last two can be any combo of the next few names. I'm thinking that Capote support extends to Miller (who can be credited with refreshing the now tired biopic genre this year) while Meirelles follows behind with a sophomore nod. I'm not totally confident about him, but I can no longer predict Cronenberg because I am aware that it is mostly motivated by what I personally would like to see happen. Yes, I would be thrilled to see him get a career acknowledgment (it's about time), and it could happen, but I feel like Violence is going to be - with the exception of a Makeup or Screenplay nod - shut out. Maria Bello included. Why? Too upsetting, too subversive and too... well, weird (even though this is Cronenberg at his most accessible!). Meirelles feels right for some reason, and you're crazy if I think I have some solid reasoning behind this prediction. I work on instinct, which usually misleads me. Anyways, Spielberg and Allen will probably be snubbed because of the less-than-enthused reception their films received; Wong would be an exciting change, but I think 2046 will be perceived as too disjointed and self-satisfying to warrant serious consideration. It's more of a critics' darling than a collectively loved film. But you never know.

1. Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
2. Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
3. Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of a Geisha
4. Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
5. Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof
6. Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger
7. Charlize Theron, North Country
8. Keira Knightley, Pride and Prejudice

I will be extremely unhappy if I find tomorrow morning that SAG has predicted this category 5/5. That's why for the sake of my sanity, I have to shake up this category a bit (if it only means throwing Paltrow into the mix). For some reason, the industry this year seems to want to reward Zhang very badly (why the accolades can't be for 2046, I don't know). Like it or not, she's in (sigh). I really want to predict a Dench snub, seeing as I see very little enthusiasm about this film or her performance in it, but she's relatively done well throughout the precursors, so I keep her in. When it comes to the possibility of a prior winner returning to the part for a second nod, something tells me it will be Gwyneth Paltrow instead of Charlize Theron making the cut. It's too soon for Theron, who already seems very bored with this process. Paltrow's last nod was several years ago, and this recognition would honor her accomplishments for The Royal Tenenbaums and Sylvia (which she deserved a nomination for, IMO) as well. But if this category goes the way of 2004, we could see any mix of players, including Joan Allen (please God make this happen), Keira Knightley or Theron for obvious reasons.

1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
2. Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
3. Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
4. Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
5. David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck
6. Russell Crowe, Cinderella Man
7. Ralph Fiennes, The Constant Gardener
8. Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale

First three are locks, the last two are up in the air. Terrence Howard seems like more of a sure thing to me than most, and it's because I can see a lot of voters placing him in their #1 spot. It's a performance that is hard to deny/snub after you've seen it. The only thing working against him (the only thing I say) is the unsympathetic nature of the character (a hard-edged pimp who throws out one of his, um, employees out on the street, baby and all). Meanwhile, Strathairn seems vulernable, but the fact that this low-key, publicity shy actor was picked out by SAG is encouraging to me. Still, I would not be surprised (although very disappointed) if Crowe usurps his position on the shortlist. The Cinderella Man star has done very well throughout the season for reasons completely unknown to me. It's a serviceable performance, but there was much better work out there this year. Furthermore, it seems like he's being rewarded for bad behaviour. Ralph Fiennes and Jeff Daniels (this would be amazing) are very possible nominees, but the support for their films will likely be shown elsewhere (Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay respectively) in the nominations tomorrow morning.

1. Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
2. Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
3. Catherine Keener, Capote
4. Amy Adams, Junebug
5. Thandie Newton, Crash
6. Maria Bello, A History of Violence
7. Frances McDormand, North Country
8. Scarlett Johansson, Match Point
9. Shirley Maclaine, In Her Shoes

First three are in. Many are still doubting Amy Adams's chances, but this category has historically been very kind to performers in tiny, independent films that apparently "no one" has seen (re: Marcia Gay Harden for Pollock, Patricia Clarkson for Pieces of April, Mare Winningham for Georgia). As for Thandie Newton, it makes sense that with Crash's lauded and celebrated ensemble, more than just one player (Matt Dillon) will be acknolwedged. Newton has the best chances for a female actor from the cast to be honored (Bullock's appearance is fleeting), and her abused, victimized wife is much more sympathetic than Maria Bello's assertive sexual ferocity. Frances McDormand has somehow hit all the precursors, but North Country seems stale by now (maybe if I repeat this, it will be true?). Bah. Maria, I love you and I'm rooting for you. I will be biting my nails when this category is called out tomorrow.

1. Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
2. George Clooney, Syriana
3. Matt Dillon, Crash
4. Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
5. Clifton Collins Jr., Capote
6. Frank Langella, Good Night, and Good Luck
7. Terrence Howard, Crash
8. William Hurt, A History of Violence
9. Donald Sutherland, Pride and Prejudice

First three are in, and Gyllenhaal fairly very likely (NBR [which has been accurate for the past few years] + SAG), so that leaves only one spot open to play around with. When considering the several actors bringing up the rear, I'm thinking that a surprise is in store, namely in the form of a newcomer. One of the more disappointing developments in the award season so far (aside from Joan Allen's continual snubbing and the dominance of mediocre fare like Crash, North Country and Memoirs) is the ignoring of Clifton Collins Jr. in Capote (who gave the film's best performance in my eyes). I may overestimating the film's support in the Academy, but it just feels right to me. Langella and Howard are very possible, especially the former. It's hard to consider Howard's position in this race because of Hustle & Flow. Can he follow in the steps of Pacino and Foxx to get two nods in the same year, especially after it just happened last time around?

1. Paul Haggis, Bobby Moresco, Crash
2. George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck
3. Woody Allen, Match Point
4. Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale
5. Stephen Gaghan, Syriana
6. Cliff Hollingsworth, Akiva Goldsman, Cinderella Man
7. Judd Apatow, Steve Carell, The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Although I'd love to see it happen, The 40-Year-Old Virgin just doesn't scream "Oscar nominee" to me.

1. Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain
2. Dan Futterman, Capote
3. Jeffrey Caine, The Constant Gardener
4. Tony Kushner, Munich
5. Gill Dennis, James Mangold, Walk the Line
6. Josh Olson, A History of Violence
7. David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan, Batman Begins
8. Steve Martin, Shopgirl

I'm thinking Mangold gets a consolation nod for missing out on Director. His stars/producers showered love on him at the Globes.

I'm not predicting the tech nods, but not because I'm not interested in them. Rather, I have very little luck with those categories. I'd do them if I was playing for money or something.

I'm actually quite excited for tomorrow morning, as it's the first time in five years that I have no school on the day of the announcements. Usually I have to take a radio with me to school or dash to the computer lab to read the names on-line. This year, it's all about sitting in my recliner with a bowl of Life cereal watching my t.v. Can't wait.

P.S. (primarily to Javier and Nick) - I swear, someone up there does not want me to see The Constant Gardener. First through the months of September and October, theatrical viewings totally evaded me. Something unavoidable came up everytime I readied myself to make the trek to the theatre. Now on video, the exact same thing is happening, and it's driving me nuts. I visited three video stores today (including a large chain), and all copies (every. single. one.) have been rented out. I really wanted to see this film by nomination time (to gague Meirelles's and Fiennes's chances), but no luck. At this point, I'm ready to just blind buy the damn thing. EDIT: Scratch this, I finally obtained a copy!

P.P.S. - My poli sci prof highly recommended Crash to us in class today ("It's a great movie!"). Needless to say, I was not amused.


Nick M. said...

We both threw Paltrow in there. We're going to be so wrong.

I still think that Jake G. will be snubbed Giamatti-style.

jesse said...

I'm holding out hope for Allen-- the Academy seems to like her, as seen several years ago in her out-of-nowhere nod for THE CONTENDER. Would be content with Paltrow though.

I'm with you though-- just mix things up a little and add some excitement, damn it!

JavierAG said...

Good work, Ali! I just posted my own predix as well... I am so *beep* late!!

Ali said...

Nick - re: Gyllenhaal. WRONG! (Thankfully so).

Jesse - I'm on the Allen bandwagon with you, who is better than all the Best Actress nominees this year (although Keira was a wonderful surprise - good for her).

Javier - Thanks. You must be happy that your goddess Rachel Weisz made it in (and is the frontrunner). I still have a feeling that Michelle Williams will upset, because Brokeback needs an acting prize.

JavierAG said...

the thing about rachel is that she was already a lock, though of course i'll be ecstatic if she wins!! but you are right, williams is a major threat.

if she loses, rachel will still have "The Fountain" coming next year, which i'm sure will be superb.

JavierAG said...

you saw IT - and liked it!! yay!!

Ali said...

I may have jumped the gun on my rating. Don't kill me Javier!