Tuesday, December 05, 2006

National Board of Review Predictions 2006

Oh my, it's already time for the National Board of Review to declare their winners. Why do we place so much emphasis on the choices of this inconsequential, easily wined-and-dined voting body every single year? Simple: they set the trends for the rest of the awards season (we love them, we hate them.) The IFAs are always up to their own thing, and the Golden Satellites make it a point to nominate practically every film and personality in contention (thanks for nothing.) Therefore, the NBR is just as exciting as Oscar nomination morning, because they are the first ones to give us a list of names that will be repeated ad nauseam throughout the next few months. The novelty is key. Essentially, we will likely be looking at a lot of our future Academy Award nominees tomorrow (well... this was not so for Gong Li last time, poor gal.) Last year, I predicted 8/10, which is pretty darn good if I do say so myself (I even got #1 right, but that was sort of an easy call considering there was a lot of buzz on how it was between that film and Memoirs of a Geisha for the win.) I'm putting absolutely no thought into the forecasting this time around (blame it on essay and exam stress), so I don't expect to climb to a 9 or 10 this year (hah). Because of that, I've decided to go out on a limb and make some crazy, bizarre predictions. And I know they supposedly no longer release numerical lists, but in the chance that they do so anyways, I don't think it hurts.

1. Babel (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
2. Letters from Iwo Jima (Clint Eastwood)
3. Little Children (Todd Field)
4. Dreamgirls (Bill Condon)
5. The Departed (Martin Scorsese)
6. The Queen (Stephen Frears)
7. The Pursuit of Happyness (Gabriele Muccino)
8. Stranger Than Fiction (Marc Forster)
9. United 93 (Paul Greengrass)
10. Little Miss Sunshine (Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris)

[alternates: The Painted Veil, Flags of Our Fathers, Venus, Apocalypto, The Good German, World Trade Center, The Last King of Scotland, and Thank You For Smoking, all of which I feel stupid for leaving out.]

Best Picture: Could they decide to give Babel the shot in the arm it needs at this point? As always, I have no explanation to go with this claim, but I have a gut instinct that this is the one they will rally behind. I'm just as tempted to go with Letters from Iwo Jima, just because it's brand spanking new and they loved both Mystic River (#1 of 2003) and Million Dollar Baby (#4 of 2004). It will definitely place in the top five, I'm thinking, just not sure how high. Flags of Our Fathers is likely off their radar by this point, although I would not be surprised at all if both films made the cut. Little Children and Dreamgirls bring up the rear, which would cater to their recent interest in steamy sexual transgressions (Quills) and flashy musicals (Moulin Rouge!). I very much expect it to be one of these four.

Best Actor: Aaron Eckhart, Thank You For Smoking [alt. Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland]
- (Stupid? Probably. But who would have thought Campbell Scott would win this for the low-key Roger Dodger? I've gone with the frontrunner for the last two years, and even though it would be wise for me to do so again, I'm getting bored. Surprise me!)

Best Actress: Helen Mirren, The Queen [alt. Penelope Cruz, Volver]
- (Got to have one standard prediction in there, and she's still in the steamroller position.)

Best Supporting Actor: Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children [alt. Ben Affleck, Hollywoodland]
- (Not going with any of the big frontrunners here, mostly because NBR sometimes likes to throw us for a loop at times. I expect the Todd Field film to get an award somewhere.)

Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, Babel + Notes on a Scandal [alt. Adriana Barraza or Rinko Kikuchi, Babel]
- (I strongly feel like this will be going to one of the three Babel girls, although I could see Jennifer Hudson or Maggie Gyllenhaal placed here tomorrow.)

Best Director: Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima [alt. Bill Condon, Dreamgirls]
- (The man will be nominated for one of the films, let's just face it, because Letters has all the steam right now. If you recall, Million Dollar Baby most definitely benefited from its late December qualifying run.)

Best Original Screenplay: Peter Morgan, The Queen [alt. Guillermo Arriaga, Babel]
- (Can Morgan repeat his win from Venice? The category is slim pickings this year.)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Todd Field, Tom Perrotta, Little Children [alt. Bill Condon, Dreamgirls]

And the rest... (I'm not going to do their ridiculous "Freedom of Expression" awards. Yawn.)

Ensemble: Little Miss Sunshine (Is Bobby dead and gone?)
Animated Feature: Monster House (Please not Happy Feet. No more damn penguins.)
Breakthrough (Male): James McAvoy, The Last King of Scotland
Breakthrough (Female): Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Directorial Debut: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine
Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Babel
Production Design: Dreamgirls
Musical Score: Alberto Iglesias, Volver [Now watch it go to Eastwood.]
Foreign Language Film: Pan's Labyrinth [Pedro would be a natural here, but he's already won here twice in the last seven years. Again?]
Documentary: Deliver Us From Evil


Nick M. said...

The top ten is missing another independent feature. I'd say knock out either Stranger Than Fiction or The Pursuit of Happyness (fuck you spell check) and replace with Half Nelson.

Ali said...

Don't they usually lump all the indies into one separate "Excellence of Filmmaking" category? NBR loves the flashy, bait-y stuff: for god's sake, they put Memoirs on their list.

But I agree, perhaps placing both Fiction *and* Happyness was a mistake.

Nick M. said...

I just noticed that "Excellence in Filmmaking" category -- what is that bullshit?

Ali said...

Ouch. Well, at least I got one award correct.

Ali said...

And get ready for Eastwood vs. Scorsese Round #2, everyone.

Jose said...

Ugh Eastwood will rob Marty again!

RC said...

good point on bobby being dead and gone, since you're right, it didn't show up at all for ensamble.

The Departed is definitly in for the best picture race...ensemble wins really are like saying "we loved the film, give it a nomination."

good and fun predictions.

Dave James said...

Looking at your predictions, you were probably also surprised that Eastwood's Letters actually garnished top honors from both LA and the National Board of Review. Even more shocking was Cohen being picked by both LA and San Fran as best actor. I did a double take when I first read that but am rooting for an Oscar nom to give him even a larger audience to reach.