Saturday, March 04, 2006

Oh Oscar, I wish I knew how to quit you!

(I promise I won't make any more stupid jokes like that again.)

So, the Academy Awards show is coming up this Sunday. I might keep track of things on my blog--but I'll be hosting a bit of a party at the same time, so maybe not.

As is typical of all important (non-religious) events in March, you've got to make your picks and demonstrate to everyone that you are smarter about this stuff than they are.

The problem, however, is that I haven't seen any of the big movies this year--not a single one! So, how in the world am I gonna have any chance of getting it right and looking like a genius? (The answer is that I probably don't have any chance in hell.)

Sure, there are probably some choices that are dead-solid locks. (I call those the "Jamie Foxx in Ray Locks".) But there are also others in which I don't have any chance of getting them right. (I call those the Foreign Film Documentary category.)

But, I'll make my picks anyway; and I'll even give some mindless commentary and links also.

So, enough foreplay! Let's get it on!


Best Supporting Actress: The choices--Amy Adams, Junebug; Catherine Keener, Capote; Frances McDormand, North Country; Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener; Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

What do you do with this one? In my recent memory, it seems that this category often "takes a flyer" and is a bit radical in its choice. Heck, Anna Paquin won it once, and she was only 8 years old. In that spirit, I am choosing Michelle Williams as this year's Best Supporting Actress. (She was a main character on Dawson's Creek after all.) So, I think the Academy is going out on a limb to get an Academy Award within one degree of James Van Der Beek.

Best Supporting Actor: The choices--George Clooney, Syriana; Matt Dillon, Crash; Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man; Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain; William Hurt, The Squid and the Whale

The media and many experts have bemoaned the lack of high powered films in this year's Oscar nominees. I don't know about all that--because as I said, I haven't seen any of these films, but this is, in my opinion, the most competitive category this year. As such, it's not an easy choice. William Hurt has the only "Hollywood Royalty" cachet amongst these nominees and The Squid and the Whale was very well received (if not seen by anyone). George Clooney is the triple-threat nominee this year. Jake Gyllenhaal has let propel him to another level of stardom . . . but he's got Bubble Boy dragging him down at the same time. Paul Giamatti is the guy that has been overlooked several times in the past, so Oscar Logic dictates that he will be given the award this year, when he should have won last year for Sideways. Giamatti also gets bonus points in that this is the worst of the films he has recently been nominated for. (But I really want to give this one to Clooney.) Winner: Giamatti.

Best Animated Feature: The choices--Howl's Moving Castle; Tim Burton's Corpse Bride; Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-rabbit

It's probably guaranteed that the voting members of the Academy are using the screeners of these films as coasters. [WARNING: Link somewhat long and the prose is a bit "blue."] The likelihood of (what I imagine to be old fogeys) watching these animated films is slim. So, they will likely go with either name-recognition or box office success. Everyone knows Tim Burton, but not everyone likes his point of view. The Curse of the Were-rabbit was very successful, so I am picking it as the winner.

Best Director: The choices--Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain; Bennett Miller, Capote; Paul Haggis, Crash; George Clooney, Good Night and Good Luck; Steven Spielberg, Munich

Spielberg gets nominated no matter what, even if the Academy didn't feel good watching his movie. Paul Haggis and George Clooney are tainted by their connection to The Facts of Life TV show. I think Ang Lee
wins for Brokeback Mountain. It's the film that has the largest amount of support AND people are trying to tell us that it is a message film and that America is ready to learn something from it. I don't know about all that, but I think Lee will come out the winner.

Documentary Feature: The choices--Darwin's Nightmare; Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room; March of the Penguins; Murderball; Street Fight

This one is easy. Even though people LOVED Murderball (and I even tried to see it), March of the Penguins will march away with the trophy. Its about Republican family values, after all.

Makeup: The choices--The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe; Cinderella Man; Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith

Ron Howard just told Russell Crowe to go drinking every night and pick a fight with someone that annoyed him. Paul Giamatti actually uses make up to look good in everyday life, he takes in off in movies. So, Cinderella Man is disqualified. George Lucas won't ever get an Academy Award until he gets the Lifetime Achievement award. (They might rename it the Please Stop Making Films award then, but STEp.IIIRotS gets NOTHING! So, TCoN:TLTWaTW takes the high ground on this one.

Original Song: The choices--"In the Deep" from Crash; "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle and Flow; "Travelin' Thru" from Transamerica

This might be the most anticipated moment of the broadcast. How can you perform "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" when it features such lyrical words as pimp and bitch. How did it even get nominated? Well, anyway. Dolly Parton will win for "Travelin' Thru."

Best Actress: The choices--Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents; Felicity Huffman, Transamerica; Keira Knightly, Pride and Prejudice; Charlize Theron, North Country; Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

This is a tough one. A lot of the media say this is the weakest Best Actress field in years. But how do you decide who to give it to? Well, since I followed Oscar Logic to name the Best Supporting Actor, then I guess I'll try to use it to figure out the Best Actress. Usually, if a pretty actress "gets ugly" to show their "acting" ability, it is a Jamie Foxx Lock for convincing the Academy. It worked for Nicole Kidman and most recently worked for Charlize Theron. Well, Theron is back again, but she doesn't get ugly enough in North Country. A hair bandanna and some dirt on the cheeks won't do. Not when Felicity Huffman goes beyond "getting ugly" and is a woman portraying a man that wants to be a woman. This is so confusing that Charlie Kauffman must be proud. I wouldn't be surprised, exactly, if Witherspoon wins for Walk the Line, but I'm gonna go with Oscar Logic.

In a mad rush, I'll blow through a few that no one knows about--the "technical" awards:

Best Art Direction--I'll go with Good Night and Good Luck because it seems like Clooney's movie should be rewarded for something. The Academy often pads unappreciated movies in this way.
Best Cinematography--Hey, let's here it for Terrence Malick's The New World! According to Jack Thunder this is a great movie and Malick is always strong in cinematography.
Best Costume Design--This one turns into a chick flick cat fight between Pride and Prejudice and Memoirs of a Geisha. I'm thinking the Academy voters are going to be seduced more by Asian costumery than that Jane Austen stuff.
Best Short Documentary--I am completely out of my element here. So, I'm probably just like 80 percent of the Academy voters who haven't seen the film or anything. I/We will just pick the one with the most exotic name, namely God Sleeps in Rwanda.
Best Foreign Language Film--Once again, the chances of really watching these films is remote. So, I'll go with the one I've heard of--Joyeux Noel. It's also helpful that this one is about the World War I Christmas Truce in 1914. It seems humanistic and important and stuff.
Best Visual Effects--It's a battle of titans here: King Kong versus War of the Worlds versus The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I've already awarded TCoN:TLTWaTW a statue for best makeup, so I'm giving it a pass here. Dare I stiff Steven Spielberg twice? Yep, I dare. Peter Jackson is the new Steven Spielberg, so King Kong's (sort of) impressive effects gets rewarded here. (Plus, the people at WETA were nice to my inlaws when they visited New Zealand.)
Best Sound Mixing--Aw, who cares . . . let's give it to War of the Worlds. Steven Spielberg can't be denied all night long, can he?
Best Sound Editing--Lets give this one to King Kong as well. Considering that most of the movie and the characters resided inside a computer, I think the technicality of the sound achievement is greater than that of Memoirs of a Geisha and War of the Worlds.
Best Short Film (Live Action) and Best Short Film (Animated)--are awarded to Six Shooter and Badgered for no reasons at all.
Best Film Editing--I'll give this one to The Constant Gardener because it is probably too good of a movie not to get anything at all. And I have heard that it is good.
Best Original Score--(Which one is done by John Williams, because honestly, he's the only one that ever wins, right?) And so, Memoirs of a Geisha, you get the nod. (A brief aside on this category. One of the best things about Oscar season is when NPR's Weekend Edition devotes five segments to dissecting and discussing the merits of each of the Original Score nominees. Of course, I rarely get the chance to hear these, but when I do, it's a great experience.)
Best Adapted Screenplay--I would like to give this one to A History of Violence and this might be Munich's best chance to win something. Then again, what about Capote? Nope, in the end, this one also goes to Brokeback Mountain, making it the "big winner" of the night--though that will be a relatively weak "big winner" this year.
Best Original Screenplay--This is another toss up pick and is full of really difficult choices. I would like to reward Clooney for his importance/impact this year, but probably Syriana and will work against each other. I actually SAW Matchpoint, but I don't think it will carry the day. I guess the Academy will try to make up for other slights by giving this award to Crash. That team should enjoy it while they can, because they won't win in the remaining categories.

So, now we are down to two--

Best Actor: The choices--Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote; Terrence Howard, Hustle and Flow; Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain; Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line; David Strathairn, Good Night and Good Luck

The Academy likes biographies, but neither David Strathairn nor Joaquin Phoenix submerged themselves in the role adequately enough for this to be a Jamie Foxx Lock type of moment. No, the real race is between Heath Ledger and PSH. (Sorry Terrence Howard, but playing a pimp--even one that might have a heart of gold) won't do. If you were a woman and got ugly to play a prostitute, I'd give it to you.) So, I would have easily given this one to Ledger a few months ago, but the Capote momentum has grown pretty strong. It's probably a very close margin, but I think I'll go with Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain. I don't like ignoring PSH's performance and denying Capote so many times, but since both of these guys are getting nominated for the first time, one of them has to pay their dues a bit more. Besides, it opens up Hoffman to get nominated and selected for a much less deserving role in about three years--call it the Russell Crowe Insider to Gladiator progression.

Best Film: The choices--Brokeback Mountain; Capote; Crash; Good Night and Good Luck; Munich

I think Brokeback Mountain is going to win here. All of these films are well made and well meaning, but only one of them has spawned so many parodies, jokes, references, etc. It's the film of the moment and that is usually good enough for the Academy these days. Besides, we've got to have an acceptance speech that explains how America needs to learn something from gay cowboys.


Spec said...

Well, Mr. Burb, you and I have some very similar choices. I enjoyed your commentary (even though it made me feel a little bit guilty for not writing more of my own). We'll have to see who makes more accurate selections.

David said...

Well, I wasn't very accurate with my picks. I only get ten right and Dr. Actually trounced me by getting fifteen correct.

The biggest surprises of the night, I felt, were Crash's win for Best Picture and definitely the award to the Three 6 Mafia. (Though I was amused by it and I think Stewart was afraid to really take advantage of it and tell some good jokes.)

I think Jon did a good job and you got a nice little flavor of The Daily Show with the fake commercials about the Oscar ad campaigns.