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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Our Predictions for a crazy oscar year

The Fortnightly Disects the Oscar Mess

For the second straight year this will be an interesting Oscar night. And for the first time in a long time, we have nothing close to a favorite. A recent poll of Oscar “experts” yielded a 3-way tie between Babel, Little Miss Sunshine, and the Departed.

So here’s my predictions

Bold =Will win
Italics =Should win
Asterisk = Could surprise

Best Picture
The Departed
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen*
Letters from Iwo Jima

The Breakdown: Babel won the Globes, which used to be a good indicator, but hasn’t been that reliable the last 10 years.
The Departed made the most money. But The Departed doesn’t feel like a BP winner. I mean it’s a solid crime flick, but there isn’t a whole lot of magnitude or weight generally associated with the winner. The Oscars typically don’t like genre films. They typically don’t go for Scorsese either. Then again it is probably the most accessible of the five nominees. But it might be too violent and too profane for the aging Oscar voters.
Little Miss Sunshine has the same type of momentum that Crash did last year. But isn’t nearly as weighty. It is definitely the feel-good crowd-pleaser of the bunch, which tends to help films in crowded years (see Shakespeare in Love, Driving Miss Daisy, and Chariots of Fire). The biggest thing in trying to figure out the Oscars is to realize that it’s mostly actors voting, and this film was probably the most actor friendly.
Babel is the type of film Oscar loves. A social comment piece that isn’t too controversial, or in your face, that is tragic, and wide in scope. It also has a lot of great roles for its actors, but outside of Pitt and Blanchett there aren’t any major names. The film is also heavily subtitled, and does have some pretty rough judgments against America. I can see how it won the Globes, but I’m not sold on it as a heavy favorite.
Letters from Iwo Jima. The Academy loves Clint Eastwood. But this film lacks any stars, is in a foreign language, and made the least money of any of the final five. I don’t think it has the momentum.
The Queen is a British film, and the Academy loves Brit pics. It has Helen Mirren, it has royalty, it deals with Princess Di. The Oscars love British films, especially dealing with royalty, even more than the Brits love these films. I mean in the 90’s it seemed like there was always a British film nominated. It also has the only film that will get a major acting award. If there is a three way vote split, this is the film that will slip through and win.
So I’m really not sure. I’m going to assume there is a three-way vote split. I don’t think the Departed will win, Babel could, and so could Little Miss Sunshine. That leaves The Queen and Letters. The big question is how many of the voters saw all five films. I can be sure all of them saw The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine. I just don’t see how anyone could not think that Letters is the best film of the bunch if they’ve seen them all. But after a long deliberation I’m going with Babel. Not because it won the globes but it had the second highest gross, has a little international flavor, deals a little with issues, has nudity, which is actually a good indicator, and packs an emotional punch.

Lead Actor
Forest Whitaker
Peter O'Toole*
Will Smith
Leonardo DiCaprio
Ryan Gosling

Speaking about lifetime acheivement awards, this would probably go to O’toole if he hadn’t been given the lifetime oscar just a few years ago. O’toole might have a shot, but Whitaker has the most momentum. Plus the Academy loves it when a great actor can really dive into a larger than life bad guy role.

Lead Actress
Helen Mirren, The Queen* (this is a 110% lock)
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Penelope Cruz, Volver
Kate Winslet, Little Children

Supporting Actor
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Mark Wahlberg,The Departed
Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children *

Best Sup. Actor
This is a toughie. Mostly because it’s between two well-established, hard working actors who haven’t really been close to winning, and may not again, in Murphy and Arkin. Then there is Haley, who has probably the best story of all the nominees. He has a shot to slip through, but most likely Murhpy’s flashier role gets him the award. Plus all his multiple role films probably help him out here. It could very well go to Arkin, but then again wouldn’t Murphy make a great Oscar speech? And often it comes down to that.

Supporting Actress,
Jennifer Hudson Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi Babel
Cate Blanchett Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin Little Miss Sunshine *
Adriana Barraza Babel

Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Paul Greengrass United 93
Alejandro González Iñárritu Babel
Stephen Frears The Queen
Clint Eastwood Letters from Iwo Jima *

Screenplay, Original
Michael ArndtLittle Miss Sunshine
Guillermo Del Toro Pan's Labyrinth
Peter Morgan, The Queen *
Guillermo Arriaga Babel
Iris Yamashia Letters from Iwo Jima

Screenplay, Adapted
William Monahan The Departed
Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata, Children of Men
Patrick Marber Notes on a Scandal
Todd Field, Tom Perrotta Little Children
Sacha Baron Cohen et al. Borat*

Animated Feature
Happy Feet
Monster House

Documentary Feature
An Inconvenient Truth
Deliver Us from Evil*
My Country My Country
Iraq In Fragments
Jesus Camp

The Doc. category is a weird one, often the most popular is a little frowned upon, and Deliver us from Evil, tackling religion and sex, could surprise.

Foreign Language Film
Pan's Labyrinth
The Lives of Others
Water *
After the Wedding Days of Glory

The Foreign film category has rarely gotten it right, and I expect the same here. Lives has a lot of momentum, and seems like the type of film Oscar voters would like more than a fantasy film.

Children of Men
Pan's Labyrinth
The Prestige *
The Illusionist
The Black Dahlia

Art Direction
Pan's Labyrinth
Dreamgirls *
Pirates 2
The Prestige
The Good Shepherd

The Departed
Babel *
Children of Men
United 93
Blood Diamond

Visual Effects
Pirates of the Caribbean
Superman Returns*

Costume Design
Curse of the Golden Flower
Dreamgirls *
The Queen
Marie Antoinette
The Devil Wears Prada

Pan's Labyrinth

Sound Mixing
Pirates 2
Flags of Our Fathers
Blood Diamond

Sound Editing
Letters from Iwo Jima
Pirates 2
Flags of Our Fathers
Blood Diamond*

Original Score
Javier Navarrete Pan's Labyrinth*
Alexandre Desplat The Queen
Gustavo Santaolalla Babel
Phillip Glass, Notes on a Scandal
Thomas Newman, The Good German

Original Song
Beyonce Knowles, Listen, Dreamgirls
Randy Newman Our Town, Cars
Melissa Etheridge I Need to Wake Up, An Inconvenient Truth*
Jennifer Hudson Love You I Do, Dreamgirls
Eddie Murphy Patience, Dreamgirls

Animated Short
The Little Matchgirl
The Danish Poet
No Time for Nuts

Live Action Short
Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)
Eramos Pocos (One Too Many)”
Helmer & Son
The Saviour
West Bank Story”

Documentary Short
The Blood of Yingzhou District
Recycled Life
Rehearsing a Dream
Two Hands*

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