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Friday, February 25, 2005

Movies: My Oscar Picks (Vol. 2) 

As promised... with a little more of the "why" behind my picks.

(* denotes a film I did not see)

Performance by an actor in a leading role

The field: Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda,Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator, Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby, Jamie Foxx in “Ray” (Universal)

Will win: I think it could be any of the three between Eastwood, Foxx and Cheadle. I suspect, though, that Foxx gets it because it just seems to be "his year," whatever that means.

Should win: James Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ. I'm only half kidding. Of the nominees, I think Foxx deserves it. Cheadle and Eastwood gave powerful performances, but Foxx transformed himself into a legend and that's not easy to do.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

The field: Alan Alda in The Aviator, Thomas Haden Church in Sideways, Jamie Foxx in Collateral, Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby, Clive Owen in Closer

Will win: Another tough call. I think it comes down to Freeman or Owen, and I'm going with Freeman.

Should win: Freeman, and it isn't even close.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

The field: Annette Bening in Being Julia*, Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace, Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake*, Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby, Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Will win: Granted, I haven't seen two performances, but I will be very surprised if Swank doesn't bring home her second Oscar.

Should win: Swank, and that's hard to say because I'm a big Winslet fan and I loved Eternal Sunshine.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

The field: Cate Blanchett in The Aviator, Laura Linney in Kinsey*, Virginia Madsen in Sideways, Sophie Okonedo in Hotel Rwanda, Natalie Portman in Closer

Will win: I imagine that Blanchett will get the nod.

Should win: Okenedo. Hotel Rwanda deserves some love, and Cheadle gets lost in a crowded field of great performances. Madsen and Portman were solid, but the depth of Hotel Rwanda should speak to how well Okenedo nailed her role.

Achievement in directing

The field: The Aviator, Martin Scorsese, Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood, Ray, Taylor Hackford, Sideways, Alexander Payne, Vera Drake, Mike Leigh

Will win: Scorsese. What The Aviator lacked in substance it made up for in grandeur, and Scorsese's vision accomplished that. He finally gets his reward this year.

Should win: Eastwood. He doesn't rely on grandeur; his film is subtle and gritty and dark. If there was any justice in Hollywood, they'd make up for his losing last year, but there isn't.

Best motion picture of the year

The field: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray, Sideways

Will win: Million Dollar Baby. Last year everyone knew LOTR would sweep almost every category, so it's good that there will be actual drama in the races this year. While the Best Picture field is as strong as it's been in a long time, Million Dollar Baby stands above the rest of the nominees. Its ensemble cast was spectacular, and the running theme of redemption and the rise and fall from glory are time-tested Oscar themes.

Should win: I wouldn't complain with any of the five, save for Sideways (a good, but not great effort). I still have a soft spot for Finding Neverland, and if there's a movie that tops Million Dollar Baby, then it's the one. I just don't know if I can make myself believe that it does. It's just Million Dollar Baby's year.


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