Donovan's 2006 Oscar PicksSubmitted by ryandonovan at 2006-02-23 20:41:28 EST
Rating: 1.53 on 40 ratings (40 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
DONOVAN’S OSCAR PROGNOSTICATION 2006
Clearly, I am the Oscar Oracle that you should be listening to, not that heartless number-cruncher from the USA Today or the poseurs from GoldDerby. Why, because of my swell performance last year, you ask? The past is the past; I’ve moved on… why can’t you? No, it’s because as an attendee of the Writers Guild Awards this year, I have all the scoops, and I am the best official insider you know. (ALERT: Egregious name-dropping to follow.) On the red carpet before the show, I wished Crash writer/director Paul Haggis “Good night, and good luck!” He doesn’t have the sense of humor that I thought he might. [*Part of that story was a lie. Scroll to the end of the article for the truth.] The most surreal part of the night was seeing George Clooney (who played a real news man) take a picture of Steve Carrell (who played a fake news man) with Dan Rather (who is a real news man). [That story is completely true.]
This is probably the most boring Oscar race that I can remember. It’s not the lack of quality or quantity. It’s the predictability. Based on previous awards and deafening buzz, 6 of the 8 major awards are all but locked up. It’s good for forecasters (like me), but bad for people who like a little spontaneity in their celebrity worship (not me).
SHOULD WIN: Crash
WILL WIN: Brokeback Mountain
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Memoirs Of A Geisha
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith
That’s right, the year’s best picture was Star Wars. Disagree? SUCK IT!
By now you’ve heard all the jokes about Brokeback Mountain. And you’ve heard all the nicknames. Brokebackside Mountain. Bareback Mounting. Heathsprack Fountain. Blokejack Mountain. Ballsack Wantin'. Chokecock Mountain. Boymack Tauntin’. Strokewhack Mountain. Manshack Poundin’. Fudgepack Mountain. Oakjack Mountain. Buttcrack Countin'. Bunrack Mountain. Rearknack MountHim. SoakJake Mountain. Bumattack Jauntin’. Buttsmack Mountain. Smokestack Gropin'. Pokeback Mountain. Tokestack Mountain. HeathJake Outin'.
Like a lot of America, I’m boycotting the film. I find the subject matter absolutely abhorrent. To think, we’re allowing our children to be raised in a land where Hollywood glamorizes… I can hardly type the word… cowboys.
Now, I know it’s not necessarily their fault. Because of some genetic defect, they were born cowboys. But for those who choose that lifestyle… well, I hope they know that God is watching. I mean, if God intended for men to be cowboys, then why did he give us the automobile? I’m an educated man, and I consider myself to be fairly open-minded, but the very idea of herding cattle makes me ill. If that makes me a hay-basher, so be it. I know some of you Wyoming liberals are saying, “You don’t have to agree with it, but you can accept these ranch hands [the PC term, I guess] for who they are, and co-exist with them peacefully.” That’s fine in theory, but would you want to be in the same stable as a cowboy? I’d be worried that he was checking out my horse, wanting to ride it. I once had to sit on a saddle after a cowboy sat on it – it was so gross. For weeks I was petrified that I was going to catch hillbiliness. Just thinking about it now makes me want to commit a haytcrime.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that this film about romantic cowpokes (or manpokes, as it were) is going to run away with Best Picture. It’s really not even worth talking about the other nominees (although for my money, Crash deserves the award – I’ll take car wrecks over a love story any day). The more interesting thing is to see how the actors, Hollywood, and the world react to the film. Without much prompting, star Jake Gyllenhaal told magazines that we was flattered by suspicions that he was gay, and even suggested that he was open to the idea. Ex-girlfriend Kirsten Dunst was later quoted, “I could have told you that.” In an interview with In Touch, Heath Ledger’s ex, Heather Graham, said, “When I told Heath that he should get out more, I didn’t think he was going to take me literally.” And the best thing to come of all this publicity… we now know what the pretty-boy Red Sox meant by “Cowboy Up”.
SHOULD WIN: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote)
WILL WIN: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Nathan Lane (The Producers)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Ralph Fiennes (The Constant Gardener)
Ahhhh… I can finally sit back and relax. Two of my favorite under-appreciated actors have been nominated for Oscars: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti (although the continuing ignorance of Gary Oldman still leaves me a bit restless). But will either of them actually win the award?
In my favorite semi-surprise of the year, Terrence Howard received a nomination for Hustle & Flow, after getting passed over by the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. It’s not a name or role that people will vote for, but the nomination suggests that the Academy is a little hipper than we thought.
Joaquin Phoenix is, in my humble and accurate opinion, one of the most overrated actors of our time. However, he is the only one of the five nominees, shockingly, who has previously been nominated. And I’ll admit, he was excellent in Walk The Line. I know that actors rely on their eyes, but he practically pulled off the performance with his eyes alone (his incredible vocal achievements notwithstanding). However, the film is losing buzz daily (the early release may not have paid off after all), and the Academy just gave the hardware to a non-fiction singer biopic last year (and Phoenix wasn't as good as Jamie Foxx). So Phoenix is out. Sorry. Next.
David Strathairn gave a spectacular performance as a real-life figure, navigating an important historical event, in a black-and-white film – it’s the kind of recipe that ensures an Oscar nomination. But will he win? Say it with me, David: “It was an honor just to be nominated.” As a life-long character actor, a nomination is about the best he can hope for in his career, particularly in the category of Lead Actor. Very few people can pronounce his last name, let alone name another movie he’s been in. And even fewer know who Edward R. Murrow was.
That leaves Hoffman and Heath Ledger. Hoffman will win out because: (1) He’s been doing quality work for years; (2) Every actor in Hollywood (read: voter) likes and respects him; (3) He never made mankind jealous by banging Naomi Watts; (4) He didn’t star in 10 Things I Hate About You; (5) He’s pudgy, (6) balding, (7) unattractive, and (8) generally non-threatening. Oh – and he gave the best performance of the year. The only potential snag I see is if Brokeback Mountain rides a runaway stampede that tramples over every category. It’s also a safe bet that most Academy members have seen Brokeback, but not necessarily Capote.
SHOULD WIN: Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line)
WILL WIN: Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs Of A Geisha)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Rachel McAdams (in everything)
There’s not a whole lot to say about this category. From the minute we heard that Reese Witherspoon would be performing her own vocals in Walk The Line, she was pretty much the front-runner. Sure, there was talk of Charlize Theron… until people actually saw North Country. And there continues to be talk of Felicity Huffman… but people still haven’t seen Transamerica. There hasn’t been much talk of Judi Dench… even though she’s a shoe-in nominee anytime she plays a feisty old woman with conviction. And there hasn’t been any talk whatsoever about Keira Knightley… and I have no idea why she’s nominated.
I can’t say Witherspoon is one of my favorite actresses, but I’ve long thought she was talented, even when she was sowing her blonde oats in the Legally Alabama movies. And it wasn’t just her roller-coaster orgasm in Fear that won my admiration (but it helped). In a year when none of the Best Actress performances are particularly astonishing, Witherspoon’s strong and natural portrayal of June Carter will take home the trophy.
I don’t have anything against Ziyi Zhang, and I think she’s a very well-rounded and capable actress, but everything about Memoirs Of A Geisha, from the first five seconds of the teaser trailer, was bloated and over-rated. “A story like mine has NEVER been told…” Okay, can we keep it that way?
Kate Beckinsale had better watch out – I may have found myself a new stalking victim: Rachel McAdams gets my vote for best actress of 2005. Red Eye, Wedding Crashers, The Family Stone… not exactly Oscar fare, but she was spectacular in each of her movies this year, and unassumingly swiped the spotlight in every scene she was in. Maybe it’s because she’s dizzyingly gorgeous. Maybe it’s because she’s that good. I will heretofore see any movie starring McAdams that doesn’t have the word “Notebook” in the title. Damn her for backing out of posing nude on the cover of Vanity Fair with Knightley and Scarlett Johansson. There’s nothing more annoying in a young actress than integrity.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
SHOULD WIN: Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man)
WILL WIN: Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Kevin Costner (The Upside Of Anger)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Ray Wise (Good Night, And Good Luck)
This is clearly the most interesting (and even) race of the year. Critics and peer awards have been fairly split. I believe the Oscar will go to the real Cinderella Man, Paul Giamatti. If you recall, I predicted that Giamatti would figure prominently in this category one year ago. His performance was good, but was it better than his turns in American Splendor or Sideways? Well, no. But in the Supporting category, it doesn’t have to be. If I’m required to use a boxing metaphor like all other hack critics do, I’ll say, “It won’t be an early-round knock-out, but Giamatti will win the title by close decision.” By the way, did you know he is the son of the late former baseball commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti? Random.
Giamatti’s most threatening potential foil is George Clooney. You see, before Cinderella Man, everybody already knew that Giamatti could act (and they had forgiven him for Big Momma’s House, Duets, Planet Of The Apes, and Big Fat Liar). But with Syriana, voters have just discovered that Clooney can act (and they are in the process of forgiving him for Batman & Robin, The Peacemaker, Solaris, and Intolerable Cruelty). So Clooney’s performance seems like more of a revelation than Giamatti’s. What’s more, voters have just discovered that he can write and direct, too. I mean, who doesn’t love a triple-nominee? It doesn’t hurt that he’s been doing the circuit and charming the masses, while Giamatti has been laying low.
I don’t see any real threat from Matt Dillon or William Hurt, but you never know. Dillon’s nomination represents a nomination for the entire troupe from Crash. And while Crash stole the Best Cast award at the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, I’m afraid Dillon just won’t git ‘er done. As for Hurt, I’m still reeling from his nomination. He’s a four-time nominee, he’s well-respected among actors, and everybody’s raving about his small role in A History Of Violence… but man, I thought he was absolutely terrible. His semi-comedic and inexplicably goofy performance took me right out of the movie. The picture had established a certain tone and feel, and when Hurt entered, it took on the shape of a satire, and lost everything it had built up to that point.
Then, of course, there’s Brokeback Mountain. Jake Gyllenhaal could easily take the award based on the film’s steam, particularly if voters want to give at least one acting award to the film. But in the end, I think that if people aren’t compelled to vote for Ledger, then they won’t vote for Gyellenhaal either.
The performance that nobody is talking about, unfortunately, was from Ray Wise in Good Night, And Good Luck. Much like Strathairn, he’s an aging character actor, familiar but not recognizable, playing possibly the role of his lifetime. It was a small part, but Wise put more into a nervous smile than most actors put into an entire movie.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
SHOULD WIN: Amy Adams (Junebug)
WILL WIN: Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Shirley MacLain (In Her Shoes)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Maria Bello (A History Of Violence), Gemmene de la Pena (The Weather Man)
For the sake of her marriage to Heath Ledger (which is a farce, by the way), Michelle Williams had better hope she doesn’t win. I can hear Ledger now, right before the ceremony: “Look, bitch. I’m the one that had to grease up for Jake Jizz-N-Haul. If you come away with an Oscar, while I came away with blisters, you’re headed for a brokeback beating.” If Williams does in fact win this award early in the telecast, then all bets are off – Brokeback Mountain could be headed for a clean sweep in all categories.
But the reality is that Rachel Weisz won the Golden Globe and the SAG Award. This race is over. And while Weisz was outstanding, and will win the Oscar, she was no Amy Adams. Every second Adams was on-screen in Junebug, she raised the quality of the film exponentially. Rarely has an actor’s vibrance been so genuine or so palpable. If the voters can’t decide between Rachel and Ms. Adams, I suggest they compromise and give it to Rachel McAdams.
My left-field choice for Ingloriously Snubbed is Gemmene de la Pena, who played Nicolas Cage’s frumpy fourteen-year-old daughter in The Weather Man. In this mostly-ignored nugget, she gave one of the freshest and most realistic portrayals of despondent adolescence that I’ve ever seen. And her character had the single greatest nickname in cinema ever (I can’t even tell you, but just hearing Sir Michael Caine say it is worth the Netflick). My more logical choice for Ingloriously Snubbed is Maria Bello, who I assumed was a guaranteed nominee for A History Of Violence a few months ago. Now she is merely another casualty of award-season politics. Essentially, she got screwed by confusion (mainly on the part of Golden Globe voters) over whether her performance was deserving of a Lead or Supporting nomination. In the eyes of omnipotent Oscar, it is now officially neither.
SHOULD WIN: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)
WILL WIN: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: David Cronenberg (A History Of Violence)
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Ron Howard (Cinderella Man)
George Clooney – I’m sick and tired of listening to you talk about your politics, regardless of whether I agree with them. As a movie star, what qualifies you as an authority on political matters? Other than what Tootie and Rosanne taught you, what do you know? Just because you’ve been afforded a public platform, it doesn’t mean you have to use it to push an agenda on subjects you know very little about. Do you have the right to use it? Yes, of course you do. I also have the right to smash my thumb with a mallet – but it doesn’t mean I should. Sure, you’ve got plenty of time to think about politics while lounging around Lake Como, collecting Ocean’s Twelve checks. But you’re a movie man. Instead of talking, why don’t you make a movie about your issues? Oh, you did? Hmmm. Nevermind.
Here’s another category with few surprises. If Ang Lee loses, it would be the biggest upset of the evening. It’s interesting that he is considered such an overwhelming front-runner, because by all accounts, he says absolutely nothing to his actors during production. But it’s nice to see an Illinois grad make good, so he’ll get my vote. Paul Haggis comes a close second for me, though.
Many were disappointed by the passing-over of David Cronenberg for A History Of Violence, but I can’t figure out why. Strong performances, to be sure, but Best Director? Even outside of Canada, he has always had ardent disciples, and never more so than after the release of this film. Sure, he gets actresses to do full frontal nudity, which I can respect, but I just don’t understand the fascination with him.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
SHOULD WIN: Crash
WILL WIN: Crash
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: The Weather Man
As usual, one of the screenplay awards will go to the Best Picture Runner-Up. That means either Crash or Good Night, And Good Luck. The odds are heavily in Crash’s favor. Despite an early spring release (and an even earlier Toronto Film Fest Premiere), the film has managed to gain momentum as the Oscars approach. Also factor in the following: a Writers Guild victory; Paul Haggis’s reverence among his peers; George Clooney’s ridiculous, endless, and envied good fortune; and jealously over Grant Heslov’s acting roles as “Goofy Guy” in Enemy Of The State, “Goofier Guy” in Congo, and “Even-Goofier-Yet Guy” in True Lies… Crash should have no problem taking this award.
As for the others: Match Point, The Squid And The Whale, and Syriana have one Oscar nomination combined outside this race, and haven’t won any significant awards. So they won’t put up much of a fight here. But much respect to The Squid And The Whale for scoring a nomination, when 90% of the country had never heard of it, 8% thought it was a children’s movie, and the other 2% of us thought it was Star Jones’ sex tape.
One of the most underrated films of the year was The Weather Man. If you didn’t see it (and judging by the box office, you didn’t), you missed one of the sharper and wittier films of 2005. Despite a strong cast and great script, it got roasted by critics and ignored by audiences. Hopefully it will get discovered on DVD (and don’t let the goofy bow-and-arrow ad campaign scare you away). Honorable Mentions for the Snubbed spot: I Love Your Work, Batman Begins, and Wallace & Grommit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
SHOULD WIN: Brokeback Mountain
WILL WIN: Brokeback Mountain
GLORIOUSLY OMITTED: Memoirs Of A Geisha
INGLORIOUSLY SNUBBED: Walk The Line
Another snoozer. With Crash and Good Night, And Good Luck competing in the Original category, there isn’t really anything to match up against the jolly ranchers of Brokeback Mountain. The next best thing is probably The Constant Gardener. The only real drama will be guessing who will be thanked by recluse writer Larry McMurtry in his acceptance speech. At the Writers Guild Awards, he thanked the valet parkers. Danny Sheridan’s odds say he’ll thank his grocery bagger.
Quick prediction for next year: Thank You For Smoking (to be released in March) will rule my Ingloriously Snubbed choices, especially in the Adapted Screenplay category.
[*NOTE: I DID attend the WGA Awards. And I DID meet Paul Haggis. But I merely wished him “Good luck”, because I’d like to attend the show again in the future. Yeah, like you would have had the balls to say “Good night, and good luck.”]