Oscars 2005: Predictions & Commentary

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[Commentary made after the 2005 Oscars]

For the first time in four years, I'll be home for every minute of the Academy Awards. I was thinking about going to the local Oscar party, but I've been battling a persistant sinus infection lately and will just stay home. Last year I was in Hollywood itself for the Oscars, which was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

I felt last year was a good but not a great year for films. There were the very controversial films, like Farenheit 911 and Passion of the Christ, and the interesting like Eternal Sunsine and Kinsey, both of which were pretty much ignored by Oscar.

[[The show itself was OK - good, but not great. Chris Rock did a mostly good job, but he really went after the bad movie taste of inner city blacks - if a white host had done that, he would have gotten slammed for racism. Presenting some of the nominees onstage worked better than I expected, but giving out some of the awards from the audience just did not work at all. Beyonce was way, way overused. Her French accent sounded oddly Spanish. Having Yo-Yo Ma play during the "In Memoriam" segment was very nice. I have some further comments on shortening the Oscar show.]]

I've seen most of the major movies, will note what I haven't seen and will go ahead with my predictions anyway. For the last few years, I've been hedging my bets with a "will win" (WW) & "should win" (SW). [[Prediction percentage for 2005 42%]]

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

There are few locks this year, and I do think one of them is Jamie Foxx. I should say, I haven't yet seen Ray, but I've bought the DVD and will watch it tonight. Both Depp and DiCaprio gave very good, nuanced performances in their flicks, and my family was impressed by Eastwood. [[Jamie Foxx's performance was terrific!]]

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

This is a tricky category. Thomas Haden Church is about the least likely person most of us would have expected to see on this list, before we saw Sideways, in which he was quite good. Alda and Owen turned in serpentine performances. But I do suspect Morgan Freeman will get his award for lifetime achievement. [[!!]]

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Since people complained about the lack of surprises last year (though, sorry folks, seeing an epic fantasy film sweep the awards was quite a surprise), this could be the surprise category this year. Many people, and I'm among them, felt Annette Benning deserved the Oscar for her astonishing work in American Beauty, but was swept up in the Hilary Swank juggernaut. Also, Swank is still extremely young - should she already have two Oscars? So I'd really like to see Benning win this year, though I suspect it'll be Swank.

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

OK, so maybe there are two locks this year. I loved Laura Linney and Virginia Masden's performances this year, but Blanchett really sparkled.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

While I didn't find The Incredibles as entertaining as Shrek 2, I admired its design and voice casting. Since Shrek did win this award a few years back, The Incredibles will probably take this award.

Achievement in Art Direction

This is a tricky category (though what the hell was the hopelessly overdone Phantom doing with an Oscar nomination?). Lemony Snicket certainly used its art direction to go in several unique directions, but I'm not completely sure it worked. I'd rather see Finding Neverland win because it was subtle where it needed to be, rather than constantly hitting the viewer over the head. I suspect that The Aviator will take most technical awards, however. [[No surprise here!]]

Achievement in Cinematography

I didn't see A Very Long Engagement, but the American Society of Cinemetographers gave it its best cinemetography award this year. This might be an award Passion of the Christ could win. The cinemetography for The Aviator was good, but lacked the "wow" factor great movie cinemetography should give you. However, it might win anyway.

Achievement in Costume Design

This may be close to a lock - the recreation of '30s and '40s fashions in The Aviator was spot-on.

Achievement in Directing

This is probably the hardest category this year. Clint Eastwood has directed some fine movies, and did win an Oscar for The Unforgiven. Martin Scorsese has also directed some fine movies, and still has yet to win an Oscar. Ditto Mike Leigh (though Vera Drake is probably too controversial to win anything). I think there's at least a chance that Eastwood and Scorsese could split the vote and that Alexander Payne could sneak in and win. That's certainly happened before - I suspect just two years ago, Marshall and Scorsese split the vote, allowing the completely unexpected Polanski win. Conventional wisdom says it will be Eastwood, but I wouldn't count Scorsese (or even Payne) completely out.

Best Documentary Feature

Born into Brothels has been the big rave documentary of this year, though I've heard some buzz for The Story of the Weeping Camel.

Best Documentary Short Subject

I suspect Autism Is a World will win, but for something of an odd reason - there's been a huge push across media to make people more aware about autism. As a result, I think it'll be on people's minds and might spurr voters to vote for this short subject. [[Well, I was wrong here!]]

Achievement in Film Editing

For about 3/4ths of the movie, the editing in The Aviator is really very good. But when it failed, it failed really badly (during that overly-long "Hughes is crazy" segment). The editing in Finding Neverland felt just right, but it might go to Baby or maybe even Ray anyway (I haven't seen Ray yet, and plan to watch it tonight). [[Oh well...]]

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

This is between The Sea Inside and The Chorus, but, based on Bardem's acclaimed performance in The Sea Inside, I think that will win.

Achievement in Makeup

A somewhat tricky category, but this might be something Passion of the Christ could win. However, sometimes subtlty takes the day for Best Makeup, in which case The Sea Inside would be the winner. [[Well, I was wrong here, but the make-up was certainly interesting for Lemony Snicket.]]

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)

I found the music pretty unmemorable this year, though John Williams work for Harry Potter was pretty good. [[But Finding Neverland's award was unexpected and delightful!]]

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)

The songs weren't great either, but I did like "Accidentally In Love." [[I really enjoyed the performances by Antonio Bandares and Carlos Santana at the Oscars.]]

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Decisions, decisions...ultimately, this may be a split picture/director year, with The Aviator taking Best Picure and Million Dollar Baby taking best director. While Return of the King had some flaws, The Aviator's flaws were more glaring. In some way, I liked Finding Neverland best of the five (though I haven't seen Ray yet and I didn't want to see Million Dollar Baby since I don't like boxing movies), and Sideways had a few scenes of surprising brilliance (the Giamati-Masden wine discussion scene) for such a little movie. [*SIGH*]

Best Animated Short Film

I usually like to make a guess based on seeing a picture from the cartoon. But, when in doubt, go with the animation from the National Film Board of Canada.

Best Live Action Short Film

No idea here.

Achievement in Sound Editing

Achievement in Sound Mixing

[[I finally saw Ray the day before the nominations, so I'm not unhappy at all by this award.]]

Achievement in Visual Effects

For the first time in three years, this award won't go to New Zealand! The effects in Spider-Man 2 were quite spectacular, especially Doc Oc.

Adapted Screenplay

Sideways has to win something, and I think this will be the award.

Original Screenplay

Eternal Sunshine also has to win somthing, so this will be it.