So, this years Oscars are even less exciting than they have been of late. With Helen Mirren’s almost certain stronghold in the Best Actress catagory and Marty Scorsese getting the Russell Crowe treatment for director – winning in subsequent years for a lesser performance, after having been thoroughly dissed on previous more deserving work – this year’s ceremony holds far less intrigue and way more Ellen than I’m looking for. Regardless of my not-so-robust enthusiasm I will be, as usual. glued to the tube for this years show. Here’s how I think it will go:
Penélope Cruz “Volver”
Judi Dench “Notes on a Scandal”
Helen Mirren “The Queen”
Meryl Streep “The Devil Wears Prada”
Kate Winslet “Little Children”
Should win: Judi Dench
Will win: Helen Mirren
Dench is a thing of wonder in “Notes.” There isn’t a chance in hell she will steal it from Mirren, but Dench and Blanchett swing like Mantle and Ruth in what is truly one of the finest examples of screenplay and acting chops in the last few years. Both deserve trophies, neither will have one.
Leonardo DiCaprio “Blood Diamond”
Ryan Gosling “Half Nelson”
Peter O’Toole “Venus”
Will Smith “The Pursuit of Happyness”
Forest Whitaker “The Last King of Scotland”
Should win: Ryan Gosling
Will win: Peter O’Toole
O’Toole will be receiving the “holy crap, you’re not dead yet” award at this years Oscars. Whitaker has the momentum coming off of the Golden Globes, but the attention will have driven Academy voters to look at “Last King of Scotland,” which is not an exceptional film– nor is Whitaker’s performance particularly spectacular. When it comes time to pull the voting lever, the name O’Toole will be hard to look past in favor of a marginal performance. Gosling’s work in “Half Nelson” is worthy of the award, but his time will someday come, for now it’s a “make way for the royalty” moment.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Adriana Barraza “Babel”
Cate Blanchett “Notes on a Scandal”
Abigail Breslin “Little Miss Sunshine”
Jennifer Hudson “Dreamgirls”
Rinko Kikuchi “Babel”
Should win: Rinko Kikuchi or Adriana Barraza
Will win: Jennifer Hudson
“Babel” suffers from one of my least favorite recent trends, exemplified by films like “Traffic” and last years big winner “Crash,” which fall into a genre of films best described as “the-world-is-in-the-toilet-and-you-personally-are-totally-tied-to-the-doom movies.” However, that said, Kikuchi and Barraza make that movie powerful and interesting; they both give fresh, admirable performances. Hudson will come away with the gold guy though. Who knew you could go from “American Idol” to Oscar night in only a few moves? This bodes well for Elliot Yamin.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alan Arkin “Little Miss Sunshine”
Jackie Earle Haley “Little Children”
Djimon Hounsou “Blood Diamond”
Eddie Murphy “Dreamgirls”
Mark Wahlberg “The Departed”
Should win: none of them
Will win: Eddie Murphy
Micheal Sheen stars in “The Queen” as British Prime Minister Tony Blair opposite Helen Mirren in her awards-season-sweeping performance as the Queen of England. Sheen’s work is on par with Mirren and he deserves not only to be in this category, but win! This represents the biggest snub by the Academy this year. Also absent from this category and deserving of the award is Bill Nighy for “Notes on a Scandal.” The fact that neither of these Brits were recognized makes me want to boycott the evening or at least recreationally throw little biscuits at the tele.
Alejandro González Iñárritu “Babel”
Martin Scorsese “The Departed”
Clint Eastwood “Letters from Iwo Jima”
Stephen Frears “The Queen”
Paul Greengrass “United 93”
Should win: Paul Greengrass
Will win: Martin Scorsese
The fact that “United 93” isn’t up for Best Picture is completely insulting. In “United 93,” director Paul Greengrass made one of the most riveting and genuinely bold films of the last decade. Martin Scorsese should have won for “The Aviator” a few years back, a truly stunning accomplishment and his best since “Goodfellas.” But unless the Academy comes down with an unexpected case of the Eastwoods this will finally be Scorsese’s year.
“Letters from Iwo Jima”
“Little Miss Sunshine”
Should win: “Letters from Iwo Jima”
Will win: “Babel”
Without the real competition of “United 93,” “Children of Men” or “Notes on a Scandal” nominated in the big category, this field of films is the weakest for Best Picture in years. “Little Miss Sunshine” may be the surprise feel-good-pick of the evening, but I think the international feel and subtle importance of “Babel” won’t be missed by the Academy, which loves to pat itself on the back for being world-conscious and forward thinking. Honestly though, “Babel” is the only one of these films other than “Iwo Jima” that actually belongs here in the first place.