Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Oscar Predictions 2006

I haven't found any reasonable predictions for the nominees yet, so here are my own. I stake my claim today, December 28th, 2005. Take issue, comment - and then come March, let's see how far off I am.

*indicates my prediction for winner, though this will be revised after the actual nominees come out.

Best Picture
Brokeback Mountain*
Match Point
Good Night and Good Luck
Broken Flowers

My reasoning: Brokeback is this year's Titanic. It has everything Hollywood looks for in Best Picture: doomed romance, sweeping epic, stars giving Oscar-calibar performances. As for the rest: Syriana is too circuitous for Hollywood. Hollywood is going to be dying to recognize Woody's first good movie in years. Good Night and Good Luck speaks to the heart of the Hollywood blacklist angst. I put Broken Flowers up here becuase it was the first great movie of 2005 and I hope the Academy remembers it, though it's been shut out of a lot the more recent awards so there's a more than even money chance they'll go with something bigger and more recent (though not necessarily better) like Geisha or The Producers. Munich is the dark horse, but the topicality and seriousness is compelling. (By all accounts, War of the Worlds is the Speilberg movie that should be up here instead, but the Academy has a short memory.)

Best Actor
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain*
Philip Seymor Hoffman, Capote
David Strathairn, Good Night, And Good Luck
Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
Bill Murray, Broken Flowers

My reasoning: This will be a showdown between Hoffman and Ledger, but Brokeback will be on a sweap, and the straight-acting gay man will trump the sissy. Murray already had his day in the sun but still needs to be up there again for another truly great performance. Phoenix and Strathairn also give transformative performances but not quite as remarkable as the others.

Best Actress

Ziyi Zhang, Memoirs of Geisha*
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Scarlett Johansson, Match Point
Naomi Watts, King Kong
Judy Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents

My reasoning: This year doesn't present as many best actress opportunities as best actor, and there's no real standout like Charleze Therone's "Monster." The first four are the big praiseworthy performances. Dench's is a lesser known work but you can't go wrong including her. However, Zhang has the most buzz going into the season, so my money is on her.

Best Director
Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain*
Woody Allen, Match Point
Steven Speilberg, Munich
Ron Howard, Cinderella Man
David Cronenberg, A History of Violence

My reasoning: Best director is always a bit of a weird category. Brokeback will be on a sweep and Ang Lee, perhaps our current greatest film resource, is a cinch, here. Woody will be here. The others are a bit unpredictable, but Speilberg, Howard, and Cronenberg all deliver noteworthy films directed with an auter's touch. Other equal possibilities here would be Paul Haggis for Crash, Clooney for Good Night & Good Luck. Jackson would be here for King Kong but I think coming off the Rings Trilogy the Academy will want to spread the wealth.

Best Screenplay (Adapted)
Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain*
Dan Futterman, Capote
Josh Olson, A History of Violence
Stephen Gaghan, Syriana
Robin Swicord & Doug Wright, Memoirs of a Geisha

Best Screenplay (Original)
Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale*
Paul Haggis, Crash
George Clooney and Grant Heslov, Good Night and Good Luck
Jim Jarmusch, Broken Flowers
Cliff Hollingsworth and Akiva Goldsman, Cinderella Man

My reasoning: a lot of good writing this year. Brokeback takes its category. Since it's an adaptation, that leaves original screenplay wide open. I loved Broken Flowers, but The Squid and the Whale has received the most favorable reviews in this category, so I predict that.

The Supports are harder to do but here goes.

Best Supporting Actor
George Cloony, Syriana*
Matt Dillon, Crash
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Brian Cox, Match Point
Anthony Hopkins, Proof

Best Supporting Actress
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain*
Tilda Swinton, Broken Flowers
Catherine Keener, Capote
Maria Bello, A History of Violence
Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardner

Reasoning: Supporting actor categories need to be memorable roles that threaten to overtake their movies without overshadowing the main performances. I didn't see Cinderella Man or Constant Gardner (i cribbed these from the Globes) but all these others do that. Michelle Williams is the sentimental favorite, and Cloony gives his best performance ever in Syriana - it's time he gets an Oscar. Filling out best supporting actor was hard - I admit to cribbing Anthony Hopkins from someone else and Brian Cox is a total stab in the dark until I see Match Point. I reserve the right to update these two categories in January.


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