the Academy Awards is no fun unless
you're rooting for your favorite film,
actor or actress to win, or you're
having an Oscar party with prizes given
to those with the best score cards.
Two years ago I chose the correct
winners in the top 10 categories, and
last year succeeded in predicting seven
out of 10.
Clearly, forecasting Hollywood endings
is not for the squeamish. If you haven't
seen many of the films nominated this
year--and that's not unusual for the
average filmgoer--the following slate of
predictions should serve as a reliable
handicap...just don't bet any money.
Life Achievement Award
My first prediction is director Robert
Altman (M.A.S.H.; Nashville) to win
Oscar's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Okay, the Academy announced that in
advance. Perhaps your friends don't know
that, and for a few seconds they'll
think you're a genius when you make that
This year's Best Picture category is a
little (read: a lot) harder to forecast.
Brokeback Mountain, a film about two gay
cowboys in love, will win despite the
fact Munich deserves to win.
Brokeback Mountain's subject matter is
bold and powerful broadening the
discussion of gay love in our society.
And director Ang Lee did a superb job
adapting this sensitive story for the
big screen. However, Steven Spielberg'
Munich is an engaging, well-acted,
compelling, complex story dealing with
the moral dilemma of hunting down
terrorists. It's a great film lacking
the star power of Brokeback.
Normally the Best Director and Best
Picture awards go hand-in-hand. Thus,
director Ang Lee will win for Brokeback
Nonetheless, Steven Spielberg deserves
to win for Munich, and George Clooney
should earn second place for his
inspirational film for the fourth estate
entitled Good Night, and Good Luck.
Clooney evolved on two levels this
season, proving he is an excellent
director and a great actor (Syriana).
Heath Ledger of Brokeback Mountain is
the likely Best Actor recipient. I'm out
on a limb on this prediction since the
favorite horse is Philip Seymour Hoffman
for his portrayal of Truman Capote in
Ledger mumbled extensively in Brokeback,
but Hollywood interprets his speech
challenge as evidence of a deeply
engaged mind suppressing even deeper
However, Joaquin Phoenix in his role as
country singer Johnny Cash (Walk the
Line) deserves to win. Phoenix not only
sang Cash's songs in the film, he
twitched his lip like Johnny and
delivered that tired, old hound-dog
stare with conviction. I still catch
myself humming the song Ring of Fire
whenever someone mentions this film.
Another tough category this year is Best
Actress: No one stood out from the pack.
Felicity Huffman for Transamerica, a
film about a transsexual's transition,
should win. Huffman took on this
gender-splitting role, typically
performed in film by a male and pulled
Equally deserving of a win is Reese
Witherspoon for playing June Carter,
Johnny Cash's second wife in Walk the
Line. Witherspoon didn't accrue much
screen time; yet when she did, she
resurrected Carter admirably by singin'
and twangin' just like her.
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actor should go to
George Clooney for Syriana, a film about
an honest, career C.I.A. operative
trying to make a difference while being
made the fall guy. Although it's not a
stellar performance, it's probably the
best performance of Clooney's career.
However, my preference for Best
Supporting Actor is Paul Giamatti in
Cinderella Man. That film came very
early in the season, which is too long
ago for Hollywood's short attention
span. Remember Giamatti as Russell
Crowe's boxing coach? See, it's not just
Hollywood insiders who can't remember.
Best Supporting Actress
The winner of Best Supporting Actress
winner must be Rachel Weisz for The
Constant Gardener. No one else even
comes close, and the subject matter is
heart-wrenching. Weisz plays an aid
worker and advocate for Africa's
exploited and dispossessed.
Best Foreign Film
The award for Best Foreign Film will be
handed to Paradise Now, a film out of
Palestine about a Palestinian who plans
a suicide bombing, but finds himself
asking, "Are we doing the right thing?"
This is essentially Munich's
counterpart. Both films provide a unique
perspective about a century-old conflict
that continues to make headlines.
The Best Animated Film category will be
won by Howl's Moving Castle, by the
Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki. This
masterpiece is a brilliantly
imaginative, visual experience, making
it a must-see for those seeking a
cultural departure from mainstream
children's animated films. Corpse Bride
was a bit to "stiff," and Wallace and
Gromit was a little too earthy.
Music, Make-Up and more
The Achievement in Music (original
score) should go to Brokeback Mountain.
Though it was not as moving as the
soundtrack from Dr. Zhivago or Love
Story, it's definitely original.
Achievement in make-up will go to The
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the
Witch and the Wardrobe.
Achievement in cinematography should go
to The New World, a breathtakingly
beautiful film about the early
settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, in
1607. This one must be seen on the big
screen to be appreciated.
Achievement in art direction belongs
exclusively to Memoirs of a Geisha. I
didn't care for all the petty fighting
and back-stabbing, but it looks good if
you put it on mute.
Those are my 12 predictions. And
now...The envelope please.