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Academy Awards
Our film writer tries to reprise his 10 out of 10 record
By Mark Moorehead

March 4, 2006

Watching 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 prediction, too.

Best Picture
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.

Best Director
Normally the Best Director and Best Picture awards go hand-in-hand. Thus, director Ang Lee will win for Brokeback Mountain.
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).

Best Actor
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 Capote.
Ledger mumbled extensively in Brokeback, but Hollywood interprets his speech challenge as evidence of a deeply engaged mind suppressing even deeper feelings.
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.

Best Actress
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 it off.
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.

Best Animated Film
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.


















































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