To start things off, here are my picks for the major awards:
- Best Picture: The favorite here is Brokeback Mountain, and I have to go with that. There is an outside chance that Crash or Good Night, and Good Luck will take home the statue, but I'm doubting it.
- Best Director: I'm going with Ang Lee here, both because I think Brokeback Mountain is going to have the momentum, and also because Lee was deserving for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon a few years ago... Clooney has an outside chance here because the Acadamy (comprised largely of actors) notiriously likes to reward fellow actors who make the leap to directing.
- Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, for Capote. No contest here.
- Best Actress: This is much tougher. I'm going with Reese Witherspoon because she seems to be Hollywood's sweetheart and I think that it might be a way to reward Walk the Line as well.
- Best Supporting Actor: George Clooney for Syriana. I'm betting that Good Night, and Good Luck won't be taking home many awards, but Clooney's popularity will probably net him something (and I think this is the most likely place). However, if Good Night does well, this could easily fall to Paul Giamatti for Cinderella Man. He's a likeable guy, plus the Academy may feel bad for snubbing him last year.
- Best Supporting Actress: The buzz seems to be Michelle Williams or Rachel Weisz. Not having seen either movie, I'll just have to pick Michelle Williams, betting that she'll be riding the Brokeback wave...
- Best Original Screenplay: I'm guessing that Crash will get the nod here. Screenplay awards often go to films that get no other awards. It's a sympathy thing. I don't think Crash will garner the Best Picture award, so I'm guessing it'll get this one as a consolation.
- Best Adapted Screenplay: Brokeback Mountain, though the sympathy factor could push it to one of the other nominees.
- Editing: Crash
- Cinematography: Good Night, and Good Luck
- Visual Effects: King Kong (why no Star Wars in this category?)
- Best Animated Film: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
- Best Documentary: March of the Penguins
Update 8:58 pm: Will Ferrell and Steve Carell are brilliant as usual with their makeup bit.
Update 9:03 pm: Morgan Freeman is drunk! (Yes, I know he probably isn't, but it's more fun to speculate)
Update 9:08 pm: Damn you Rachel Weisz! Now that she's one, it seems blindingly obvious that she would...
Update 9:12 pm: Lauren Bacall is also drunk! Noir films am good.
Update 9:17 pm: Political ads for best actress nominees are classic. "Hagging it up" hehe.
Update 9:23 pm: "Thank you in penguin?" You're a tool, in English.
Update 9:25 pm: One of the big reasons people are favoring Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture is that people think that the academy, which is predominantly liberal, will want to stick it to those who are afraid of men loving men. But then I realized that a large number of films this year have similar stick-it-to-the-man qualities. Crash has racism, Munich has terrorism, Good Night, and Good Luck has Communists, Syriana and The Constant Gardener have evil multi-national corporations, the list goes on and on, and they're all directly applicable to our current day political situations (i.e. they're preachy). I wonder if this is related to why the 5 nominees for Best Picture have quite possibly the lowest average box-office gross ever. As John Scalzi put it:
At this moment, the three highest-grossing Best Picture nominees (Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Munich) have done less business in aggregate than the single Adam Sandler film The Longest Yard, and only barely edge out the terrible Superhero film Fantastic Four. All five combined made less than Madagascar -- or the 2000 Best Picture, Gladiator. The average domestic gross of the Best Picture films this year at the time of their nomination is $37.1 million; adjusted for inflation, I suspect strongly this is the lowest-grossing class of Best Picture nominees in the entire eight-decade history of the Academy Awards. Whichever film eventually wins is very likely to be the first Best Picture in a decade not to crack the $100 million mark -- the last Best Picture to fail that was The English Patient.As Scalzi notes, that doesn't mean the films are bad, but it does prompt some questions, especially in light of Hollywood's complaining about their declining business. Either they're using their most talented artists in films that no one wants to watch, or they're not promoting or backing their best films. It's probably a little of both, but it's still a strange situation to be in. Personally, the high-political content of the nominees this year turns me off. Even if they're excellent films (and the several that I've seen actually are), I'm so burnt out on politics that I really just don't want to put up with it. In fact, that makes the selection of Jon Stewart to host a very shrewd one. Stewart has made a career out of pulling in people who are sick of the political BS...
Just how uncommercial is this crop of nominees? Consider this: a nominee for Best Documentary -- March of the Penguins -- has made more money than any of the Best Picture nominees. I guarantee you that has never happened before, ever. When Hollywood's best films can't compete with chilled, aquatic birds, there's something going on.
Update 9:36 pm: Samuel L. Jackson talks about what I was just talking about. This update is really just an excuse to mention Jackson's forthcoming masterpiece (which is sure to garner some Academy Awards next year): Snakes on a Plane (which is apparently about exactly what you'd expect it's about). Also, if it were commercially viable, I think the movie would and should have been called Snakes on a Motherfucking Plane. Alas, it appears they're having difficulty sticking to just Snakes on a Plane, but Samuel's sticking to his guns and refuses to do the project if they change the name. Way to go Sam!
Update 9:41 pm: Oh no, the president of the Academy! Run! Save yourself! He will devour us all in his black hole of a personality! Close your eyes, or your face will melt like that guy in Raiders when the open the Ark.
Update 9:44 pm: Mmmm, salsa. I mean Salma.
Update 9:57 pm: Jake Gyllenhaal's speech here would have been much more effective if there had been a creepy bunny named Frank standing behind him. Also, does it strike anyone else as odd that everyone keeps stressing how great seeing movies in the theater is? This is a whole big long discussion that is perhaps best saved for another post, but I still find it kinda strange... I guess a little subtlety is too much to ask. Hahah, "solute to montages" great line, Jon.
Update 10:01 pm: Jessica Alba looks really, really, really happy. Look at that smile! She must be drunk.
Update 10:03 pm: Is that Jack Nicholson's daughter, or his date?
Update 10:05 pm: Drunk! Streep and Tomlin. They're both drunk! Possibly high.
Update 10:06 pm: Definitely high.
Update 10:13 pm: Andrew Olmsted is also Oscarblogging. Check it out: start at Part 1 and move on from there. Presumably more on the way. He gives a much more readable recap than I. Also, no "drunk" comments. (Crap, Movable Type keeps spamming him with pings, so I'm going to remove the individual links and hope that helps...)
Update 10:28 pm: Jennifer Garner: drunk. Yes, I know, this joke has probably worn out its welcome, but I still think it's funny:P Sue me. Also, I like how even Stewart is wondering why the Triple Six Mafia are the most excited people at the event...
Update 10:33 pm: I thought Stewart's "We've run out of clips" line was clever... but there's been like 10 montages since then, including the current dead folks montage. I figure we're in for another 5-10 before the night is done.
Update 10:38 pm: Comedy is all in the timing. Will Smith's bit about saying hello would have worked so much better if he went on saying it in different languages for another minute or so. Anyway, I've wanted to see Tsotsi for a while, but it's not playing anywhere! But from what I understand, it's deserving. And I'm glad we don't have to deal with the controversy of Paradise Now. Of course, I guess it's also controversial that it didn't win. *sigh*
Update 10:41 pm: Stewart: "Martin Scorsese - 0 Oscars. Three 6 Mafia - 1" Poor Scorsese... one of these days, the Academy will come through with a sympathy award for him. In Cinecast's top 10 Oscar Blunders, they pointed out three blunders relating to Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas and I completely agree. There's always next year...
Update 10:45 pm: Anticipating the win, let me tell my Capote story. I saw Capote this weekend, and I'll note that I like Philip Seymour Hoffman a lot and that I've heard so much about the performance that I really didn't expect what happened. I forgot that Philip Seymour Hoffman was playing a role, and just saw Truman Capote as a character in himself. I don't even know anything about Truman Capote, I just forgot it was Philip Seymour Hoffman, and that's saying a lot. Shockingly, it's not a showy performance, despite the voice and the mannerisms. It's a truly brilliant performance, and he is fully deserving of the award. Kudos Philip!
Update 10:53 pm: The Oscars is no Superbowl, but they do seem to roll out some special commercials during this time, most notably the M. Night Shyamalan commercial, which was great...
Update 10:57 pm: Interesting that no picture seems to be running away with all the awards. I am quite surprised to see Memoirs of a Geisha winning an award, but that seems to be the trend. Will all the films nominated win some sort of award? No snubbs (of films)?
Update 11:00 pm: Look at Keira's eyes! She's drunk! Oscar goes to Reese Witherspoon. I guess all those political ads Stewart showed earlier paid off.
Update 11:01 pm: Wait, wait, wait, WAIT! June Carter was a real woman? (I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought that was odd)
Update 11:09 pm: Best Adapted Screenplay goes to Brokeback Mountain. Shocking! Though I have to admit, the way the other awards were going, I thought this one might go to one of the other adapations... there were certainly... wait a sec, she is just way too pretentious with her speech. Jeeze, give it a rest. He's a little better.... anyway, there were certainly some other good choices in the category.
Update 11:13 pm: Best Original Screenplay goes to Crash. Another shocker. What's really shocking is that I'm 9 for 11 in my predictions so far.
Update 11:20 pm: Ang Lee gets the nod (apparently this is his third nomination, so there you go Ang, you've avoided the Scorsese trap). Oooo, did he just curse in another language? That would be hilarious, but it's probably something lame like "Thanks."
Update 11:23 pm: Yes, Jack Nicholson is indeed Drunk. Or high. Probably both. And the Best Picture Oscar goes to... Crash? Holy crap! Totally wasn't expecting that! I mean, yeah, a lot of critics love it, but I was expecting gay cowboys all the way...
Update 11:30 pm: I was 10 for 13 with my picks, which is around 77%. Not too shabby. Overall, it was a decent night, though I did miss the beginning, which is usually the funniest part. Stewart seemed like a great host throughout the night, but I really need to see the beginning to get a good feel. Perhaps it'll be up on Google video or YouTube or something... but for now, I'm beat. Have a great night...