Oscar 2005/2006

Remember the year when Peter Fonda was nominated for Ulee’s Gold? I do. It was the 1997 Oscars that were presented in 1998. It was the ONLY performance that year that I did not see in all of the major categories.

I went out of my way to see the nominated films. On Presidents’ Day weekend 1998, I saw four of the selections, including “L.A. Confidential” and “Mrs. Brown” on the same day.

How times have changed.

There are big holes in my viewing this Oscar season. But that won’t stop me from suggesting who will win, who should win and who I want to win.

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Capote”
Terrence Howard in “Hustle & Flow”
Heath Ledger in “Brokeback Mountain”
Joaquin Phoenix in “Walk the Line”
David Strathairn in “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
Saw three out of five, not Howard and not (alas!) Phoenix.

Strathairn won’t win, because a lot of people don’t think it was much of a stretch; I do, but there it is.
Howard won’t win, because he was selected as much for “Crash” as for this.
Ledger has a very strong Aussie accent, so his vocal transformation was quite astonishing. But he mumbled a lot, and people behindd me in the theater kept asking each other, “What did he say?” I couldn’t help them, either.
I was listening to the “Walk the Line” soundtrack last week. Phoenix was very good, especially on the vocals of the early tunes such as “Get Rhythm” and the duets, not so much on “Ring of Fire”. Though he also sang, I doubt they’ll give it to an actor portraying a singer two years in a row.
Who will win: Hoffman
Who should win: Phoenix or Hoffman
Who I want to win: Hoffman, who I’ve enjoyed in other films and who shares the last name with two of my co-workers.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

George Clooney in “Syriana”
Matt Dillon in “Crash”
Paul Giamatti in “Cinderella Man”
Jake Gyllenhaal in “Brokeback Mountain”
William Hurt in “A History of Violence”
Saw the middle three.

Hurt could win, though I’ve been told it’s essentially a cameo.
Giametti’s been jobbed before – should have been nominated for “Crumb” and certainly for “Sideways”. He’s good here, but there’s a Ron Howard backlash.
Clooney could get three Oscars…or none.
Gyllenhall will win if there’s a Brokeback sweep.
Dillon is a strong contender in a strong cast.
Who will win: I have no idea. Clooney, Dillon or Gyllenhall. If Clooney gets only one, it’ll likely be this one.
Who should win: Ditto
Who I’m rooting for: Dillon
BTW, who was the STAR of “Crash”? Don Cheadle was pivotal, but I doubt he (or anyone else) was on the screen for even 50% of the time. I’ll contend that EVERYONE was a supporting performer.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Judi Dench in “Mrs. Henderson Presents”
Felicity Huffman in “Transamerica”
Keira Knightley in “Pride & Prejudice”
Charlize Theron in “North Country”
Reese Witherspoon in “Walk the Line”

When the nominations came out, I had seen NONE of these performances. Subsequently, I saw the first two.
Dench has the Meryl Streep problem – Oh, another good performance! (Yawn.)”
Huffman is in a film no one has seen.
Knightley’s probably too young, though with an impressive body of work. Pictured, she’s my wife’s choice also the only one she’s seen.
Theron got her Oscar a couple years ago.
Witherspoon has paid her dues in fluff.
Who will win: Witherspoon
Who should win: From what I hear, Witherspoon.
Who I’m rooting for: Huffman. I liked her in “Sports Night”. I also loved her response to Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” a few weeks ago, when asked if having children was the most rewarding thing she ever did. “No!” she bellowed. “And I’m insulted that you said that!”
However, I was totally perplexed by that commercial of hers for Dove that ran during Gilmore Girls (and, I understand, Desperate Housewives). I was watching the GGs on tape, but it stopped me dead in my tracks until I watched the thing.

I do like the idea of Hoffman and Huffman as Oscar winners.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Amy Adams in “Junebug”
Catherine Keener in “Capote” (UA/Sony Pictures Classics)
Frances McDormand in “North Country”
Rachel Weisz in “The Constant Gardener”
Michelle Williams in “Brokeback Mountain”
Saw Keener and Williams.

It doesn’t matter how much Roger Ebert loved Adams’ performance; it still won’t win.
I love Keener, but her role in this movie didn’t move me.
McDormand, I heard, was good.
Weisz was the heart of her movie, I read.
Williams was quite good, a far cry from “Dawson’s Creek”. I also liked her in “Dick”.
Who will win: Weisz.
Who should win: Probably Weisz.
Who do I want to win: Weisz, for a most prosaic reason – wanna guess?
And the picture is of Thandie Newton, who won the British equivalent of the Oscar in this category, who I might have been rooting for if she were nominated here.

Adapted screenplay

“Brokeback Mountain” Screenplay by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
“Capote” Screenplay by Dan Futterman
“The Constant Gardener” Screenplay by Jeffrey Caine
“A History of Violence” Screenplay by Josh Olson
“Munich” Screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth
Saw the first two.
“Capote” was more a star turn, “gardener” never got mo. and “Violence” was underseen. The morality of “Munich” disturbed some.
Who should win: Munich or Brokeback
Who will win: Brokeback
Who I’m rooting for: Brokeback and Munich, because of my appreciation for McMurtry and Kushner

Original screenplay

“Crash” Screenplay by Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco; Story by Paul Haggis
“Good Night, and Good Luck.” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov
“Match Point” Written by Woody Allen
“The Squid and the Whale” Written by Noah Baumbach
“Syriana” Written by Stephen Gaghan
Saw “Crash”, “Good Night” and “Squid”
“Crash” could win, but there seems to be a backlash
Is “Good Night” where they’ll honor Clooney?
I love Woody, but he’s been accused of copping Dostoevsky, and he isn’t Hollywood.
“Squid” is too small a story.
Some people, even those who LIKED the movie, found “Syriana” incomprehensible.
What will win: Crash (?)
What should win: Crash
What I’m rooting for: Crash

Achievement in directing

“Brokeback Mountain” Ang Lee
“Capote” Bennett Miller
“Crash” Paul Haggis
“Good Night, and Good Luck” George Clooney
“Munich” Steven Spielberg
Lee is an eclectic director with an impressive body of work. Just don’t think it’ll be Miller, and I figure Haggis will get the screenplay. Hollywood has often been generous to actors who direct (Beatty, Costner, Eastwood). And of course, one cannot write off Spielberg.
Saw all all except “Munich”
Who will win: Lee
Who should win: Lee or Spielberg
Who I’m rooting for: Lee or Spielberg

Best motion picture of the year

“Brokeback Mountain” A River Road Entertainment Production, Diana Ossana and James Schamus, Producers
“Capote” An A-Line Pictures/Cooper’s Town/ Infinity Media Production, Caroline Baron, William Vince and Michael Ohoven, Producers
“Crash” A Bob Yari/DEJ/Blackfriar’s Bridge/ Harris Company/ApolloProscreen GmbH & Co./Bull’s Eye Entertainment Production, Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman, Producers
“Good Night, and Good Luck.” Good Night Good Luck LLC Production, Grant Heslov, Producer
“Munich” A Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures Production, Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg and Barry Mendel, Producers
Saw all except “Munich”
I guess it’s between “Brokeback” and “Crash”. One of the Washington Post movie critics believe that the older Oscar voters will get the “Brokeback” DVD and not get through it; he picks “Capote”.
What will win, what I think should win, and what I’m rooting for: Crash

In any case, I’ll watch the show Sunday, and then read Tom the Dog’s cogent, if not sober, analysis on Monday.

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