BAD BETS FOR OSCAR NIGHT
SPLICEDwire's 2005 Oscar coverage

OSCAR WIN PREDICTIONS
 YEAR-END FODDER
WHAT: 77th Annual Academy Awards
WHEN: Presented February 27, 2005


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 INTERVIEW ARCHIVE
Read our interview with NAME Hilary Swank (2001)
Best Actress nominee
Read our interview with NAME Johnny Depp (1999)
Best Actor nominee
Read our interview with NAME Charlie Kaufman (2004)
Best Original Screenplay nominee
Read our interview with Alexander Payne Alexander Payne (1999)
Director of "Sideways"
Read our interview with Brad Bird (1999)
Director of "The Incredibles"
Read our interview with Alejandro Amenábar (2001)
Director of "The Sea Inside"
Read our interview with NAME Joel Schumacher (2003)
Director of "Phantom of the Opera"
Having proven himself a poor prognosticator of the Academy Awards, our critic offers his conjecture with a caveat

By Rob Blackwelder

Having done this for years now, I've come to realize that I may well be the world's worst Oscar predictor.

It's not that I incorrectly guess a vast majority of the categories every year -- half the Academy Awards are, for all intents and purposes, predetermined before the balloting even begins. Anyone can bat better than .500 when there's a "Titanic" or a "Return of the King" looming over Hollywood's annual self-congratulations ceremony. But then, I did bet against the third "Lord of the Rings" installment last year, so that should tell you something.

No matter how much history is read into the likes and dislikes of the fickle, usually populist and traditionalist Oscar voters, I have a tendency to misread their quirks or let my hopes cloud my judgment. No matter what my gut instincts tell me, I somehow manage to talk myself out of them -- and when I don't, my gut is often wrong.

This year's Oscar race is full of neck-and-neck contests, so I fully expect to look the fool on Monday morning. But what's the fun of watching the Academy Awards if you're not gazing in your crystal ball at the same time? So here goes nothing...

 Best PICTURE
NOMINEES
"The Aviator"
"Finding Neverland"
"Million Dollar Baby"
"Ray"
"Sideways"
Predicted WINNER
"The Aviator"

Why: Because its only serious competition is "Million Dollar Baby," which is too controversial to win since so many people misunderstood the ending. Hollywood may be liberal while it's archconservatives who are making a fuss over the film, but in an atmosphere where PBS is self-censoring its news programming, Hollywood is far more concerned about not alienating Middle America.

What SHOULD win: "The Aviator"

 Best DIRECTOR
NOMINEES
Martin Scorsese for "The Aviator"
Clint Eastwood for "Million Dollar Baby"
Taylor Hackford for "Ray"
Alexander Payne for "Sideways"
Mike Leigh for "Vera Drake"
Predicted WINNER
Clint Eastwood

Why: Scorsese is so overdue for a Best Director win that this category really could go either way -- and if the Academy wants to honor him, he's far more worthy for "The Aviator" than he was last year when nominated for "Gangs of New York." But if "Million Dollar Baby" does lose to "The Aviator" for Best Picture, this will become Eastwood's consolation prize.

Who SHOULD win: Scorsese's and Eastwood's work are equally worthy

 Best ACTOR
NOMINEES
Don Cheadle for "Hotel Rwanda"
Johnny Depp for "Finding Neverland"
Leonardo DiCaprio for "The Aviator"
Clint Eastwood for "Million Dollar Baby"
Jamie Foxx for "Ray"
Predicted WINNER
Jamie Foxx

Why: It's between Foxx and Cheadle, but the Academy always awards the gimmick performance -- either biopic mimicry or a character suffering some kind of ailment. Foxx killed two birds with one stone in a very good performance. Plus, he's already picked up the Screen Actors' Guild award and the Golden Globe. Nobody else stands a chance.

Who SHOULD win: Foxx (but the un-nominated Paul Giamatti got robbed)

 Best ACTRESS
NOMINEES
Annette Bening for "Being Julia"
Catalina Sandino Moreno for "Maria Full of Grace"
Imelda Staunton for "Vera Drake"
Hilary Swank for "Million Dollar Baby"
Kate Winslet for "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
Predicted WINNER
Hilary Swank

Why: Truly, this race is a toss-up between Swank and Bening, if only because the 1999 Best Actress race came down to the two of them and Swank won. Academy voters may take that into consideration and vote for Bening's highly praised but little-seen performance in "Being Julia," but Swank's turn as a white-trash female boxer has all the momentum, having also won at the SAG and Golden Globe.

Who SHOULD win: Swank

 Best SUPPORTING ACTOR
NOMINEES
Alan Alda for "The Aviator"
Thomas Haden Church for "Sideways"
Jamie Foxx for "Collateral"
Morgan Freeman for "Million Dollar Baby"
Clive Owen for "Closer"
Predicted WINNER
Morgan Freeman

Why: Well, I'm stumped, if you want to know the truth. Church has won several critical awards, and Owen won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA (Britain's Academy Award). But Freeman is almost as overdue for an Oscar as Scorsese, so the only thing I can say with any certainty is that it won't be Foxx (voters know he'll win Best Actor instead) or Alda. But then, the supporting categories are where the Academy often loves to dish out surprises...

Who SHOULD win: Freeman

 Best SUPPORTING ACTRESS
NOMINEES
Cate Blanchett for "The Aviator"
Laura Linney for "Kinsey"
Virginia Madsen for "Sideways"
Sophie Okonedo for "Hotel Rwanda"
Natalie Portman for "Closer"
Predicted WINNER
Cate Blanchett

Why: I'm not hedging my bets on this one. She captured the spirit of Katherine Hepburn too brilliantly for the others -- as good as they are -- to overcome.

Who SHOULD win: Blanchett

 Best ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
NOMINEES
"The Aviator"
"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
"Hotel Rwanda"
"The Incredibles"
"Vera Drake"
Predicted WINNER
"The Aviator"

Why: The Academy loves a good biopic -- one that doesn't follow a predictable structure -- which is why "The Aviator" will win but "Ray" wasn't even nominated in this category.

What SHOULD win: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"

 Best ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
NOMINEES
"Before Sunset"
"Finding Neverland"
"Million Dollar Baby"
"The Motorcycle Diaries"
"Sideways"
Predicted WINNER
"Sideways"

Why: Because this highly praised film has a lot of momentum (it swept many critics' awards and won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and Best Comedy), but won't win any other Oscars.

What SHOULD win: "Before Sunset"

 Best ANIMATED FEATURE
NOMINEES
"The Incredibles"
"Shark Tale"
"Shrek 2"
Predicted WINNER
"The Incredibles"

Why: Well, it wouldn't surprise me if "Shrek 2" won, because the history of this young category points to box office being the determining factor, not quality. But "The Incredibles" is the only one of these three films that will stand the test of time, and I'm just going to have a little faith that the Academy voters are smart enough to realize that.

What SHOULD win: none of the above

 Best FOREIGN FILM
NOMINEES
"As It Is In Heaven" (Sweden)
"The Chorus" (France)
"Downfall" (Germany)
"The Sea Inside" (Spain)
"Yesterday" (South Africa)
Predicted WINNER
"The Chorus"

Why: It's the kind of quaint and innocuous movie designed specifically to melt Academy hearts. Call it the "Life Is Beautiful" award.

What SHOULD win: (no pick - haven't seen enough of them)

 Best DOCUMENTARY
NOMINEES
"Born Into Brothels"
"The Story of Weeping Camel"
"Super Size Me"
"Tupac: Resurrection"
"Twist of Faith"
Predicted WINNER
"Super Size Me"

Why: This is the film everyone knows and with the documentary becoming a profitable cinematic proposition in 2004, the popular film will win.

What SHOULD win: (no pick - haven't seen enough of them)

 Best CINEMATOGRAPHY
NOMINEES
"The Aviator"
"House of Flying Daggers"
"The Passion of the Christ"
"The Phantom of the Opera"
"A Very Long Engagement"
Predicted WINNER
"House of Flying Daggers"

Why: This film was visually breathtaking and should have been nominated for Art Direction and Costumes as well. But since its only nod is Cinematography, it has a lock here.

What SHOULD win: "House of Flying Daggers"

 Best EDITING
NOMINEES
"The Aviator"
"Collateral"
"Finding Neverland"
"Million Dollar Baby"
"Ray"
Predicted WINNER
"The Aviator"

Why: This Oscar almost always goes to the film that wins Best Picture.

What SHOULD win: "The Aviator"

 Best SOUND MIXING
NOMINEES
"The Aviator"
"The Incredibles"
"The Polar Express"
"Ray"
"Spider-Man 2"
Predicted WINNER
"Ray"

Why: If there's a musical nominated in this category, it's a lock.

What SHOULD win: "The Incredibles"

 Best SOUND EDITING
NOMINEES
"The Incredibles"
"The Polar Express"
"Spider-Man 2"
Predicted WINNER
"The Incredibles"

Why: Honestly, I'm just guessing.

What SHOULD win: "The Incredibles"

 Best VISUAL EFFECTS
NOMINEES
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
"I, Robot"
"Spider-Man 2"
Predicted WINNER
"Harry Potter"

Why: One word: Hippogriff. This half-horse, half-eagle creature gives "Lord of the Rings'" Gollum a run for his money as the most life-like CGI creation in cinema history.

What SHOULD win: "Harry Potter"

 Best ART DIRECTION
NOMINEES
"The Aviator"
"Finding Neverland"
"Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events"
"The Phantom of the Opera"
"A Very Long Engagement"
Predicted WINNER
"The Aviator"

Why: For recreating 1930s Hollywood so vividly and transportingly.

What SHOULD win: "A Very Long Engagement"

 Best COSTUME DESIGN
NOMINEES
"The Aviator"
"Finding Neverland"
"Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events"
"Ray"
"Troy"
Predicted WINNER
"The Aviator"

Why: For recreating the fashions of 1930s Hollywood so vividly and transportingly.

What SHOULD win: "The Aviator"

 Best MAKEUP
NOMINEES
"Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events"
"The Passion of the Christ"
"The Sea Inside"
Predicted WINNER
"The Passion of the Christ"

Why: One word: Owch! Jesus' endless bodily lacerations hurt just to look at.

What SHOULD win: "Lemony Snicket"

 Best ORIGINAL SCORE
NOMINEES
"Finding Neverland"
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
"Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events"
"The Passion of the Christ"
"The Village"
Predicted WINNER
"Finding Neverland"

Why: Because none of the really worthy scores were nominated, and as such I expect the most innocuous to win.

What SHOULD win: "Harry Potter"

 Best ORIGINAL SONG
NOMINEES
"Accidentally In Love" from "Shrek 2"
"Al Otro Lado Del Rio" from "The Motorcycle Diaries"
"Believe" from "The Polar Express"
"Learn To Be Lonely" from "The Phantom of the Opera"
"Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" from "The Chorus"
Predicted WINNER
No idea.

Why: Who cares? This category has nothing to do with movies and everything to do with CD sales.







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