When it was announced that Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator earned 11 nominations, everyone assumed it was on track to finally become the first movie by Scorsese to win the big prize, perhaps taking Best Director, Supporting Actress, Screenplay and all of the tech nods. But, suddenly, Million Dollar Baby appeared seemingly out of nowhere – a film so good Warner Brothers pushed its release ahead for Oscar consideration. And there it was – another actor-director poised to trump Scorsese yet again at the Oscars. It will end up being the most unpredictable year for a good long time. All of the categories except Best Actor are up in the air, including Best Picture, which could go to The Aviator, Million Dollar Baby or Sideways. Each film won a major guild award prior – the Producers Guild going to The Aviator, the Screen Actors Guild ensemble award going to Sideways and the Directors Guild, the best predictor for the Oscars, went to Clint Eastwood. But what will the Academy do? That’s the million dollar question. Though none of these are easy, here is how the Oscars might go. Best Picture – the general consensus right now is that Million Dollar Baby will win. But I think instead Academy voters will pick The Aviator in a late-blooming surge for Scorsese in the last act. For your Oscar pool, pick Million Dollar Baby – that is the kind of film AMPAS usually goes for – it’s a character drama, with a tearjerker ending. As for which film deserves to win, there is no question The Aviator is the best of the nominated five. Next in line is the hilarious Sideways. My prediction: The Aviator. Best Director – It’s very rare for the Oscar winner to be different from the Directors’ Guild choice – and this year, there is no reason they won’t also go for Clint Eastwood. Your Oscar pool should be filled with both Million Dollar Baby and/or Clint Eastwood, but I’m going to predict that Martin Scorsese finally wins his overdue Oscar. Many are discussing the possibility of a split vote – Aviator for picture and Eastwood for director. Wouldn’t that just be the height of irony? What does a man have to do to win an Oscar in this town? Apparently anything but consistently make cinematic achievements of our time. Come on, people, catch up with the rest of the world. I’m betting that the Academy will decide, in the end, to do the right thing. If Scorsese never wins one, he will be in good company, as the best directors in film history failed to win a directing Oscar. Scorsese also deserves to win in this category. My prediction: Martin Scorsese Best Actor – if there is one category to bet the bank on it’s Jamie Foxx winning for his portrayal of Ray Charles – and the only other actor who might win is Clint Eastwood, if love for Baby is as expected. Clint is the best actor in the film and has never won an acting Oscar. But Foxx is unstoppable – it is the performance of the year. My prediction: Jamie Foxx Best Actress – popular sentiment has Hilary Swank for the win. She took the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild award. She famously gained 19 pounds of muscle to play Maggie, the ill-fated girl boxer and the Million Dollar Baby. Swank is so good in the part you hardly notice how contradictory her character is – she is a saintly martyr, someone who lacks the complexity of most women in their 30s yet somehow, Swank pulls it off. However, there are two other potential winners – Annette Bening for her brilliant turn in Being Julia and Imelda Staunton, arguably the critics’ darling this year for her work in Vera Drake. If there is going to be a surprise winner it will be Staunton. Bening deserves to win, however, unlike the last time Swank and Bening faced off when Swank was clearly the deserving one. My prediction: Hilary Swank Best Supporting Actor/Actress – these are the hardest of the majors to predict. If Morgan Freeman wins supporting actor early on, there’s a good chance it’s going to be a Million Dollar Baby sweep. If Alan Alda wins it, it could be a tip off that The Aviator will sweep. Thomas Haden Church was the early favorite for Sideways and he could still be the winner here. But it is the Globe winner, Clive Owen, who carries the most heat going into Oscar season. Owen won the Globe and seems to be appearing on the cover of every magazine at the moment. Your Oscar pool choice should be Morgan Freeman – he is the one the general consensus believes will pull in the win. I am going to predict Clive Owen. For Best Supporting Actress, the general consensus (Oscar pool) is Cate Blanchett for The Aviator. Her biggest competition is still Virginia Madsen for Sideways. Either could pull in a win, but I’m going to instead predict Natalie Portman from Closer to win. Again, do not practice this at home – always go with the general consensus. It is the safest way to predict the Oscars. My prediction: Natalie Portman. Original Screenplay–Most people seem to think Charlie Kaufman will finally win for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And that would be a good choice, however, it’s up against some pretty stiff competition – namely, The Aviator, The Incredibles and Hotel Rwanda and Vera Drake – a very competitive category and really impossible to call at this point. The Writers Guild awards (Saturday) could give more insight into who might be the winner but for now, my thinking is that if they didn’t give Kaufman the award for Adaptation, which really should have easily won, why would they award him with Eternal Sunshine? It’s possible, of course, probable even, but I think I’m going to go instead with Hotel Rwanda as perhaps the film’s only award of the night. For your Oscar pool, choose Eternal Sunshine or Vera Drake. In Adapted Screenplay there is one main contest – Sideways versus Million Dollar Baby. Unfortunately, Sideways could be derailed easily by Baby, particularly in a sweep. Sideways has, thus far, won nearly everything it’s come up for but Baby is the stronger best pic contender. My prediction: Sideways, with Baby a tight second. The rest: Animated feature: The Incredibles Art Direction: The Aviator Cinematography: The Aviator Costume: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (or The Aviator) Documentary: Born into Brothels Editing: The Aviator Foreign Language Film: Yesterday Makeup: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events Original Score: The Passion of the Christ Original Song: Accidentally in Love Sound Mixing: The Aviator Sound Editing: Spider-Man 2 Visual Effects: Spider-Man 2
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