It’s only a game: Oscar nominations 2006

The Oscar nominations are here again. Even though I rarely get it right, I thought I would have a look at the major Oscar categories and make some predictions. Take note that I haven’t seen some of the films, due to the fact that some haven’t come out in the UK yet, but that won’t stop me from pontificating from a false position of authority. (For some opinion with a little weight, try here for Empire magazine staffers offering their thoughts, and here for the ever-reliable Tom the Dog).

Best picture
Brokeback MountainCrash
Goodnight, and Good Luck
Munich
Capote

‘No dude, independent films are those black and white hippie movies. They’re always about gay cowboys eating pudding.’

I know that everyone mentions this hilarious South Park quote, but it doesn’t stop it being funny. Even though it’s about homosexuality, not something Hollywood is comfortable with, I still think Brokeback will win best picture. It is, after all, a love story, which tend to do well. Hollywood rewarded Philadelphia, didn’t it? The combination of factors that lead to the best picture win (buzz, media coverage, memory of the Oscar voters, worthiness, etc.) point towards Brokeback rather than the others.

Best director
Steven Spielberg – Munich
Ang Lee – Brokeback Mountain
Paul Haggis – Crash
Bennett Miller – Capote
George Clooney – Good Night, and Good Luck

DGA is a good predictor, and I think they have it right this year. Spielberg has got it already, and the other three are very worthy nominations for relative newcomers, but it would seem like Ang Lee’s year, as long as people forget Hulk (although Spielberg got it despite Hook – see, there’s a link right there …)

Best actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Capote
David Strathairn – Good Night, and Good Luck
Heath Ledger – Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix – Walk the Line
Terrence Howard – Hustle and Flow

Apart from the surprise of Terrence Howard, the others are all worthy nominations with awards behind them. Will Ledger get it for a Brokeback blitz? Will Phoenix get it because the academy favours biopics of famous people? Personally, I go for Hoffman, because he is a man who oozes actor quality, enhances a project by his presence and deserves it.

Best actress
Dame Judi Dench – Mrs Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman – Transamerica
Charlize Theron – North Country
Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line
Keira Knightley – Pride and Prejudice

Why is Dench here? Mrs Henderson Presents is an average film with her good performance, nothing worthy to see here. Bizarre. Glad to see Huffman there, but too small a film. I don’t think that they would want to give another Oscar to Theron, but I thought that about Swank, so what do I know? I’m happy that Knightley got a nom, even though this has been the only film where she has actually been that good (but the same can be said for Halle Berry, so that doesn’t mean anything.) Looks like Witherspoon’s year.

Best supporting actress
Rachel Weisz – The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams – Brokeback Mountain
Frances McDormand – North Country
Amy Adams – Junebug
Catherine Keener – Capote

This is always a strange group to pick, and can throw up surprises. Will Williams get it in a Brokeback love-in, or will Weisz get it based on the awards she’s been picking up all over the place? McDormand is a proven actress and Oscar-winner, and Keener has the chops and indie-cred for a Chris Cooper-style win. I haven’t even heard of Junebug, so apologies to Adams for not counting her as having a chance. I’ll stick my neck out with some unwarranted jingoism and opt for Weisz.

Best supporting actor
George Clooney – Syriana
Jake Gyllenhaal – Brokeback Mountain
Paul Giamatti – Cinderella Man
Matt Dillon – Crash
William Hurt – A History of Violence

Another interesting collection. Good to see Clooney in there, although I don’t think he’ll get it. Dillon and Hurt are possibilities, but I think it is between Gyllenhaal and Giamatti. Gyllenhaal can get it either for the Brokeback sweep or the runner-up prize if the main acting nods go in other directions (despite the fact that it is a co-lead role). However, I think it will go to Giamatti, because he is a great little actor who has suffered snubs, and the academy likes to occasionally make up for previous misjudgements (exhibit for the prosecution: Judi Dench – snubbed for Mrs Brown, rewarded for cameo in Shakespeare in Love).

Best animated feature film
Howl’s Moving Castle
Corpse Bride
Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit

I haven’t seen any of these, for which I feel terrible, but it has to be Wallace and Gromit, not just from a jingoistic standpoint, but because it’s Nick Park, and will allow for the ‘Cracking Oscar, Gromit’ headlines.

Best adapted screenplay
Brokeback Mountain
Capote
The Constant Gardener
A History of Violence
Munich

The screenplay categories are always tricky; there is no real clue other than throwing a bone to a deserving small film that hasn’t got a hope in the main categories. However, with all the films being of the smaller, serious, low-key type, that doesn’t really apply here. Brokeback might bulldoze its way through, but there might be some feeling for Capote, for being the smallest, or Munich for ‘the message’. I think I’ll plump for Brokeback, just because of some literary cred (although I think that Constant Gardener might get it).

Best original screenplay
Crash
Good Night, and Good Luck
Match Point
The Squid and the Whale
Syriana

The same consternations apply for original as for adapted. These are all small films, so which to choose? I can’t see Woody getting it (I was surprised to even see this get a nod). Syriana seems the logical choice, for its complexity, or Good Night, and Good Luck for its earnest message. However, I think Crash will get it because it won’t get any of the other awards.

Although I won’t be seeing it live, I’m still looking forward to an interesting Oscars; the number of certainties is low and Jon Stewart is hosting. I’m jealous of you viewers in the US. I hope there’s a highlights show …

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