Before I head out to an Oscar party, I might as well post my predictions here.
Picture: Million Dollar Baby
Director: Martin Scorsese, The Aviator
In recent years Picture and Director haven't lined up as much as usual, and this year is a perfect example of why we'll see those categories split. Even though I don't think Scorsese's film will take Picture, THE AVIATOR should have enough support to get him a substantial number of votes. Toss in those who pick him as the sentimental favorite, and Marty gets his Oscar.
Actor: Jamie Foxx, Ray
He's deserving. He'll probably give the best acceptance speech of the night. But wouldn't it make the awards so much more interesting if someone else won because, let's face it, no one expects him to lose.
Actress: Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby
Not as much of a lock as Foxx but close.
Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
My head has been telling me Clive Owen in CLOSER, but my gut tells me that Freeman will edge him. I'm hedging enough that I still may change my pick on my pool sheet, but Freeman's popularity, in addition to that of the film, will probably push him over the top.
Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Virginia Madsen's career has been revived with the other awards and this nomination. She doesn't need to win. Natalie Portman could have her crowning as America's ingenue solidified tonight, but Blanchett's due to win. The part she plays helps too. Hollywood loves itself.
Original Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, and Pierre Bismuth, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Adapted Screenplay: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Sideways
The Screenplay categories are the consolation prizes for the also-rans, right? Kaufman's deserved this twice before, but is his work just too weird for Academy tastes?
Art Direction: The Aviator
Cinematography: The Aviator
A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT won the American Society of Cinematographers award, but we all know that the acting branch is the largest in the Academy.
Costume Design: The Aviator
Film Editing: The Aviator
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. More often than not, Best Film Editing could be called Most Film Editing. The longest film tends to win.
Makeup: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Original Score: Finding Neverland
I can't say that the nominees are very memorable--THE VILLAGE is the strongest of the bunch to these ears--but FINDING NEVERLAND has to win something, doesn't it?
Original Song: "Believe", The Polar Express
Ballads trump upbeat numbers, so better luck next time Counting Crows, even if your song is the only one that I'd recognize.
Sound Editing: The Incredibles
Sound Mixing: The Aviator
Visual Effects: Spider-Man 2
Foreign-Language Film: Downfall
Although THE CHORUS (LES CHORISTES) or THE SEA INSIDE are the most widely seen of the nominees--and that's not saying much--I don't think either will inspire enough voters. You can't go wrong voting for something about WWII Germany and DOWNFALL, which seems to have the industry buzz at the moment.
Animated Feature: The Incredibles
THE POLAR EXPRESS: robbed of a nomination. (I'm lookin' at you SHARK TALE!) Not that it would win.
Animated Short: Lorenzo
Like I have any idea.
Documentary Feature: Born Into Brothels
Serious beats snark, so sorry Morgan Spurlock and your McDonald's experiment. Of course, I'm still bitter about TUPAC: RESURRECTION getting a nomination when the Metallica doc didn't even make the shortlist.
Documentary Short: Autism is a World
Live-Action Short: Everything in This Country Must
Remember, play for entertainment purposes only, not money!