This year’s Oscars seem to be a battle to the finish between The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby. But we at filmcritic.com offer our more irreverent (and, frankly, inaccurate) handicapping of the Oscars – place your bets!
As in years past, this page will be updated in real time during the Oscar broadcast: Our picks are in bold under our respective names, and the actual winners will be noted in bold in the category listings on Oscar night (and updated in real time). Christopher Null and Jeremiah Kipp
Kipp and Null both go a pathetic 11 for 24 this year — not our worst ever, but far from our tops. Well, congrats to Million Dollar Baby and all the other winners. See you in 2006!
Best Animated Film
Christopher Null: Absolutely no doubt: The Incredibles.
Jeremiah Kipp: Pixar continues to bitch slap the inferior product of Disney on every level, and their high standards of excellence continue with The Incredibles. Once again, virtue is rewarded.
JK: Not only does Hollywood love to love itself, it also loves building up its mythological grandeur. The larger than life sets of The Aviator are legitimately astonishing, but also manage to idealize the studio system of yesteryear.
CN: That Spruce Goose is pretty impressive. The only real competition here is Neverland — though voters love to give this award to a musical like Phantom — but I can’t see voters shying off of The Aviator on this round.
JK: Even though The Aviator and House of Flying Daggers were two of the supreme visual achievements of the year, ace cinematographer Caleb Deschanel will be rewarded for The Passion of the Christ. It’s a non-controversial (and frankly undeserved) award to give props to Mel Gibson for his financial success-since a directorial nomination would have caused a riot.
CN: Nah, voters will remember those plane crashes in The Aviator over the bludgeoning of Passion, which is overall a no-show at the awards.
JK: How beautiful were Cate Blanchett and Kate Beckinsale, all decked out in period gowns or fetching dress clothes? The Aviator was about high fashion and unparalleled glamour. And the men’s suits were impeccably tailored as well, whenever Leonardo DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes would bother to dress himself.
CN: I’d say Troy but the tunics just didn’t do anything for me. The Aviator wins for Gwen Stefani’s sequins.
JK: Super Size Me is the popular favorite, but Academy voters err in the direction of pretentious with The Story of the Weeping Camel.
CN: What, you don’t think a Tupac movie’s going to win? I’m actually betting on Born into Brothels, which has impressive buzz around it. Weeping Camel, incidentally, isn’t really a documentary.
Best Documentary Short Subject
Autism Is a World
The Children of Leningradsky
Mighty Times: The Children’s March
Sister Rose’s Passion
JK: Groove on the good vibes of an elderly nun in Sister Rose’s Passion.
CN: Sister Rose’s Passion is the only one with an IMDB entry. It must win.
CN: Frankly, the editing on Aviator sucked, so I’m betting on Million Dollar Baby absconding with the award. Boxing movies always seem to get that right.
JK: Since Martin Scorsese is going to get snubbed again for his coveted Best Director award, he gets his consolation prize in the form of Thelma Schoonmaker’s win for The Aviator. Though this bloated three-hour epic could have done with a bit more trimming!
[I’m the Aviator fan and I miss this one? -Ed.]
JK: The Sea Inside offered PG-13 euthanasia, and managed to make it inspiring and not maudlin.
CN: Yep, The Sea Inside wins because Javier Bardem got snubbed for Best Actor. Call it penance. Unplug me now!
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
The Passion of the Christ
The Sea Inside
CN: The Passion of the Christ is not what Jacko was talking about when he fed all those kids Jesus Juice. Aside from the anti-Semitism, the gore is really the only thing people talked about.
JK: Jim Carrey looked far more grotesque in Lemony Snicket than the punch-drunk Christ.
Best Original Score
Finding Neverland, Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of
Azkaban, John Williams
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Thomas Newman
The Passion of the Christ, John Debney
The Village, James Newton Howard
JK: I don’t particularly remember any of these scores as being particularly noteworthy. Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s Finding Neverland score is Miramax-lite but inoffensive.
CN: Really tough category, but I’m actually going for wild card Newman, for Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, not because the score is so great, but because he’s on his seventh nomination with no win. (John Williams for another Harry Potter score? No way!)
[Wow, you yanked that one outta somewhere… -Ed.]
Best Original Song
‘Accidentally In Love’ from Shrek 2, by Adam Duritz, Charles Gillingham, Jim Bogios, David Immergluck, Matthew Malley, David Bryson, and Daniel Vickrey
‘Al Otro Lado Del Rio’ from The Motorcycle Diaries, by Jorge Drexler
‘Believe’ from The Polar Express, by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri
‘Learn To Be Lonely’ from The Phantom of the Opera, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart
‘Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)’ from The Chorus (Les Choristes), Bruno Coulais, Christophe Barratier
JK: Certain songs from The Phantom of the Opera stay in your mind even when you’d prefer it wouldn’t. Thankfully, ‘Learn To Be Lonely’ is utterly forgettable. But Hollywood shall continue its love affair with the musical and shan’t resist sucking up to Andrew Lloyd Webber.
CN: Webber won in 1997 for an awful song from Evita, and he’ll take home another token award just for showing up here to get his Phantom trophy.
Best Animated Short Film
JK: It’s a special day for the Birthday Boy.
CN: I hear good things about Lorenzo.
Best Live Action Short Film
Everything in This Country Must
7:35 in the Morning (7:35 de la Mañana)
Two Cars, One Night
JK: Little Terrorist sounds quite topical, no?
CN: The topical stuff never wins. I’m going with Wasp, which is about poor people — timeless!
[Hey, I’m as surprised as you are. -Ed.]
Best Sound Mixing
The Polar Express
JK: The staged dogfights in the film-within-the-film of The Aviator were impressive, but the mid-film airplane crash in a suburban neighborhood uses sound brilliantly to tell the story. Or maybe it was just very loud.
CN: Not much competition for The Aviator here.
Best Sound Editing
The Polar Express
CN: Spider-Man 2 smash!!!
JK: I seem to recall a lot of windows getting smashed in Spider-Man 2, not to mention those web shooters and explosions and other loud comic book hokum.
[Wow – upsets in the sound categories. Huh.]
Best Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I, RobotSpider-Man 2
JK: Now that there are no more Lord of the Rings films to sweep this category, the road is cleared for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
CN: Harry Potter can kiss my ass. I didn’t like any of these movies, but Spider-Man 2 was the most visually interesting.
JK: Though it would be nice to see Million Dollar Baby pull off a dark horse sucker-punch, the long-winded Sideways offered some memorably snarky dialogue and struck the zeitgeist among disenfranchised yuppies everywhere. It has also spawned a new generation of amateur wine connoisseurs and will no doubt put a dent in Merlot sales for many years. For God’s sake, people-there are other brands besides Pinot Noir!
CN: Damn you, Sideways, for making it uncool to drink out of the spittoons at wine tastings!
JK: This will prove to be one of the more compelling Oscar races, since there are several worthy choices. However, Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has the edge, balancing witty surrealist games with a bittersweet, original romance.
CN: God, you’re an optimist. I would love to see Sunshine or The Incredibles win here, but I have a hunch it’ll go to The Aviator out of sheer laziness.
[I’m happy to lose this one. -Ed.]
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Alda in The Aviator
Thomas Haden Church in Sideways
Jamie Foxx in Collateral
Morgan Freeman in Million Dollar Baby
Clive Owen in Closer
CN: If Jamie Foxx wasn’t in Ray, he might win this, but Alda’s role was too small, Freeman’s overshadowed by Swank, and Church will have to suffer decades of punishment for bad TV (much like Virginia Madsen) before he’ll get an Oscar. I can’t believe I’m saying this because I hated the movie, but Clive Owen looks like he’ll win it.
JK: Clive Owen had a colorful role in Closer, and his quiet seething blew away audiences as well as one-note movie star Julia Roberts. Oscar honors him at the start of what may prove to be a long and honorable career.
[Not overshadowed enough, I suppose. Here comes the M$B love…]
Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett in The Aviator
Laura Linney in Kinsey
Virginia Madsen in Sideways
Sophie Okonedo in Hotel Rwanda
Natalie Portman in Closer
CN: If Portman had gone the full monty she could have taken this one home (that’ll teach her!). Instead, Cate Blanchett will win for that creepy, disturbing giggle-laugh for The Aviator, because Hollywood desperately wishes that Kate-with-a-K were still around.
JK: Cate Blanchett is so merc
urial and vibrant in The Aviator that the rest of the movie wanes in comparison. For a fleeting moment, she resurrects the great Katharine Hepburn, and even if she’s never as God damned great as Kate once was, she at least reminds us of the power and the glory. Amen.
[I still have nightmares about that role. -Ed.]
Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda
Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator
Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby
Jamie Foxx in Ray
JK: On the whole, the Best Actor category this year is filled with respectable bores. Though Clint Eastwood revealed himself as a character actor of the highest caliber in Million Dollar Baby, Jamie Foxx has all the momentum behind him as Ray.
CN: Jamie Foxx. Can. Not. Lose.
Annette Bening in Being Julia
Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace
Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake
Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby
Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
CN: Let’s see, who on this list is a respected, career actress nearing 50 that has yet to win an Oscar? Annette Bening tearfully accepts the award for a movie nobody saw.
JK: Talent prevails! The luminous Kate Winslet scores with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where she blazes across the screen with the reckless abandon we usually associate with her equally superb, surprisingly low-key (and woefully overlooked) co-star Jim Carrey.
[God those teeth scare me. And that was SO not the best performance by an actress. -Ed.]
The Aviator, Martin Scorsese
Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood
Ray, Taylor Hackford
Sideways, Alexander Payne
Vera Drake, Mike Leigh
JK: Clint Eastwood already won for Unforgiven, and Martin Scorsese gets snubbed again because he’s trying so transparently to win. A director undeserving of being mentioned in the same breath, Taylor Hackford, had the gift of bringing Ray Charles to the silver screen and gets much love as a result.
CN: Martin Scorsese desperate? Yeah, but the Academy will realize they’ve been shitting on him for about a decade too long, and he’ll finally win tonight — as usual, for a film that really isn’t even in his five best.
Million Dollar Baby
JK: I don’t discount the possibility that Million Dollar Baby will come through, and it certainly deserves it. But Sideways has a surer shot for its all-around competence, despite the fact that within 10 years it will be completely forgotten.
CN: You’ve gone crazy on me, Kipp. Expect the love-in for The Aviator to get started around 15 minutes into the ceremony and keep steamrolling right up to the end. I’ve got the Hughes biopic down for seven statues. Start counting!
[We really ought to do these picks the night before the awards… the day after the nominations is just too tough. Oig. But wow… Baby wins, Raging Bull loses. Ouch.]