So we've come to that part of the year where we are less than a week away from the Academy Awards and it is time for me to lay down some predictions. By this point every critic in the country has announced his or her predictions of who will win and who should win an Oscar in every category and Premiere Magazine even interviewed several people who got to vote and revealed who these three nameless individuals voted for and why. Fairly interesting. Anyway, I have a difficult time separating the will and the should and all I'm left with are my picks.
Best Picture: Million Dollar Baby
In my mind Clint Eastwood's film blows everything else out of the water. It gives the viewer an emotional wallop and combines great performances with a script that did not change once during production (rare) and direction where less truly is more. The movie has an unfounded controversy regarding the third act which to me is based more on a reviewer disagreeing with the actions of a character and then suggesting that the movie supports and promotes that viewpoint. I don't think it does. I think the wrong choice was made, but that it was the choice these characters would have made.
Best Director: Clint Eastwood
Sure, Martin Scorsese has never won a Best Director Oscar, and was perhaps unfairly shut out for Raging Bull and Goodfellas (in particular Raging Bull). Sure, Eastwood has won before. But if we are judging the movie itself and the work the director did to bring it to life, Eastwood has to win over Scorsese. I'd love to see Scorsese win an Oscar, but not for The Aviator. The movie wasn't as good as Million Dollar Baby and I don't think his work was as good as Eastwood's. Besides, Alfred Hitchcock never won Best Director and nobody thinks less of him.
Best Actor: Jamie Foxx
Is there any doubt about this? As far as I can tell Foxx became Ray Charles. I didn't get any sense of Jamie Foxx on screen until Ray took off his glasses late in the movie. Great performance. My heart, however, lies with Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda.
Best Actress: Hilary Swank
She's going to join the multiple Oscar winner's club and for this and Boys Don't Cry, Swank was overwhelmingly powerful and sympathetic. From what I've heard, Annette Bening is being overrated in Being Julia in a role that isn't great in a film that wasn't that good. I'll be watching it from Netflix in the near future, but I dont' see how Swank can be overlooked. She was just that good.
Best Supporting Actor: Clive Owen
Odds are Morgan Freeman will win this one and Thomas Haden Church may be the other contender, but Clive Owen in Closer was stunning. He was brimming with raw masculinity and passion and proved himself a man where Jude Law was just a boy. As there were no lead roles in Closer, Owen could have been Best Actor rather than Supporting, but then Jude Law was also a supporting player. I have to pick Owen because he was just so stinking good in this movie, but watch Morgan Freeman pick up the award for his typically solid work in Million Dollar Baby. Freeman is always good.
Best Supporting Actress: Virginia Madsen
Cate Blanchett may very well win for The Aviator, but Madsen truly was the heart of Sideways. She made a good movie even better and without Madsen I don't think Sideways would have been nearly as good or as sympathetic as it turned out to be. As much as I like Natalie Portman and would be happy if she wins, I think Virginia Madsen truly deserves this award. Hopefully this will help turn her career around and more of these roles will be offered to her. Side note: Sandra Oh, Madsen's costar was not nominated here but did quite a good job in Sideways. Great ensemble cast there.