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Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Hollywood Hairshirt Handicapping

Ever since Van Helsing was released last year and Best Lead Actor rumors started circulating for one Mr. Hugh Jackman, I've had people begging me to handicap this year's Oscar nominees for them. It seems that, as I've seen every one of the movies nominated at least twice and have an IQ of 287, I am the closest thing the world has to a perfect Oscar-ometer. I'm simply never wrong. So what follows are my picks for a selection of the categories. Use this information for your office Oscar Pool, to show off at parties or for when you're having a screaming debate with those voices in your head. But use it wisely.

We start with the most hotly contested and controversial category, Best Short-Subject Documentary. My pick in this category, Hardwood, is definitely the underdog. Very few people think that a how-to piece on installing flooring has a chance against a powerhouse like Sister Rose's Passion, which is of course about a Nun who sees the Mel Gibson movie and decides to recreate it using her stuffed pig collection. Sure, Sister Rose is the sexier of the two, I mean, who can resist hot nun-on-nun action? But I think the Academy is nothing if not a practical organization, full of many members who might like to re-floor their apartments.

We move next to Best Foreign-Language Film and the crowd-pleasing favorite, Les Choristes, a movie about an unconventional teacher who inspires a group of French boys to sing off-key just to "piss of Le Man." While I agree that this film tells a story that needs to be told, I'm putting my money on the German entry, Der Untergang. Who can forget the tear-jerking scene where lead actor Bruno Ganz, as the plucky leader of a gay street gang, drops to his knees, cradling the dead body of his lover and wails, "Warum haften sie sahne mais in meinem leiderhosen?" Not a dry eye in the haus.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing isn't even a contest at all. There's no way you can compare the lame choo-choo noises of Polar Express and the barely adequate voice synching of The Incredibles with the fact that Paul N.J. Ottosson figured out how to make the "thwip" noise when Spidey slings his webs in Spiderman 2.

For Best Original Score, I'm going with John Debney's haunting orchestrations for The Passion of the Christ. Y'know, I walked out of the theater and I just could not stop humming that tune they played when Christ was being nailed up. That one's a toe-tapper.

Anthony Pratt and Celia Bobak have a lock on Best Liberace Wet-Dream. Wait. Scratch that. The actual name of the award is Best Achievement in Art Direction. Well, whatever you want to call it, these two made a movie that looks like Quentin Crisp's happy place and I think they need some recognition.

Best Adapted Screenplay, I think, will be going to Diarios de Motocicleta. Not only did they have to research all sorts of technical facts about motorcycles and diaries, but they did it in Spanish. I have trouble asking, "Donde esta mis pantalones, puta?" I can't imagine writing a whole movie like that.

I've done a detailed analysis of previous winners of Best Director and I've found that, 99.9% of the time, the director of the film with the shortest title has one. As Ray has only three letters, I'm giving this one to Taylor Hackford.

Natalie Portman's speech at the Golden Globes was so inane that I'm convinced the Academy is going to shun her like an Amish hooker. Which throws the Best Supporting Actress momentum heading into the awards to Sophie Okonedo. Sure, Hotel Rwanda is a depressing movie that's not getting the critical love-notes that might signal Best Picture, but her name is just so cool. Okonedo. It's fun to say. Try saying it. Now say it three times fast. I could do that all day.

Best Supporting Actor is sometimes a chance for the Academy to recognize comedic movies that they don't feel have the gravitas to win Best Actor, so many people are looking at Thomas Haden Church for Sideways. Not me, though. For my money, the scene in The Aviator where Alan Alda actually blew Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the bravest performances I've ever seen. Who knew that Hawkeye also had Hot Lips?

As much as I adore any actress whose last name is also a porn mag, I'm thinking this is not Hilary's year. My Best Actress choice? Imelda Staunton. Why? How about Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies, Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown, Miranda Richardson in Tom & Viv and Emma Thompson in Remains of the Day? The Academy absolutely loves to nominate English women in this category and yet they nine times out of ten pick the only American in the bunch. The Brits are due for a win, man. They're due.

Clint Eastwood is going to win for Best Actor. I saw Million Dollar Baby and, frankly, he sucked. He stunk up the screen in the role of a guy who sells his baby for a million dollars (hence the title). But he's like 94 years old. No matter who they give it to, he's going to go all senile and think they called his name. So, to save us all from the embarrassment of him getting into a shoving match with Johnny Depp, I'm betting they'll just give it to him.

Which brings us to Best Picture. I'm going out on a limb with this one. Bear with me. It's never happened before, what I'm about to predict. Never. I think we're going to see something nobody's expecting. I think Academy voters are going to ignore the list of nominees and we're going to see a write-in campaign. I think that, when the envelope is pulled open, we're going to hear the presenter (who I'm predicting will be Charo or the "Can you hear me now?" Guy) say "And the Oscar goes to...holy shit! The Oscar goes to Surviving Christmas!" You heard it here first.

So those're my picks. They're pretty damn solid, so if you want to go ahead and wager your homes on them, I think you can sleep pretty easy. Also, my wife is going to be out of town and we'll be spending our first Oscars in 10 years apart, so I'll be looking for someplace to get really drunk and yell things at the screen like, "Angela Lansbury! You slut! Those are fake!" I love the Oscars.

You think Okonedo is fun, I know a girl with the last name Okibayashi. Also, she's not asian. Hm.

well, you're right.
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