OTB Oscar Predictions
For two months, I felt certain that Million Dollar Baby was the most accomplished film of 2004. Last night, though, I saw Hotel Rwanda and was simply moved. Movies of that kind can easily turn ultra-violent or melodramatic, but it handled its subject adeptly and struck the right tone. So now I’m torn.
Within the Academy, it seems to be down to Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese. The former has a great deal of momentum going into tonight’s ceremony, but the controversy surrounding his film is bound to diminish the odds of a sweep. The latter is due for Best Director honors, so his “lifetime achievement award” may finally come.
Prediction: Million Dollar Baby
Preference: Million Dollar Baby or Hotel Rwanda, with a special nod to Before Sunset, a wonderfully crafted romance.
Prediction: Martin Scorsese
Preference: Clint Eastwood
Jamie Foxx is an absolute lock, in my view. If you get a hold of the DVD and see how he masters the piano performances and assumes his character’s idiosyncrasies, I’m sure you’ll agree. The Academy might think that his two acting nominations are enough and hence rob him of a trophy. But I suspect he’ll overcome this obstacle.
In any other year, we’d be talking about Don Cheadle’s brilliance in Hotel Rwanda. But it’s the Year of the Foxx.
Prediction: Jamie Foxx
Preference: Jamie Foxx
In one critical scene in Million Dollar Baby, Hilary Swank basically gives Eastwood an ultimatum: train me or leave me alone. You expect such a confrontation to arise at some point and, in the hands of an unskilled actress, it would have been forgettable, if not distracting. But she executes perfectly. So even if cynics disparage the film’s supposed predictability, I think they still need to grapple with her arresting performance.
Prediction: Hilary Swank
Preference: Hilary Swank, with a special nod to Kate Winslet, whose Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind deserves a hell of a lot more praise than the Academy gives it.
Best Supporting Actor/Actress
No supporting performance comes to mind at this point, but you can do much worse than Morgan Freeman among the gentlemen. As for the ladies, I figure the Academy will single out Cate Blanchett for portraying a Hollywood legend.
Prediction: Morgan Freeman and Cate Blanchett
Preference: (I need to think about it, and unfortunately, time does not permit.)
Overall, I’m moved to draw people’s attention to Before Sunset. I fear that it’ll be lost in the dark corner of the video store, even though it really deserves better than that. Enough people will check out Hotel Rwanda because of the story, and Jim Carrey’s popularity will pull in marginal audiences for Eternal Sunshine. But Before Sunset is hard to categorize and market. Ethan Hawke’s presence probably disqualifies it from being an independent film, and its simple story won’t draw a cult following, like Sideways has. So I just hope that people somehow stumble upon it and give it a chance.
Update (James Joyner, 2300): The actual winners can be found at IMDB. Amazingly, the “big” trophies have yet to be handed out. Being a heterosexual male, of course, I have not watched the program. The Girlfriend just had the site up, however, and it lists the recepients, apparently updated rather quickly.