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Oscars 2005: Who we're betting on to win

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Oscars 2005
Oscar Odds Illustration by Tomer Hanuka

Oscars 2005: Who we’re betting on to win

With those pesky hobbits out of the way, this Oscar race actually has some drama. And we couldn’t be happier. Wait, no — we couldn’t be more miserable, because it makes picking the winners so tough. Can Million Dollar Baby fight it out till the end? Has Sideways lost all its momentum? Will The Aviator‘s Martin Scorsese finally take home an Oscar? We?ll know the results on Feb. 27. For now, having consulted Academy members, Oscar strategists, and our tea leaves, we’re setting forth our predictions. Don?t forget to send us a cut of those Oscar-pool winnings.


Best Actor

Who’ll win the Best Actor Oscar in 2005?

Jamie Foxx had better prepare his speech. His victory seems a sure bet. In fact, Sideways‘ snubbed non-nominee Paul Giamatti probably has as much of a chance of winning as the other actors in this category. This is to take nothing away from Don Cheadle’s portrait of quiet heroism in Hotel Rwanda, or Johnny Depp’s wide-eyed innocence in Finding Neverland, or Leonardo DiCaprio’s tic-filled embodiment of Howard Hughes in The Aviator, or Clint Eastwood’s stalwart turn as a boxing coach in Million Dollar Baby (the best shot at a surprise upset here). Each is a fine performer, deserving of his own first-time acting Oscar (all but Cheadle have a single prior nod). But each will, no doubt, applaud politely during the triumphant Foxx trot to the Kodak Theatre stage. Blessed with a once-in-a-lifetime role in Ray, Foxx pulled off the tricky feat of subsuming himself, body and soul, into the character of music legend Ray Charles — and picked up the majority of critics’ awards, not to mention the Golden Globe. Don’t worry, Mr. Foxx. Oscar’ll be good to you. /* <![CDATA[ */ if ( '' == '' && tiiDetectFlash(6) ) { document.write('’); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); } else { document.write(”); } /* ]]> */

Best Actress

Who’ll win the Best Actress Oscar in 2005?

Before the nominations were announced, all the talk focused on Million Dollar Baby‘s Hilary Swank and Being Julia‘s Annette Bening, who competed against each other five years ago (after Bening picked up the SAG Award for American Beauty, Swank landed the Oscar for Boys Don’t Cry). But once Vera Drake earned nods in three top categories, its star, Imelda Staunton, suddenly rose to the level of possible winner. (If reviewers were voting, she’d probably take home the statue, having won 13 critics’ prizes to Swank’s nine.) Although it’s possible to win this prize for indie films (see Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, and Swank), it’s tough when the movies in question haven’t even topped $5 million in box office, as is the case for both Vera and Julia. (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘s Kate Winslet and Maria Full of Grace‘s Catalina Sandino Moreno, meanwhile, can boast bigger theater receipts but quieter buzz.) So after this awards season’s final round, expect many puns about Swank landing the knockout punch. /* <![CDATA[ */ if ( '' == '' && tiiDetectFlash(6) ) { document.write('’); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); } else { document.write(”); } /* ]]> */

Best Supporting Actor

Who’ll win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2005?

Last year, this category was a done deal, with Mystic River‘s Tim Robbins sweeping all three of the most reliable pre-Oscar awards. But Broadcast Film Critics winner Thomas Haden Church, Golden Globe victor Clive Owen, and SAG Awards favorite Morgan Freeman have proved that this year won’t be so predictable. Two things are for sure: After checking off Jamie Foxx’s name for Best Actor, voters aren’t likely to do so again for Collateral, and with his limited screen time, The Aviator‘s Alan Alda isn’t likely to score an Oscar to rest next to his five Emmys. So who will break the deadlock? Owen gave a star-making performance as a furious cuckold in Closer, but the film doesn’t have much overall support. Sideways sidekick Church is the most appealing story of the bunch, having evolved from sitcom star to missing person to Oscar nominee, but it’s rare for a comedian to emerge victorious. Our money’s on Freeman, who earned his fourth nod for his measured turn in Million Dollar Baby and should finally reach the stage for the first time. /* <![CDATA[ */ if ( '' == '' && tiiDetectFlash(6) ) { document.write('’); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); } else { document.write(”); } /* ]]> */

Best Supporting Actress

Who’ll win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2005?

Winning an Oscar for Supporting Actress is all about the role. It must be substantial enough to make a strong impression. Talented as they are, Sophie Okonedo and Laura Linney are both saddled with smallish ”wife of” parts in Hotel Rwanda and Kinsey. Golden Globe winner Natalie Portman plays against type as a stripper in Closer, and voters like to reward young ingenues who stretch a little (think Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted or Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aphrodite). But she didn’t even get a SAG nomination. Virginia Madsen downs her juicy monologue about wine and life in Sideways with understated gusto, but portraying a siren of a certain age may not seem like such a hard sell. So in a very, very tight contest, voters may rally around a showbiz-oriented role (think Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago). And in The Aviator, Aussie chameleon and critical fave Cate Blanchett daringly embodies another great Kate very familiar to the Academy, four-time winner Katharine Hepburn. /* <![CDATA[ */ if ( '' == '' && tiiDetectFlash(6) ) { document.write('’); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); } else { document.write(”); } /* ]]> */

Best Director

Who’ll win the Best Director Oscar in 2005?

This year’s race for Best Director is just that: a race. Yes, Mike Leigh wowed voters with his collaborative work on Vera Drake and Taylor Hackford captured the essence of a music legend in Ray. But repeat after us: It’s an honor just to be nominated. Alexander Payne also wrested strong performances out of his wine-tippling ensemble in Sideways, but his visual stylings aren’t flashy enough to take the top prize. That brings us back to two of the elder members of Hollywood’s old guard. By all rights, Martin Scorsese should have a golden guy (or several) on his mantel after four previous directing nominations. His work on The Aviator is characteristically strong, epic even — the latest departure from the maverick, indie sensibility that originally won him acclaim in the ’70s. But the Academy has long had a soft spot for actor-directors, and Clint Eastwood’s multifaceted work on Million Dollar Baby (he even wrote the score!) is gaining steam as a contender just when it matters most, as the finish line approaches. /* <![CDATA[ */ if ( '' == '' && tiiDetectFlash(6) ) { document.write('’); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); } else { document.write(”); } /* ]]> */

Best Picture

Who’ll win the Best Picture Oscar in 2005?

Could this be the year when all the pre-Oscar prizes end up signaling nothing? First, Sideways and The Aviator took home Best Picture honors at the Golden Globes, followed by The Aviator‘s win at the Producers Guild Awards and Sideways‘ best-ensemble victory at the SAG Awards. So why do we think the Oscars’ big winner is likely to be Million Dollar Baby? One word: momentum. With the latest wide-release date of the nominees, it’s the movie most voters are discovering right now. And they’re not just discovering it — they’re loving it. Though its final plot development has stirred controversy among some activist groups, the backlash may only strengthen Academy support. Thanks to Sideways‘ impeccable performances and The Aviator‘s technical mastery, both should see substantial vote totals (Finding Neverland and Ray, meanwhile, will bring up the rear), but the years have proved that when it comes to deciding between two or three Best Picture nominees, Academy members vote with their hearts, not their minds. /* <![CDATA[ */ if ( '' == '' && tiiDetectFlash(6) ) { document.write('’); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); } else { document.write(”); } /* ]]> */

Best Adapted Screenplay

Who’ll win the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2005?

Much as we love Before Sunset — its inclusion in this category was one of the happiest surprises this year — its team of Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, and Kim Krizan should probably just split a bottle of cabernet at their seats in the Kodak Theatre and enjoy the show. Likewise for Finding Neverland‘s David Magee and The Motorcycle Diaries‘ José Rivera: That they’ve earned nominations for their first produced feature screenplays will have to be reward enough. This race comes down to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor’s bittersweet Sideways, which has seemingly won every award under the sun so far, and Paul Haggis’ Million Dollar Baby, which features expert use of spare dialogue, profound descriptions of the sport of boxing, and an effective voice-over framing device. But the voters may also realize that they haven’t checked off Sideways that often on their ballots (Lost in Translation‘s only win last year was in the screenplay category) and could raise their collective glass to the little comedy that could. /* <![CDATA[ */ if ( '' == '' && tiiDetectFlash(6) ) { document.write('’); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); } else { document.write(”); } /* ]]> */

Best Original Screenplay

Who’ll win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 2005?

Faced with the nominees in this category, voters may go by process of elimination. Writer-director Mike Leigh is famous for improvisation, so how much can he claim credit for writing Vera Drake? Keir Pearson and Terry George’s Hotel Rwanda tells a moving real-life story of courage, but it follows a somewhat conventional narrative arc in a film few people have seen. Brad Bird offers a witty take on middle-age superheroes in The Incredibles, but no screenplay Oscar has ever gone to an animated film. That brings us to The Aviator, which has generated some reported backlash about whether John Logan deserves solo script credit. Add in the mixed response to the movie itself among filmgoers and Hollywood buzz-makers, and a once-certain Logan victory seems like anything but. That leaves Charlie Kaufman (and his two story collaborators), whose wiggy romance Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was his top-grossing film ever and generated 12 critics’ awards as well as his third Oscar nod. We suspect the third time may just be the charm. /* <![CDATA[ */ if ( '' == '' && tiiDetectFlash(6) ) { document.write('’); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); document.write(”); } else { document.write(”); } /* ]]> */

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