Dan’s Oscar Picks – “He seems a bit confident, even though everyone else is saying it is too close to call!”

The Couch Potato Report – February 24th, 2005
In The Couch Potato Report this week, I offer you my Academy Award predictions, and two alternatives to all of the Oscar hype.
On Sunday night the eyes of the world will be focused on one address: 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Hollywood, California.
For on that night at The Kodak Theatre The 77th Annual Academy Awards will be awarded in 24 categories.
The six major categories are BEST ACTRESS, BEST ACTOR, BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, BEST DIRECTOR and BEST PICTURE, and those are the categories I am going to focus on right now and give you my predictions of who is going to win.
Some have called this the most unpredictable year at the Academy Awards in a long time, but it really isn’t.
Especially in the BEST ACTOR category where the nominees are Don Cheadle – HOTEL RWANDA, Johnny Depp – FINDING NEVERLAND, Leonardo DiCaprio – THE AVIATOR, Clint Eastwood – MILLION DOLLAR BABY and Jamie Foxx – RAY
Not only am I telling you that Jamie Foxx will win for RAY, but I will also plainly state that if Foxx doesn’t walk away with the trophy, it will be seen as the biggest Oscar blunder since SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE won for BEST PICTURE over SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.
Biographies of remarkable, real-life individuals are heavily represented among Oscar winners.
Plus, an overwhelming number of actors have won the top acting awards for portraying characters with physical or mental disabilities or diseases.
A few examples are Cliff Robertson in 1968 for CHARLY, Jack Nicholson in 1975 for ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, Dustin Hoffman in 1988 for RAIN MAN, Daniel Day-Lewis in 1989 for MY LEFT FOOT, Al Pacino – SCENT OF A WOMAN in 1992, Tom Hanks for PHILADELPHIA in 1993, and for FORREST GUMP in 1994, and Jack Nicholson again in 1997 for AS GOOD AS IT GETS.
Plus, even though DiCaprio, Cheadle, Depp and Eastwood are all also playing real-life people, some even with physical or mental disabilities or diseases, Jamie Foxx is also a shoo in to win because he is playing Ray Charles, one of the most beloved American entertainers of the past century.
Jamie Foxx may be the one sure thing this year, but if you look at some of the trends that the Academy voters have followed over the years, there seems to be clear indications as to who will win in the other five major categories as well.
For instance, it helps an actress’s chances of winning the BEST ACTRESS Oscar if the character dies during the movie, is a prostitute, an alcoholic or addicted to drugs, or is a murderess.
Some examples of that Oscar truism are Elizabeth Taylor for BUTTERFIELD 8 in 1960, Jane Fonda in 1971’s KLUTE, and Charlize Theron in Monster in 2003.
The nominees in the BEST ACTRESS category this year are: Annette Bening – BEING JULIA, Catalina Sandino Moreno – MARIA FULL OF GRACE, Imelda Staunton – VERA DRAKE, Hilary Swank – MILLION DOLLAR BABY and Kate Winslet – ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.
The two frontrunners are Annette Bening and Hilary Swank, who also competed against each other in this category in 1999.
That year Swank won the BEST ACTRESS Oscar for her work in BOYS DON’T CRY, even though Bening was pregnant, and her film AMERICAN BEAUTY won BEST PICTURE and four other statuettes.
Sadly, for Bening, after Sunday night the score will now be Swank – 2, Bening – 0.
Sad for Bening, but good for movie lovers as Swank’s performance is just that good.
Should you be looking for a dark horse to come along and surprise pundits like myself, this is the category it could happen in.
It is possible that Hilary and Annette will split the vote, meaning the incredible Imelda Staunton will win for her performance in VERA DRAKE.
However, that is quite unlikely as Swank has all of the buzz in the movie industry right now, and she does have the Academy’s history of voting patterns behind her.
Let me move now to the BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR category, where another voting pattern of the Academy is going to pay off this year for a beloved actor.
That pattern is how the Academy likes to award an Oscar for an entire body of work.
The nominees for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR are Alan Alda – THE AVIATOR, Thomas Haden Church – SIDEWAYS, Jamie Foxx – COLLATERAL, Morgan Freeman – MILLION DOLLAR BABY and Clive Owen – CLOSER.
This year expect Morgan Freeman to claim the prize.
Freeman was nominated in this category in 1988 for STREET SMART and he was nominated as BEST ACTOR in 1990 for DRIVING MISS DAISY and in 1994 for THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.
Freeman has been the heart and soul of too many movies to list, he has been the voice of reason in too many more, and in BRUCE ALMIGHTY he even played God.
Freeman’s work in MILLION DOLLAR BABY is a steady and as brilliant as always, but it isn’t the best performance that he’s ever given.
Yet just like Paul Newman in THE COLOUR OF MONEY, Al Pacino in SCENT OF A WOMAN and the work Sean Connery did in THE UNTOUCHABLES, Freeman will take home Oscar gold because of his body of work.
We move on now to the BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS.
I can tell you two things that are facts about this category: 1) First-time nominees often win this Award, and 2) Even though I correctly predicted that Renee Zellweger would win this award last year for COLD MOUNTAIN, I usually get this category wrong.
That said, the Academy Award nominees for BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE are Cate Blanchett – THE AVIATOR, Laura Linney – KINSEY, Virginia Madsen – SIDEWAYS, Sophie Okonedo – HOTEL RWANDA and Natalie Portman – CLOSER.
As I said earlier regarding the BEST ACTOR category, biographies of remarkable, real-life individuals are heavily represented among Oscar winners.
Since Katharine Hepburn won more Academy Awards than any other actor it would seem to make sense that a victory would be in the cards for Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Hepburn in THE AVIATOR.
But some in the movie community have called Blanchett’s performance “over the top”, so the buzz is against her.
In addition to the negative buzz, the BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS category has a few trends that are all it’s own.
This award is usually given to a young actress for their first nomination, such as Marisa Tomei in 1992 for MY COUSIN VINNY, Anna Paquin in 1993 for THE PIANO and Mira Sorvino’s 1995 win for MIGHTY APHRODITE.
By that logic I should tell you that Sophie Okonedo will win for HOTEL RWANDA, and some prognosticators are saying that these days.
But this category has another trend.
The BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS award has also been given for a performance that is seen as comeback, a la Kim Basinger in 1997’s L.A. CONFIDENTIAL.
Granted, Okonedo is very strong in HOTEL RWANDA, but the buzz all seems to be behind this year’s comeback kid, Virginia Madsen.
Madsen was a star in such eighties and nineties films as ELECTRIC DREAMS, DUNE, THE HOT SPOT, CANDYMAN and THE RAINMAKER, but her profile over the last few years has been well below the radar of the Academy.
Plus, prior to this year, the only nomination she has ever received was due to her work in 1992’s CANDYMAN. That year she was singled out as BEST ACTRESS by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
Yes, they are a reputable and respected group to be sure, but they are not the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences, so Virginia’s nomination this year in the BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS category will correctly be seen as her first.
Since she is a first time nominee AND her work can be seen as a comeback. I say that she will win.
But, just remember, even though I got it right last year, this has traditionally been my weakest category for predicting the Academy Award winners.
Whereas guessing the BEST PICTURE winners has been a strong suit of mine.
This year I see no reason to feel that pattern will end.
The nominees for BEST PICTURE are THE AVIATOR, FINDING NEVERLAND, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, RAY and SIDEWAYS, but there are only two films to remember. This category is a race between Martin Scorsese’s THE AVIATOR and Clint Eastwood’s MILLION DOLLAR BABY.
Over the past decade the BEST PICTURE race has been the one that has been the easiest to predict. The one exception was in 1998, when the aforementioned SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE beat the far superior SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.
This year MILLION DOLLAR BABY has all of the buzz and all of the momentum.
All of it!
Even if this was originally intended to be the year that Martin Scorsese’s career was recognized, due to Oscar history, THE AVIATOR has to be seen as the second place finisher.
No movie about Hollywood has ever won the top prize. Even Billy Wilder’s classic SUNSET BOULEVARD didn’t win best picture!
Clint Eastwood’s UNFORGIVEN was named BEST PICTURE in 1992, and this year his MILLION DOLLAR BABY will take the top prize again.
The only question remaining now is: Does Eastwood also win for BEST DIRECTOR?
Does he beat out Scorsese’s work in both of the top two categories?
But Scorsese is in incredible company. Some of the greatest directors of all time have never won an Academy Award for BEST DIRECTOR. The list includes Charlie Chaplin, Howard Hawks, D. W. Griffith, Brian De Palma, Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Terrence Malick, Robert Altman, Spike Lee, Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton, Tim Burton, Blake Edwards, Arthur Penn, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, David Lynch, Peter Weir, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Sam Peckinpah, and Martin Scorsese.
The last name on the list was nominated in 1980 for RAGING BULL and again in 1991 for GOODFELLAS. He should have won both times.
He was also nominated in 1989 for THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST and in 2002 for GANGS OF NEW YORK.
Still, the great Martin Scorsese has never won an Oscar.
With the epic THE AVIATOR on the release schedule, 2004 looked to be the year that Hollywood would reward him for an unprecedented career.
Sadly, this won’t be Martin Scorsese’s year, yet again.
Even though Clint Eastwood has won before, and the beloved Scorsese hasn’t, Eastwood’s work on MILLION DOLLAR BABY is the favourite to win.
That is partially due to the fact that Eastwood won the Directors Guild of America’s Best Film Director award for MILLION DOLLAR BABY.
The winner of the DGA award has gone on to win the Academy Award in 50 of the past 56 years.
Because of his incredible career, and due to the fact that the Academy likes to award an Oscar for an entire body of work, Martin Scorsese would seem to (finally) be guaranteed an Oscar come Sunday night.
But the only guarantee in this year’s Oscar races is Jamie Foxx. All everyone else can do is hope.
Of course, I am not hoping anything, I sit here quite confident that my choices will all win, due to the reasons I’ve given you. So, to recap, my predictions in the six major categories for the 77th Annual Academy Awards are:
BEST ACTOR – Jamie Foxx – RAY
Sorry Marty!
Now if you find yourself sick and tired of all of this Oscar talk, and you would rather just sit and watch something that will never win an Academy Award, I offer you two alternatives.
The new special edition DVD release of HALF BAKED and SOUTH PARK – THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON.
Let’s start with the very stupid, very juvenile, very funny comedy HALF BAKED.
The movie is about four pothead buddies, one of whom is thrown in jail.
His buddies – including Dave Chappelle from CHAPPELLE’S SHOW and Jim Breuer of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE – have to come up with the money to free their buddy.
As I said, HALF BAKED is very, very stupid, but if you like films about stoners, like DAZED AND CONFUSED and the repertoire of CHEECH AND CHONG, then you will find HALF BAKED much to your amusement.
You will also be amused with the additional features that are now available in the HALF BAKED – FULLY LOADED EDITION DVD. There is an Alternate Ending, ten Deleted Scenes and a Director’s Commentary with Tamra Davis.
Whatever you do, just make sure you have some snacks handy in case you get the munchies!
The other Academy Award alternative I have for you this week is from a franchise that was actually nominated for an Oscar once.
Yes, the movie version of SOUTH PARK – BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT was nominated for BEST ORIGINAL SONG.
In SOUTH PARK – THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON you can join Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny as they discover a government secret, accidentally get sent to Afghanistan and get into an extreme slugfest when ‘Big Gay Al’ returns. Some of the episodes are: It Hits the Fan, Cripple Fight, Super Best Friends, Scott Tenorman Must Die and Cartmanland.
Call it dumb fun, call it a guilty pleasure, or whatever you’d like. I just call it funny.
If you need an alternative to this weekend’s Oscar festivities The HALF BAKED – FULLY LOADED EDITION and SOUTH PARK – THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON are both available now on DVD.
Walt Disney’s classic 1942 film BAMBI debuts on DVD in a special Platinum Edition 2-disc set.
In THE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS MOVIE SpongeBob and Patrick set out to save Bikini Bottom. If you think this is a movie just for kids, I offer this phrase: You are only as young as you feel. Feel young, enjoy SpongeBob!
The word “enjoy” will never be used in conjunction with EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING. In this prequel to the classic horror film Father Merrin has his first encounter with demonic forces. Stellan Skarsgard, James D’Arcy and Izabella Scorupco star.
Eric Idle stars in THE RUTLES 2 – CAN’T BUY ME LUNCH. Yes, Pre-Fab Four are back!
SCTV is back as well. In the box set SCTV – VOLUME 3 the series reacts to the success of “The Great White North” segments featuring Bob and Doug McKenzie and Martin Short joins the cast.
I’m Dan Reynish and I’ll have more on SCTV – VOLUME 3, and those other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and The Oscars and I’ll see you back here next week on The Couch!