Friday, February 25, 2005

Oscar Picks

OK, my picks for the Academy Awards.  These are based on:

1.  The few nominated films I've seen.
2.  Stray articles I've read regarding others' picks.
3.  How other awards have played out.

4.  The "Award Option" prices at  That is the "Hollywood Stock Exchange," where people buy & sell (fake) stocks with (fake) money in motion picture films and personalities.  The "Award Option" prices give a good snapshot of what folks -- folks who are obsessive enough about movies to wager fake money on them -- think is going to win.
5.  My Two Principles of Oscar Pickery:
     a.  The Academy ALWAYS pays its debts.
     b.  There's generally one (1) surprise award.  Frequently (but not always) in a supporting actor/actress category.

The picks, then:

Best Picture:  Million Dollar Baby
I feel good about this.  Which is to say, I wanted it to win even before I saw it.  When the nominations came out, the only nominated picture I'd seen was The Aviator, and I didn't think it deserved the big award.  Million Dollar Baby seemed its only competition, and, now that I've seen it, I'd say it's worthy.  And, even though Aviator took the Golden Globe, I've been pleasantly surprised to see the momentum swing in M$B's direction.  Most picks I've seen are going with it (Roger Ebert and Entertainment Weekly, to name two) and the Hollywood Stock Exchange people are betting on it over Aviator by more than 2 to 1 (and it went up another point today).

Best Director:  Clint Eastwood
This is the hard one.  Normally, it would be easy.  I'm assuming M$B for Best Picture; Eastwood won the Golden Globe (despite where they went with Best Picture); Eastwood won Director's Guild; Ebert likes Eastwood for it; HSX goes for him by almost 2 to 1; and what I didn't like about Aviator was largely the fault of director Scorsese.  But, look back at Principle of Oscar Pickery a.  The Academy pays its debts and it owes Scorsese an Oscar (four prior nominations, no wins) -- compared to Eastwood (two nominations, won for Unforgiven).  But, although the Academy owes Scorsese, I'm not sure they feel like they owe him now.  He's not yet 65, and he's got more movies left in him.  Besides, the Academy may feel like it owes Eastwood for Mystic River last year, which he didn't win because they were busy paying their debt to Peter Jackson.  (Interesting note -- everyone I spoke to at lunch today thought Eastwood did win for Mystic River.)  So, I'm going with Eastwood, but I'm not sure about it.

Best Actor: Jamie Foxx
This is the surest thing in Oscar picks this year.  HSX has him 10 to 1 over his nearest competitor (Don Cheadle, who I hear was wonderful -- but nobody's seen the movie).

Best Actress:  Hilary Swank
The second surest thing -- in that I haven't really heard anyone go against it.  HSX is also extremely high in her favor.

Best Supporting Actor:  Morgan Freeman
This one is going to be the Academy's debt-payer this year.  Morgan Freeman has three prior nomination (Shawshank Redemption, anyone?) and no wins.  His performance in Million Dollar Baby wasn't anything better than the solid work he's done for years, but it's about damn time they give him a statue, and nobody else turned in the sort of eye-catching work that would take it from him.

Best Supporting Actress:  Cate Blanchett
This will be the nod for Aviator.  (It may also clean up the more technical awards.)  But Blanchett's Hepburn was stellar.  (Entertainment Weekly picked her, and HSX is for her by nearly 2 to 1.)  I'm a little worried that Scalzi seems so solid on Virginia Madsen -- particularly as I haven't seen Sideways so can't judge -- but I don't feel like Madsen is going to pull off an upset of the Kevin Kline/Marisa Tomei variety.

Other Picks:
If Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind isn't the freakin' definition of Original Screenplay, I don't know what is.  Which leaves Adapted Screenplay as the consolation prize for Sideways.  I like The Incredibles for Best Animated Feature both because it rocks and because I think the Academy voters would like any opportunity to emphasize to Disney execs how important Pixar is.  "Accidentally in Love" (Shrek 2) is the one Oscar-nominated Best Song that I put on my ipod.  And, honestly, I think Best Art Direction is too close to call.

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