Black Star Oscar Predictions

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Unless there’s an unanticipated, anti-gay backlash brewing, it’s a safe bet that Brokeback Mountain will gallop off with the most Oscars at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. While Crash may have topped this critic’s annual Top 10 List, unfortunately, that multi-cultural melodrama will suffer from being released way back on May 6th of last year. It’s homosexual themes which are hot now, with not only Brokeback, but Capote and Transamerica riding the gender-bending new wave.

Knowing that many of my faithful readers will be entering office and Oscar party pools, I relish this rare opportunity to provide a practical service by handicapping the contenders. Of course, besides presenting my picks to prevail, I’m also indicating which of the nominees actually deserve to win, and which flicks and performances were snubbed by the Academy entirely.

Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain is the prohibitive favorite, and Crash, which really deserves to win, is the only long-shots with a chance at pulling-off an upset. Probably the best flick not nominated was War of the Worlds, but this oversight doesn’t quite amount to a snub, since Munich was nominated which was also directed by Steven Spielberg.

Best Director: Because this category is ordinarily paired with Best Picture, Ang Lee will be a shoo-in for Brokeback, especially when you factor in his having been an Oscar also-ran five times before (for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Eat Drink Man Woman, The Wedding Banquet and Sense and Sensibility). Paul Haggis (Crash) deserves to win, but his chances (about 1 in 10) are about the same as George Clooney’s (Good Night, and Good Luck) and Spielberg’s (Munich). And that guy that directed Capote should just be grateful for the nomination. Overlooked: Spielberg for War of the Worlds.

Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) will edge out Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line) and Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain). Hey, it’s a gay year, plus Hoffman is a never-nominated veteran thespian who has been dissed at least a half-dozen times before, considering his stellar work in Flawless, Almost Famous, Magnolia, Happiness, Owning Mahony, Boogie Nights, Nexy Stop Wonderland, The talented Mr. Ripley, The Big Lebowski, and more. Against this competition, Hoffman deserves to win, but only because Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow) was nominated in the wrong category and for the wrong movie. (see below) Ignored: Eric Bana for Munich.

Best Actress: In a tightly-contested category, two-woman race, smart prognosticators will stick with Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) given her victories at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and British Academy Awards. Expect her to edge out Felicity Huffman’s more-deserving turn as a transsexual in Transamerica. Snubbed: Scarlett Johansson for Match Point.

Best Supporting Actor: Though veteran character actor Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man) might be a sentimental favorite based on his body of work, anticipate George Clooney (Syriana) getting enough sympathy votes to win from Academy members who have to pass on him in the Best Picture, Director and Screenplay categories. Matt Dillon (Crash) did the best job, but only has the snowball’s proverbial chance, here. Overlooked: Terrence Howard for Crash.
Best Supporting Actress: In the weakest of all the major categories, Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) ought to prevail over Michelle Williams’ (Brokeback Mountain) hand-wringing, so-so performance as a long-suffering housewife with a husband on the down-low. The rest of this bunch were just as unimpressive, make the snub of Thandie Newton for Crash that much more glaring. At least Thandie did win the British Academy Award.

Best Original Screenplay: Crash finally wins and deserves it.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Brokeback Mountain will win, Munich deserves to win, War of the Worlds was snubbed.
Best Foreign Film: Tsotsi will win, Sophie Scholl deserves to win, Calypso Dreams and Nina’s Tragedies were overlooked.
Best Animated Feature: Wallace & Gromit deserves to win and will win.
Best Score: Brokeback Mountain will win, Munich deserves to win, and The Gospel was snubbed.
Best Song: It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp (Hustle & Flow) will win and deserves to win, while Yolanda Adams’ spirited rendition of Victory was overlooked.
Best Cinematography: Brokeback Mountain will win, Munich deserves to win, War of the Worlds was snubbed

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