The Return of Oscarblogging

The Academy Awards will be starting in about 20 minutes or so. Last year, I made some picks and did some live-blogging, and I figure I might as well make that a tradition. Since I'm short on time (as I was last year), here are my picks:
  • Best Picture: This seems to be between Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator. Baby seems to have all the momentum tonight, so I'll go with that one, but I wouldn't be surprised if The Aviator or Ray took home the statue.
  • Best Director: I'm going with Martin Scorsese even though Clint Eastwood's film has all the buzz. I'm betting on the sympathy vote here, as Scorsese is probably the best director without an Oscar, and I think the academy will give him the nod. Eastwood still has a chance of course, and I certainly wouldn't be surprised if he wins...
  • Best Actor: I'm going to say Jamie Foxx for his role in Ray, though there is an outside chance that Depp will get the nod (again, due to sympathy vote, but it's a longshot). Eastwood also has a chance, but I still think it'll fall to Foxx. The only thing going against Foxx is that he's been nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category as well (thus splitting his votes between the two categories), but I don't think there's any doubt as to which performance takes the cake.
  • Best Actress: Hilary Swank, though I suppose Annette Bening could give her a run for her money. Catalina Sandino Moreno gave a stunning performance, but she's a real longshot.
  • Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman. He's never won an oscar and his film has all the buzz tonight. On the other hand, Thomas Haden Church may get the nod because Sideways seems like a popular feature and the Academy might not want to let that film go away empty-handed.
  • Best Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett seems to have all the buzz for this category.
  • Best Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Charlie Kaufman has gained a lot of popularity since Being John Malkovich, so it's natural that he'll get the nod here.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Again, Million Dollar Baby has all the momentum going into the night, so I'll go with that.
  • Editing: I'm going to go out on a limb and say Collateral, but I think it could easily go to The Aviator.
  • Cinematography: Give it to the The Aviator.
  • Visual Effects: Spider Man 2, because it was the best of the three
  • Best Animated Film: The Incredibles, hands down.
  • Best Documentary: Not sure, but I'll go with Super Size Me because it seems to have been quite popular (which, of course, means very little).
This year is much more difficult to predict than last year. Million Dollar Baby seems to be the big movie this year, but it isn't quite the lock that Lord of the Rings: Return of the King was last year. That's it for now, updates to follow...

The Oscars definitely aren't as popular as they once were, but I still find them interesting to watch. Their decline in popularity can be partly attributed to "awards fatigue," as there are now numerous awards shows around this time of year. James Berardinelli (hrm, my picks are remarkably similar to his) thinks it has to do with predictability:
Pretentiousness is a flaw, but the real problem is predictability. Surprises are not welcome at the Oscars. Like a wedding, everything must move according to plan. Unlike a wedding, however, this is not a personal event. It's an entertainment show, and it has become boring. Not only is it easy to guess most of the winners (especially the important ones), but even the occasional unexpected victory produces little more than a shrug. Speeches are cookie-cutter thank-yous that typically fall afoul of the two-minute (or however long it is) rule. A good speech - one that is short, pithy, and clearly written - is a rarity. And, for any celebrity who thinks this is an opportunity to declare a political position, get over yourself! No one is watching the Oscars to hear what you think of the war in Iraq. If you're not going to say something intelligent and witty, say, "Thank you, Daddy and Mommy. Thank you, Mr. Director. And thank you, Academy," then get the hell off the stage.
It should certainly be interesting to see if Chris Rock can liven things up a little bit. There are some other changes the Academy is making this year in an effort to get past the stigma that Berardinelli mentions, but they seem more calculated and could fall flat. It looks like the show is starting so hopefully I'll be live-blogging for at least a little while...

Update: Liveblogging moved to extended entry. Click below to read on... Update 8:32 pm ET: Man, Chris Rock is falling flat. Some funny lines, but there's something missing.

Update 8:40 pm ET: Rock is doing better. "I saw Passion of the Christ. Not funny." A few minute's ago, I saw that Samuel L. Jackson was wearing sunglasses. Last year I busted on Michael Douglas for wearing sunglasses, but Samuel L. just makes it work. Go figure.

Update 8:45 pm ET: Did they just give out an award? Anyway, Roger L. Simon is a member of the Academy and he posted his picks.

Update 8:51 pm ET: Morgan Freeman won for the first time in 4 nominations. Chalk me up as 1 for 1. Hey, they just played him off the stage to the Star Trek theme music. What the hell?

Update 8:56 pm ET: You know something is wrong when Robin Williams is funnier than Chris Rock. And hey, the Incredibles won - 2 for 2!

Update 9:03 pm ET: I hate Oscar music performances. I'm grabbing a beer (a full half-hour before I was driven to drink last year - not a good sign).

Update 9:22 pm ET: Holy Crap, 3 for 3. This can't last much longer...

Update 9:31 pm ET: Aww, what was I thinking? Of course Prostitutes would be more popular than Fast Food, especially when it comes to the Academy. Zing!

Update 9:34 pm ET: The Aviator seems to be taking the majority of the awards here tonight. Will that translate to the biggies like Best Picture and Best Director?

Update 9:43 pm ET: You know, I was almost fooled by that little stunt. It really looked like a mistake when it started... And Sideways won. This makes sense as a sympathy vote, and it virtually guarantees that Sideways won't win anything else. So now I'm at 3 for 6. Crap.

Update 10:00 pm ET: Here are some other Oscarbloggers: Update 10:07 pm ET: Did I mention that I hate Oscar music performances? You know what that means I'm doing, right?

Update 10:15 pm ET: Again with the inappropriate theme music. This time it's the Terminator theme that ushers the Aviator's cinematographer off stage. Weird.

Update 10:27 pm ET: Antonio Banderas, is there anything you can't do?

Update 10:28 pm ET: Wait, nevermind, there's lots Banderas can't do.

Update 10:38 pm ET: Chris Rock just made a joke about Oprah, and she didn't look too pleased. She was either confused by the randomness of his joke, or she was simply contemplating how to go about eating him.

Update 10:50 pm ET: Yay dead people!

Update 11:03 pm ET: Wow, Sean Penn is a tool. It was a joke, Sean.

Update 11:05 pm ET: Hilary Swank wins for Best Actress. She's the real deal. "I haven't gotten to Clint yet!" Heh.

Update 11:17 pm ET: Well, even though he's only been on the scene for a few years, it's about time Charlie Kaufman won an Oscar for writing. And he's given a genuinely amusing acceptance speech as well. Perhaps the best of the night so far, but that ain't saying much...

Update 11:26 pm ET: Jamie Foxx gets the nod for Best Actor. Damn, he's a good imitator (and not just Ray - see Jamie next year in "Sidney," the story of Sidney Poitier).

Update 11:28 pm ET: J. Ott: "Yes, bring on the waterworks. Nice close. Give him another Oscar."

Update 11:33 pm ET: Burn! Poor old Marty Scorcese. But Clint is no surprise either... and his mom is in the audience! How sweet. Nice classy speech too.

Update 11:36 pm ET: Dustin Hoffman sounds like he'd rather be somewhere else. He must be high or something. And the Best Picture is... Million Dollar Baby. Big surprise!

Closing Thoughts: Well, I was 9 for 13, which works out to 69%. Not too shabby, though still a considerable drop from last year's 79%, but this year was tougher. All in all, a pretty uneventful and somewhat banal night. Very classy, but nothing very compelling either. I was hoping Chris Rock would slip a cuss past the censors or something. Hey, it's before midnight and it's over. That's odd.

And there's the Terminator theme again. Weird. On that note, I head for the sack. It's been real.