This is another low-grossing year for the Oscars, since aside from The Departed, none of the Best Picture nominees has cleared $100 million. However, it's not the total commercial embarrassment last year's slate was -- only two of this year's Best Picture nominees have been outgrossed by a Best Documentary nominee instead of all of them. It's progress!Indeed! However, I'm betting that within the next decade, a Best Documentary film will be nominated for Best Picture. But I digress. On with the picks:
- Best Picture: This is actually the toughest of the major categories. The only film that gets an obvious axe is The Queen, as I suspect the voters will think the Best Actress nod will be enough. I'd say that Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima is next on the chopping block, as it's a foreign language film told from the perspective of our enemy. Little Miss Sunshine probably has a better chance than a lot of critics say, because it's the only one of the nominees that people seem to really enjoy. The academy typically doesn't reward comedies, but Sunshine has a sorta Shakespeare in Love (which somehow managed to beat out Saving Private Ryan in 98) feeling to it. The popular choices generally seem to fall between Babel and The Departed. Neither film seems to be tremendously popular with the Academy, but I'll say that The Departed will have the momentum tonight, and that will be my choice.
- Best Director: Martin Scorsese. I mean, come on, the guy is due. Not only that, but The Departed is legitimately a great film. The only real threat comes from Clint Eastwood, but I suspect that the Academy will recognize that Clint already has two statues for directing and will want to right their several wrongs (i.e. Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas). This is complete speculation, but I'd like to think that academy members, which are predominantly actors, will fall into line on this one. Hell, I bet Clint would vote for Scorsese. One other note: It's really nice to see Paul Greengrass get the nomination as he did an outstanding job in United 93, but it's a sympathy nomination that won't carry over to the award.
- Best Actor: Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland. The only thing he has going against him is that, from what I understand, he plays more of a supporting role. But he has a lot going for him, not the least of which is that he apparently gives a stellar performance. Plus, I don't see much in the way of competition. Then again, I haven't seen any of the films in this category (!), so I could be completely off base. If Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for The Departed, I think he would have been a good dark horse, but somehow I don't think Blood Diamond has legs. Peter O'Toole has some momentum, but I don't think it's enough to unseat Whitaker as the favorite.
- Best Actress: Helen Mirren for The Queen. No contest here.
- Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls. The film got the snub for Best Picture and Director, so I'm betting they'll have the sympathy vote in the smaller categories. Alan Arkin has a fair chance here, though.
- Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls. I think she's pretty much a lock too.
- Best Original Screenplay: Another difficult category. My superstition is that Screenplay awards tend to go to films that do well commercially, but sometimes don't do so well in the major categories (the most notable evidence for this that comes to mind is Pulp Fiction, but I called this a superstition for a reason). As such, I think this will go to Little Miss Sunshine. I think this may be a fair predictor to how well Sunshine will do in Best Picture (if it wins screenplay, I think it's out of the running). I think the other nominees have a fair chance, but Sunshine stands out.
- Best Adapted Screenplay: The Departed. The competition for this is somewhat week. There is some buzz that Borat will take the statue, but I can't imagine that happening. I mean, was there really a script for most of that movie? It would fit with my Screenplay going to the more popular film theory though...
- Editing: Another tough one, but I think this is going to be The Departed's night. I'd say there is a pretty good chance for Babel or United 93 here as well.
- Cinematography: I'll give this one to Pan's Labyrinth, though it could also go to Children of Men (personally, I loved the cinematography in The Illusionist, but I don't think it has a chance). Also, why wasn't The Fountain nominated? I think it would have an easy win here if it were.
- Visual Effects: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
- Musical Score: Babel.
- Best Song: Well, it's almost certainly a song from Dreamgirls, but three were nominated! I'll just pick "Listen."
- Makeup: Pan's Labyrinth.
- Best Animated Film: Cars.
- Best Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth (though it could easily go to one of the other nominees).
- Best Foreign Language Film: Pan's Labyrinth.
Update 8:28 pm: Oh boy! Only 2 minutes to go! I don't get the appeal of the preshows. The Barbara Walters special is theoretically neat, but they didn't have anyone interesting this year. And I really, really don't get the red carpet stuff. But I'm not a fashion nerd, so whatever.
Update 8:33 pm: This montage where all the nominees goof off is a great idea. If only these people were more interesting when they give their acceptance speeches. Still, this makes for a great way to start the Oscars. Good sign? Or downhill from here?
Update 8:39 pm: Ok, Ellen's not doing that bad. I even laughed a couple of times. But I'm going to start drinking. This is probably a bad sign.
Update 8:42 pm: "It's not that we don't have time for long speeches, it's that we don't have time for boring speeches." Brilliant. I've heard that the Oscar producers have been pushing for winners to be more interesting and do less "thanking" of random people. We'll see, I guess.
Update 8:48 pm: Pan's Labyrinth takes the Art Direction award, and deservedly so. Apparently I missed this one when making my pics, but I probably would have picked this one. Annnnd, yep, boring speech.
Update 8:55 pm: Will Ferrell & Jack Black are funny. Comedies really don't do well at the Oscars. The last outright comedy that won was Annie Hall in 1977. I don't know if this augors for or against Little Miss Sunshine. And John C. Reilly joins the show! I honestly think that dude should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Talledega Nights. Funny stuff.
Update 8:58 pm: Pan's Labyrinth takes the Makup award. So far, I'm 1 for 1.
Update 9:01 pm: Poor kids. Not only were they forced to get up in front of the entire world and read bad jokes off the teleprompter, but they're presenting the award for animated shorts.
Update 9:02 pm: Yeah! The Danish Poet won. Woo Hoo! I can't believe it won! It's so exciting! Holy shit, I never thought they'd reward that short! This is great!
Update 9:04 pm: West Bank Story wins the live action short award, and the clip they showed is actually kinda funny (it's a comedy/musical that takes place between to falafel stands in Israel/Palestine) . And holy crap, Jack Nicholson has no hair! Sorry, just saw that. And this guy is actually giving a decent speech.
Update 9:07 pm: Man, I hate trackbacks. I'm temporarily removing the Scalzi link at the top of this post, as I have to wait for the trackback to fail every time I update this post. I'll put it back in later. Sorry John!
Update 9:13 pm: This sound effects choir is pretty neat. Another good idea. Hey, is that Michael Winslow from the Police Academy movies? This is pretty awesome.
Update 9:16 pm: Sound editing jokes were actually kinda funny. Another award I neglected to pick. Sorry. Letters from Iwo Jima takes the award and... yep, boring thank yous. Seriously, maybe they should forbid anything but a generic thank you and we'll get more interesting acceptance speeches.
Update 9:18 pm: I guess we're getting all the boring awards out of the way first, huh? I wonder how they decide what order to do the awards in. Sometimes they'll put big awards at the beginning of the show, which I guess is supposed to suck in viewers, and then keep them watching until the end. Which is better? You got me. Dreamgirls wins Sound Mixing. It being a musical, I guess that makes sense (another award I didn't pick).
Update 9:25 pm: Best Supporting Actor goes to... Alan Arkin! I'm 1 for 2 now, but I don't have any issues with it. Hmm, does Ellen know if Scorsese won? This would be kinda cruel if he didn't.
Update 9:35 pm: I've made no secret that I hate the musical performances at the Oscars (with the notable exception of Blame Canada and that time Antonio Banderas came out and sang that song, which was so bad as to be entertaining). Putting two in a row is a mixed blessing. It's bad because, well, I have to endure it. But it's good because we're at least getting some of it over with, like ripping off a band aid really fast. I almost wish they'd do all the nominees now.
Update 9:37 pm: Yay global warming!
Update 9:43 pm: Ok, so not only has Jack Nicholson shaved his head, but he's wearing sunglasses too. Every year, some idiot does this. Samuel L. Jackson made it work. Nicholson kinda does, but a part of me just thinks he got high and didn't want anyone to know. Best Animated Feature goes to Happy Feet. Crap. I'm 1 for 3.
Update 9:46 pm: Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo! Montages are actually pretty entertaining...
Update 9:51 pm: William Monahan wins for The Departed, making me 2 for 4. He at least makes a funny comment at the beginning of his speech before devolving back into the thank yous.
Update 10:01 pm: Costumes, yet another award I neglected to pick, goes to Marie Antoinette. Her speech was filled with thank yous, but it was still kinda decent...
Update 10:07 pm: As Tom Cruise kisses some studio head's ass, I just want to mention that in the above entry, I didn't mean to imply that Marie Antoinette's reanimated corpse gave an acceptance speech. It was the costume designer for the movie, not Marie. Whoa, what's going on with her neck? Again, I'm not referring Marie Antoinette, but the studio head woman.
Update 10:11 pm: Ellen got Stephen Spielberg to take a picture of Clint Eastwood and her so that she could put it on MySpace. It was funnier than it sounds.
Update 10:14 pm: Cinematography goes to Pan's Labyrinth, and I'm at 3 for 5.
Update 10:21 pm: Heh, Robert Downey jr making fun of his drug abuse. Why are there only three nominees for visual effects this past year? Strange. Oscar goes to Pirates, and after a rocky start I'm at 4 for 6. Another joke in an acceptance speech! And I can tell he made it up on the spot because he referenced a joke from earlier in the night.
Update 10:30 pm: Mitchieville is also liveblogging: "If you are watching the Osacrs right now, you're listening to two insufferable foreigners yammering on about nothing. Just hurry the hell up, foreigners, I gotta pee." And holy crap, Pan's Labryinth doesn't win! How can this be? Seriously, what's going on here? I've never heard of "Lives of Others" but come on, how can Pan's Labryinth lose this award? I guess it was a little too dark for the academy...
Update 10:33 pm: A tribute to Snakes on a Plane? Why not?
Update 10:37 pm: And best supporting actress goes to Jennifer Hudson. I guess they can't all be upsets. I'm 5 for 8. Ok, she thanked God twice. Kissass.
Update 10:40 pm: It's not the Superbowl, but the Oscars always has some good new commercials. There's been a couple, but the highlight has to be Wes Anderson's American Express commercial about a half hour ago: "Can you do a .357 with a bayonet?" Heh.
Update 10:50 pm: Hey, it's Jerry Seinfeld and they let him badmouth theaters. Nice. Best Documentary goes to An Inconvenient Truth. Shocker. I'm 6 for 9. Yay global warming.
Update 10:55 pm: Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western scores are so awesome, and I had no idea that he did all these other ones and oh damn, a music performance that isn't even one of this year's nominees. I'm getting another beer.
Update 11:00 pm: I think Ennio Morricone just cursed in Italian and Clint is just winging it in an attempt to cover it up.
Update 11:09 pm: Best original score goes to Babel and I'm at 7 for 10. Guy is boring. You get the picture.
Update 11:11 pm: Oh shit, the president of the Academy. And he's cheating on a bet. Run!
Update 11:15 pm: And Original Screenplay goes to Little Miss Sunshine. I thought this was a tough category, but now that I think about it, Sunshine was the obvious choice. Hence my pick, and I'm at 8 for 11.
Update 11:28 pm: Best orignal song goes to... An Inconvenient Truth? Huh, I guess I should have seen that coming - by having three nominations, Dreamgirls probably ended up splitting their votes. Plus, Hollywood is falling all over themselves for Al Gore. Hopefully no more music performances tonight. Indeed, we're getting to a point where the only awards left are going to be big ones. Yay global warming. I'm at 8 for 12.
Update 11:35 pm: Michael Mann's look at America? Intriguing, but it turns out to be just another montage. A good one, though.
Update 11:44 pm: Gah, I forgot about the Editing award. It goes to The Departed, and she makes an interesting comment about this being the third Scorsese film to win for Editing. Is the next half hour going to be all Marty, all the time?
Update 11:46 pm: Dammit, I forgot about the annual dead people montage. Come on, get to the good awards people!
Update 11:52 pm: As an aside, why wasn't Philip Seymour Hoffman nominated for MI III? Oh, and Hellen Mirren wins, of course. In fact, I wrote and published this before she actually won.
Update 11:54 pm: You see, I was right. She won (Take that, Sov!). And I'm at 10 for 14. The way they're going, they're probably going to put Best Director as the last award announced. And Scorsese will lose.
Update 12:04 am: Just announce the award already! Alright, Forest Whitaker wins, got it, NEXT! (No, I'm not impatient, why? I'm at 11 for 15.)
Update 12:07 am: Three Amigos? Uh, yeah, whatever, just tell us that Scorsese won. Please.
Update 12:10 am: Holy fuck, he won. Three 6 Mafia: One, Martin Scorsese: One. It's a dead heat now. Heh, I bet he's had that "check the envelope" joke ready for 15 years (and like, 5 nominations). Great speech, and thank God we won't have to endure the "Will he win" debate every time he makes a film (we probably will, but one can hope).
Update 12:14 am: And The Departed takes best picture. Congrats Marty, it's a great night for your film.
Final Update 12:17 am: Ungh, it started out good, but went mostly downhill until the end when Scorsese won. I ended up at 13 for 17, which is around 76% (a little above average for me). So much for this being a night of upsets (except for Pan's Labyrinth losing out on best foreign language film, which it totally deserved.) I think maybe I'll have to take the DVR approach that James Berardinelli mentioned in his post, thus condensing the Oscars into about an hour or so.
The Actual Final Update 2.26.07, 7:00 pm: It appears that Alex has also liveblogged the event, while Steven thinks that the Academy is running out of time to give Roger Corman the lifetime achievement award (I concur).