I didn’t realize the Academy Awards were tonight. Unlike most film aficianados, I actually enjoy the Oscars. I don’t place a particularly high value on them, but I’m usually entertained nonetheless. Since I just realized they were tonight and given that It’s starting in 15 or so minutes, I’m going to cut this introduction here a little short and just give my predictions (which I’ll have all of 5-10 minutes to think about). Perhaps later, I’ll have more updates (no guarantee that they’ll be tied to what’s happening during the show, but maybe).

Note: 2005 Picks and blogging here.

  • Best Picture: Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (more on why later)
  • Best Director: Peter Jackson for Return of the King (again, more on this later)
  • Best Actor: Bill Murray, though Sean Penn is also likely. Johnny Depp is the Dark Horse, but I think that was more of a sympathy nomination…
  • Best Actress: Charlize Theron for Monster, because she “bravely” uglied herself up. Ok, and she apparently gave a great performance too.
  • Best Supporting Actor: It looks like this one will go to Tim Robbins for Mystic River, but I’d love to see Ken Watanabe win it (not likely though)…
  • Best Supporting Actress: Toss up. Renee Zellweger has some buzz, as does Shohreh Aghdashloo. I’d also mention Marcia Gay Harden, but she won a few years ago so I don’t think she’ll win again…
  • Best Original Screenplay: Screenplay awards are where a lot of sympathy votes go, and if Lost in Translation doesn’t get the Best Picture nod, it will probably get this one… but don’t count out Jim Sheridan’s In America either.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Another toss up. It’s between Mystic River and Seabiscuit. I wouldn’t mind RotK or even City of God winning, but I don’t think either will…
  • Editing: Not sure at all. RotK better not win this one, but it might. We might see some sympathy votes for Master and Commander or City of God. I really don’t know…
  • Cinematography: RotK is noticeably absent from this one, so I’ll give it to Master and Commander.
  • Visual Effects: Return of the King, all the way. A second place to Pirates of the Caribbean.

There are plenty of other awards and more commentary on why I chose what I chose, but this will have to do for now. Again, more later.

The Intangibles:

Perhaps one of the more frustrating things about the Oscars is that the awards are often based more on the intangibles rather than any pseudo-objective measure of a film’s worth. We’re going to see this tonight when Return of the King wins Best Picture and Peter Jackson wins Best Director. Return of the King has it’s detractors, but it will win anyway because the Academy will think of it as awarding the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. This sort of thing worked against LotR in the past – the explaination as to why Fellowship of the Ring didn’t win was that there were still two films left and it’s bound to win Best Picture for them, right? Well, I guess we’ll see.

You’ll also notice that I mentioned “sympathy” votes above several times. Members of the Academy often view an actor’s or an actress’s entire body of work as being deserving of an Oscar and will vote for them based on that, rather than by their nominated performance. This is why Johnny Depp might win (not that his performance was bad, per say, just that he’s a very popular actor and might get votes based on that rather than just his performance).

Screenplay awards are also interesting, in that a lot of almost-Best-Picture-worthy-yet-wildly-popular films get the nod here. Again, sometimes this can be a sympathy award, as it was when Pulp Fiction won in 1994.

I haven’t seen a lot of the films that were nominated this year, but the intangibles are what allow me to make predictions because they’re not totally based on the movies themselves. Frustrating, right? Sure, but it’s kinda fun too.

Update 8:36 pm ET: Michael Moore just got stomped on by one of those giant elephants from Return of the King. I’m guess that was done with special effects. Damn. But it’s nice to see he has a sense of humor about himself.

Update 8:52 pm ET: Boy, Tim Robbins is boring, but I chalk me up a point as I did pick him… Also, check out James Berardinelli who is making live updates on his site as well…

Update 8:56 pm ET: Are these commercials made specifically for the Oscars? Kinda like the Super Bowl? Hrm. Scorcese was hilarious.

Update 9:03 pm ET: Michael Douglas, who are you kidding with those sunglasses?

Update 9:11 pm ET: James Berardinelli: “is it just me, or does Benicio Del Toro resemble a Wookie?”

Update 9:14 pm ET: LotR looks like it will be racking up lots of the technical awards, as it has done in years past. Could it be the start of a route? Or will they lose out on Best Picture and Director?

Update 9:27 pm ET: Nice, classy, tribute to our wonderful troops and Bob Hope. It’s speaks well of Crystal that he didn’t make some snarky remark during that segment. There’s time enough to make political digs (and some have already been made); best not to sully our fine troops’ tribute. But Crystal is no Bob Hope:)

Update 9:40 pm ET: With the exception of Blame Canada, I can’t think of a single Oscar music peformance that is worthwhile. I’m grabbing a beer, because I can’t take this sober.

Update 10:01 pm ET: Jim Carrey, please wake me up. Thank you. Blake Edwards, thanks for The Pink Panther. You rock.

Update 10:16 pm ET: First American girl to be nominated for Best Director? I didn’t know that. Sofia Coppola, you are that much closer to being forgiven for Godfather III.

Update 10:33 pm ET: Ho hum. Nothing much to say, so I’ll just wonder why Kill Bill: Volume 1 didn’t get nominated for anything. The film certainly has it’s drawbacks, but it is well done and deserving of at least some recognition. Even in something obscure like costume design. Throw Tarantino a bone. Perhaps they’re waiting for Volume 2…

Update 10:44 pm ET: Errol Morris takes home the Oscar. I didn’t realize he was the one who did The Fog of War, but the The Thin Blue Line is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. He’s just made his political statement, the first of the night and the second in a row by the winner of the documentary Oscar; this one is much more tasteful than the last… At this point, Morris has one of the best thank-yous of the night, but that ain’t saying much (unless Bill Murray wins later).

Update 11:03 pm ET: Come on, how can you give a 3 1/2 hour long movie that ends 5 times the best editing award? I loved the film, and the extended cuts are great, but gimme a break.

Update 11:08 pm ET: Oh great, more Oscar music performances. At least the Triplets of Belleville song was upbeat. But I don’t get Chris Guest movies. I didn’t like A Mighty Wind, nor Best in Show. It just didn’t click with me. Then again, The Princess Bride and This is Spinal Tap are great, so he’s not all that bad…

Update 11:25 pm ET: So far, I’m 3 for 4, with the one miss being RotK for editing(!?) And kudos to Jack Black and Will Ferrell for their “You’re Boring” song. Fantastic! If only the winners would take a hint…

Update 11:35 pm ET: Jeeze, maybe RotK will go 11 for 11?

Update 11:50 pm ET: Maybe Best Makeup should have went to the crew that made Charlize Theron ugly. Not many surprises tonight…

Update 12:07 pm ET: It’s a clean sweep, LotR wins it all. Peter Jackson just mentioned Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles and how the Academy wisely did not recognize those films (heheh). Very nice. Well, I’m exhausted. G’night.

One Final Update: Overall, I was 8.5 for 11 (with the 0.5 being the best actor nod, as I had wanted Bill Murray to win, but recognized that Sean Penn had a very good chance too), which works out to about 77% (well behind James’ 86%, and he made more predictions than I). My thoughts on the other two were that the voters would want to shine some light on one or two of the other films, rather than letting RotK steamroll through the competition. The show ended up being rather banal, thanks mostly to the uninspired acceptance speeches. At least it was only three and half hours long (which I think could still be cut down a bit).