Saturday, February 24, 2007

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Your Oscar predictions for 2007!!

Well, the Academy Award ceremonies will be upon us in 24 hours, which means it's time for our fifth annual Oscar predictions. We will note that this year, we are wearing black armbands in protest at the brutal discrimination subjected against Salma Hayek in the acting categories. Don't those Academy fools realize that she won Best Nude Scene for 2006 from Mr. Skin for Ask the Dust?! [You'll always have this scene!!--ed. It's not enough. It's never enough.]

OK, same rules as always -- predictions of who will win followed by who should win. Surprisingly, given the move and everything, the wife and I got to see many of the top-nominated films:

Best Supporting Actor:
Will win: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Should win: Steve Carrell, Little Miss Sunshine

Eddie Murphy has made a ton of money for Hollowood over 25 years, and proved he can act. Hollywood will reciprocate accordingly -- despite his graceless acceptance speech at the Golden Globes -- because the alternative characters (heroin junkie grandpa, child molester) aren't as appealing.

It's great that Arkin got nominated, but Carrell stole the movie for me. Part of it is that he's playing against his "type" from Anchorman and The 40-Year Old Virgin. Part of it is that, as an academic, I had never seen an actor nail the self-seriousness that we all possess in great quantities better than Carrell.

Best Supporting Actress
Will win: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Should win: Jane Adams, Little Children

Let me preface this by saying I did not see Dreamgirls, but by all accounts Slate's Judy Rosen is correct in asserting that Dreamgirls is "not really a movie, but a song, surrounded by 125 minutes of padding." Plus, Hudson is apparently the sweetest person on the face of the planet. Still, part of me does wonder why this logic did not apply to Queen Latifah's nomination for Chicago.

Adams played Sheila, Ronnie's date in Little Children. She doesn't have a lot of screen time (really, she would win Best Cameo if they had that category and Adams was more famous). I don't want to spoil the movie for the many of you that didn't see it but should rent it on DVD, so can't exactly say why I thought she deserved it. Let's just say that despite the fact that Kate Winslet was astonishingly good in this film, I couldn't stop thinking about the sorrow embedded within Adams' character for days after seeing the film.

Best Actor
Will win: Forrest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Should win: Daniel Craig, Casino Royale

My hunch is that if either Venus or Blood Diamond were better movies, Whitaker wouldn't be winning. I still think that DiCaprio has a decent shot at a major upset here. However, Whitaker's acting chops will not be denied.

For me, one of the absudities of Hollywood's value system is that someone who can sing or dance can win an Oscar for one show-stopping number, whereas stars in action films are thought to be tawdry and commercial. Craig was able to take a character and a franchise that defined "cartoonish" and actually make people care about James Bond again. For this, he wasn't even nominated. The really absurd thing is that Craig is not an action star but, by all accounts, a chameleon of an actor. Sorry, Daniel -- if it makes you feel any better, my wife and many of her friends would like to somehow make it up to you.

Best Actress
Will win: Helen Mirren, The Queen
Should win: tie, Mirren and Kate Winslet, Little Children

Look, if you don't think Helen Mirren is going to win, please e-mail me so I can take your money in an Oscar pool.

As for who should win, Mirren was extraordinary -- it's not just the makeup, it's every facial twitch and frown. That sais, Winslet accomplishes the same thing -- she makes us sympathize with a fundamentally unsympathetic character (an adulterer who neglects her child).

Best Director
Will win: Clint Eastwood, Letters From Iwo Jima
Should win: Stephen Frears, The Queen

C'mon, you know that the Academy is to Martin Scorcese as Lucy is to Charlie Brown kicking the football. My hunch is that Eastwood gets brownie points for directing two superior films in a year and Scorcese gets docked a point for having that rat in the final shot.

Paradoxically, Mirren is so good in The Queen that she's been sucking all the oxygen from the other people that deserve praise. Frears, in particular, managed to pull off an improbable task -- he fit an Oscar-worthy dramatic performance into one of the driest comedy of manners ever made.

Best Picture
Will win: Babel
Should win: The Queen

Babel is this year's Crash -- on a global scale!! I'm counting on the Academy's guilty liberal conscience to put it over the top. Besides, you know, it aimed high -- which is apparently what matters to Academy voters.

The Queen is the only movie I saw this year that was note-perfect (though Thank You For Smoking came close). Even though, as I said, it's fundamentally a comedy, the characters are never played for broad laughs (well, except Prince Philip). As I said, Mirren's performance has somehow crowded out the attention that it deserves for other reasons, including Michael Sheen's fascinating portrayal of Tony Blair.

Enjoy the show!!

POST-OSCARS UPDATE: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.... hmwa? It's over? Jesus, people, if you're going to read your acceptance speeches, how about outsourcing the thing to someone who can write in a concise and pithy manner? This awards ceremony actually made me nostalgic for the 3-6 Mafia.

[You're just bitter because you didn't do so well in your predictions!--ed. Alas, this is true. My sharpest observation of the evening occurred after Alan Arkin won for best supporting actor, when I said to my lovely wife, "I bet you Eddie Murphy leaves the building in the next five minutes." And he was never seen from again.]

posted by Dan on 02.24.07 at 07:29 PM


Las Vegas says Departed gets best picture. I'll bet a little Drezner doesn't beat the odds.

And I'll bet a lot that the odds-on Scorsese gets Best Director.

posted by: Oddswisdom on 02.24.07 at 07:29 PM [permalink]

Children of Men should win Best Picture. It was the best picture this year (maybe tied with Pan's Labrynith)...

posted by: TheZodiacMiller on 02.24.07 at 07:29 PM [permalink]

I despised Little Miss Sunshine.

(Spoiler alert.)

Everyone in the family except the suicidal prof and the girl were fifteen shades of unlikeable. Of course that was the whole point of the movie, so it seems. The definition of "loser" was its central theme, and the family illustrated loserdom's many forms - joyless mom, uber-embittered son, fanatical dad who makes self-help programs look like a Moonie cult, hopeless uncle, crude self-destructive curmudgeon of a grandfather. The irony is that the one non-loser is the girl who loses the beauty pageant, the only normal member of the family. She's just a little girl trying to have fun.

The moral here is that even bad movies sometimes make good philosophical points.

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 02.24.07 at 07:29 PM [permalink]

It should be said that the no-way-in-Hades-that-with-his-attitude-he-ever-had-a-shot-at-a-military-career brother make a first step away from loserville when he vowed not to give up on his dream of flying. He grasped something his father didn't - the concept of a Plan B.

I liked Carrell better as the voice of Hammy the Psychotic Squirrel in "Over the Hedge." More than any other comic-strip-based film, it was faithful to the original.

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 02.24.07 at 07:29 PM [permalink]

re: the oscars

(1) scorcese over eastwood

this one was easy to see. eastwood already got his director's oscar and marty had been passed over so many times. the worst was in 1980 when the academy gave best picture to "ordinary people" instead of "Raging Bull". The former is a nice film, but the latter is one of the fifty best films of all time.

(2) Alan Arkin over Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy is a nice guy, but Alan Arkin is a legend. He FOUNDED the Second City in Chicago. He played Yossarian in Catch-22, for which he was nominated for an academy award. Alan Arkin has been a singer, a writer, an actor, a stage actor, a comic actor, a serious actor, a film actor, and has been utterly and completely unpretentious during his entire career.

His son is a great actor, Adam Arkin, lest we forget the TV Show Chicago Hope from the 90s.

Why didn't Eddie Murphy win? Because Alan Arkin has been around longer. Alan Arkin broke Dustin Hoffman into the business. Alan Arkin broke a lot of actors into the business. Hardly an actor in Hollywood that hasn't worked with Alan Arkin.

Plus Alan Arkin is a nice guy who has never offended anyone and never asked anything of anyone.

Eddie Murphy by contrast, came up in the second city/saturday night live system that Alan Arkin helped create. Eddie Murphy probably doesn't even know or acknowledge that Alan Arkin founded Second City, from which the original SNL cast was derived. Eddie Murphy has no sense of the history of hollywood or of the stage. He is all about Eddie Murphy.

It's safe to say he's offended people in hollywood over the years in ways that say, Forrest Whitaker, has not.

And looking at their careers, you can't say that Eddie Murphy is even 1/10 the actor that Alan Arkin is career wise, even as a comic actor Arkin was funnier in his day.

Plus it's the oscar Arkin should have won for Catch-22--a legendary film and a legendary book--that he didn't win all those years ago. The academy often gives an award for the wrong movie to redress a wrong from long ago. This is a good example of it.

Justice and peace to Alan Arkin.

--arthur j kyriazis, philly

posted by: arthur john kyriazis on 02.24.07 at 07:29 PM [permalink]

All that would deserve a lifetime achievement award. But I saw no greatness (and certainly no likeability) in the role for which Arkin was nominated. I don't go for this vote-for-past-achievements-when-past-achievements-aren't-the-point-of-the-award crap.

Murphy wasn't the only other contender...

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 02.24.07 at 07:29 PM [permalink]

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