The Decking Crew Does the Oscars 2005
January 31st, 2005

Maybe it's just me, but a month seems like an awful short time span until we get to the Oscars. Either that or I'm jaded by the 4 months in between the Grammy noms and the ceremony, and it's only a few weeks before The Academy lauds only the movies that came out in the last quarter-year and lays the Smackdown on Jim Carrey for the third year running. There're some decent picks, some shoe-ins, some suprises, and some refreshing decisons that I didn't think a crusty bunch of old men (and that one mid-fifties guy who, even if he were naked and painted bright red, would still bore an audience of feces-armed baboons into brutal submission) could have possibly agreed on. I'll dispense with the opening statements and get down to the nitty gritty.

Basic Key
| Boldface: Will Win |
| Italics: Should Win |

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Cate Blanchett - The Aviator
Laura Linney - Kinsey
Virginia Madsen - Sideways
Sophie Okonedo - Hotel Rwanda
Natalie Portman - Closer

Basically, there is no better movie this year if you want to savor four performances from some of the best actors working today (and Julia Roberts) than Closer. Natalie Portman does, without a doubt, her best work ever in this film and portrays a character that very few age-appropriate actresses could pull off. This is the role
she's been waiting for since Leon. Unfortunately, she's up against Michael Madsen's little sis, and we know he's one guy not to piss off. Even though I have yet to see Sideways, it's apparently a lock in H-Wood that Virginia Madsen takes home a trophy for the only role anyone will remember her in besides Candyman.
As for the rest of the bunch, Laura Linney is always solid, but not outstanding in anything, and Sophie Okonedo is... just... apparently on the ballot this year. Cate Blanchett does great work as Kate Hepburn in The Aviator, but even the most dominant woman in film history is no match for the sheer emotional bubble-gum center that is Natalie Portman.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Alan Alda - The Aviator
Thomas Haden Church - Sideways
Jamie Foxx - Collateral
Morgan Freeman - Million Dollar Baby
Clive Owen - Closer

I haven't, again, seen Sideways, but apparently Thomas Haden Church rips it up and spits it out. Alan Alda is apparently up for the Geezer Appreciation Award, as his performance is solid but hardly award-worthy. Morgan Freeman is in a movie that hasn't even been released in 48 states yet, and once again we find ourselves in a two-person battle for a small man with shiny complexion. Jamie Foxx blasted his way into the Hollywood elite with his, excuse the term being mentioned after Jamie Foxx, virtuoso performance in Collateral. I never knew he had it in him. Let's face it - the man is a lock for Best Actor already, and I've got a feeling that the Academy is going to make this the year where they do that oh so rare event like giving one man two trophies. Nevermind that Clive Owen probably out acts him, regardless of the fact that Jamie Foxx's character is much harder to play to perfection. I'm torn between being happy that Collateral at least getting some love at the Oscars, and what is quite possibly the last leg on the journey of turning
Clive Owen into a megastar. Either way I'll be happy, but in my world, Clive Owen "Owens" the shit out of Jamie Foxx. I am hilarious.

Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening - Being Julia
Catalina Sandino Moreno - Maria Full of Grace
Imelda Staunton - Vera Drake
Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby
Kate Winset - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Even though the movie doesn't hit Ohio shores until Friday, I'm pretty sure it's the ticket to Doublemint Oscars for Hilary Swank. Annette Bening is allegedly awesome in the underseen Being Juila, and Catalina should feel proud that she's the stereotypical minority woman thrown into every actress award every year. Kate Winslet's nomination is both a slight apology and a huge middle finger to Jim Carrey as she's being nominated for an inferior performance, and Imelda Staunton
has already won for being the first woman named Imelda to be nominated for an Oscar. Congrats. That was easy. Next?

Actor in a Leading Role

Don Cheadle - Hotel Rwanda
Johnny Depp - Finding Neverland
Leonardio DiCaprio - The Aviator
Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby
Jamie Foxx - Ray

This is one of the toughest to call. Johnny Depp is due for his apologist Oscar (as noted by the nomination for the role that took the least amount of acting chops this year), and Jamie Foxx has just been on a mean streak, winning virtually every critics choice award and the Golden Globe. They are, of course, forgetting that Leo can actually act and proves as such in The Aviator, which as a whole is better than any other movie I've seen all year. Due in no small part to the fact that DiCaprio owns every inch of Howard Hughes. Ray is a clinch, though. I'm marking two men as the victors because it's hard to decipher if the Academy will award the man they screwed last year, or if they'll pick the one truly great performance of a typically subpar actor. Either way, Leo loses, Clint gets gunned down, and Don Cheadle is forgotten halfway through reading his name.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Before Sunset - Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke & Julie Deply
Finding Neverland - David Magee
Million Dollar Baby - Paul Haggis
The Motorcycle Diaries - Jose Rivera
Sideways - Alexander Payne

This one is locked and loaded. Finding Neverland was a great adaptation but not an amazing script. While Million Dollar Baby has a chance, the fact that it's past-due in most staes gives me no chance in even counting it. The Motorcycle Diaries is
apparently golden, but it's going to be the perfect mixed-drink of wine, literature, and male behaviour patterns that gulps down the victory juice for Alexander Payne. Also, I'm going to try to stay away from TWP (Typical Writer Puns) in the future.

Best Original Screenplay

The Aviator - John Logan
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Charlie Kaufman (OMG
italics the piss out of this)

Hotel Rwanda - Keir Pearson & Terry George
The Incredibles - Brad Bird
Vera Drake - Mike Leigh

I want Charlie to win soooo bad. And Brad Bird may have made the best animated movie of all time. But they're too brainiac or brilliant to pass the bullshit artsy detector that the voters have established. I've got a gut feeling this will be Mike Leigh's lone award, and that it's going to shut out two of the most talented creators in Hollywood. I'm gonna stop and cry for a bit.

Best Animated Feature

The Incredibles
Shrek 2
Shark Tale

Brad Bird and Pixar elasti-smack the fuck out of... uh... whats-their-names. I forgot. Ah, it doesn't matter.

Best Foreign Language Film

As it is in Heaven
The Chorus
The Sea Inside

House of Flying Daggers... House of Flying Daggers... House.... House... Hmm. Not here. Oh well.

Achievement in Direction

The Aviator - Martin Scorsese
Million Dollar Baby - Clint Eastwood
Ray - Taylor Hackford
Sideways - Alexander Payne
Vera Drake - Mike Leigh

Even though the Globes knew better than to deny Clint his statue ("There's only two kinds of people in this world - those that give me the win, and those that die at my hands."), the Academy will go with the arthouse du jour. Vera Drake was far too underseen to win an award of this magnitude, and Taylor Hackford is getting an mention for making Jamie Foxx not suck. The true crime in all of this is that the most influential director of the past thirty years is going to get the shaft for the best movie he's made in almost fifteen.

Best Picture of the Year

The Aviator
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby

This is it. I may be wrong, but i'll be damned if the best movie of the year isn't recognized. It got the highest amount of nominations, and this is the one that it deserves most of all. Ray is gonna get his way at the Grammys, Sideways will win enough to be sated for a while, Million Dollar Baby ISN'T EVEN OUT YET, and
Finding Neverland is so "This is an Oscar Picture" it hurts. If nothing else, this picture needs praise. It's going to be a milestone in a few years, and one that people will revisit again and again.

Final Thoughts

All in all not a bad, albeit predictable crop of choices. The glaring omission of Jim Carrey and Paul Giamatti (Sideways) is almost unbearable, and the over-love for Finding Neverland and Ray is a bit much. But, it is nice to see The Incredibles get some respect not relegated to the backwater animated category, and The lesser categories (visual effects, sound design & editing, and art direction) are pretty well rounded. Here's hoping that Spider-Man 2 webs up some gold.

I'd have really liked to see Taylor Hackford dropped in exchange for Michael Mann in the directing category, and Stuart Beattie's Collateral script was nothing to scoff at either.

What is to scoff at is Michael Moore's Shaft of the Century. Leftist websites are already up-in-arms that a terrible documentary from an otherwise talented (if bloated and self-absorbed) director didn't get nominated for diddly. I say "Eff him!" Fahrenheit 9-11 is probably one of the worst movies I saw last year (actually, I couldn't even sit through all of it), and I'm overjoyed that the Greasy Codgers
of the Academy did something right. Plus, even if he didn't win I'm sure we'd have some lecture about how the lack of 9/11 exposure before the election cost Kerry the victory. Meh. That's that. Settled and done with.

To sum up, this year's award will be fairly interesting, although this year seems inordinately heavy on the end-of-the-year Oscar movies and not spread out to the shockingly good flicks that this year had to offer.

The Oscars are televised LIVE on February 27th, 2004.

If any prospective publication would like to pay Tom Nix money to make snarky comments, meet him under the bridge Friday at midnight with an undisclosed amount of money in a square, metal briefcase. No cops, and the kid keeps his arms.

© 2005 The Decking Crew