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'Kong' might grab the most Oscar noms

January 2, 2006 |  1:53 am

Why, oh, why do all of our trustiest crystal balls reveal different views of the Oscars' best picture race?

King Kong

Usually, the winner of the top Academy Award is one of the two film champs at the Globes: best drama picture (this year "Brokeback Mountain," of course) or comedy/musical picture ("Walk the Line," "Pride & Prejudice" or "The Squid and the Whale"). In the 62 years of the Globes' existence, one of its best picture picks has bagged the top Oscar 45 times. Of the four current films, the only one that has the might and cool factor to win the best picture Oscar is "Brokeback Mountain." So that means "Brokeback" is a cinch to go all the way, right?

Wait! I recently talked myself into predicting that George Clooney will win DGA. For the past 25 years, the movie saluted by the directors' guild won the best picture Oscar 19 times. So that means "Good Night, and Good Luck" will triumph, correct?

Not if you refer to another Oscar indicator that's usually dependable: the fact that the winner is often the movie that gets the most nominations. That's been true 17 out of 20 years.

So . . . what movie will that be this year? Maybe "Brokeback," but it's not a lock. "Pete Hammond.

"'Kong' is a definite contender in at least nine categories, which would be nine more noms than the 1933 original ever got," he adds. "It's possible, but a longer shot in the picture category which, if it is dissed there, could trigger this new academy record."

But "Kong" could also score noms for best picture and director, thus becoming one of those blockbusters that gets swept into the top race on a wave of support in the tech and crafts branches.

If it fails to reach such lofty categories, however, it might still be challenged by "Brokeback," which looks like a strong contender in these nine categories: best picture, director, actor, supporting actor, supporting actress, adapted screenplay, musical score, cinematography and editing. It also has long shot potential for costumes. One nomination it can't get is for best song. "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" was decreed ineligible because not enough of it can be heard when it plays on a car radio in the background of a scene.

My guess is that these are the nine categories that Hammond meant as likely competitions for "Kong": cinematography, art direction, costumes, score, editing, sound mixing, sound editing, visual effects and makeup. "Kong" could also be recognized in the races for picture, director, actress and adapted screenplay.

Meantime, "Good Night, and Good Luck" can probably count on at least five bids: picture, director, screenplay, cinematography, editing. It's also a contender for actor, supporting actor, costumes and art direction. It's not eligible in the visual effects category.

Hammond suspects "Walk the Line" can get "between 7 and 10 maybe": picture, actor, actress, adapted screenplay, costumes, art direction, editing, sound. The big maybes: direction, cinematography.

Here are opinions of some of our savvy forums posters: "Cederick" gives seven solid noms to "Good Night," 9 to "Brokeback." "Moviefan9" insists "'King Kong' is easily in the lead." Join our debate in our forums.

Photo: "Kong's" mighty special effects guarantee lots of crafts bids.
(Universal Pictures)