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Gene Seymour's early Oscar predix

February 10, 2006 | 12:12 am

Right now I'm very busy rounding up early Oscar predictions from our panel of experts so The Envelope can issue racetrack odds. All I'm asking each expert to do is to rank nominees from 1 to 5 in 12 categories, but Gene Seymour of Newsday went to town giving us detailed analysis of each category in extensive text format. So, since he offered these to us so generously, here are his noodlings for your kudos enlightenment and enjoyment.


BEST PICTURE
X - "Brokeback Mountain"
"Capote"
"Crash"
"Good Night, and Good Luck"
"Munich"

The only thing that could brake this juggernaut's momentum — and it’s by no means unlikely — is some manner of "Brokeback" fatigue; e.g., people hearing for so long how "great" the movie is and how it can't possibly match the hype and/or heightened expectations after so many months, blah blah blah. Right now, this minute, none of the other nominees has “Brokeback’s” heart-as-big-as-all-outdoors. And, as we've seen repeatedly over the decades, "heart" trumps every other consideration, especially in this category.


BEST DIRECTOR
X - Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"
Bennett Miller, "Capote"
Paul Haggis, "Crash"
George Clooney, "Good Night, and Good Luck"
Steven Spielberg, "Munich"

See above. Besides, they've been trying to give one of these to Ang Lee for years. If nothing else, this'll satisfy all those folks who wanted him to get it for "Crouching Possum, Hidden Mastiff" or whatever that thing was called.


BEST ACTOR
X - Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"
Terrence Howard, "Hustle & Flow"
Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain"
Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk the Line"
David Strathairn, "Good Night, and Good Luck"

Earlier in the day, I thought the aforementioned juggernaut was powerful enough to carry everything and everybody connected with it to the winners' circle. But has anyone really seen Heath Ledger out there campaigning for this thing? Possibly I've missed him, but I wonder. (Too many goddamn movies to review keep me in the dark, so to speak.) Philip Seymour Hoffman, meanwhile, is well-liked and highly admired among his peers, who’ve already given him a SAG Award. Pencil him in.


BEST ACTRESS
Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents"
Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"
Keira Knightley, "Pride & Prejudice"
Charlize Theron, "North Country"
X - Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line"

I like Felicity Huffman and her hubby very much and I'm quite sure that, between them, there's an Oscar coming their way sometime in the coming years. But Huffman’s "Transamerica" turn is one of those situations where you’re more impressed with the performance's assembly process than with the performance itself. On the other hand, there's the all-powerful Reese-ster! A natural reaching the first of what will likely be many peaks. She cannot — and will not — be stopped.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
George Clooney, "Syriana"
Matt Dillon, "Crash"
X - Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"
Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain"
William Hurt, "A History of Violence"

I'm going strictly by SAG on this right now, though I think this is the one category where things can easily change in the remaining couple weeks of balloting.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, "Junebug"
Catherine Keener, "Capote"
Frances McDormand, "North Country"
X - Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"
Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain"

Wide, wide open. But then, this category usually is. Once again, I’m going along with SAG for now. But Adams has been making herself more visible (as she should) and you know how much they love giving ingenues and newcomers this trophy.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
X - Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, "Crash"
George Clooney and Grant Heslov, "Good Night, and Good Luck"
Woody Allen, "Match Point"
Noah Baumbach, "The Squid and the Whale"
Steven Gaghan, "Syriana"

No way is this movie coming away empty-handed. Not after one of the most remarkable, attention-getting campaigns in recent memory.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
X - Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, "Brokeback Mountain"
Dan Futterman, "Capote"
Jeffrey Caine, "The Constant Gardener"
Josh Olson, "A History of Violence"
Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, "Munich"

Book it in bronze, baby, though there are some who really go for Futterman’s fine work here.


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
"Don't Tell" (Italy)
"Joyeux Noël" (France)
"Paradise Now" (Palestine)
"Sophie Scholl - The Final Days" (Germany)
X - "Tsotsi" (South Africa)

My lone "oh-what-the-hell" pick of this round. I’ve nothing to go on except the swoons it generated towards the end of last fall’s Toronto Film Festival.


BEST ANIMATED FILM
"Howl's Moving Castle," Hayao Miyazaki
"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride," Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
X - "Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit," Nick Park and Steve Box

It's not their best, but after the W&G boys' consistent wins in the animated shorts competition, it'd be hard to imagine them losing their first time up for features.


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
X - "Brokeback Mountain," Gustavo Santaolalla
"The Constant Gardener," Alberto Iglesias
"Memoirs of a Geisha," John Williams
"Munich," John Williams
"Pride & Prejudice," Dario Marianelli

Even though John Williams could very well hear his name announced. Yet again.


BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"In the Deep" from "Crash," Music by Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker; Lyrics by Kathleen "Bird" York
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from "Hustle & Flow," Music and Lyrics by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard
X - "Travelin' Thru" from "Transamerica," Music and Lyric by Dolly Parton

The "Hustle & Flow" theme was catchier than a hundred butterfly nets. Still, the songwriters who vote in this category sometimes react badly to things that are too hip-hop. I'd have to listen again to Dolly's tune to see if it’s just catchy enough to steal the statue.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Comments

Gene Seymour's prediction sets it straight! I have the same prediction as his! Brokeback Mountain will be a runaway winner on March 5. Just hope more people will watch the OSCARS!

1) It is not "whatever that thing was called. The title of the movie directed by Ang Lee was called"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Would you have been so disdainful if the movie were directed by Spielberg or Clooney?
2) Heath Ledger has appeared on Showbiz tonight(CNN), GMA(ABC) and Ellen(NBC) , just to name a few. He seems to be a modest man, unpretentious and uningratiating.
3)In the catagories of Actor/Supporting Actor/Supporting Actress-I really wish the awards will be given to Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams. I have seen most of the movies in the Best Picture catagory; the acting was very good. But consider the complexity of the story in BBM which required a much broader and deeper emotional heartfelt performances. They have brilliantly delivered.

Rachel Weisz and Philip Seymour Hoffman are the only two locks here. Everything else is up for grabs.

Amy Adams Performance pales in comparison to Rachel Weisz, whose performance was one f the best performances of the year.

i hope you're wrong about PSH's win over Heath Ledger. he deserves to win. end of story. a win for paul giamatti is like a consolation prize for ignoring him in Sideways, not that there was anything wrong with his performance. i dont see how his performance in a ron howard movie has anything to do with the great max baer. but i'm rooting for Heath. burt didnt campaigne for boogie nights either and he lost....the oscars is like figure-skating....

I've seen all of the best actor performances and to compare I really don't think Philip Seymour Hoffman is that great to be this lock on winning. Heath Ledger deserves to win and should win -- the actors of Brokeback Mountain don't seem to be getting the acolades but they are much a part of the success and the critical acclaim as the director and screenwriter. The bottom line though is that Heath Ledger gives the better performance.

I agree in most of Gene's predicions.

But, the most competitive are:

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR,
I go for George Clooney, "Syriana."

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
I go for Amy Adams, "Junebug."

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
I like and I wish "Brokeback Mountain," Gustavo Santaolalla wins, but
"Pride & Prejudice," Dario Marianelli is very good and very strong and it could give a surprise.

BEST ANIMATED FILM
"Howl's Moving Castle," Hayao Miyazaki, it's more story.

THE MISSING CATHEGORIES

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Rodrigo Prieto, "Brokeback Mountain."
even "The New World," Emmanuel Lubezki is a masterpiece of cinematography, the entire movie was shot with day light or natural source of lighting, what's makes more difficult for the entire cast and crew to shot this film. (Malick's Days of Heaven, won best cinematography, in 1978)

BEST FILM EDITING
"Munich," it's incredible perfect.
"Crash," has posibilities, but the story is so unvalanced towards using more screen time on two ethnic groups in LA and not in the whole universe that the movie could.

BEST SOUND, SOUND EDITING, SPECIAL EFFECTS
"King Kong"

Mr. Seymour is right on the money (and that's the other reason besides its solitary weepie status that "Brokeback" will win: steady gravy-mode domestic grosses nearing the magic $100 mil mark as The Night approaches). Personally, I wouldn't mind if a Clooney/Giamatti logjam gave Gyllenhaal the upset win. He is certainly deserving, and HAS been campaigning, most charmingly. I am unconvinced that "Sideways" guilt in the AMPAS mass is quite as vast as the Giamatti proponents are counting on (there's more reason he got snubbed last year than just not being 1st, 2nd or 3rd choice on enough nomination ballots). Then again, Clooney barely escaped being paralyzed or worse by his "Syriana" torture scene, and there's huge respect for his 2005 dual-film achievement in Industry circles. So, it could happen that they split the vote and Jake rides in. Rachel Weisz also could be precarious, though pregnancy and her own recent visibility seem in her favor, but that whole category is a crap shoot, because they're all excellent in their films. Nevertheless, I think Gene's got the goods on Oscar.

Seems to me the ACADEMY will look for an alternative to the controversial "Brokeback Mountain" and that alternative is going to be "CAPOTE" not "Crash". Yes, Ang Lee will be given the OSCAR for best director but I just have a feeling the Best Picture is going to someone other than "Brokeback Mountain". All the rest of Seymour Choices seem like the regular list we have seen for months now. There has to be some surprises somewhere don't you think.

As far as best song goes...the songwriters who nominated the songs didn't think the "pimp" track from HUSTLE & FLOW was too hip-hop. The entire academy votes for the final award, not just the songwriters. Makes no never mind, because I agree with your Dolly prediction and support it full force as it is the best of the three.

I hope Giametti doesn't get it. Max Baer was a hero from my childhood. He was the most public American to stand up against Hitler before WWII. My Grandfathers hero. And a true gentleman. Never said that he would kill Braddock and have sex with his wife. A much gentler christian than Braddock. This was a pure hatchet job with a group of actors who must have had an agenda. I would never watch a movie with any of them in it again.


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