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Gene Seymour's revised Oscars predix

March 1, 2006 | 12:12 pm

A few weeks ago Newsday film critic Gene Seymour generously wrote out his Oscar predix for The Envelope. Looks like he's changed his mind in three categories since — supporting actor (dumping Paul Giamatti for Matt Dillon), musical score (goodbye "Brokeback," hello "Geisha") and song (now prefers "Pimp" to "Travelin' Through"). Below are Seymour's full predictions, as originally written, followed by his updates in each race.

X - "Brokeback Mountain"
"Good Night, and Good Luck"

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.

(Feb. 25) All the elements of an upset are swirling around this one. “Crash” is bearing down, harder than any movie has on a front-runner in recent memory. But there’s a lot of historical precedent to get by. I’m staying with “Brokeback,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong.

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.

(Feb. 25) Whether “Brokeback” withstands “Crash’s” challenge or not, this one is still Lee’s to lose for the reason already cited.

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.

(Feb. 25) Last year Hilary Swank did a “60 Minutes” profile during the voting season and it was enough to put her way over the top. Hoffman did the same. Came across as a nice, honest, smart, hard-working actor who overcame addiction, etc. Over. Finis. Amen.

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.

(Feb. 25) Wouldn’t change any of the above except to say that I think Huffman and Bill Macy have at least an Oscar apiece coming to them in their lifetimes.

George Clooney, "Syriana"
xx Matt Dillon, "Crash"
Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"
Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain"
William Hurt, "A History of Violence"

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

(Feb. 25) Lots of chatter lately about George Clooney getting his due for “GN,&GL” by way of this one. Thing is, the Academy hardly ever makes such sentiment an issue in this category, which, as always, is for connoisseurs Freeman’s prize last year may have been something of a career achievement acknowledgement, but it was still honoring a good, tough turn. SAG award or no SAG award, does “Cinderella Man” have enough legs at this point to carry Giamatti over the top? Meanwhile, as noted, “Crash” suddenly has legs galore and, on a hunch, I’m tempted to think they may be strong enough to carry a deserving Dillon to the winners’ circle. I may live to regret this, but . . .

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 Amy Adams has been making herself more visible (as she should) and you know how much they love giving ingénues and newcomers this trophy.

(Feb. 25) Forget Adams, even though nobody’s more ingénue-ish than she is. Michelle Williams is Rachel Weisz’s strongest challenger here. But Weisz’s is the kind of performance that could have qualified for lead status. She still looks good for this. She still looks good, period.

X -xx 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.

(Feb. 25) No change.

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 Dan Futterman’s fine work here.


(Feb. 25) Leave it be.

"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.

(Feb. 25) I’m ignoring “Paradise Now” at my inner oracle’s peril. Same goes for “Sophie Scholl,” which is getting better reviews across the board than the one I picked. I’m sticking with “Tsotsi” if only because it’s the kind of off-the-wall choice that usually scores in this category.

"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.

(Feb. 25) Copy that.

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

(Original choice "Brokeback.") Even though John Williams could very well hear his name announced. Yet again.

(Feb. 25) And I’m now thinking it may well be the Williams who wrote that sweeping, knowing score for “Geisha.”

"In the Deep" from "Crash," Music by Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker; Lyrics by Kathleen "Bird" York
X - "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from "Hustle & Flow," Music and Lyrics by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard
"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.

(Feb. 25) What was I thinking? Of course, you go with the catchier tune!