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Wait! Oscar game back on! Best picture = cloudy picture

February 1, 2007 | 10:24 am

There hasn't been this much Oscar suspense surrounding best picture since . . . well, last year. But at this point in the derby 12 months ago, many Oscarologists thought the top race was already finished since "Brokeback Mountain" appeared to be so far out in front after sweeping most precursor awards. Now we can see what a mess the race is — tea leaves scattered all over the derby track.

If "The Departed" wins at the Directors Guild of America this weekend as expected, it may appear to be out front. Over the past 20 years, the movie that won this guild prize went on to win best picture 15 times. Please note: I'm not talking about the DGA-winning director claiming the director's award at the Oscars next. Yes, the two usually line up, but that overlap can get a bit screwy and I'm too lazy to do the math.


"The Departed" has a lot of other things going for it — things that usually matter in the selection of a best pic: it's packed with an A-List cast (and what A-Listers! Leo! Jack! Matt!) and has topped $100 million at the box office. But it's not about anything. It has no Message or Great Meaning. That's usually an important, even key, element ("Crash" = expose of racism; "Schindler's List" = expose of anti-Semitism). But not always essential. Some pure entertainments like "The Sting" and "Chicago" have triumphed.

So let's look to the Golden Globes for guidance instead.

The Globes dispense separate kudos for drama and comedy/musical pictures, which makes comparisons to the Oscars difficult, but in the past 62 years, the Academy Awards have validated one of the Globe's top pics 42 times. So that means odds are pretty good that "Dreamgirls" will win the best-pic Oscar . . . oops, I mean "Babel," if you just gauge prophesy by percentages. "Babel" just won best drama picture and it has the Message and Great Meaning, especially pertinent worldwide right now (expose of hysteria over terrorism), but it doesn't have huge box office success. Does that matter? As of this week, Entertainment Weekly and Time magazine say it doesn't. Both predict it will claim the big golden boy, though I have a hunch they'll change their minds after Marty Scorsese wins DGA this weekend.

"Letters from Iwo Jima" can't be written off. As we've learned again and again, Clint Eastwood pix should never be discounted. Three have been nommed for best pic in the past and two have won ("Unforgiven," "Million Dollar Baby"). One of those ("M$B"), ambushed the Oscar race two years ago, getting a sudden, late-breaking release at the end of the year just like "Iwo Jima." And it has a political pertinence to today, too — like "Babel," it has an Iraq thing going on, though more subliminal. "Iwo Jima" forces us to look back at a war we won and reconsider ourselves as the bad guys. It was declared to be 2006's best picture from the L.A. Film Critics Association. Granted, only 7 times in 31 years has LAFCA's choice repeated at the Oscars, but it successfully launched underdogs like "Rocky" and Eastwood's "Unforgiven." However, "Iwo Jima" showcases no big western stars and hasn't proven itself at the box office yet.

What about "The Queen"? Robert Osborne, author of the official Oscar book and official host of the academy's red carpet, thinks it can win, but it has few other boosters.

Lastly, there's "Little Miss Sunshine" — what looks like a fascinating possibility for upset spoiler. It's the one burst of emotional sunshine in an otherwise dreary lineup of contenders. Many people just don't love it, they love it. Recently, it won best picture from the Producers Guild of America, which has a pretty good track record forecasting the top Oscar; 11 of its 17 past choices have repeated. Last Sunday it won the ensemble award at the Screen Actors Guild. Although only 5 of the past 11 SAG champs went on to win the Oscar, 3 of those did so in the past 4 years. Twice ("Shakespeare in Love," "Crash") its choice signaled upsets to come on Oscar night. But it doesn't have a nomination for best director and only one film in modern times has managed to pull off a top Oscar victory without that ("Driving Miss Daisy"). It's also not nommed for film editing. Often that's a telling tea leaf. No film since 1932 has won best picture without having either nomination.

So . . . the Oscar winner for best picture will be . . . ? Whatcha think? Click the "Comments" link below and tell us!

(Photos: Miramax, Warner Bros., Paramount Vantage, Fox Searchlight)

The comments to this entry are closed.


I have seen all of the pictures. Several more than once.

As many others do, I believe Scorsese will will best director, just because everyone is sick of hearing he hasn't won. Just give him the Oscar so we can move in.

But The Departed will not win best picture. The reason: it's not. The movie moves with no point, then ends with a thud. You just sit there at the end, realizing you haven't seen anything except some hystrionics and workmanlike direction. Matt Damn, the most likable actor working, isn't likable. The is no character development of any kind. The story has the arc of a game of nine ball. But the real stake in the heart is that, this is a remake of a better film. One part of best director should be vision. There is nothing, not even misguided, in the way of vision in this film.

My original choice to win BP, from the fisrt time I saw it was the torturous Babel. The number one comment reviewrs made was that it was a "difficul" film. That's putting it mildly. But on the positive for Hollywood community, it has the Mexican connection, it would count as an award to minorities, and it has the anti-gun message (though I confess I came out with a Borat laugh the first time I saw Babel when all the horror of all the stories were tied up with the ownership of one gun.) But Babel has scope, is an incredible undertaking, is masterful in some of it's filmmaking aspects (from the 16mm in the desert to the 35mm look in Japan, to the gritty, palpable feel of the Mexico scenes -- and so on and so forth). Babel would be a safe choice because it is a worthy film, and it heralds an international dawning... what with Clint Eastwood directing a foreign language film, the president of Kazakhstan making fun with the English about an American film by a Jew playing an anti-semite, and several acting nominees do roles in languages other than English.

But I think Babel may not win. It has not won any major awards except best drama at the Golden Globes. The only award it could win at the Oscars is best picture (unless the Hollywood crowd wanted to give best director to a Mexican Director, especially there were three notable ones with movies this season). But I think Bable may have run it's course. When it comes right down top it, the best thing in Babel were a couple of short Cate Blanchett scenes.

At this late date, I am moving toward Little Miss Sunshine. Industry professionals and regular movie goers I have talked to have been enthralled by it. And in every case, the people I know have brought up scenes they remembered weeks after seeing it. If the award were Best Movie instead of Best Picture, Little Miss Sunshine would win hands down. If a bunch of voters can't quite bring themselves to vote for the picture they "should" vote for, there might be a lot of votes skew off to Little Miss Sunshine. One other thing to consider: the majority of the Academy voters are actors. Little Miss Sunshine has no faults in this realm. From the old experienced pros to the new kid to the range in between, it all works like a free running clock. Any actor that has been around awhile will appreciate what's happening in LMS. If LMS won the SAG award by as large a margin as I think it might have, LMS could win the Oscar. LMS also works as a movie, it moves you, all the characters are likable -- one of the old rules of quality character portraying -- and it is really well written and directed. These things together might just make a Best Picture.

As for the other awards:

--Whitaker has to win because he deserves it. You can't not give Whitaker what he deserves in order to allay past errors.

--Hudson may well win, but probably should not. She absolutely deserves the nomination. If you want to give the award to an acting performance, it should go to Blanchett. If Hudson wins, half should go to Condon.

--I not going to predict Best Female Actor for this year... next year, though, I predict Cate Blanchett in another Queen role. She should have won it last time.

-Murphy should win. I don't know how badly his past behavior has hurt his chances. If Murphy doesn't, Hounsou deserves to win... not just for himself, but for his picture, Blood Diamond, which should be the Best Picture winner this year. Haley also does an award winning job, and Arkin fits perfectly in his cast, but in this cast, I don't think anyone should be singled out. The whole is much greater than the sum of the parts and the parts are each individually brialliant. Wahlberg was annoying to me, but then that could just be the pointless aftertaste of the film.

--For Supporting Actress I'm going to give the award to Blanchett. Her performance was transparently honest, in fact perfect. All the others are legitimate nominees for differing reasons, but Blanchett is the clear winner. Hudson is the favorite they say, but if Babel loses best picture, look for some extra votes and possibly a win going to Barraza. In fact, since this award will be at or near the top of the show, if Barraza wins, Babel is out and Sunshine is in.

Look for Babel to win for editing, despite the fact that no one can really figure out the timeline jumps so that the film makes a symbolic and settled whole.

Best Foreign Language Film: “The Lives of Others” -- This film is brilliant. It is real, more incredibly so than I would have thought possible before seeing it. Pan's Labyrinth is masterful in its way, but The Lives of Others transcends.

SHOULD-BE-WINNERS that didn't get nominated:
--Matt Damon for The Good Shepherd. -- he may be the best male actor working, and he is much, much better than almost anyone imagines. --I saw this film twice and will watch it at least twice more. It is really good, but it takes concentration and certain love of the subject matter. But there are no loose ends as far as I can tell. It may one day be regarded as a masterpiece... but we aren't there yet.

--Blood Diamnond for Best Picture -- just all around great movie-making with some significance, great cast, great action, great script.
--Best Screenplay, Bood Diamond. The incredible thing about this movie was that no matter what incredibly stupid things the characters decided to do... which they had to do to keep the story going.. there was never a question about their motivation and that they made the only choice they could make. The script was flawless (whether or not you LIKED the ending scenes is irrelevant...)

Dorothy, I am in complete agreement with you regarding your feelings about "Children of Men." I meant to mention it before I posted my message on this page; however, it was late, and my mind was awhirl with other elements in regard to the piece itself.

While I am ambivalent about choosing the "best" (there are some films I like more than others, owing to aesthetics and artistic achievement) in any chosen field, I do say that the experience of watching Alfonso Cuaron's adaptation of P.D. James's novel was quite a singular experience. Though the film was recognized for cinematography, editing, and adapted screenplay, one has to blink in stunned wonder at the fact that Mr. Cuaron's name was not present in the "director" category; nor, too, that the film was not mentioned in the "picture" category. People with whom I've spoken (from friends and work associates to people who work at the local bookstore) who've seen the film have declared it the best of the year -- and of, for them, the years past, as well.

I purchased the screenplay (being a writer, I wanted to study it), and it is one of the sharpest, streamlined, and enjoyable screenplays I've read. To make a film that is entertaining is one thing; to also inform us of the world in which we live (or may one day live) is quite another. "Children of Men" does both, and accomplishes this in a way that is free of grandstanding pathos and pedantic monologues. I've not stopped thinking about the film since I saw it; and, too, it is the first "sci-fi" (that's how it's being categorized, anyway) film I've seen in which I have been able to truly discern clarified echoes of the world as it stands today. It's an overwhelming contemplation on society, culture, individual, government, science, and that persistent beast known as "paranoia." (It resembled, to me, a novel by Thomas Pynchon, though without the more farcical elements one finds in his work.) Also, I quite liked how Mr. Cuaron allowed the symbolism to speak for itself; never did he try to jam the theme of the piece down one's throat, either. For instance: how interesting that, in the entire film, there is not a moment in which Theo (Clive Owen) uses a fire arm. Just one of many things that are there to be seen and observed, should one happen to do so.

And the direction. It's not a film one watches, really; rather, one is "there," unable to escape. Usurping the fast editing of action scenes, Mr. Cuaron observes them without cuts (the nine-minute car chase -- that is so much more than just a "car chase" -- as well as the absolutely mind-blowing seventeen-minute descent through a city that is systemically being destroyed in front, beside, and behind you (much of which is scored, aptly, to Pendericki's "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima"). If there is a better directed film this year, I'd like to see it. Aside from the technical prowess of the scene, the overwhelming dread present in the sequence is well nigh unbearable (which is as it should be -- no formulaic bunk about "heroism" and "courage" -- and it is quite, in execution, just as Hemingway defined "courage": "Grace under pressure."

The performances were all credible, with a special mention to Sir Michael Caine. How could he not have been nominated? And Clive Owen, who was so convincingly nefarious in "Closer," gives a delicate, humane, and compassionate portrayal of a man who is slowly, inexorably watching that which is his life crumble and explode around him. No extroverted histrionics; just pure, unadulterated human reaction.

How the AMPAAS failed to nominated Mr. Cuaron is, no question, one of the biggest blunders if they truly want to say that they "celebrate the best in motion pictures."

First up: Dreamgirls was glitzy, glamorous but honestly not much narrative here. Jamie Foxx is becoming so egotistical and it is very hard to watch him in anything!!!!The movies best moments are in the middle of course when Jennifer belts her number, then all down hill. Eddie Murphy will win but should noy be nominated. Jennifer will win too, unfortunately.
show has one two good songs, At least "Chicago" had a great score....

Little Miss Sunshine will win, cause everyone like it, my choice BABEL
otoole, dench,alan arkin,adriana barraza ( heartbreaking)
i can dream,

What John Zulovitz said.

Would add "Children of Men," the only 2006 English-language film apart from "United 93" that left me in my cinema seat shaken and unable to move during the credit crawl. It's bemusing to see so much "Little Miss Sunshine" bashing, and it would be delicious irony if it -- not the stylish but profoundly pretentious and uneven "Babel," the last-minute-Oscar-baiting "Letters From Iwo Jima" or the elevated-by-its-performances-telemovie "The Queen" -- were the upset winner.

Tom, Tom, had to insert that Dreamgirls shout out in your article didn't you even if you and all of us know that the Dreamgirls caravan for Best pic is dead! Dead! DEAD! Jeez give it a rest Tom!

So tired of all the progs here saying THIS WILL HAPPEN BECAUSE and THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN one knows anything this year, face it! Anyone can make an argument about any of the five winning and it would be legit at this point. And you can quote all the stats and Guild and Globe wins and your Aunt Tessie's psychic prediction ALL YOU WANT. And come February 26th, everyone who guessed right will feel superior and everyone who guessed wrong will claim they knew it all along anyway!!!

LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA and THE DEPARTED are my favorites. That I can say for certain because it's my subjective opinion. And LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE should not even be in the catagory!

Here's a suggestion to AMPAS-- rename your ultimate award (Best Picture) to "Best Marketing Campaign for Quasi Palatable Social and Political Views as Decided by Gut-Instinct over Actual 1st Hand Experience" (or BMCQPSPVDG-IA1HE for short) and the winner is...

Seriously, I agree with John, the Academy (wait, how pretentious is that to being with. Isn't an academy a comunity of learned people? Huh?) has denegrated their award to nothing more than a glamorous (and expensive) popularity contest, masking this, by draping it in "social and political relevance". Does a picture truly need that to be good (or the best?) I was so disappointed in the members open declaration they do not view all nominees before voting, I decided to swear off the telecast (and the hoopla) this year. And except for checking here to see if any of the others who pledged the same thing here last year, I have.

In light of that, I would like to add that while the Academy has undermined their credibility, it is without point as long as "we" continue to give it the credibility they crave. Remember, they are several thousands, "we" are several million!

Anyone out there with me?

Rocky Balbo will win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Babel should win Best Picture.

i keep hearing The Departed has no message. what does that mean? some movies get to you, for one reason or another. can that be considered a message of sorts? i just don't believe we're so dumb we have to be spelled out a "message" in a film. i disliked Crash. does that mean the message wasn't delivered? and what does that say about me? i thought The Departed was a great film, and though the end may be percevied as a pointless shooting, it affected me deeply. isn't that all that really matters....

I think that things have changed forever in the tea leaf biz. Up until the last few years, the winners of the guilds, critics and Globes could lead you to LOGICAL guesses. I think those days are over!?! I'll be watching the Picture and Director races carefully. Who knows - maybe the acting races aren't as locked up as we all assume. Could be a night of surprises. Or it could follow what used to be the patterns. Can't wait to see which way it goes................

I think the race is really between Babel and The Departed and I think Babel is going to win it. Like many have already said, The Departed doesn't really have a "message". A lot are comparing Little Miss Sunshine to Crash, but I see it more like Sideways. A small independent film that many people realy loved and that won best ensamble at SAG, but it doesn't have enough power to make it to the finish line at Oscar time. I really do agree with EW and Time and feel this is Babel's year.


HILARIOUS! Yes until Crash existed, we all thought racism was a thing of the past.

In an impossible year, such as 1998 for best actor: Ian Mckellen for Gods and Monsters, Nick Nolte for Affliction, Tom Hanks for Saving Private Ryan and Edward Norton for American History X, you must go with a wild card - Roberto Begnini for Life Is Beautiful (feel good, foreign, different from the rest). Based on this theory, Little Miss Sunshine will win!

So basically you're saying any of them have a shot. Very insightful. But all kidding aside, I love ya, Tom! Your posts give me something interesting to look forward to in the morning.

PS: I'm in the small camp that thinks "The Queen" should win. I'm not putting any money on it because I'm sure to lose. However, weirder things have happened.

i recently watched Stephen Colbert's hilarious "racist" and "homophoebic" rant about the academy awards, and the assault from south of the border of mexican films, and the sexual deviant ellen degeneres. i didnt believe he meant a thing he said.... and he absolutely didnt mean a thing he said. Topics such as these appears to be much better digested when it is humourous and a parody, and not meant as literal, accusations are made of both CRASH and DREAMGIRLS, which i think is neither fair, nor accurate. Too bad they werent comedies...wait. i take that back. i liked them just fine the way they were.....

john; a highly literate post and one which i agree with almost entirely. kurosawa said the same thing about repeating the mistakes of the past in his master epic, RAN.
about CRASH; when i first saw that film, i didnt see colour, honestly, what i saw, were human beings, flawed, complex, and a mix of good and not so good; seemingly "racist" and yet, not.
What i saw was the human condition. not race. i know it's an old argument and last years film. But i cant be the only person on the planet who believes that there is only one race...the human race. Haggis could have mixed up the ethnicities of the films characters and their actions and it wouldnt have made a lick of difference; at least not to me.

Regarding the "importance" factor, recall 2000. A film about the complexities of America's war on drugs, one which was generally considered a better-directed film, (Traffic) was passed over for a more purely enteraining film (Gladiator). I believe that Departed fills both roles here.

To be honest, as long as Marty doesn't get snubbed, will that many people be angry if Departed doesn't win Best Picture. For LFIJ or The Queen to win BP, the support would have to be so strong that the film would also win Best Director, which I feel is highly unlikely. If Babel takes BP, its director will still take home an Oscar as one of its producers.

Agree that the BP race makes up for the snoozefest in the acting races. Prediction: Departed takes Director and Picture.

i'm not so sure that Jennifer Hudson is the surest lock for the acting nod. If anyone, it is Helen Mirren. But there's an absolutely fabulous and only american actor there who could surprise big time. i'm a betting type of gal and i'd be betting on both Jennifer and Helen, as well as Forest and Eddie. We're all so convinced the acting awards are locked locked locked up tight. I'm not 100% convinced, (perhaps because i am somewhat "deluded"
here's who i think have a chance to upset, regardless of how minimal the odds are of this happening:


regardless; i just want to see the best performances win, regardless of their conduct in the "real" world. But nothing in this world ISNT political; and it is probably true that there is no such thing as objectivity.

What does it matter which picture wins "best" at the Academy Awards? If one is serious about the validity of recognition, one should check him- or herself when wasting time wondering if a film is going to win an award whose voting membership do not see all of the nominated films. By doing this, the members of the Academy have, in effect, destroyed the "worth" of their awards. It would be nice if such were not so; however, one must see things for what they truly are or write off the importance of those invdividual attributes known as integrity and honesty.

Understand, it brings me no joy stating the above. I cannot think of an instance in my memory during which I did not love motion pictures. In addition, it was often exciting to watch artists receive recognition for their work (it is only special [i.e. species] that we enjoy seeing ourselves and others receive positive encouragement for jobs well done). But given what the AMPAAS has revealed as of late, the idea -- the very core -- of their membership has not only cheapened the validity of said recognition, it has all but destroyed it.

Awards for "artistic achievement" do, after all, stir feelings of ambivalence; the presence of what one prefers aesthetically cannot be extricated from the equation (or choosing of said awards). In terms of the AMPAAS, the only award given by them to "Citizen Kane" (which many cinephiles consider to be the best American film ever made) was for Screenplay. The AMPAAS chose "How Green Was My Valley" as that year's best picture. (While it was a good film, ably directed by John Ford, it does not surpass the artistry or stunning achievement that exist readily in Mr. Welles's rightly considered "masterpiece.)

Another bane in regard to awards is the politics that become involved. "Citizen Kane" is considered to have been based on the life of William Randolph Hearst; pressure ensued to destroy the film. Another example would be "A Clockwork Orange." The year it was nominated, there were members of the AMPAAS who refused to be presenters on the show, for they so despised Mr. Kubrick's adaptation of Mr. Burgess's novel (also, mind you, considered a "classic"). Another? "GoodFellas," directed by Martin Scorsese (set to win a "consolation" prize award this year). When it was released, the picture was heralded by many critics; and there are those who consider it one of the best films of the nineties. The problem, however, was that its main character, Henry Hill, refused to repent for his criminal lifestyle -- a very "un-Hollywood" thing to do (and one, I suspect, of which Mr. Scorsese was aware, ending the film as he did with the classic song "My Way," sung not by Frank Sinatra, but Sid Vicious [wink wink]). Just last year, "Brokeback Mountain" was attacked because it dared to look at love from more perspectives than the one from which it is often most conventionally viewed. Apparently, nearly every film critics' circle and Guild Awards were wrong about the film. So what you have in the years of the above films (to mention all requires more space than is granted here) are safer choices. Some of those films chosen are not "bad" films ("The French Connection" comes to mind), though one certainly is ("Crash," which pretends to address racism but, on closer viewing, only reinstates it [see Post-Script]) but nearly all of them seemed the "safer" choice ("Dances With Wolves" stands as a good example).

A brief aside:

Aesthetics and politics do have a way of mucking up the process of "awards," and not just in film. In 1974, in regard to the Pulitzer Prize, the judges chose one novel -- "Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon -- which the committee (who hated the novel) refused to recognize. The result for that year? No award was given for "Fiction."

In closing, if the AMPAAS wants to be relevant again, there should be a requirement that those who comprise its membership see all nominated films; in doing so, they should do so in regard to the "artistic merit" present in each film. Leave their politics at the door; usurp the detestable "campaign games" that have become more important than the awards -- and what they are supposed to represent -- themselves.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility. Look back a bit and see what happened when the "Documentary" committee was taken to task.

P.S. - "Crash"

A couple of examples about this film that is supposed to be about the injustices of racism:


Early in the film, Anthony, a young man, delivers a speech about how unjustly society views him because of the color of his skin. In his speech (or the writers', for the film is viciously pedantic), Anthony makes clear these points and is quite fervent about how he abhorrs them; about how wrong it is to be seen in such a way. At the end of this speech, what does Anthony -- an intelligent young man given what he's just said -- do? He carjacks a couple.

Louise, Graham's mother, is a drug addict -- naturally, right?

Asian-Americans (Kim Lee and Choi): What, pray tell, does the film do to "dismantle" the prejudices held against these human beings? They're bad drivers, so says the film. They are slave traders, so says the film.

Persians (Farhad): When he thinks he has been wronged, what's the first thing he does? He grabs a gun and intends murder.


Jean is spoiled and pampered; she knows only how to screech at her husband. But lucky for her, she discovers all she has to do to banish "prejudice" is take a fall down a flight of stairs.


Well, it's okay that he's prejudiced; he's got a sick father at home, right? Therefore, he can be cut some slack. And, too, given that there are very few officers who comprise the LAPD (ha-ha), all he has to do to banish his "prejudice" is save from a burning car the same woman (Christine) whom he physically assaulted the night before.

A film works well when it actually explores its conflict(s). Blaring said conflict incessantly, from scene to scene, is not the same thing at all; it is, rather, evasion.

P.P.S. -

Should you wish to see a film that explores its conflict(s) and does so in ways that are honest and bear substance, see "Goodnight, And Good Luck," "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," and "Munich" -- they don't lie to you, which is perhaps why they did not get the AMPAAS's vote last year.

Also, from this previous year, see "United 93." Unsensationalistic, without a second of exploit, and brilliantly rendered -- no frills, no formula. Why see it? Here's why:

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

-- George Santayana

One more thing: Tom, ENOUGH crying over "Dreamgirls" already--and this is from a "Dreamgirls" fan! I've said before that its Best Picture snub was a blessing in disguise; that means it's immune from what I call "Color Purple Syndrome" due to the Bill Condon snub (NOT an all-black cast), so it will bring "LMS" down instead.

If "Dreamgirls" had a BP nom without Condon, even Jennifer Hudson's Oscar would be in jeopardy; instead, Hudson's the surest bet of all in a year of sure bets.

Antony: If Dayton & Faris win the DGA (not likely), that makes it even more certain "LMS" will NOT win Best Picture. Both times the DGA picked someone Oscar snubbed for Best Director (Steven Spielberg for "The Color Purple" and Ron Howard for "Apollo 13"), the film ended up being snubbed for all major awards. ("Purple" was shut out, as was "The Prince of Tides" when Barbra Streisand was snubbed for directing; "Apollo 13" won two minor Oscars, for film editing and sound.)

I've said it before: If Dayton & Faris aren't yet in the Witness Protection Program (or wherever Bruce Beresford was during the awards run of "Driving Miss Daisy"), and they obviously aren't, then "LMS" hasn't got a snowball's chance in you-know-where of winning ANY major Oscar, including Best Picture. That has nothing to do with the film itself; the Academy simply does NOT tolerate anyone that questions its judgment in Best Director nominations.

Is the little that will come to succeed. Little Miss Sunshine will win best pic, why this all controversy? go Sunshine go!

"LMS" has no chance because its directors weren't nominated. "Driving Miss Daisy" won only because its director disappeared from view during awards season; but Dayton & Faris were highly visible at the SAGs, so an Oscar win is impossible. (BTW, the real power of the SAGs is in the acting categories, not Best Picture.)

"LFIJ" has no chance because Clint Eastwood has won both Best Director and Best Picture twice, and older Oscar voters will NOT vote for a WWII film that's sympathetic to the Japanese side--especially if it's in Japanese.

"Babel" has a chance, but its big problem is that it's "Crash" remade on a global scale (and without the quasi-upbeat ending). Besides, most Best Picture winners are driven by either their director or their star; unless Gonzalez Inarritu pulls an upset at the DGAs, "Babel" has neither.

Which leaves "The Departed" and "The Queen" as the likely choices for Best Picture; they're the only ones that meet the "director-driven" or "star-driven" criteria. For now, even though I think Marty has the DGA and Best Director in the bag, I also think "The Queen" is more likely to win Best Picture--especially considering how often Best Picture has varied from Best Director in recent years.

But many factors can change between now and Feb. 25. For example, if Helen Mirren blows her top at the BAFTAs (see her post-SAG tiff over not getting a BAFTA TV nom for "Elizabeth") like Russell Crowe did some years back, not only does she risk her Best Actress Oscar, but also "The Queen"'s shot at Best Picture. Crowe blew Best Actor with his BAFTA tirade, but "A Beautiful Mind" still won Best Picture; however, its campaign was driven by Ron Howard, not Crowe. Considering that Mirren drives "The Queen", if she makes the same mistake, then expect "The Departed" to win.

jeff; i agree there is a thin line between good and evil, a point made by the obsessively hated film. CRASH. i like how "ASH" from raimi's evil dead series put it best:"...good, bad....i'm the one with the gun..."

what i really like about this year's BP is that it's anybody's guess. marvelous!! Not everyone are huge film fans either and have never heard of SAG, DGA, BAFTA, GG, nor any or the precursor awards. it's all about oscar for them..
i'm always perplexed by the vehemence with which some people despise one film or another, like last year's CRASH and this years DG. it's one thing to not like a film. That's perfectly fine. But it's another thing to call actors and film makers names, like Idol reject and White man who doesnt know anything; or jumping up and down with glee because something or somebody was overlooked, and calling fans of those films names like "idiots, imbeciles, juveniles, racists, dummies,..".

lastly, i'd just like to point out, if i may, that i am very glad that film nominations are not based on box office or huge audience response. i mean no offense to any of their many fans, but if this were the case, we'd be speculating on films like SAW3; CLICK; SCARY MOVIE 4; LITTLE MAN; WWF; and so on...and of course, there are notable exceptions here, like BORAT....i suppose the up side to this is that ratings would go up...the cost for that kind of exchange would be too great for me.
My gut tells me still that Babel is going to win. But there was something remarkably good about each nominated film, and some other great films which were not nominated, like the breath-taking United 93 (totally agree here), and the unforgettable scenes from CHILDREN OF MEN. Overall i dont think it was a weak year for films. And that's a wonderful thing imo.
As for Oscar having credibility...i dont watch them for it's "credibility" and havent for many many years. I watch because i absolutely love films of all genres. Sure, i still feel disappointed by their choices, but sometimes i am tremendously happy too.




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