The Academy Awards are tomorrow night, and as usual I haven't seen much of the movies up for Oscar. This happens every year: at the time that the nominations are announced, I have seen maybe two movies. This year the two were "Ray" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." I thought it would be three but alas, "Garden State" was snubbed.
When I find out the nominations I make a list of movies I still need to see. I like to go to movies by myself in the afternoon because the theater is pretty much empty, and I concentrate on things better when there are fewer people around. This doesn't always work: two years ago I showed up for a 1 PM viewing of "About Schmidt" and found the theater empty. Two seconds before the film started, a parade of senior citizens came into the theater and filled up every remaining seat except the one on my left. For the rest of the movie there was a lot of extraneous commenting on how the senior life really wasn't as it was being portrayed by Jack Nicholson and company. The best part, however, was when a woman came into the theater at least 45 minutes after the show had started. She sat in the seat next to me, and ten minutes later poked me in the ribs, asking "Excuse me, but is this "The Pianist?" When I said no, she got up and left. To this day I regret not chasing after her to find out what she could have possibly have seen in ten minutes of "About Schmidt" that made her think of the Warsaw ghetto.
I'm off track. Yeah, I know, big surprise. The story is that every year I wind up not seeing a bunch of movies so I can't really complain much if I disagree about the results. This year I outdid myself and only saw one movie after the nominations. I caught a matinee of "Sideways" the day after it was nominated for best picture, and managed to see it again a week or so later. That's been it as far as my pre-Oscar preparation.
That being said, I offer my predictions for the big awards this year:
Best Actor: There's no way that Jamie Foxx doesn't win this for "Ray." I have read and heard opinions that say he doesn't really deserve to win becuse he is imitating Ray Charles, not acting as him. Bull. He gives as good a performance as anybody can I think. If he somehow doesn't win, Chris Rock (this year's host) is going to be pissed, unless Don Cheadle is the one. Foxx is the only performance I saw, but someone tell me how Paul Giamatti did not get nominated for "Sideways"? Tell me Johnny Depp prancing around the English countyside discovering that there is a market for a freak who wears green tights and flies beat Miles? This is the second time Giamatti has gotten the shaft; he should have been nominated a few years ago for "American Splendor." Hmm, I think I may be on to something here: Giamatti's father is the late Bart Giamatti, the baseball commissioner who banned Pete Rose from the game. Perhaps Rose's omission from the Hall of Fame is related to Giamatti's absence from the list of nominees. Perhaps it wouldn't hurt Paul's future chances if he led the campaign to get Pete back into the game.
Best Actress: Only saw Kate Winslet in "Eternal..." and I know she won't win. As part of the vast left wing conspiracy, let's see Imelda Staunton win for her role as a a back alley abortionist so that the right can use its right of selective outrage and harp about HOLLYWOOD for the next three years. I hear she is quite good anyway. In the end, Hillary Swank will probably win, and that will be enough to set the right off (more on that later).
Supporting Actor: I saw Jamie Foxx in "Collateral" and Thomas Haden Church in "Sideways." Foxx won't win here for a few reasons, and while I thought THC was good, my money is on Morgan Freeman for "Million Dollar Baby." And that's OK in my book. Any veteran of PBS' "The Electric Company" (and THAT is a series-compilation DVD that needs to come out) deserves as much glory as possible. Freeman is also a great, great actor.
Supporting Actress: Only saw Virginia Madsen in, well, you know. She was great. I think it's either her or Cate Blanchett. She's an amazing actress because she never looks the same. This is a tough one, I fear if Madsen wins it will be the only award for "Sideways." I'll go with Blanchett.
Director: Clint Eastwood over Martin Scorsese. It's amazing how many times Scorsese has lost best director to a guy who is primarily an actor (Redford, Kostner, and, um, I thought there were more). It will happen again this year, though Eastwood does have a previous director win.
Picture: I want "Sideways" to win, but my picks for best picture never win. I am still in denial that "Pulp Fiction" lost to "Forrest Gump." "Sideways" will win for best adapted screenplay (while "Eternal" wins for original screenplay). I think best picture will go to "Million Dollar Baby," if for no other reason than to stick it to the right-leaning pundits, who are outraged (selectively) that this film involves...
Wait. See, I'm not going to be like the other conservative critics who feel that their moral outrage over the ending of this film entitles them to spoil the ending for you. I haven't seen this movie, but I know how it ends thanks to the above mentioned moral police. This could start another rant in its own, but I'll just say that I completely ENJOY how the O'Reilly's, Hannity's and Limbaugh's of this country get their skivvies all bunched up in knots over Hollywood. If only "Fahrenheit 9/11" had been nominated (though it did not deserve to be) so that their arteries could further clog with outrage and indignation.
Once again, off point, though I will also say that I don't care for anyone using this awards show as a soap box for their views. Accept your award, get off the stage, and dive into your $10,000 goody bag.
Until next year...