Tonight's the night I don one of the few formal dresses that still fits - a red bridesmaid dress - make myself some cheap ripoff of a cocktail (no amaretto in the house? chocolate syrup will do) and coerce Honey to watch at least the first hour of the shallow, self-congragtulatory pretty dresses parade that is the Academy Awards. What can I say? I'm a sucker for pomp and pageantry - I cry at every Olympic opening ceremony, even the ones I don't watch, like this year's. I've tried to inculcate the little girls next door into my annual hollywood-cult ceremony, but aside from the pretty dresses, they don't seem to be that excited about the prospect of stirring music accompanying schmaltzy, weepy thank you speeches. And frankly, the younger one isn't all impressed with the pretty dresses. (She's the one who turned down our invite to the local St. Patty's day parade yesterday on account of there being no promise of chairs, warm weather nor brevity. Her loss. We got CANDY!)
Just like 10,000,000 other people on the web or in the world, I thought I'd make some guesses as to the winners of tonight's botox, saline and collagen sponsored event. Truthfully, I've only seen one of the best picture noms, and two of the best documentary noms. But that's never stopped me before, and also, since I've been getting bags under my eyes for this show since I was 5, I kind of know what the academy likes. (Hint: if you're a woman and over 35, you'd better be nominated for some big time "oh the humanity" role, or else, your night will "just be an honor to be nominated" night. Oscar likes young breasts.) Without further ado, here are my guesses, category at a time:
Best Actor: Phillip Seymour Hoffman. True, I'm making this prediction because he is one of the many actors I'm in love with, but also he's been getting good buzz, he's a little pre-due for it, and Oscar seems to like to reward accent-actors before they're due. Possible win: Joaquin Phoenix; Surprise win: Terrance Howard.
Supporting Actor: Matt Dillon. Crash has to win something, I think it's a good contender for best picture just because again, seems to be popular, but it could be that Academy members wanted to ensure it got something in case the Brokeback juggernaut crushed it. Possible win: Clooney; Surprise win: William Hurt. Super-surprise "we feel guilty about last year" win: Paul Giamatti.
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon. She's been racking it up elsewhere. Her only real competition is Felicity Huffman. And she's just the right age: 30. Oh, yeah, and she's pretty talented on the whole. Possible win: Felicity Huffman; Surprise win: Judi Dench.
Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams. Hers was the one performance that I consistently loved in Brokeback. Heath was great, but I felt Michelle's agony more than his. He carried pain and isolation, but she knew his secret and never confronted him. This is the hardest category for me to call, simply because I have total girl crushes on the other nominees - except for Amy Adams, and that's only because I'm unfamiliar with her work. Each of these actresses have either in the past, or in their nominated roles have proven that they are unwaveringly committed to the action in the scene, to the moment. Even when the movie they're in blows donkey balls. But I think it's Michelle's night. Possible win: Amy Adams; Surprise win: Frances Mc-freakinggoddess-Dormand.
Animated Feature: Wallace and Gromit In the Curse of the Were Rabbit. This was the only of these nominees I saw, but it was genuinely good. And more importantly, it's made the best of 2005 lists of many a critic. As great as I'm sure Corpse Bride was, the only other possibility in this is Howl's Moving Castle, simply because it looks awesome and because the Academy seems to like anime and Miyazaki.
Art Direction: King Kong. Kong is going to get something, but only something technical, so why not this? Plus, I have to admit, Kong was a complete visual treat, from Anne Darrow's cloche hat to the scar above Kong's eye. Though frankly, with the exception of Pride and Prejudice, the others look pretty darn pretty to look at, too. What I've seen of the brit-flick basically looks like soggy bogs and lots of fog. Gee. How romantic.
Cinematography: Brokeback Mountain. Classic beautiful sweeping vistas, always a crowd pleaser. Other possible winner: Goodnight and Good Luck - lots of smoky rooms, and black and white is always nice.
Costume: Memoirs of a Geisha. Period piece, non-western culture - seems to be a winner. Other possibility is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they did a good job of making costumes overwhelming where necessary and understated where necessary. Plus, that was a damn cool orthodontic creepy helmet. This is one of my favorite technical categories. I LOVE costume design!
Directing: Ang Lee. He aptly captured the relaxed pace of life in the West and the meditative quality of the outdoors out there, without making it boring. Having never lived my life as a gay cowboy, I can't say if he captured the lonlieness of that, but damn, Ennis' trailer at the end of the movie - if that ain't lonely, what is? Possible win: Paul Haggis; Surprise win: Steven Spielberg.
Documentary Feature: Darwin's Nightmare. Any film about how we're ruining the planet is a good bet, but throw in the aspect of how we're doing that is also perpetuating bloody civil wars in Africa and toss in an adorable young prostitute who we love and who is then brutally murdered, and you've got yourself and Oscar. I'm really eager to see this one. Possible win: Enron - The Smartest Guys in the Room; Surprise win: Murderball (saw it last night - great!)
Documentary Short: God Sleeps in Rwanda. Mostly because Hotel Rwanda didn't win a few years ago. And it's still pretty fresh on Academy voters' minds. Possible win: Mushroom Club. Both movies are about post-war devestation fall out; both Oscar attractive.
Film Editing: Munich. Mostly because it has to win something and I know nothing about editing. Possible win: Crash.
Foreign Language Film: Joyeux Noel. Because in this time of war, we want to believe that for one day, at least, we can set aside our guns and celebrate our commonalities. Possible win: (And I hope this, just because i'm in love with South Africa!) Tsotsi; Surprise win: Pardise Now (but it would be a HUGE surprise.)
Make Up: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was amazing how they got Liam Neeson to look like a real lion! Possible win: Revenge of the Sith.
Musical Score: Constant Garder. Just because. I've only heard the score from Brokeback. It's good, but it may be too sparse.
Song: "Hard Out Here for a Pimp." Because it's infectious, and the academy is probably ready to trim off some white crusts a little. Heck didn't Eminem win for the song from 8 Mile a few years back? Why not, eh?
Animated Short: The Moon and the Son - An Imagined Conversation. Just taking a random guess here.
Alright, this is getting too long, so I'm going to cut to the chase and give my predictions for the last three ones I like the most:
Best Screenplay Adapted: Brokeback Mountaint. Everyone seems to be so impressed how a feature length movie has stayed pretty darned true to an 11 page story. Possible win: History of Violence.
Best Screenplay Original: Syriana or Crash. Both are critically acclaimed. The former speaks to an angry political sense of a lot of people and academy votres, and the latter is a story about L.A. which academy types have to love. Possible win: The Squid and the Whale; Surprise win: Matchpoint.
BEST PICTURE!!: Brokeback Mountain. It's the one to beat this year. And while Crash may have more actual relevance in the lives of movie viewers and academy voters - My God! Confronting the daily racisms we act like we're over; how dare they?! - the story of a pair of gay cowboys is both on the edge of current phobia breaking and is fairly unexpected in today's age. Gay? Sure. Gay AND a cowboy? Whoa! Further prediction: in 15 years, we'll've had so many gay-"unexpected category" movies that even though homophobia won't be eradicated in the US, but rather subverted the way many racisms are today, any film that confronts the subversion of the still hurtful homophobia will be admired, but will be tossed aside to make way for whatever the cause du jour is. Possible win: Crash. (Frankly, rooting for it, though I haven't seen it.) Surprise win: Any of the remaining 3; particularly Munich. Any film that is blasted by conservative Jewish groups for being anti-semitic and is equally reviled by Arab groups for being anti-Muslim Palestinian is first and foremost a must-see, but also a sure loser. Seems to have a rep as one of those movies that questions the moral legitimacy of too many people to make anyone happy. No easy good guy or bad guy. That means no Oscar.
Have fun watching Jon Stewart swing it tonight!