January 28, 2005

Predicting the Oscars

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For a brief and shining moment, it actually seemed like this year’s Oscars (airing Feb. 27th) would actually inspire some interest, perhaps even some controversy. Would Fahrenheit 9/11 bombard Best Picture? Would Mel Gibson be in the running for Best Director? How about Sean Penn? Man, that guy’s a wild card. But, alas, it was not to be. Instead, the nominations (announced on Monday) present more of the same: atrocities (Hotel Rwanda), biopics (Ray) and sophisticated “comedies” (Sideways). The Sun has come to the rescue in order to navigate these perilous waters. The following are our choices for some of the most notable categories. Dust off your tux, and prepare to put 50 bucks on Jaime Foxx.

Best Picture What Should Win — Finding Neverland What Will Win — The Aviator

Though Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was unfortunately snubbed, this year’s deserving nominees share the aspect of genuine passion: a woman’s passion for earning her living as a boxer, a blind musician’s passion for life, two middle-aged men’s passion for wine and human connection, a tormented airplane tycoon’s passion for success and a playwright’s passion for humanity and never-ending childhood. The sophisticated Sideways has been the darling favorite among critics’ circles this year, and Ray has been widely lauded for its exceptional performance by Jamie Foxx. In the end however, The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby will vie for The Academy’s most coveted award. While Million Dollar Baby is keen, reticent and deeply moving, it does not enjoy the appeal of The Aviator, full of its rich and dynamic acting performances and precise directing. The voters will love the film’s nostalgic old-Hollywood feel, as well as its exhilarating and heartrending true story. Nevertheless, my personal favorite is the bittersweet Finding Neverland, which brilliantly intertwines enchantment and affliction in the life of playwright James Barrie, the man who wrote Peter Pan. Though Neverland’s thematic involvement is more subtle than The Aviator’s, the film’s story is charming and intelligent, but more importantly, as Peter’s character says at the end of the film, “magical.”

Best Director Who Should Win — Clint Eastwood Who Will Win — Martin Scorsese

Although there are five nominees, Best Director is pretty much a two-horse race between Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese. Ray and Sideways are unremarkable without their casts; Vera Drake’s Mike Leigh would need a four-way deadlock between the other guys to win. And Eastwood keeps coming at his clich