Looking forward to the show tonight as I have a feeling there could be some major upsets and the Best Picture race is arguably the toughest to call in years. So here they are along with my thoughts on the major categories:
Best Picture: Babel
The Departed is too violent for the Academy and if Goodfellas didn't win this won't. Little Miss Sunshine is too slight. The Queen is viewed as an excellent t.v. movie. Letters From Iwo Jima was lucky it got a nomination. This leaves Babel, which is exactly the kind of film the voters love to reward so they can pat themselves on the back for recognizing a serious issue film. It's a grand, sweeping epic that takes on social concerns and FEELS like a Best Picture winner. That goes a long way in a race like this. That said, it is really tight this year.
Best Director: Martin Scorsese (The Departed)
Stephen Frears (The Queen) and Paul Greengrass (United 93) stand absolutely no chance. Greengrass far less so. Mixed reaction to Babel will hurt Inarritu in this category. There isn't enough support behind Iwo jima for Clint to pull an upset. Scorsese finally gets his due. Look for a very long standing ovation and lots of emotion.
Best Actor: Forrest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland)
Voters have already forgotten about Will Smith's film and his performance. Gosling's nomination is reward enough, as is O' Toole's. DiCaprio should have been nominated for The Departed so he stands no chance. That leaves Whitaker who's powerful performance should make voters forget he directed First Daughter. One of the few locks of the night.
Best Actress: Helen Mirren (The Queen)
Unfortunately the lead acting categories are very predictable this year, but at least it guarantees everyone two correct in their Oscar pool. Kate Winslet will eventually win an Oscar but the support just isn't there for Little Children, which I hear is unbelievable by the way. Penelope Cruz can go home happy knowing her work was at least recognized. Meryl Streep's performance in The Devil Wears Prada is a supporting one. Judi Dench has the biggest chance to pull off an upset for Notes on a Scandal, but won't. Helen Mirren winning is the surest bet on the entire show as she's one every single critics award.
Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls)
I really, really hope I'm wrong. If you asked me the one thing I don't want to see on this Oscar telecast it's Murphy winning. This must be the ten millionth Eddie Murphy "comeback" where he gets our hopes up he'll become a real actor. Instead we all know he'll shove the Oscar in his closet and continue to waste his talent making Norbit 2 and The Nutty Professor 17. With his body of work this past decade how could the Academy possibly endorse him? I don't care how good he was in Dreamgirls. Unlike Murphy, Little Children's Jackie Earle Haley and Little Miss Sunshine's Alan Arkin are real comeback stories. Reward one of them. Please.
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)
The Academy loves to recognize fresh blood in this category and it doesn't come any fresher than Hudson, making her acting debut. This should be an exciting acceptance speech if nothing else. Too bad Cate Blanchett won this a couple of years ago or she'd have a chance. Rinko Kukuchi deserves to win for Babel but will split votes with co-star Adriana Barraza. Abigail Breslin proabably won't join Tatum O'Neil as the youngest Oscar winner in history. Keep your eyes peeled for a shocking upset in this category. It's happened before.
The Other Categories:
Best Original Screenplay: Little Miss Sunshine
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Departed
Best Foreign Language Film: Pan's Labyrinth
Best Documentary Feature: An Inconvenient Truth
Best Documentary Short: The Blood of Yingzhou District
Best Animated Feature: Cars
Best Animated Short: The Little Matchgirl
Best Live Action Short: Binta y la gran idea (let's see if I keep up my streak of missing this category like I do every year)
Best Original Score: The Queen
Best Original Song: "Listen" (Dreamgirls)
Best Cinematography: Children of Men
Best Art Direction: Dreamgirls
Best Visual Effects: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Best Film Editing: United 93
Best Sound Editing: Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest
Best Sound Mixing: Dreamgirls
Best Costume Design: Marie Antoinette
Best Makeup: Pan's Labyrinth