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The Playoffs: Oscar Predictions

updated 2/24/04
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All right, I thought long and hard, consulted Ebert, EW, and Oscar Watch (links at left), and here's what I've come up with. You can send me your own predictions in the Oscar pool, and don't forget--the Globes went so well that we're having an International Oscar Party Sunday night: a live play-by-play complete with upgraded TagBoard for global schmoozing. Here goes:

Best Picture: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Because itís time.
Ebert: ROTK.

Best Director:
Peter Jackson. I hear that the LAPD has ordered fresh riot gear on the off chance that Jackson doesnít win.
Ebert: Jackson.
EW: Jackson.
OW: Jackson.

Best Actor:
A month ago, I would have said ďSean PennĒ without hesitation. But for some reason, Bill Murray has surged forward. Wellóno guts, no glory. Itís a 51-vs-49 percent shot, but Iím going with Murray. That said: if Johnny Depp somehow wins, there will be vast intergenerational jubilation in the House of Digest.
Ebert: Murray.
EW: Penn.
OW: Penn.

Best Actress: Charlize Theron.
Ebert: Theron.
EW: Theron.
OW: Keisha Castle-Hughes. No guts, no glory.

Best Supporting Actor:
Tim Robbins.
Ebert: Robbins.
EW: Robbins.
OW: Robbins.

Best Supporting Actress:
People keep talking about Shohreh Aghdashloo as the spoileróand I agree, if itís anyone, itíll be heróbut I really think that Renťe Zellweger will take it. She took the Globe; she took the SAG; itís a way to throw Cold Mountain a bone; sheís been nominated twice previously; industry people seem to like her. If it werenít for those two previous nominations, I think Aghdashloo would have a better chance, but thereís a sense that itís time for Zellweger.
Ebert: Aghdashloo.
EW: Zellweger.
OW: Aghdashloo.

Adapted Screenplay: I agree with Sasha (OW)óthis is one of the most wide-open categories. We could see American Splendor get its due; we could see ROTK pick it up in a sweep. In fact, this is one award I could actually see Seabiscuit winning (it tied Mystic River at the Writers Guild), and then thereís City of God. Iím hearing Mystic River a lot, though; it did tie the WGA, after all, and itís a way to throw a bone to the movie for not winning director or picture.
Ebert: Mystic River.
EW: Mystic River.

Original Screenplay: Over and over again, Iím hearing Lost in Translation (although In America is a strong spoiler). People who love this movie really, really love this movie, and I think itís also a way to honor Sofia Coppola without giving her Director.
Ebert: Lost in Translation.
EW: Lost in Translation.
OW: Lost in Translation.

Foreign Language: The Barbarian Invasions is the one I hear come up time and time again. Thatís all I know. Oh, and it's nominated for screenplay, which says something about the quality and reception of the movie itself.
Ebert: The Barbarian Invasions.
EW: The Barbarian Invasions, with Evil (Sweden) as a long shot.
OW: The Barbarian Invasions.

Documentary: Itís a dead heat between Capturing the Friedmans and The Fog of War, from what I can tell. Iíd like to see Friedmans win, but everything Iím hearing indicates Fog of War.
Ebert: The Fog of War.
EW: The Fog of War.
OW: The Fog of War.

Documentary Short Subject: Iíll go with EWís prediction, Chernobyl Heart.
EW: Chernobyl Heart.
OW: Asylum.

Live Action Short: Two Soldiers is what Iím hearing.
EW: Two Soldiers.
OW: Two Soldiers.

Animated Short: Destino, the Disney-Dali collaboration.
EW: Destino.
OW: Destino.

Animated Film: Finding Nemo. Outside shot: The Triplets of Belleville. But before Return of the King came out, Finding Nemo was the top grosser of the year, not to mention critically adored. How many Academy voters do you think have seen Belleville? (No way in hell: Brother Bear.)
Ebert: Finding Nemo.
EW: Finding Nemo.
OW: Finding Nemo.

Editing: Return of the King in a sweep. However, EW points out that Editing hasnít matched Picture in four of the last five years. I agree that Master and Commander could be a spoiler here.
OW: City of God

Cinematography: Master and Commander. No, ROTK is not nominated.
EW: Master and Commander.
OW: Seabiscuitónoting that itís between Seabiscuit, M&C, and City of God.

Original Score: Howard Shore, ROTK. For the 100th time, Iíll say it: the lighting of the beacons is one of the best scenes in the movie, and itís all the score.

Original Song: ďInto the West,Ē ROTK. When Shore and Fran Walsh accepted the Globe, and Walsh mentioned that the song was inspired by a young filmmaker friend who died an untimely death, I thought to myself, ďCongratulations, you just won yourself an Oscar.Ē Given that the song already won the Globe and belongs to the frontrunner film, how can voters turn a story like that down?
EW: ďInto the West.Ē
OW: ďInto the West.Ē

Best Sound:
Return of the King.

Best Sound Editing: Master and Commander. No, ROTK is not nominated.
EW: Master and Commander.
OW: Master and Commander.

Art Direction: I would certainly give it to ROTK if it were up to me, but EW suggests Last Samurai and Girl with a Pearl Earring as potential spoilers. This may be one of those ďWhatís this for again? Oh, hell, give it to [the frontrunner].Ē Thatís who Iím predicting, at any rate.

Costume Design: Ngila Dickson. I can predict that with certainty. She will win either for Return of the King or The Last Samurai; at the Costume Designers Guild, she tied herself. Seriously. She seems to have gotten more award attention for Samurai; if she wins for ROTK, itíll probably be in a ďLetís check off everything that corresponds to the Best Picture voteĒ spirit. Give me half a point if ROTK wins; Iím going with The Last Samurai otherwise.
EW: Samurai over ROTK, but definitely Dickson.

EW: ROTK (with POTC as a possible spoiler)

Visual Effects: ROTK, third year in a row.

Head on over to the Oscar pool -->
Useful links
Roger Ebert's predictions
Oscar Watch predictions
Oscar Watch predix chart
Entertainment Weekly

At the Digest
International Oscar Party
live play-by-play with TagBoard (coming 2/29/04)
Oscar pool
Digest predictions
Livejournal Digest feed
SAG recap
Globes recap