Game time, baby. Professing to have absolutely no expertise in the field, I’m here to give some Oscar predictions.
Actor in a Leading RoleFirst off, I have a cripplingly huge bias towards “Lost in Translation.” I don’t know – I guess I’m just a troubled youth trying to find his place in a big, scary world. Or I’m a millionaire actor with a stagnant marriage. Whatever it may be, the movie resonated with me, and as such, I’d love to give it every honor, including knighthood, the presidency and canonization. But, I shan’t let this lead me astray from my duties to view these lists objectively. Thus, though I’d love for Bill Murray to get recognition following his trifecta of brilliance in “Rushmore,” “Royal Tenenbaums” and “Translation,” and as wily and fun as Johnny Depp was in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” neither shall prevail. It’s just too hard when you’re up against the peerless Ben Kingsley and Sean Penn, and in this case I give the nod to Penn, partially because of the added hype and prevalence of “Mystic River.”
Actor in a Supporting RoleAlec Baldwin will never win an award in his life. Supporting actor is, in my humble opinion, a harder category to select, in that these actors must enhance the film as much as they do, but all while in the shadow of the lead. In this particular instance I have no choice but to go with the underrated and nuanced Tim Robbins. Though “Shawshank Redemption” was an incredible movie, I’ve always felt that Robbins works better as a supporting guy – something about his presence seems bred to complement the primary character.
Actress in a Leading RoleI watched “Whale Rider” with my folks over winter break – it was one of those flicks that they stumbled across and, using their adult intuition, felt compelled to rent. I watched out of the corner of my eye while wasting time online, mumbling about how the movie blew, until I realized that I was entranced. Casting aside my almost overwhelming masculinity, I fell prey to the tenderness of the film and the strong feelings of frustration, devotion and tradition that it evokes. Keisha Castle-Hughes carries the film with a subtle precocity, and considering her age and what she brought out of her role, I think she’s got a lock on the prize.
Actress in a Supporting RoleGoing with my dark horse pick here, I’m actually picking Patricia Clarkson. Working with the intricacies of managing a disease is no small task, and she succeeds especially well considering the small studio effort in the underrated “Pieces of April.”
Best PictureWho are we kidding here? It’s like having Shakira in a sexiest woman in the galaxy contest and voting against her. Do I think other movies have more merit? Yup. Do I wish “Lost in Translation” would win? Yup. But “Lord of the Rings” is gonna trample and maul the rest of the pack as though it were one of those big-ass elephants with the tusks and baskets and whatnot.
Best DirectorI’m torn here. I think this is the only category in which “Translation” may stand a chance, as Coppola’s backdrop of Japan provides a stark, solemn setting for the film. Her editing choices are deliberate, and the movie is devoid of anything extraneous. Even the lighthearted sequences, such as the one with the prostitute, are done with a deft touch that separates the film from your run of the mill humor. But, Clint Eastwood is an ass kicker, and with the success of “Mystic River” he’s hard to bet against. I’m gonna go with Coppola because I’m biased, but watch for Eastwood to eke this one out.Janowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.