This is easily the hardest year for me to pick in the past, um, four or five years that I’ve been doing this. I remember when I could just say “Lord of the Rings” over and over again and be right. No such luck this time. And I couldn’t be happier. This is much more interesting. And I’ll probably be much more wrong.
Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett – The Aviator
Aviator’s gonna get a lot of noms. Plus, Hollywood can’t resist a modern actress paying tribute to a legend.
Laura Linney – Kinsey
A raved-about performance. Her first Supporting nom.
Virginia Madsen – Sideways
Golden Globes notwithstanding, she’s still the most likely winner.
Sophie Okonedo – Hotel Rwanda
Every list has its surprise, and I think the SAG noms and the Oscars will share this one.
Natalie Portman – Closer
Her Golden Globes win couldn’t have possibly influenced the nomination ballots, since they went in the night before and she wasn’t selected for a SAG, but I’m playing it safe.
Best Supporting Actor
Thomas Hayden Church – Sideways
And he’ll win, too.
Jamie Foxx – Collateral
Four nominated black actors for the price of three. Yes, the Academy’s that shortsighted.
Morgan Freeman – Million Dollar Baby
It would be a sweet win, but I think Thomas has the edge.
Freddie Highmore – Finding Neverland
The SAG nom locked this one for me. BFCA didn’t hurt. Fills the “cute kid” Haley-Anna-Kiesha slot.
Clive Owen – Closer
This isn’t just about his GG win. He’s gotten a lot of critical love beyond that. He also looks good in a tux.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Mean Girls – Tina Fey
It seemed like a long shot, but somehow the buzz began building and ultimately the WGA recognized and now it seems like the phrase “The Oscar nominated Mean Girls” could become a reality. Personally, I like the ring of it. Oh, and she looks good in a tux.
Million Dollar Baby – Paul Haggis
Gonna compete with Sideways for second most noms. Aviator will probably take the top spot in that contest.
Finding Neverland – David Magee
The GG and BFCA are doing it. Why can’t the Academy?
Sideways – Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
For the first time since Election.
The Motorcycle Diaries – Jose Rivera
This year’s foreign film that couldn’t get a foreign film nod (a la City of God). I’d put A Very Long Engagement in this slot, except that the WGA didn’t.
Best Original Screenplay
The Aviator – John Logan
Part of the Aviator package. Comes with Aviator playing cards and a commemorative Aviator plate. It shows Howard Hughes collecting his urine.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – Charlie Kaufman
Please, please, please.
Garden State – Zach Braff
This would just be too cool. But the WGA supports it, so it’s not a total pipe dream.
Hotel Rwanda – Keir Pearson & Terry George
Gets the conscience vote.
Kinsey – Bill Condon
Won for Gods & Monsters. Nominated for Chicago. This would be his first Original nom.
(Note: Here I’ve shown a total lack of imagination, matching the WGA Original noms completely. But there’s usually at least one category that matches up to guild noms, so why not this?.)
Annette Bening – Being Julia
Third nom’s the charm?
Emmy Rossum – The Phantom of the Opera
I don’t know why I keep hawking her, but the GG and BFCA bit, and Hollywood loves their ingénues.
Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby
Imelda Staunton – Vera Drake
The one spoiler for Hilary, but not really.
Kate Winslet – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Why for this and not for Finding Neverland? Because everyone else nominated her for Sunshine. Other than that, I really don’t know.
Johnny Depp – Finding Neverland
This time they won’t be saying “Johnny Depp? Really?”
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Aviator
Remember when Johnny and Leo were just eye candy? Actually they’re reunited here for the first time since Gilbert Grape, Leo’s first nom.
Clint Eastwood – Million Dollar Baby
They can’t get enough of this guy.
Jamie Foxx – Ray
D to the U to the H.
Paul Giamatti – Sideways
A long overdue nom.
Clint Eastwood – Million Dollar Baby
They just can’t get enough…oh, wait I said that already.
Michael Gondry – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
My out of nowhere, dark horse, no way in hell pick. There’s gotta be one.
Alexander Payne – Sideways
Wishing he weren’t up against Martin Scorcese.
Michael Mann – Collateral
DV. It’s not just for indies anymore.
Martin Scorcese – The Aviator
This is Marty’s year. No. Really. I mean it this time.
One of three on everyone’s tongues since December.
Has all the necessary pathos and period.
I don’t know. I’ve just got a feeling.
Million Dollar Baby
Two of three.
Three of three. And all three are in a dead heat now, with Aviator peeking ahead.
January 25th, 5:30AM (Pacific Time, thank God) we’ll see if I’m just talking out of my ass. Actually, I’ll end the suspense now. I’m completely talking out of my ass. All the announcement will determine is the effectiveness of that strategy.