Batman Begins - Wally Pfister
Brokeback Mountain - Rodrigo Prieto
Good Night, and Good Luck - Robert Elswit
Memoirs of a Geisha - Dion Beebe
The New World - Emmanuel Lubezki
WILL WIN: Brokeback Mountain
SHOULD WIN: Brokeback Mountain
Geisha actually nabbed the ASC award here, but that's an unreliable predictor for this category. Your chances increase substantially if you're nominated for the big prize, and Brokeback has that plus a few critics circle awards to boot. On the other hand, Geisha managed to nab the BAFTA in this category, so I'd consider it Brokeback's closest competition.
Rarely do I mention the cinematography in a review of a film, but in this case it was so beautiful I couldn't not mention it. That's an Ang Lee staple. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won in 2000 for the same beauty.
And before you get too shocked to see Batman Begins on the roster, remember Batman Forever was nominated, too.
Cinderella Man - Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
The Constant Gardener - Claire Simpson
Crash - Hughes Winborne
Munich - Michael Kahn
Walk the Line - Michael McCusker
WILL WIN: Crash
SHOULD WIN: The Constant Gardener
The smart money's on Crash, and at first I didn't get why, but a closer look reveals the logic. Like Cinematography, this award almost always goes to one of the big five, usually the winner. Well, the prohibitive favorite isn't nominated here, but Crash and Munich are, and of those two Crash is the much more likely Best Picture Winner. Also, the Eddie (when an ACE award isn't for cable) went to Crash in the drama department and Walk the Line in the musical or comedy department. Might be more of an issue if Walk the Line had been invited to the Best Picture dance, but not today.
The same things that made City of God an excellent pick for Best Editing apply to Meirelle's most recent effort as well, if to a somewhat lesser extent. The frenetic, seemingly chaotic pace reminiscent more of 70's conspiracy films (think the fight scene in 3 Days of the Condor) than MTV drivel adds to the sense of powerlessness that makes the film so compelling. I can't be too pissed, though. City of God lost to Lord of the Rings: Return of the King that year.
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
Brokeback Mountain - Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana
Capote - Dan Futterman
The Constant Gardener - Jeffrey Caine
A History of Violence - Josh Olson
Munich - Tony Kushner and Eric Roth