Every year the Academy Award nominations confirm the success of box office and/or critical hits while giving deserving films some deserved attention. Here are my guesses for this year’s nominations, which will be announced in the early morning hours on Tuesday, January 23.
- The Departed
- Letters From Iwo Jima
- The Queen
- United 93
- Wildcard: Dreamgirls
Letters From Iwo Jima might also qualify as a Best Foreign Language Film nominee, which might be the situation if another film, like The Departed, becomes the front runner. United 93 provides a very patriotic choice while The Queen and Babel represent the growing clout of international films.
- Clint Eastwood – Letters From Iwo Jima
- Stephen Frears – The Queen
- Paul Greengrass – United 93
- Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Babel
- Martin Scorsese – The Departed
- Wildcard: Bill Condon – Dreamgirls
Nominations in this category usually match the Best Picture nominees, but there always seems to be at least one surprise in the past few years.
- Leonardo DiCaprio – The Departed
- Ryan Gosling – Half Nelson
- Will Smith – The Pursuit of Happyness
- Peter ‘O Toole – Venus
- Forest Whitaker – The Last King of Scotland
- Wildcard: Sacha Baron Cohen – Borat
O'Toole received an honorary Oscar last year, but sentimentality might rule and deny Whitaker a well deserved win.
- Penelope Cruz – Volver
- Judi Dench – Notes on a Scandal
- Helen Mirren – The Queen
- Meryl Streep – The Devil Wears Prada
- Kate Winslet – Little Children
- Wildcard: Maggie Gyllenhaal – Sherrybaby
British actors are usually nominated and this category is no exception. It could be anyone's win though making it the hardest category to choose a winner.
Best Supporting Actor
- Alan Arkin – Little Miss Sunshine
- Djimon Hounsou – Blood Diamond
- Eddie Murphy – Dreamgirls
- Jack Nicholson – The Departed
- Michael Sheen – The Queen
- Wildcard: Ben Affleck – Hollywoodland
Murphy has most of the momentum here. Hounsou finally gets some recognition for many great roles, including In America.
Best Supporting Actress
- Adriana Barraza – Babel
- Cate Blanchett – Notes on a Scandal
- Abigail Breslin – Little Miss Sunshine
- Jennifer Hudson – Dreamgirls
- Rinko Kikuchi – Babel
- Wildcard: Catherine O Hara – For Your Consideration
Newcomer Breslin will have a lot of the spotlight, but the other newcomer Hudson has the hype right now.
- Michael Arndt – Little Miss Sunshine
- Guillermo Arriaga – Babel
- Guillermo del Toro – Pan’s Labyrinth
- Peter Morgan – The Queen
- Iris Yamashita – Letters From Iwo Jima
- Wildcard: Zach Helm – Stranger Than Fiction
Letters and The Queen are the strong favorites, but Little Miss Sunshine wouldn't be a surprise win – great plot and cast to deliver the words.
- William Monahan – The Departed
- Todd Field & Tom Perrotta – Little Children
- Patrick Marber – Notes on a Scandal
- Jason Reitman – Thank You For Smoking
- Alfonso Cuaron, T.Sexton, D.Arata, M.Fergus and H.Ostby – Children of Men
- Wildcard: Ron Nyswaner – The Painted Veil
Monahan did well and seems to be a lock here. This category has many strong contenders.
Best Animated Feature (assuming nominations are expanded from three to five)
- Flushed Away
- Happy Feet
- Monster House
- Over the Hedge
- Wildcard: A Scanner Darkly
This category will likely be expanded to five. The animation of each film has enough originality to get a nomination. Pixar's Cars definitely gets one.
Best Documentary Feature
- The Ground Truth
- An Inconvenient Truth
- Iraq in Fragments
- Jesus Camp
- Shut Up & Sing
- Wildcard: Deliver Us From Evil
Al Gore bolsters the genre even more with his cautious tale. Full of relevant topics with widening audiences that might actually see the nominations this year.
Best Foreign Language Feature
- Black Book (Netherlands)
- Letter From Iwo Jima (USA)
- The Lives of Others (Germany)
- Pan's Labyrinth (Mexico)
- Volver (Spain)
- Wildcards: Fearless or Curse of the Golden Flower (China)
Either of the Chinese films are my personal favorites, but comebacks (Paul Verhoeven's Black Book) and career highlights (del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth) take the cake here.
Good luck in your office pools!