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2004 Mini Reviews

OSCAR PREDICTIONS

The awards season is over, for the most apart. Most of the nominees are out there, excepting the Oscars, and we have an idea how the critical "buzz" and enthusiasm for a lot of these films and performances stand. There have been a few surprises, and a few constants. So, without further ado, here are my final Oscar predictions, with the predicted winners in italics.

BEST PICTURE
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Mystic River
Cold Mountain
Lost in Translation
Seabiscuit

The only questionable slots in this category are Cold Mountain and Lost in Translation. Before the awards season began, Cold Mountain had very strong buzz, while Sofia Coppola's second film had very little. A slew of critical accolades helped Lost in Translation's case, along with some Golden Globe nominations, A DGA Nomination, and a whopping 8 BAFTA Nominations. Cold Mountain's buzz has nearly plummeted, as it has surprisingly garnered much fewer than expected critical and other awards. The only reason I still think it will be nominated is because this is Miramax's warhorse, and their track record speaks for itself. Other possibilities for a nomination are Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, In America, The Last Samurai, and House of Sand and Fog.

As for the winner, this is the least exciting contest in recent memory. Peter Jackson's Return of the King has rolled over the competition, and is definitely the film to beat. Jackson has more than just the enthusiasm for the current film going for him. He also has the conclusion of a trilogy where all three films have been nominated for Best Picture, and many, critic and consumer, consider to be one of the best trilogies ever. This is Jackson's year and there will be no upset.

BEST ACTOR
Sean Penn, Mystic River
Ben Kingsley, House of Sand and Fog
Bill Murray, Lost in Translation
Jude Law, Cold Mountain
Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Carribean

Expect Penn to be nominated for Mystic River, and not 21 Grams. I predict he will win, not only because of the relentless acting buzz for Mystic River, but also because he gave two award-worthy performances this year. While Mystic River is the film he will be nominated for, he will be rewarded for both performances. Penn, Kingsley and Murray are locks at this point for nominations. Johnny Depp is the audience favorite, and he has already received Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations. He isn't quite a lock yet, but is the closest thing. I expect Jude Law to sneak in here, mostly as a result of the Miramax machine. Peter Dinklage received a surprising SAG nomination for The Station Agent, but he didn't receive a Golden Globe nomination, whereas Law did, so I predict he will be left out. There is an outside chance that Russell Crowe, Paul Giamatti, or Tom Cruise could upset, but I don't think they will.

BEST ACTRESS
Charlize Theron, Monster
Diane Keaton, Something's Gotta Give
Naomi Watts, 21 Grams
Evan Rachel Wood, Thirteen
Jennifer Connelly, House of Sand and Fog

This is the easiest of the acting categories to pick a winner, simply because of the enthusiastic response to Charlize Theron's performance. She has practically swept the critical awards, and I expect her to do the same for the Golden Globe and SAG as well. Many critics, including Roger Ebert, are calling her performance one of the greatest of all time. The Academy doesn't want a snub on their conscience here, and they will reward her. Her only legitemate competition for the award would be Keaton or Watts, but she is still way ahead of the pack. Evan Rachel Wood received both a Golden Globe and a SAG nomination, so I think it's relatively safe to pencil here in here. As for Jennifer Connelly, her place here is the least secure. It's really a tossup between her and Nicole Kidman, with Patricia Clarkson possibly sneaking in. But this year Clarkson will be rewarded for Pieces of April, and Kidman won last year, so I think Connelly will get the nod. She wasn't nominated for a Golden Globe or an SAG, so this is quite a bold prediction, but I think it will happen.

Coming soon: Supporting, Screenwriting, Director, and Technical Nominations.


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