Oscars: who’s running, who’s got a running chance

It is almost impossible to talk about the Academy Awards without sounding like an airhead “E! News” anchor.Do you know how many cliches are used when talking about the Oscars? Statements like “everyone’s asking, who will the Oscars go to?” are things you hear every single year without fail, and it drives everyone nuts. The fact is, no one spends the whole time thinking about this as Entertainment Weekly and other film-related media would like you to believe – unless you’re actually a part of Hollywood.

With that being said, come March 24, everyone will be wondering, “who will get the Oscars?” and these are my slightly biased, always opinionated, and continuously jeering picks for who’s got a better chance of coming out of the Kodak Theatre with an award.

You want to keep in mind the five contestants for this year’s best film: “Gosford Park,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” “Moulin Rouge,” “In The Bedroom” and “A Beautiful Mind.” At one point or another, all five of these have been marvelously overrated by the studio- and audience-pandering media, and some argue that none of these should get the award. Since that can’t happen, we won’t be working with that assumption, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen all five movies running for the award, so I get to be especially nasty about them.

Actor in a Supporting Role

This year’s nominees include newcomers and old visitors alike. Jim Broadbent is running for his role on the biopic “Iris.” He’s a “nobody” in a category with four “somebodies,” and the movie is a boring tale of dull romance and a woman who gets Alzheimer’s but whom he still loves. He has that outside chance of an upset – like last year’s Marcia Gay Harden – but isn’t the most celebrated performance.

Next we have Ben Kingsley for his performance in “Sexy Beast.” Kingsley has been nominated two other times and won once for his performance in the ever-so-boring “Gandhi.” Great actor, good chances. Also running is Jon Voight, an old contender for the award, who appeared in “Ali” as newscaster Howard Cosell, who became good friends with, you guessed it, Muhammad Ali.

Ethan Hawke – yes, I was as surprised as you are – runs for “Training Day,” where he played Denzel Washington’s submissive partner. I’m not sure this warrants an Oscar, but Hawke was not half bad. Finally, we have Gandalf the White, Ian McKellen, from “The Lord of the Rings.” I won’t even begin to try and summarize this plot. I know that I shouldn’t write this in a “who’s gonna win” article, but I have no idea who’s going to win.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Even though many have said that getting the Oscar for “My Cousin Vinny” almost killed her career, Marisa Tomei returns to try for another award, this time for the drama “In The Bedroom.” Won’t people ever learn? It took her seven years to get a decent movie after her first award, and one hopes it will take less than that if she takes the trophy this year.

Kate Winslet is also running for the comatose “Iris.” She’s not going to win, so I won’t bother writing more about her. Jennifer Connelly has a great chance of grabbing the award, especially after winning the Golden Globe, for her role as John Forbes Nash’s wife in “A Beautiful Mind.” She’s probably going to walk away with it, unless Helen Mirren does. Mirren and Maggie Smith are both nominated for their roles in the Robert Altman comedrama murder mystery mess that is “Gosford Park,” with Mirren delivering a beautiful dramatic performance and Smith a comical one, thus representing both aspects of the film at the awards show. Aw, isn’t that nice? Bet on Connelly.

Actor in a Leading Role

If life were fair, and we know it isn’t, Denzel Washington would win hands-down for his stunning performance in “Training Day.” But since the academy and film producers nowadays have an abnormal fascination with Russell Crowe, he will probably still win for “A Beautiful Mind.” In my opinion, Crowe overdid it a tad in “Mind,” and it would be sad to see such a fine actor receive two awards two years in a row for performances that really did not merit Oscars. If he wins, he’ll be only the third actor to accomplish this feat after Tom Hanks and Spencer Tracy.

Also running and certainly losing are Tom Wilkinson and Sean Penn, for “In The Bedroom” and “I Am Sam,” respectively. The former will lose because he’s a virtual unknown and can’t compete with the likes of Washington and Crowe in terms of publicity – though his performance was Oscar-worthy for sure. The latter will lose because he is, well, Sean Penn. Also, “Sam” is an awful, awful, awful travesty of a film and no distinction should go to it ever. Sean Penn really shouldn’t win. It’s a bad movie and I cannot reiterate enough: this film is the cinematic equivalent of Michael Dukakis in the tank.

Rounding off the category is Will Smith for “Ali,” but something tells me that the academy would live to regret this in the media when Smith releases his next album.

Actress in a Leading Role

Sissy Spacek for “In the Bedroom,” hands down. No offense to Renee Zellweger for “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” Nicole Kidman for “Moulin Rouge” and Judi Dench for “Iris,” but this one seems to have been handed out in advance. Halle Berry “Monster’s Ball” also had her performance lauded by critics and audiences alike, but it seems difficult for her to win over the six-times-nominated Spacek.

Director

I’d like to see David Lynch win for “Mulholland Drive” simply because he’s completely insane and would give one great acceptance speech. And this year, with two films running for best picture without their directors following suit, seems to give him a good chance, along with “Black Hawk Down’s” Ridley Scott, who was snubbed last year when his “Gladiator” won top honors but he didn’t. Scott might win simply because of that, but I would bet on “The Lord of the Rings’” Peter Jackson, who beforehand has directed only cheesy horror flicks. Say what you will about “Rings,” Jackson deserves an Oscar simply for breaking out of his routine of making stupid movie after stupid movie. Robert Altman is in the running for “Gosford Park,” but since he hates Hollywood and it hates him, I don’t think we’ll be seeing him giving a speech on Oscar night.

Picture

All right kiddies, this is the big time. “Moulin Rouge” will not win; when the director doesn’t win a Oscar, it is a pretty good indicator that the film won’t either, and Baz Luhrmann wasn’t even nominated. “In The Bedroom” arguably deserves the award, but no. “Gosford Park” has a better chance of winning, but it won’t either, due to its association with Robert Altman. So it seems that the battle this year is deadlocked between “A Beautiful Mind,” whose director Ron Howard also was not nominated and is often snubbed by the academy, and “The Lord of the Rings.” I’m putting my money on the latter, not only because I liked it better, but it has statistically a better shot – the director/film correlation has held true every time with three exceptions – and it also has more nominations.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering, who will win Documentary Short Subject? Well in the CNN.com game where you try to guess who will win in order to win yourself a nice, big home entertainment system, I put down “Artists and Orphans: A True Drama,” but that was a guess. I won’t cover all the lesser categories, but I’ll just say that “No Man’s Land” might pull an upset against the overrated “Amelie.” “Memento” might win original screenplay although “In the Bedroom” likely has it.

“Shrek” will win best animated feature. Why, do you ask? Well, simply, the Academy came out a month after the film was released and announced the category. Coincidence? I think not.