Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ladies and Gentleman, the 3rd annual Oscar predictions post!

I don't know what's been wrong with me when it comes to posting about movies this year. I still have a half-written "Best Movies I Saw in 2006" post sitting in the "draft" box. By the time I get around to finishing it, it'll be halfway through 2007. Should I even bother at this point? If the best movie I saw last year happens to be the same as this year's Best Picture winner, I'll just look like a coat-tailing schmuck. But since my favorite movie wasn't even nominated, I might just still do it. (What a tease.)

And I couldn't post my Oscar picks on Friday, when most people would have a chance to read them before the ceremony? What the hell? So here I am on an early Sunday morning, typing them up, just so the record (and time stamp) can show that if I did make a brilliantly counter-intuitive prediction, it was before the actual awards were handed out. Why do I even care? Because I've done this the previous two years, and I'm trying to maintain a sense of tradition here at Fried Rice Thoughts. Plus, now that football season's over, I'm kind of bored on Sundays.

So approximately 12 hours before the presentation begins (the red carpet stuff should start any minute now on E!), here's how I think it'll go. Another FRT Oscar tradition is my next-day awards, which I clearly just make up as I go along, and slapping myself for the stupid predictions I made.

Okay, this is going on almost as long as Joan and Melissa on the red carpet. Let's do this thing:

Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine

Everyone's saying Jennifer Hudson will win this, which makes me want to swim against the current. Yes, Hudson was very good in Dreamgirls - which was rather overrated, and just bound to disappoint after all the hype it received - but to me, her performance is really about one thing: "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." And I am telling you that shouldn't be enough to win Best Supporting Actress. I'll take the scene in Little Miss Sunshine when little Olive Hoover cries to her grandfather because she doesn't want her father to think she's a loser. You know what? If Abigail Breslin doesn't nail that role, there's not much of a movie.

Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine

Again, the nominee from Dreamgirls is the popular pick, and Eddie Murphy is the best part of that movie. It'd be nice to see him win because it would kind of bring his career full-circle. He became famous for imitating James Brown on Saturday Night Live, and wins an Oscar for expanding that into an actual role. But I'm going with the Little Miss Sunshine nominee again. Alan Arkin's character might be crazy, but could also be the most sane guy in this totally dysfunctional family. And he's hilarious. Plus, if you like seeing a guy be rewarded for a career, this could do it.

Helen Mirren - The Queen

Okay, even I can't fight against the prevailing opinion on this one. It'd be cool if Penelope Cruz won, but that's just not going to happen. Not when Helen Mirren completely becomes another person. She could play Queen Elizabeth without the make-up and clothes.
And considering what a devious, saucy little minx she seems like in real life, it looks even more impressive. There are many scenes in which Mirren doesn't even say a word, yet conveys exactly what she needs to. She softens as the story progresses, but never loses that sense of regality. Even if she has to bend on her beliefs, she's not going to change who she is.

Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland

I am terrified that Peter O'Toole could win this, and if he does, it will be for the worst of reasons. First of all, it'll be a sympathy vote, and he already got his Honorary Award in 2003. I'm slso worried that some people might vote for O'Toole because they think he'll give a more entertaining speech than Forest Whitaker. Plus, O'Toole basically plays himself in Venus - though I hope he's not quite as leering and creepy as his character. But Whitaker, as Helen Mirren did, becomes another person. His Idi Amin is a dominating force. He's intimidating, cruel, erratic, and evil. Yet he's also very charismatic and charming, so you can see how he came to power.

Martin Scorsese - The Departed

Even if Martin Scorsese didn't make a great movie, I think Jon Stewart basically shamed the Academy Awards into finally giving him his due with that "
For those of you who are keeping score at home, I just want to make something very clear: Martin Scorsese, zero Oscars; Three 6 Mafia, one" crack. But he did make a great movie this time, and it was the kind of film he's known for - not a stretch like Gangs of New York or The Aviator (though I really liked that one). He deserves to finally be honored for that. Plus, it might be the longest Oscar acceptance speech made in the shortest length of time. The dude talks fast is what I'm saying.

Letters From Iwo Jima

Call it a hunch. The Departed absolutely should win this award. It had great performances, a timeless story, and it just crackled with energy. However, if another film wins, it'll probably be Little Miss Sunshine (which I'd actually be okay with) or Babel (which won last year, under the title Crash). But I can't shake this feeling that Letters From Iwo Jima will somehow win. We know the Oscars love Clint Eastwood, and he made a poignant film about war that also applies to current events. (Ken Watanabe, by the way, wuz robbed of a Best Actor nomination.) I hope I'm wrong, but that's my longshot pick.

And I always have to mention the screenplay awards, because no one cares about writers at the Oscars, and someone has to stick up for them. William Monahan will probably win BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY award for The Departed, but since it's virtually a note-for-note retelling of Infernal Affairs, I'm picking Todd Field and Tom Perrotta for Little Children because they did exactly what the award says.

For BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, I'd like to see Peter Morgan be rewarded for writing two great movies this year - The Queen and The Last King of Scotland - but what was more original than Pan's Labyrinth? A story about a little girl who escapes into fairy tales and fables during the Spanish Civil War? No one else is writing films like this. Having said all that, Michael Arndt will win for Little Miss Sunshine. I should've just said that to begin with, right?

Oh, and my final prediction: The Oscars broadcast will end at 12:15 AM, Eastern Standard Time. Yep, it'll be another long one. (That's what she said.)