Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Snooch to the Nooch!

The title says it all.

The Oscars are on March 5 at 8pm EST this year, with “The Daily Show’s” great Jon Stewart hosting.

Best Picture
Oscar’s Final Five
“Brokeback Mountain”
“Capote”
“Crash”
“Good Night, and Good Luck.”
“Munich”

Likes: Spielberg’s gripping true-life political thriller beat the odds of its’ rough road to Oscar- namely, box-office not matching its’ controversy- to make the final five. And the performance-driven “Capote” was recognized for its’ overall impact with a nod.

Dislikes: “Crash” was a good movie. It was an interesting movie about racism in the modern-day US. But it was also a one-note and overtly melodramatic and manipulative study of a subject that demands greater depth. Better choices would have been any of my not-nominated personal picks, “Cinderella Man,” “Match Point,” “Syriana,” “The Constant Gardener,” “King Kong,” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” among others.

Brian’s predictions: “Brokeback Mountain”; “Capote”; “Crash”; “Good Night, and Good Luck.”; “Munich”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Nobody Knows”; “Brokeback Mountain”; “War of the Worlds”; “Serenity”; “Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith” (Honorable Mention: “The Weather Man”)

Oscar’s Pick: “Brokeback Mountain.” People are reading WAY too much into “Crash’s” Best Cast win at SAG on Sunday. That movie had a dozen-plus important characters it followed; it’s the type of movie that award was created for. Look for “Brokeback” to follow its’ wins at the Producers Guild and Golden Globes with an Oscar on March 5, marking the first time a film with an explicitly homosexual story at its’ center ever won Best Picture.

Best Director
Oscar’s Final Five
Ang Lee, “Brokeback Mountain”
Bennett Miller, “Capote”
Paul Haggis, “Crash”
George Clooney, “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
Steven Spielberg, “Munich”

Likes: Spielberg capped his greatest artistic year ever (OK, ’93 had “Schindler’s List,” but “Jurassic Park” was no “War of the Worlds” creatively) with his sixth Oscar nomination for the bold “Munich.” The Academy gave a nod to Miller- a promising newcomer- for bringing all of the elements together in “Capote.” And Clooney didn’t suffer a possible embarrasement-of-riches backlash and earned a nod for directing the terrific “Good Night” in addition to two other nominations elsewhere.

Dislikes: See Best Picture re: Haggis and “Crash.” Better choices for the fifth slot would have been Park Chanwook (“Oldboy”), Joss Whedon (“Serenity”), Woody Allen (who- like Spielberg- had a great two-film year with “Match Point” and “Melinda and Melinda”), Peter Jackson (“King Kong”), Fernando Meirelles (“The Constant Gardener”), Ron Howard (“Cinderella Man”), or Gore Verbinski (“The Weather Man”).

Brian’s predictions: Ang Lee, “Brokeback Mountain”; “Paul Haggis, “Crash”; George Clooney, “Good Night, and Good & Luck.”; Peter Jackson, “King Kong”; Steven Spielberg, “Munich”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: Steven Spielberg, “War of the Worlds” & “Munich”; Ang Lee, “Brokeback Mountain”; Hirokazu Kore-eda, “Nobody Knows”; Bennett Miller, “Capote”; Park Chanwook, “Oldboy” (Honorable Mention: Joss Whedon, “Serenity”)

Oscar’s Pick: Ang Lee. He won at the Globes. He won at the Directors Guild. And he doesn’t have Steven Soderbergh to worry about like he did when he lost for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in 2000 (when he also won DGA). Plus, despite my preference towards Spielberg’s collective work this year, he really really deserves it. It’ll be a shocker if he doesn’t get it come Osacr night.

Best Actor
Oscar’s Final Five
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Capote”
Terrence Howard, “Hustle & Flow”
Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Walk the Line”
David Strathairn, “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

Likes: Howard had a breakout year this year between “Flow” (which I’ve yet too see; it’s in my Netflix Queue, though) and “Crash,” so it’s a cool surprise in a category that didn’t with four of the nominees, all of whom deserve to be there…

Dislikes: …which unfortunately means no Russell Crowe (“Cinderella Man”), Jeff Daniels (“The Squid and the Whale”), Ralph Fiennes (“The Constant Gardener”), Eric Bana (“Munich”), Pierce Brosnan (“The Matador”), Jake Ghyllenhaal (“Jarhead”), Bill Murray (“Broken Flowers”), Robert Downey Jr. (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), Nathan Lane (“The Producers”), or any of my not-nominated personal picks.

Brian’s predictions: Russell Crowe, “Cinderella Man”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Capote”; Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain”; Joaquin Phoenix, “Walk the Line”; David Strathairn, “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Capote”; Yuya Yagira, “Nobody Knows”; Nicolas Cage, “The Weather Man”; Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain”; Steve Carell, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (Honorable Mention: Joseph Gordon- Levitt, “Mysterious Skin”)

Oscar’s Pick: Philip Seymour Hoffman. This is the type of recognition fans like myself had been hoping for fellow character actor Paul Giamatti the past two years to no avail. This year, Oscar will get it right. Ledger- the comeback actor of the year- may win with a “Brokeback” sweep, and fellow Globe winner Phoenix could be a spoiler for his Johnny Cash, but after wins at the Globes, SAG, and other places this winter, look for Hoffman- whom I first remember from “Twister”- to go home with Oscar gold.

Best Actress
Oscar’s Final Five
Judi Dench, “Mrs. Henderson Presents”
Felicity Huffman, “Transamerica”
Kiera Knightley, “Pride & Prejudice”
Charlize Theron, “North Country”
Reese Witherspoon, “Walk the Line”

Likes: Knightley made the cut for her joyful and intelligent turn as Jane Austen’s fiesty heroine when Academy voters could have seen just the rising star’s beauty and sometimes bad choices (“Domino” anyone?). And Theron’s powerful performance- which I thought was better than her Oscar-winning role in “Monster”- was remembered even when the movie’s been long gone from theatres.

Dislikes: But I don’t want to see “Mrs. Henderson Presents!” I mean, I’m sure Dame Judi is good as always, but the film just doesn’t look that interesting. And I hope “Transamerica” is expanding its’ release, ’cause I don’t really want to have to pay for it. The other three definitely deserve it; I just room there were room for Joan Allen (“The Upside of Anger”), Claire Danes (“Shopgirl”), Gwyneth Paltrow (“Proof”), Naomi Watts (“King Kong”), Ziyi Zhang (“Memoirs of a Geisha”), Laura Linney (“The Squid and the Whale”), Sarah Jessica Parker (“The Family Stone”), or Radha Mitchell (“Melinda and Melinda”).

Brian’s predictions: Felicity Huffmann, “Transamerica”; Kiera Knightley, “Pride & Prejudice”; Laura Linney, “The Squid and the Whale”; Charlize Theron, “North Country”; Reese Witherspoon, “Walk the Line”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: Radha Mitchell, “Melinda and Melinda”; Joan Allen, “The Upside of Anger”; Claire Danes, “Shopgirl”; Gwyneth Paltrow, “Proof”; Reese Witherspoon, “Walk the Line” (Honorable Mention: Naomi Watts, “King Kong”)

Oscar’s Pick: Reese Witherspoon. Like Jamie Foxx last year, she’s got all the prerequisites for Oscar gold. A Golden Globe (check in the Musical/Comedy category). A SAG award (check). A thoughtful performance as a real-life music legend (June Carter Cash). And charisma (no potential actress winner has been this likeable since Gwyneth Paltrow). Plus, she has the added bonus of being a popular star with both critics and audiences over the years for her smart comic instincts (“Election,” “Legally Blonde,” “Sweet Home Alabama”) and spitfire personality. Look for Witherspoon to go home a happy woman March 5.

Best Supporting Actor
Oscar’s Final Five
George Clooney, “Syriana”
Matt Dillon, “Crash”
Paul Giamatti, “Cinderella Man”
Jake Ghyllenhaal, “Brokeback Mountain”
William Hurt, “A History of Violence”

Likes: Paul Giamatti scored his first Oscar nom after two lead-actor snubs for his entertaining turn as Russell Crowe’s cornerman in the largely-forgotten “Cinderella Man.” Some confusion arising about Ghyllenhaal’s positioning- which lead to a Globe snub- didn’t effect his standing with Oscar voters, who realize his performance was just as vital to “Brokeback’s” success as Ledger’s.

Dislikes: OK, I’ll grant that the more one considers Dillon’s racist cop, he makes the character’s story believable and palpable. My biggest issue here is that two other actors- Ryan Phillippe (as Dillon’s partner) and Michael Pena (as a locksmith who deals with racism from all sides)- had tougher roles to pull off, and did so exceptionally. My biggest beef here, though, is with Hurt, who I thought was seriously miscast as the “menacing” mob boss at the end of “Violence.” His performance seemed more over-the-top parody than prime pulp. I’d rather see any of my personal picks, Steve Martin (“Shopgirl”), Paul Rudd (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”), Greg Kinnear (“The Matador”), or Jeffrey Wright (“Broken Flowers”), among many others, in his slot.

Brian’s predictions: George Clooney, “Syriana”; Matt Dillon, “Crash”; Paul Giamatti, “Cinderella Man”; Jake Ghyllenhaal, “Brokeback Mountain”; Terrence Howard, “Crash”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: Alan Arkin, “Eros”; Mickey Rourke, “Sin City”; Kevin Costner, “The Upside of Anger”; Clifton Collins Jr., “Capote”; Michael Caine, “The Weather Man” (Honorable Mention: Sean Bean, “North Country”)

Oscar’s Pick: Paul Giamatti. Call it the Renee Zellweger Effect. After consecutive snubs for lead actor (for “American Splendor” and “Sideways”), Giamatti gets into the background and finally earns the recognition he deserves (Zellweger was passed over twice for lead actress before winning for supporting actress). It’s tricky, though; Clooney won the Globe for “Syriana”- and this would be a good place to honor him- and Dillon could play spoiler and be a tribute to “Crash’s” large cast in general. But the bulk of the Academy voters are actors, meaning look for SAG winner Giamatti to repeat his performance and Oscar to finally honor this most gifted and generous supporting player.

Best Supporting Actress
Oscar’s Final Five
Amy Adams, “Junebug”
Catherine Keener, “Capote”
Frances McDormond, “North Country”
Rachel Weisz, “The Constant Gardener”
Michelle Williams, “Brokeback Mountain”

Likes: Previous winner McDormond- for 1996’s “Fargo”- was allowed to crash the newcomer party (though Keener was also previously nominated for “Being John Malkovich”) for delivering a short and sensational performance as a veteran miner in the disappointingly-ignored “North Country.” All of the performances I’ve seen deserve to be there.

Dislikes: How was I suppose to know “Junebug” might get a nomination when we had it for that week or two at the theatre? Guess what moved to the top of my Netflix Queue (I mean, besides “Hustle & Flow”)? And how is it previous winner Renee Zellweger missed out on an Oscar push with her poignant turn in “Cinderella Man?” Such a strong category means no room for any of my personal picks, Diane Keaton (“The Family Stone”), Scarlett Johansson (“Match Point”), Michelle Yeoh (“Memoirs of a Geisha”), Hope Davis (“The Matador”), or Dakota Fanning (“War of the Worlds”).

Brian’s predictions: Amy Adams, “Junebug”; Maria Bello, “A History of Violence”; Catherine Keener, “Capote”; Rachel Weisz, “The Constant Gardener”; Michelle Williams, “Brokeback Mountain”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: Renee Zellweger, “Cinderella Man”; Michelle Trachtenberg, “Mysterious Skin”; Summer Glau, “Serenity”; Gong Li, “Memoirs of a Geisha” & “Eros”; Catherine Keener, “Capote” & “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (Honorable Mention: Uma Thurman, “The Producers”)

Oscar’s Pick: Rachel Weisz. Under the rader, Weisz has actually become the closest thing to a genuine lock in the acting races. Noticed more for her beauty in years past (she’s the best thing about the “Mummy” movies), this British bombshell’s quietly established herself as the thinking man’s sex symbol in a series of understated turns (see “About a Boy” and “Constantine”). In “Gardener’s” murdered activist, she’s given her juiciest chance yet to bring out both qualities, and she gave a performance of lasting impact that’s gotten her both a Golden Globe and SAG award in weeks’ past. Look for her to make it 3-for-3 on March 5.

Best Original Screenplay
Oscar’s Final Five
“Crash” (Paul Haggis, Bobby Moresco)
“Good Night, and Good Luck.” (George Clooney, Grant Heslov)
“Match Point” (Woody Allen)
“The Squid and the Whale” (Noah Baumbach)
“Syriana” (Stephen Gaghan)

Likes: Woody Allen got the de facto nomination for a great comeback year for his intriguing thriller, his 21st overall nomination (14th for writing). Clooney got the triple-crown for writing, directing, and acting with his perceptive script with producer/co-writer Heslov.

Dislikes: See Best Picture re: “Crash” and Haggis. I’m not the only one under the impression that “Syriana” was adapted screenplay; how is it original? And though I admire “Squid and the Whale” despite some reservations, I would have rather seen any of my not-nominated personal picks, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (Judd Apatow, Steve Carell), “Cinderella Man” (Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth), “The Matador” (Richard Shephard), “The Upside of Anger” (Mike Binder), “Oldboy” (Park Chanwook, Jo-yun Hwang, Chun-hyeong Lim), or “Broken Flowers” (Jim Jarmusch) recognized instead.

Brian’s predictions: “Cinderella Man” (Akiva Goldsman, Cliff Hollingsworth); “Crash” (Paul Haggis, Bobby Moresco); “Good Night, and Good Luck.” (George Clooney, Grant Heslov); “Match Point” (Woody Allen); “The Squid and the Whale” (Noah Baumbach)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Nobody Knows” (Hirokazu Kore-eda); “Melinda and Melinda” (Woody Allen); “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” (Caroline Thompson, John August); “The Weather Man” (Steve Conrad); “Match Point” (Woody Allen) (Honorable Mention: “The Family Stone” (Thomas Bezucha))

Oscar’s Pick: “Crash.” The writing categories are generally the consolation prizes for Best Picture nominees the Academy can’t see honoring in the big category, so this could be a slot for “Good Night” as well. But the better bet would be on Haggis and Moresco’s ambitious screenplay about racism, which will surely be honored at some point in the evening. This might be the best place for voters to do so.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Oscar’s Final Five
“Brokeback Mountain” (Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana)
“Capote” (Dan Futterman)
“The Constant Gardener” (Jeffrey Caine)
“A History of Violence” (Josh Olsen)
“Munich” (Tony Kushner, Eric Roth)

Likes: That “Brokeback,” “Capote,” “Gardener,” and “Munich”- all literate and layered screenplays- deserve to be in this category, and got there.

Dislikes: I know I’m not the only one who thought “Violence’s” script- based on a graphic novel- was the worst part of the film. It’s a tribute to director David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, and Ed Harris that this film- whose story structure dilluted much of the film’s suspense and emotional pull- turned out as well as it did, even if it’s just good. Better choices would have been “Serenity” (Joss Whedon), “Proof” (David Auburn, Rebecca Miller), “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (Shane Black), “Shopgirl” (Steve Martin), “War of the Worlds” (which overcame the holes in David Koepp and Josh Freidman’s screenplay with timely and palpable feeling), “Jarhead” (William Broyles Jr.), “Mysterious Skin” (Gregg Araki), and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (Steve Kloves).

Brian’s predictions: “Brokeback Mountain” (Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana); “Capote” (Dan Futterman); “The Constant Gardener” (Jeffrey Caine); “Munich” (Tony Kushner, Eric Roth); “Syriana” (Stephen Gaghan)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Brokeback Mountain” (Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana); “Capote” (Dan Futterman); “Serenity” (Joss Whedon); “Proof” (David Auburn, Rebecca Miller); “Munich” (Tony Kushner, Eric Roth) (Honorable Mention: “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (Shane Black))

Oscar’s Pick: “Brokeback Mountain.” It won the Golden Globe. It’ll likely win the Writers Guild when they get around to their awards. It’s from a respected author (McMurtry won a Pulitzer and wrote “Lonesome Dove” and “Terms of Endearment”). “Brokeback’s” got a boatload of awards momentum, and a box-office run that’s continuing to gain steam (it could crack $100 million when all is said and done). It’s a literate 134 minute film from an 11-page short story. Plus, it’s the best screenplay of the year. ‘Nuf said.

Best Original Score
Oscar’s Final Five
“Brokeback Mountain” (Gustavo Santaolalla)
“The Constant Gardener” (Alberto Iglesias)
“Memoirs of a Geisha” (John Williams)
“Munich” (John Williams)
“Pride & Prejudice” (Dario Marianelli)

Likes: Honestly, all five scores deserve to be here (“Gardener’s” percussive, evocative moods are a particularly welcome addition). They’re creative, work well in the movie, and all fine examples of each composer’s craft (Italian composer Marianelli scored “The Brothers Grimm” earlier this year with fitting gusto; his next big assignment is “V for Vendetta,” so look to hear more from him). With two nominations, Williams tied the esteemed composer Alfred Newman as the most nominated person in history (45). No big warning lights going off here (a la eventual winner “Finding Neverland” last year); some serious ones would have gone off if Harry Gregson-Williams’ formulaic and unmemorable score for “The Chronicles of Narnia” had made the cut.

Dislikes: I knew they couldn’t get away with nominating Williams less than twice (not that he didn’t deserve to be, mind you). And “Prejudice” is a little too much of a surprise. It was a good score that I would consider buying (or at least burning from a friend), but better choices included “Serenity” (David Newman), “Sin City” (Graeme Revell, John Debney, Robert Rodriguez), “A History of Violence” (Howard Shore), “The Weather Man” (Hans Zimmer), “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” (Danny Elfman, who probably cut himself out of the running with two scores that blend songs and underscore between this and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), “Capote” (Michael Danna), “The Matador” (Rolfe Kent), “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (Patrick Doyle), and “King Kong” (James Newton Howard’s score gets better with each listen).

Brian’s predictions: “Brokeback Mountain” (Gustavo Santaolalla); “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (Harry Gregson-Williams); “Cinderella Man” (Thomas Newman); “King Kong” (James Newton Howard); “Memoirs of a Geisha” (John Williams)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Serenity” (David Newman); “Memoirs of a Geisha” (John Williams); “Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith” (John Williams); “Sin City” (Graeme Revell, John Debney, Robert Rodriguez); “A History of Violence” (Howard Shore) (Honorable Mention: “The Weather Man” (Hans Zimmer))

Oscar’s Pick: “Memoirs of a Geisha.” This could be another “Neverland”-like upset from “Pride & Prejudice,” but with six nominations, “Geisha’s” support was deeper than even some of the Best Picture nominees (for example, “Munich” only got five). Williams’ five previous wins- plus his “Munich” nod- could cancel each other out, but the last time the composer reinvented himself so drastically for a score was “Schindler’s List,” which was his last win. In all honesty, with four terrific- and wildly different- scores in 2005, no moviemaking artist had a greater year, and “Geisha” was the unrivaled masterpiece of that year. He deserves to win. Plus, at 74 February 8, how many more chances are voters going to get to honor him?

Best Original Song
Oscar’s Final Three
“In the Deep” from “Crash” (Kathleen “Bird” York, Michael Becker)
“It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from “Hustle & Flow” (Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman, Paul Beauregard)
“Travelin’ Thru” from “Transamerica” (Dolly Parton)

Likes: That for the first time, Academy voters seem to realize how bad this category is getting by only nominated three- of 42 songs eligible- instead of the usual five. Are we on the way to not having- or (better) reforming- this increasingly embarassing category? (Though it did have a respectable run from 1998-2003.)

Dislikes: Unfortunately, none of those songs were “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish” (from “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”), “Remains of the Day” (from “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride”), or “There’s Nothing Like a Show on Broadway” (from “The Producers”). And in case you’re wondering why none of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s” songs were eligible, it’s because the lyrics were from Roald Dahl’s original book, and weren’t original to the movie.

Brian’s predictions: “One Little Slip” from “Chicken Little” (performed by Barenaked Ladies); “Can’t Take It In” from “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (Imogen Heap, Harry Gregson-Williams); “Remains of the Day” from “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” (Danny Elfman, John August); “Mad Hot Ballroom” from “Mad Hot Ballroom” (Steven Lutvak); “There’s Nothing Like a Show on Broadway” from “The Producers” (Mel Brooks)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish” from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (Joby Talbot, Garth Jennings, Bernie Leadon); “Augustus Gloop” from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (Danny Elfman, Roald Dahl); “Veruca Salt” from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (Danny Elfman, Roald Dahl); “There’s Nothing Like a Show on Broadway” from “The Producers” (Mel Brooks); “Violet Beauregarde” from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (Danny Elfman, Roald Dahl)

Oscar’s Pick: “Travelin’ Thru.” Honestly, unless I hear any of these songs and they just blow me away (I don’t remember “Crash’s”), I just don’t care this year. Still, go with the biggest name in the category, and no one here is bigger than Dolly Parton.

Best Animated Feature
Oscar’s Final Three
“Howl’s Moving Castle”
“Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride”
“Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”

Brian’s predictions: “Howl’s Moving Castle”; “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride”; “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride”; “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”; “Steamboy”

Oscar’s Pick: “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.” “Howl’s” isn’t top-flight Miyazaki (plus, the Japanese master already won for 2002’s great “Spirited Away”), so it’s between the stop-motion films. My intellect says “Corpse Bride” (plus, how cool would it be for Burton to win his first Oscar?), but my gut says Oscar’s gonna go with sentiment, and these guys love Nick Park’s dynamic dog-and-man duo (all three of their shorts were nominated, and two won), so look for “Wallace & Gromit” to add a feature Oscar to their mantle.

Best Foreign Language Film
Oscar’s Final Five
“Don’t Tell” (Italy)
“Joyeux Noel” (France)
“Paradise Now” (Palestine)
“Sophie Scholl- The Final Days” (Germany)
“Tsotsi” (South Africa)

Brian’s predictions: “Joyeux Noel” (France); “Paradise Now” (Palestine); “The Promise” (China); “Requiem of Snow” (Iraq); “Tsotsi” (South Africa)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Nobody Knows” (Japan); “Oldboy” (Korea); “Kung Fu Hustle” (China); “3-Iron” (Korea); “Paradise Now” (Palestine)

Oscar’s Pick: “Paradise Now.” It’s the most important film of the bunch, from what little I know about them (I’ll try to get acquainted with them by March 5). It’ll be hard to think another film would win.

Best Documentary Feature

Oscar’s Final Five
“Darwin’s Nightmare”
“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”
“March of the Penguins”
“Murderball”
“Street Fight”

Brian’s predictions: “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”; “Mad Hot Ballroom”; “March of the Penguins”; “Murderball”; “On Native Soil: The Documentary of the 9/11 Commission Report”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger”; “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan”; “Inside Deep Throat”; “Grizzly Man”; “Murderball”

Oscar’s Pick: “March of the Penguins.” I really am kind of shocked “Mad Hot Ballroom” didn’t make the cut. And how did “Grizzly Bear” didn’t qualify again? No matter; as a friend of mind from work said recently, “penguins are fluffy.” They also made more money at the box-office than the other nominees combined. How is “March” not going to win?

Best Visual Effects
Oscar’s Final Three
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”
“King Kong”
“War of the worlds”

Brian’s predictions: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”; “King Kong”; “Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “King Kong”; “Serenity”; “War of the Worlds”

Oscar’s Pick: “King Kong.” The more financially-successful “Narnia” could slip by, but the sheer visionary excitement Peter Jackson continues to bring out of WETA makes it four Oscars in five years for his “Kong” creative team.

Best Sound
Oscar’s Final Five
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”
“King Kong”
“Memoirs of a Geisha”
“Walk the Line”
“War of the Worlds”

Brian’s predictions: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”; “King Kong”; “Munich”; “Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith”; “Walk the Line”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Serenity”; “King Kong”; “Kingdom of Heaven”; “Constantine”; “Jarhead”

Oscar’s Pick: “Walk the Line.” Just because music-heavy mixes tend to win this award (see “Ray”).

Best Sound Editing
Oscar’s Final Three
“King Kong”
“Memoirs of a Geisha”
“War of the Worlds”

Brian’s predictions: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe”; “King Kong”; “War of the Worlds”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Constantine”; “Serenity”; “King Kong”

Oscar’s Pick: “King Kong.” For making the big ape roar, though the better choice would be “Worlds.”

Best Cinematography
Oscar’s Final Five
“Batman Begins”
“Brokeback Mountain”
“Good Night, and Good Luck.”
“Memoirs of a Geisha”
“The New World”

Brian’s predictions: “Brokeback Mountain”; “Good Night, and Good Luck.”; “King Kong”; “Memoirs of a Geisha”; “Munich”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Serenity”; “Memoirs of a Geisha”; “Constantine”; “War of the Worlds”; “Capote”

Oscar’s Pick: “Memoirs of a Geisha,” though don’t be surprised if the sharp black-and-white camerwork of “Good Night” sneaks in for the win.

Best Film Editing
Oscar’s Final Five
“Cinderella Man”
“The Constant Gardener”
“Crash”
“Munich”
“Walk the Line”

Brian’s predictions: “Brokeback Mountain”; “The Constant Gardener”; “Good Night, and Good Luck.”; “Munich”; “Syriana”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Serenity”; “Good Night, and Good Luck.”; “Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith”; “War of the Worlds”; “Capote”

Oscar’s Pick: “Munich.” For giving Spielberg’s drama the urgency and vitality it so needed, look for Michael Kahn to rack up his fourth Oscar for Spielberg.

Best Art Direction
Oscar’s Final Five
“Good Night, and Good Luck.”
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”
“King Kong”
“Memoirs of a Geisha”
“Pride & Prejudice”

Brian’s predictions: “Good Night, and Good Luck.”; “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”; “Memoirs of a Geisha”; “Munich”; “Pride & Prejudice”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Memoirs of a Geisha”; “King Kong”; “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”; “Oliver Twist”; “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

Oscar’s Pick: “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Because it convincingly recreated the time in place while also making it timeless.

Best Makeup
Oscar’s Final Three
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”
“Cinderella Man”
“Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith”

Brian’s predictions: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”; “A History of Violence”; “The New World”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”; “Brokeback Mountain”; “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”

Oscar’s Pick: “Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith.” “Narnia” should be the pick, but with only one nomination- and two dark lords’ faces to mangle- the final “Star Wars” film ever deserves SOMETHING.

Best Costume Design
Oscar’s Final Five
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
“Memoirs of a Geisha”
“Mrs. Henderson Presents”
“Pride & Prejudice”
“Walk the Line”

Brian’s predictions: “Good Night, and Good Luck.”; “Kingdom of Heaven”; “King Kong”; “Memoirs of a Geisha”; “Pride & Prejudice”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Memoirs of a Geisha”; “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”; “King Kong”; “Oliver Twist”; “Serenity”

Oscar’s Pick: “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Because Colleen Atwood is one of the most honored costumers in the business now, and her elegant designs for “Geisha” made that film a visual feast.

Now, onto the awards less likely to be cared about, and randomly-selected predictions.

Best Short Film- Live Action
Oscar’s Final Five
“Ausreisser (The Runaway)”
“Cashback”
“The Last Farm”
“Our Time is Up”
“Six Shooter”

Oscar’s Pick: “Cashback.”

Best Short Film- Animated
Oscar’s Final Five
“Badgered”
“The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation”
“The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello”
“9”
“One Man Band”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello.”

Best Documentary Short Subject
Oscar’s Final Four
“The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club”
“God Sleeps in Rwanda”
“The Mushroom Club”
“A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin”

Oscar’s Pick: “God Sleeps in Rwanda”

Viva La Resistance!

Brian Skutle
http://www.sonic-cinema.com

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