I haven't seen a lot of these films this year. (toddlers = rentals) But I thought I'd take a shot at it. I know the history of the awards and have read a lot of reviews about the films. So, what the hey!
My picks are in red
My comments are in italics
Performance by an actor in a leading role
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) - This is more a hope than a prediction. I think Brokeback will have a lot of momentum this year. But PSH is just brilliant. And any actor who is clearly not a dreamboat, but still lands awesome roles deserves some credit. His filmography is impressive, he's already overdue and he's probably under 35.
Terrence Howard in "Hustle & Flow" (Paramount Classics, MTV Films and New Deal Entertainment) – The dark horse, he was also an outstanding supporting actor in Crash, which might give him a boost.
Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) – Probably more likely than my pick, but I’m hoping not.
Joaquin Phoenix in "Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox)
David Strathairn in "Good Night, and Good Luck." (Warner Independent Pictures)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
George Clooney in "Syriana" (Warner Bros.)
Matt Dillon in "Crash" (Lions Gate)
Paul Giamatti in "Cinderella Man" (Universal and Miramax)
Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) While I doubt I'd like the film, and I think it's winning for all the wrong reasons, I love Gyllenhall (eh, hem.. as an actor, that is) and I'd be happy to see him snatch this one up.
William Hurt in "A History of Violence" (New Line)
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Judi Dench in "Mrs. Henderson Presents" (The Weinstein Company) - Do they just have this nomination on redial? She could get nominated for being caught on a security cam at Wal-Mart.
Felicity Huffman in "Transamerica" (The Weinstein Company and IFC Films)
Keira Knightley in "Pride & Prejudice" (Focus Features) – I think she’s talented but this is too soon.
Charlize Theron in "North Country" (Warner Bros.)
Reese Witherspoon in "Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox) - I'd like to see this happen, and I think it’s possible. I've see Reese do some good work and this might move her into more serious roles.
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Amy Adams in "Junebug" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Catherine Keener in "Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) – I’ve never been as crazy about this actress as the critical community seems to be.
Frances McDormand in "North Country" (Warner Bros.) – She’s amazing, but I don’t imagine a win here for her.
Rachel Weisz in "The Constant Gardener" (Focus Features)
Michelle Williams in "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) - Brokeback Mountin' rolls on.
Best animated feature film of the year
"Howl's Moving Castle" Hayao Miyazaki (Buena Vista) - Well deserved, if you still think Anime is Pokemon cartoons, you’ve really got to try some Miyazaki. This is an art form with some artistic magic happening; don’t miss out because of your preconceived notions.
"Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" (Warner Bros.)
Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
"Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit" (DreamWorks Animation SKG) Nick Park and Steve Box -I respect these guys and their work, but the best it ever achieves is cute and clever. In the face of Miyazaki, it’s hard to imagine them on top.
Achievement in art direction - For those who don’t know Art Direction has to do with all the design decisions. Set, set dressing, costume, colors, prop choices. They have a big influence over the mood of the piece and the authenticity of period pieces, which is why you see so many fantasy and period pieces in this category.
"Good Night, and Good Luck." (Warner Independent Pictures)
Art Direction: Jim Bissell / Set Decoration: Jan Pascale
"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (Warner Bros.)
Art Direction: Stuart Craig
Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
"King Kong" (Universal)
Art Direction: Grant Major
Set Decoration: Dan Hennah and Simon Bright - This is tough call. I think for most the film was a pretty colossal disappointment. A bit too big for its britches. But if the academy wants to honor Big Filmaking at all, it makes sense it would be here.
"Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Art Direction: John Myhre
Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau
"Pride & Prejudice" (Focus Features)
Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
Achievement in cinematography
"Batman Begins" (Warner Bros.) Wally Pfister No idea why this film got so much credit. It may have resurrected the Batman franchise, but do we really want to encourage that?!
"Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) Rodrigo Prieto – Without a doubt. This is more of a nomination for the Landscapes of Wyoming as a supporting actor.
"Good Night, and Good Luck." Robert Elswit
(Warner Independent Pictures)
"Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Dion Beebe
"The New World" (New Line) Emmanuel Lubezki
Achievement in costume design
"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (Warner Bros.) Gabriella Pescucci
"Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Colleen Atwood Another tough call, Pirde and Prejudice could take this one too. But I think the buzz leans this way.
"Mrs. Henderson Presents" (The Weinstein Company) Sandy Powell
"Pride & Prejudice" (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
"Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox) Arianne Phillips
Achievement in directing
"Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) Ang Lee – Pretty sure about this one. The Academy’s been waiting to honor this guy since The Ice Storm. I think it’s a lock
"Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) Bennett Miller
"Crash" (Lions Gate) Paul Haggis – Amazing talent, but I think he won for Million Dollar Baby. They won’t double up here.
"Good Night, and Good Luck." George Clooney
(Warner Independent Pictures) - I never would’ve guessed Clooney would so much to offer. He’s far more talented than I originally gave him credit for. Glad to see him nominatedhere, but he won’t take the win.
"Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks) Steven Spielberg - Props to Speilberg for heading in a new direction. Old dogs apparently can learn new tricks.
Best documentary feature
"Darwin's Nightmare" (International Film Circuit) Hubert Sauper
A Mille et Une Production
"Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" Alex Gibney and Jason Kliot
An HDNet Films Production – A lock.
"March of the Penguins" (Warner Independent Pictures) Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau
A Bonne Pioche Production – Cute, and widely loved, but I think it comes across as too safe for an Award winning documentary.
"Murderball" (THINKFilm) Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro
An Eat Films Production - Cool movie, but a little too MTV for an Academy.
"Street Fight" Marshall Curry
A Marshall Curry Production
Achievement in film editing
"Cinderella Man" (Universal and Miramax) Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
"The Constant Gardener" (Focus Features) Claire Simpson
"Crash" (Lions Gate) Hughes Winborne – This is the second strongest choice. It’s an older film, which usually means it will be ignored, but the film is ALL ABOUT EDITING.
"Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks) Michael Kahn – Here’s my pick
"Walk the Line" (20th Century Fox) Michael McCusker
Best foreign language film of the year
"Don't Tell" Italy
A Cattleya/Rai Cinema Production
"Joyeux Noël" France
A Nord-Ouest Production
"Paradise Now" Palestine
An Augustus Film Production
"Sophie Scholl - The Final Days" Germany
A Goldkind Filmproduktion and
Broth Film Production
"Tsotsi" South Africa
A Moviworld Production – Prediction based purely on “buzz”
Achievement in makeup - Why must we have EIGHT nominees for one category?
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" Howard Berger and Tami Lane
(Buena Vista) - Sorry, Christians, I don’t think the film will win ANY. And what’s even worse… it has nothing to do with a Hollywood Conspiracy against “Christian films”.
"Cinderella Man" (Universal and Miramax) David Leroy Anderson and Lance Anderson
"Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith" Dave Elsey and Nikki Gooley
(20th Century Fox)
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
"Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) Gustavo Santaolalla
"The Constant Gardener" (Focus Features) Alberto Iglesias
"Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony Pictures Releasing) John Williams – Those whores know their make-up!
"Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks) John Williams
"Pride & Prejudice" (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"In the Deep" from Music by Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker
"Crash" (Lions Gate) Lyric by Kathleen "Bird" York – Cool music throughout this one.
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Music and Lyric by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman
"Hustle & Flow" and Paul Beauregard
(Paramount Classics, MTV Films and
New Deal Entertainment)
"Travelin' Thru" from Music and Lyric by Dolly Parton "Transamerica"
(The Weinstein Company and IFC Films)
Best motion picture of the year
"Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features)
"Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics)
"Crash" (Lions Gate)
"Good Night, and Good Luck." (Warner Independent Pictures)
"Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks)
"Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features) Screenplay by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
"Capote" (UA/Sony Pictures Classics) Screenplay by Dan Futterman
"The Constant Gardener" (Focus Features) Screenplay by Jeffrey Caine
"A History of Violence" (New Line) Screenplay by Josh Olson
"Munich" (Universal and DreamWorks) Screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth
Original screenplay Maybe the best race this year. It’s a dead heat between all of them except Syriana. Just for fun, I’m gonna toss one to Woody Allen.
"Crash" (Lions Gate) Screenplay by Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco
Story by Paul Haggis
"Good Night, and Good Luck." Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov
(Warner Independent Pictures)
"Match Point" (DreamWorks) Written by Woody Allen
"The Squid and the Whale" (Samuel Goldwyn Films Written by Noah Baumbach and Sony Pictures Releasing)
"Syriana" (Warner Bros.) Written by Stephen Gaghan