Oscar Nominations 2006 - No Guts, No Glory

  • Rather than formally predicting the Oscar nominations for this year, I am going to do something a little different. I've listed below what seem like the most likely nominees for certain awards. Then once I've established what seem like the easy picks, I'm going to give one slightly more risky prediction. I'm doing this because I usually find it kinda boring to predict nominees, but I like having moments where I can say later, "Yo, I totally called that," so I'm hoping a few of these will allow me to do that.

  • Best Picture
  • Most Likely: The Departed, Dreamgirls, Letters From Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen
  • No Guts, No Glory: Honestly, I'm not sure how risky it is to say that Babel will join these ranks. Every prediction I've seen has been some combination of those five plus Babel, but Babel seems like the least likely of the six. I've seen combinations that put Babel in for Little Miss Sunshine (probably because LMS is too light/funny and it's a summer release) and for Letters from Iwo Jima (probably because LFIJ was released very late and the ballots are due pretty early this year, not to mention the Academy might be making up for being too obsessed with Clint Eastwood and Paul Haggis in the past) though. My most gutsy prediction is to put Babel in for The Queen, which strikes me as not showy enough and a bit too British to be a Oscar nominee. Slightly less gutsy would be to put Babel in for LFIJ for the reasons cited earlier. I'm hoping LMS will get in on the basis of its popularity, even though it doesn't seem like a Best Picture.
  • Update: It doesn't really seem like Babel is the least likely of the six films to get nominated anymore; that honor would probably go to Iwo Jima. I could make the gutsy prediction that LFIJ will be nominated instead of The Queen, but instead I'm going to make it the extremely gutsy prediction of Children of Men coming out of nowhere and getting a nomination... like that'll ever happen.

  • Best Director
  • Most Likely: Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood (for Letters From Iwo Jima), Stephen Frears, Bill Condon, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
  • No Guts, No Glory: The other semi-likely choice here seems like Paul Greengrass, but I don't think he'll get it. I'm going to predict Pedro Almodovar for Volver. The Academy clearly likes him, especially for a foreign director, and since Penelope Cruz will probably get a Best Actress nom, that will boost Almodovar's chances. But I don't think they'll nominate two Spanish directors, so he'll have to replace Inarritu. As another random prediction, I have a bad feeling about Stephen Frears for some reason. I mean, Frears basically directs this movie with an invisible hand; he lets his actors have center stage. Which was a fine choice, but it doesn't seem like a choice that the Academy tends to award. I could be wrong, though, especially since The Queen featured a lot of great performances.

  • Best Actor
  • Most Likely: Forest Whitaker, Peter O'Toole, Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio (for The Departed), Ryan Gosling
  • No Guts, No Glory: I've heard talk of Sacha Baron Cohen or Aaron Eckhart's chances, but I don't think either one has a shot at the statuette. Cohen never had any chance based on the kind of movie Borat is, and while Eckhart could be a really dark horse, he would need to win Best Actor in a Comedy at the Globes, which I do think Cohen will pull off based on Borat's popularity and hilarity. Again, this isn't a huge risk but I'll say Ken Watanabe replaces Gosling. Maybe I'll take a bigger risk and say Watanabe replaces Will Smith. Pursuit of Happyness doesn't seem like it's even being considered for any other nomination, and though I haven't seen POH, I always have trouble thinking of Will Smith as an Academy-worthy actor.

  • Best Actress
  • Most Likely: Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Penelope Cruz, Kate Winslet
  • No Guts, No Glory: This category is actually the reason why I wanted to do this list. Pretty much everyone is predicting these five, and I keep seeing Kate Winslet's name and thinking, "What the hell is Little Children?" I feel like hardly anyone has seen this movie, much less heard enough buzz for it to vote for Winslet's performance. Given what little I know about it, it also doesn't seem like the kind of film the Academy would like. On the other hand, isn't the Academy mildly obsessed with Beyonce Knowles? Remember a couple years ago when she sang three of the five Best Song nominees during the ceremony? Sure, Knowles doesn't have much range as an actress, but I feel like she could steal this one from Winslet.

  • Best Supporting Actor
  • Most Likely: Jeez, I dunno. I just looked at seven prediction sites and the only one they all have in common is Eddie Murphy. Next are Brad Pitt and Jack Nicholson with five votes each. Then come Mark Wahlberg, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael Sheen, Alan Arkin, and Ben Affleck with three votes each. There seems to be no consensus here.
  • No Guts, No Glory: I don't really know what to do here seeing as it seems too early for the buzz to center on some boring picks. I will say: (1) Ben Affleck won't get nominated. People don't take him seriously enough, including yours truly. Globes schmobes. (2) Alan Arkin won't get nominated. Sure, what happens to his character is theoretically an emotional component of the film, but his character doesn't have enough depth for him to get nominated here. He's a crude old man - with plenty of heart, sure, but without anything to challenge his acting ability. (3) Michael Sheen will get nominated, based solely on the quality of the performance. I guess I'll go with the consensus and say Eddie, Brad, and Jack will all get nominated. I'll throw Michael Sheen into the mix and as a semi-gutsy pick, I'll go with Djimon Hounsou too. But I really don't know what to expect here yet.

  • Best Supporting Actress
  • Most Likely: Jennifer Hudson, Rinko Kinkuchi, Cate Blanchett (for Notes on a Scandal), Adriana Barraza, Abigail Breslin
  • No Guts, No Glory: While some predictions have only one of the two girls from Babel, the first four there seem fairly certain. People tend to pick between Abigail Breslin or Catherine O'Hara for the fifth slot. Frankly I couldn't see either of them in it. Breslin was entertaining but that was pretty much it, and while I didn't see For Your Consideration, I doubt O'Hara was good enough to get nominated, especially since the movie was not too well-received. I haven't seen Half Nelson, but I'll take a shot in the dark and put Shareeka Epps in the fifth slot. As an alternate, I'll pick Vera Farmiga from The Departed.

  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Most Likely: The Queen, Babel, Little Miss Sunshine, Letters From Iwo Jima, Volver
  • No Guts, No Glory: Most predictions have either Volver or Stranger Than Fiction in that last slot, with Pan's Labyrinth showing up occasionaly. I'm going to take a risk and say Borat gets nominated here. If it gets nominated for anything, screenplay will probably be it, and although it's a very un-Academy film, it seems too popular and acclaimed for them to ignore. As for which screenplay Borat will replace, I have no idea, but it might be Volver, sadly enough.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Most Likely: The Departed, Dreamgirls, Notes on a Scandal, Little Children, Thank You For Smoking
  • No Guts, No Glory: I've heard Thank You For Smoking for that fifth slot slightly more than The Last King of Scotland, Children of Men, The Painted Veil, and The History Boys. All are possibilities. I don't know anything about Last King of Scotland, but I'm leaning towards it for some reason. And just as a crazy, way out there, no-one's-talking-about-it prediction, I'll say The Prestige. You heard it here first.
Author Comments: 

Eh, eight is enough.

I knew the Oscar nominations would not go exactly as everyone was saying they would. I just didn't know exactly how. But I don't know anyone who saw this one coming: Dreamgirls completely snubbed from Best Picture, wow.

2006 was a strange year for movies, I think. There were so many fascinating films released towards the end of the year (along with a few released earlier), but the dominant culture seemed like big-budget, brainless schlock that would either dominate the box office or not do as well as predicted, causing the movie studios to bitch about piracy. I remember reading an editorial over the summer in regards to the lower profits for Hollywood where someone made the claim that movie studios are finding they can't just shove crap down audience's throats through advertising blitzes anymore, that studio executives are going to find that they'll have to once again start making films that they themselves would want to see, which, simple as it sounds, is rarely a part of a studio's strategy. But you see a small indie film like Little Miss Sunshine charming audiences and reaping in enormous profits on its tiny budget, and you just have to wonder, why aren't all producers making movies like this? The Producers' Guild agrees.

As the prospect of finding a decent movie in all the blockbuster tripe seemed more and more bleak, there were some really terrific films being made. Maybe not from this country, and maybe they were hard to find, but they were out there. When I went back to Baltimore for winter break, though, I saw all the theaters near me were just playing the crap, and even my art house theater was playing things like Rocky Balboa and The Pursuit of Happyness. I would have had to drive an hour and a half away to see Babel in Baltimore. Thank God for the art house theaters in Philadelphia.

I guess what I'm getting at is, there seems to be a greater and greater segregation in the films that are intended to make money and the films that are artistically interesting. And I haven't seen Dreamgirls, so I can't comment on its artistic value, nor can I say it was definitely just trying to reap profits. But I can't help feeling like snubbing Dreamgirls was making a statement against blockbusters in general. Like the people who know what's what in Hollywood are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore, and even if Dreamgirls has a lot of good stuff in it, they're sick of these mass-produced blockbusters.

Like, I remember a time when pretty much the only way a film could get nominated for Best Picture was by spending tons of money and making tons of money, or if not, that was at least the stereotype. Not so anymore.

Sure, there are plenty of good rebuttals to this. Dreamgirls did get the most nominations out of any film. This is fascinating in and of itself. I don't remember the last time when the most-nominated film was not nominated for Best Picture, but this might be the first time ever when the most-nominated film was not nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, or any Screenplay award. Although maybe the eight nominations are deceptive since three of them were for Best Song, meaning Dreamgirls was really only nominated for six categories, placing it behind Babel.

Another rebuttal is that the Academy did nominate Letters From Iwo Jima instead, and while that has a budget of 15 million and so far has had a tiny limited release, it's still a bit schlocky and perhaps feels more like a traditional Oscar film. I think what that comes down to is, it's Clint fucking Eastwood. Take that as you will.

So what of Dreamgirls now? If the Academy snubbed the picture itself as well as Bill Condon, can Hudson or Murphy still pull off the win? I'm not so sure anymore. Maybe, just maybe, the Academy is trying to make up for its selection of the racially-conscious Crash last year by proving it just doesn't like African-Americans. Or maybe not.

Whose stock is going up? Little Miss Sunshine. I really didn't think they'd pull off two supporting nominations, but they got 'em.

Also Babel. The second-most-nominated film. Could this actually win Best Picture.

Whose stock is going down? The Departed. Leo was snubbed, Jack was snubbed, we're only left with Mark Wahlberg. With Dreamgirls out of the Picture, this would seem like the next best bet, but I'm not sure anymore. It got fewer nominations than Pan's freakin' Labyrinth fer cryin' out loud.

The Queen I don't know about. Michael Sheen was snubbed, sure, but maybe I was the only one who really thought he'd be nominated.

Basically I'm not sure of anything anymore. But I'll keep you posted.

Worst surprise for me? Volver getting snubbed for Best Foreign Film.

Best surprises? Probably Paul Greengrass and all of Pan's Labyrinth's nominations.

P.S. Borat getting a screenplay nomination - yo, I totally called that. I just thought it would count as original...

Also, did Mark Wahlberg really give the best performance in The Departed? I liked him a lot, but I'm not entirely convinced. Of course, Leo could have gotten enough votes but just gotten more for Blood Diamond, since actors' performances aren't allowed to compete against each other.