|AP PHOTO/CHARLES REX ARBOGAST|
|Shown are the five phases in the making of the Oscar statue at the Chicago plant of R.S. Owens Co. which has manufactured the coveted award since 1983.|
Yawns of boredom as well as sleepiness will greet many of the anointed picks Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. Toronto time, when nominations for the 79th annual Academy Awards are announced.
Helen Mirren for Best Actress and Forest Whitaker for Best Actor? Of course. The Departed and Dreamgirls for Best Picture? Ditto. Jennifer Hudson for Best Supporting Actress? Snore.
But you can expect at least a few jolts before you’ve sipped your morning java.
What’s always interesting about Oscar noms is how often the fifth choice comes out of left field. No matter how many critics’ groups and industry guilds weigh in prior to Oscar, the Academy always seems to come up with tantalizing long shots to round out its nominee lists.
Think of William Hurt’s nod for Best Supporting Actor last year, the only cast member of David Cronenberg’s very fine History of Violence to win Academy recognition. And remember how Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) “stole” the Best Director’s slot from James L. Brooks (As Good As It Gets) a decade ago?
|AP PHOTO/IFC FILMS, MACALL POLAY|
|Will Maggie Gyllenhaal get a Best Actress nomination for Sherrybaby? Gyllenhaal received a Golden Globe nomination, but is a longshot to get an Oscar nom for her role in this little-seen movie.|
Size is the reason for this. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is larger and more diverse than the other packs of prognosticators out there. Its 5,830 members, representing everybody from actors to publicists, are bound to nominate at least a few people and films that haven’t been celebrated elsewhere.
Guessing the “fifth column” is what keeps the Oscars interesting and fun, especially in the Best Picture category, where four of the five slots look like slam dunks and the fifth is a complete wild shot.
With this in mind, here are my predictions for the top six categories, each with four slots I’m calling sure bets and the dark horses taking the fifth:
Little Miss Sunshine
Fifth column: Babel, United 93, Letters From Iwo Jima, Little Children, Pan’s Labyrinth, Children of Men and The Devil Wears Prada.
Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Stephen Frears, The Queen
Bill Condon, Dreamgirls
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine
Fifth column: Clint Eastwood (Letters From Iwo Jima), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel), Paul Greengrass (United 93), Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) and Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men).
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Peter O’Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed
Fifth column: Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan), Leonardo DiCaprio (Blood Diamond), Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson), Daniel Craig (Casino Royale), Matt Damon (The Departed), Derek Luke (Catch a Fire).
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Kate Winslet, Little Children
Fifth column: Penélope Cruz (Volver), Beyoncé Knowles (Dreamgirls), Cate Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Sherrybaby).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Djimon Honsou, Blood Diamond
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
Fifth column: Mark Wahlberg (The Departed), Jack Nicholson (The Departed), Michael Sheen (The Queen),
Brad Pitt (Babel), James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland), Steve Carell (Little Miss Sunshine), Leslie Phillips (Venus), Tim Robbins (Catch a Fire).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Toni Collette, Little Miss Sunshine
Fifth column: Rinko Kikuchi (Babel), Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada), Catherine O’Hara (For Your Consideration), Emma Thompson (Stranger Than Fiction), Shareeka Epps (Half Nelson).