What a movie!!! Before we go into it, one bit about the change in my opinion about Leonardo’s acting ability. He was brilliant in his first movie (Basketball Diaries), but then it was all downhill. I stand somewhat corrected. In this movie, he is a revelation and puts in an awesome performance. I think it has something to do with negative shades of the character. That is the only thing I can find common in both the roles.
Coming back to the Oscars, since the jury likes epic productions (among equals), I am tempted to put my money on The Aviator to win the Best Picture.
The other main candidate, Million Dollar Baby (MDB), was good and Clint is the jury’s blue eyed boy, but I would say it lacked the ‘punch’. It wavered off a lot midway through and wasn’t great movie making, notwithstanding the woman/ fighting spirit angle.
Best Actor is a tie between Leonardo and Jamie Foxx. Clint has no chance here (With all due respect: Why is he here? Oh! I almost forgot his blue eyes) neither does Johnny Depp who was great while being subtle in the magical Finding Neverland. But I think Ray was exceptionally well handled by Jamie Foxx:
The scene where he gets the phone call about Margie’s death — Wow! That single scene is enough for anyone to win an acting Oscar; And the fact that Ray Charles died last year can get Foxx closer to the statue, but because of some weird reasons, like —
(a) Foxx has already won both the Globe and Guild for the best actor!
(b) Denzel won it only a couple of years ago!!
(c) Ray was a distructive rebel force, while Howard Hughes was only an eccentric!!
The chances are that the jury would give it to Leonardo. I would not be unhappy with that, considering he changed my opinion about his acting in 2 hours flat!
Aviator also has a brilliant role from Cate Blanchett, she should win the best supporting actress. But I haven’t seen all the other nominees to emphatically say so (But for Natalie Portman in Closer — another must watch movie)
Supporting actor definitely is Owen (Closer) in my count, though sentiments might favor Morgan Freeman. Thomas in Sideways was extremely good, but the jury doesn’t favor indies, and might give Sideways _only_ the adapted screenplay Oscar (And original screenplay to The Aviator, though Kaufman was his usual brilliant in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Hmm, that leaves us with the Best Actress & Director. Hilary Swank was very good in MDB, but she has already won once (So what?). Though I loved Kate Winslet’s easy ways in ESOTSM, according to the experts, Staunton is going to win.
And for the Best Director, would it be Martin Scorsese’s lucky year at Oscars? According to many, he is the best director never to win an Oscar, probably tied with Hitchcock. Clint Eastwood didn’t do a great job in MDB, Sideways was brilliantly directed, but this time Martin deserves it the most. Forget that he is an Italian; He has made some of the best movies on/of America, and The Aviator is right on top of that list, IMO.