The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts March 3, 2006

Wanton Distraction
By Matt Goldberg

2006 Academy Award Nominees

This Sunday at 8 p.m. is the 78th Academy Awards. Let’s just get this out of the way now: The show will be long. It’s always long. The people who produce the show should accept that it’s long and if they want to save time maybe they should stop treating documentary and short-film creators like they’re lesser artists and perhaps cut out worthless crap, i.e. what the Academy president has to say.

But this year should be worth watching simply because Jon Stewart’s the host. His self-deprecating humor and friendly tone should keep the proceedings lively, and I’ll bet that there’s at least one reference to Stewart’s work in Big Daddy, Death to Smoochy or Doogal.

Robert Altman will also receive the Lifetime Achievement Award; while I’m not a fan of Altman’s work, he’s certainly earned this award. Okay, let’s get on to the good stuff. In the major categories, here are the nominees, who’s going to win, and who should win.


Amy Adams – Junebug
Catherine Keener – Capote
Frances McDormand - North Country
Rachel Weisz – The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams – Brokeback Mountain

Here’s what you need to know about the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories: they’re really awards for “Hot but Not A-List Actress” and “Neglected Old Man.” While Adams, Weisz and Williams are all attractive, non-A-List talents, I think Weisz will rightfully win this category. Personally, I think her performance in Gardener is a leading role, and in terms of acting ability, she has certainly come a tremendous way since Chain Reaction. Williams could be the spoiler, but Brokeback will not go wanting for awards and I don’t really think she added anything to the role of “Long-Suffering Wife.”

Will Win: Weisz
Should Win: Weisz


George Clooney – Syriana
Matt Dillon – Crash
Paul Giamatti – Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal – Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt – A History of Violence

Where’s the old man? When I say “old man,” I’m talking Jack Palance-old. The oldest of these guys is at best middle-age. Without an old man, this is the toughest category to call. Giamatti’s been seriously overlooked in past years and Jake Gyllenhaal has already won the BAFTA (read: British Oscar).

But I’m going to stand behind Clooney in this category. Not only does he give the best performance, but since he’s nominated in two other categories where he probably won’t win (Best Director and Best Original Screenplay), Academy voters will want to give this insanely-likable an award and this will be the category.

Will Win: Clooney
Should Win: Clooney


Judi Dench – Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman – Transamerica
Keira Knightley – Pride & Prejudice
Charlize Theron – North Country
Reese Witherspoon – Walk the Line

The competition here is between Huffman and Witherspoon; everyone else is just filling out the category. The two may split the vote (see 2002, Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis making way for Adrien Brody) and if that happens, there’s no clear favorite so just flip a...roll a... follow your heart.

But I’m betting Witherspoon will win. The Best Actress category is for Hollywood sweethearts and Reese has been one for a while now. It also doesn’t hurt that she has won 18 trillion awards for this role already (I did not make that up; Reese is now broke and homeless, because she had to make space for her awards).

I think Witherspoon’s performance should be in the supporting category since her only real function in the film is to help Johnny Cash. I would give the award to Huffman’s incredible and far more challenging role as a pre-op transsexual, but I predict we’ll be seeing Witherspoon and her almighty chin receiving the award on Sunday.

Will Win: Witherspoon
Should Win: Huffman


Philip Seymour Hoffman – Capote
Terrence Howard – Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger – Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix – Walk the Line
David Strathairn – Good Night, and Good Luck.

Four of these actors earned their nominations and deserve to win (sorry Joaquin; you were good but not Best Actor-good), but this was Hoffman’s award before they even shot the first frame of Capote. While receiving widespread recognition and appreciation for his supporting work, Hoffman knew that if he wanted to play a leading man he would have to produce the movie.

While Hoffman is very good as Capote, I think Terrence Howard is this year’s best actor, not only for Hustle & Flow but for his standout performances in crap like Crash and Get Rich or Die Tryin’. I did not think I could really care about a pimp who dreamed of becoming a rapper, but Howard’s performance slapped some sense into me.

Will Win: Hoffman
Should Win: Howard


Ang Lee – Brokeback Mountain
Bennett Miller – Capote
Paul Haggis – Crash
George Clooney – Good Night, and Good Luck
.Steven Spielberg – Munich

Usually I would separate these two categories but since this is the first time since 1981 that the Best Directors and Best Pictures all line up (there’s usually one director who’s nominated but his film is not), I figured why bother repeating myself? But this is Brokeback Mountain’s year and Ang Lee has already won the Director’s Guild Award and the Golden Globe.

While Lee’s victory is almost-certain, the only possible spoiler for Best Picture is Crash. Academy voters could be deceived by the film’s familiar L.A. locale and “thoughtful” commentary on race relations. But Brokeback has already put itself into the national consciousness with its iconic score, controversial subject matter and “I wish I knew how to quit you!” It’s also the best film of the bunch.

Will Win: Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Should Win: Lee, Brokeback Mountain

So tune in this Sunday, put some money into an Oscar pool with your friends, enjoy the antics of Jon Stewart, poke fun at the ugly dresses and stupid speeches and revel in the glory of Three-6-Mafia performing Hustle & Flow’s “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp.”


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