Hollywood's Main Event

Boulder Weekly | February 23, 2005
The downside to annual awards is that you have to award them, even during an off year. The movies of 2004 could muster only a few streaks of brilliance, among them Jamie Foxx's stellar performance as Ray Charles in Ray. In the main event, The Aviator, Sideways and Million Dollar Baby will slug it out for best picture. Surprisingly, Michael Moore's incendiary Fahrenheit 9/11 wasn't nominated, perhaps to mollify middle America in the wake of George Bush's re-election. On the other side of cultural divide, Mel Gibson's blockbuster The Passion of the Christ was blessed with three minor nominations. Only now eager to back Gibson, Hollywood producers are rumored to be pressuring him for a sequel.

Here are my picks in the biggies, from bottom to top:


Alan Alda/The Aviator -- Hawkeye's bid grounded.

Jamie Foxx/Collateral -- Played taxi driver hijacked by hit-man Tom Cruise. For directions to Foxx's Oscar, see below.

Morgan Freeman/Million Dollar Baby -- Another overripe Freeman role--second banana to great white Clint Eastwood.

Thomas Haden Church/Sideways -- As a randy actor, spiked Alexander Payne's boozy buddy picture with laughs.

* Clive Owen/Closer -- Positively Jurassic as a modern caveman in Mike Nichols' R-rated version of The Dating Game.


Sophie Okenedo/Hotel Rwanda -- Stuck on the ground floor.

Laura Linney/Kinsey -- She got a nomination as the sex researcher's wife, but why was Liam Neeson stiffed as best actor?

Natalie Portman/Closer -- As a kittenish stripper, the Star Wars star would send even a Jedi knight into hyper-drive.

Virginia Madsen/Sideways -- Played a waitress and fellow oenophile who gives Paul Giamatti a shot of reality.

* Cate Blanchett/The Aviator -- Oscar says, Kiss me, Cate. The Australian actress soared as a saucy 1930s Katherine Hepburn.


Johnny Depp/Finding Neverland - Slighted for Pirates of the Caribbean, Depp won't find his Oscar treasure here either.

Clint Eastwood/Million Dollar Baby -- A double-threat as actor/director, Eastwood played Swank's cranky trainer and god of mercy.

Don Cheadle/Hotel Rwanda -- Denver-raised, Cheadle was superb as a Rwandan Oskar Schindler who saved hundreds in the 1994 genocide.

Leonardo DiCaprio/The Aviator -- Touched the sky as a young Howard Hughes, but Foxx climbed higher.

* Jamie Foxx/ Ray -- Oscar, not Georgia, will be on his mind. The comic-turned-actor was uncanny as the man and musical legend.


Catalina Sandino Moreno/Maria Full of Grace -- Played a Colombian drug mule in a hard-to-stomach drama.

Kate Winslet/Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- Sunday's forecast: cloudy and rain.

Annette Bening/Being Julia -- Lost to Swank in 2000 for American Beauty. Was boffo as a 1930s stage diva, but will bow out again.

Imelda Staunton/Vera Drake -- Won British awards as a motherly 1950s abortionist. Can't muster votes in the red states.

* Hilary Swank/Million Dollar Baby -- Played an Ozark boxer who coulda been a contenda. Won title before, but still scores a TKO over Staunton.


Mike Leigh/Vera Drake -- Laboring under a misconception.

Taylor Hackford/Ray -- Hit the road, Jack.

Alexander Payne/Sideways -- Showed 100-proof courage by nixing George Clooney in the lead.

Clint Eastwood/Million Dollar Baby -- And in this corner, the craggy Eastwood butts heads with Scorsese, the sentimental favorite.

* Martin Scorsese/The Aviator -- Lost for Raging Bull and GoodFellas but lands a statue for this polished but impersonal star vehicle?


Ray -- Can't see it winning.

Finding Neverland -- Clap your hands if you believe in the Oscar fairy.

Sideways -- Intoxicating low-budget comedy, but only California dreamin' in this field.

Million Dollar Baby -- Most overrated film of 2004, but I threw in the towel after ham-and-egg critics tagged it a masterpiece.

* The Aviator -- Bumpy Hughes biopic cleared for take-off.


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