Oscar Rules

Boulder Weekly | February 19, 2007
Ever since the nominations came out for Sunday's 79th Academy Awards, even voters were asking themselves, "Who stopped the music?" Though Dreamgirls racked up eight nominations, the Motown musical extravaganza crashed and burned in the best picture category. Instead, the race will likely come down to a battle royal between The Queen and Martin Scorsese's Boston mob melee The Departed, with Clint Eastwood's Letters from Iwo Jima delivering a few write-in votes. After years of getting whacked in the best director contest, Scorsese may have finally made the Oscar voters an offer they can't refuse, aided and abetted by a cast of heavy-hitting Hollywood good fellas.

Following a procession of prizes for her regal performance as Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears' The Queen, Helen Mirren will be deservedly crowned as best actress. Unless there's a Kodak Theatre coup, Mirren will share the throne with Forest Whitaker, who was commanding as Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.

From bottom to top, here are my picks in the biggies:


Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children -- A child actor in the old Bad News Bears, he's this year's comeback kid.

Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine -- Just the ray of hope America needs: a dirty old man with a big heart.

Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond -- Mined the noble black-African vein in vain.

Mark Walhberg, The Departed -- Played a foul-mouthed cop in his Boston backyard, but you can fuhgetaboutit.

* Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls -- Beverly Hills Cop goes deep, deep into serious acting? Pinch me, I must be dreaming.


Rinko Kikuchi, Babel -- Can you say Sayonara?

Adriana Barraza, Babel -- Was the victimized illegal immigrant in this leaning tower of anti-Americanism.

Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine -- As wannabe beauty queen, the 'tween brightened up overrated indie version of National Lampoon's Vacation.

Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal -- Pencil The Aviator winner to land in second place.

* Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls -- After her American Idol nightmare, she'll be living the dream come Sunday.


Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson -- Gets a solid B+ for his gripping performance as a drug-addled teacher.

Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness -- However you spell it, Will will leave unhappy in his Oscar pursuit.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond -- Polished off a flinty performance in a flawed drama out of Africa via Hollywood.

Peter O'Toole, Venus -- For the eighth time since Lawrence of Arabia, Peter gets Plutoed.

* Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland -- As the 1970s Uganda dictator, Whitaker caught the conscience -- and the madness -- of the would-be king.


Penelope Cruz, Volver -- Ola! Cruz should win an award just for losing Cruise.

Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada -- This year, the Oscar empress wears no clothes.

Kate Winslet, Little Children -- As a desperate suburban housewife, Winslet loomed large in a plus-sized adult movie nobody saw.

Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal -- The great Dame Judi will be forced to abdicate in favor of Queen Helen.

* Helen Mirren, The Queen -- Imperial in Frears' nitty-gritty Brit docudrama. Let the coronation begin.


Paul Greengrass, United 93 -- Grounded, just like its wayward best picture nomination.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel -- What we have here is a failure to communicate.

Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima -- Dear Clint: Marty says, "Go ahead, make my day."

Stephen Frears, The Queen -- The best direction of actors in all of 2006, but Frears will take his leave in lieu of The Departed's mobster auteur.

* Martin Scorsese, The Departed -- No trophy for Raging Bull or GoodFellas, but wins for this refried Beantown massacre?


Little Miss Sunshine -- Oscar forecast is for clouds and rain.

Babel -- Socio-psycho babble.

Letters from Iwo Jima -- Kamikaze mission.

The Departed -- Could rub out The Queen if a pro-American fix is in.

* The Queen -- Hail Britannia, Hollywood.

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