"Find hungry samurai" -Gisaku

Oscar Movies - 2004

Evil Kitties of the Realm:

It is once again time for my annual Academy Awards preview column. I realize most of you have been sitting anxiously by your computer for days waiting for this, and I am happy to deliver.

Unlike last year, I am not going to predict every category. I have seen all the requisite movies, but it was too much work for very little response, and it’s just not worth it to do again. But I will briefly go over the big categories.

Also, many of these movies I have reviewed in MovieHype, where I write about films these days, so if you’re curious about a particular movie, write and ask for that movie review, or check the website. All the nominees can be found by clicking: http://oscar.com/nominees/nominees.html

Hillary Swank will win this award, for MILLION DOLLAR BABY. I’d be happy if Kate Winslet won for ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, but it ain’t gonna happen.

Cate Blanchett is the odds on favorite for her spot-on portrayal of Katharine Hepburn in THE AVIATOR, and you’d get no argument from me, but I’d be equally happy if Virginia Madsen (SIDEWAYS) or the incredible Sophie Okenedo (HOTEL RWANDA) took home the prize.

Nobody has a clue in this category. Thomas Haden Church (SIDEWAYS) was the front-runner, but now the money is on Morgan Freeman for MILLION DOLLAR BABY. Either would be fine by me, but I think I’d actually give the award to Jamie Foxx in COLLATERAL, in what was really a lead performance.

Jamie Foxx will win for RAY, and he’ll certainly deserve it. When I reviewed RAY, I declared him the winner even though I hadn’t seen all the nominees, for the sheer bravura of his performance. However, having now seen them all, I would take Don Cheadle in HOTEL RWANDA.

The winner here will be either Martin Scorsese (THE AVIATOR) or Clint Eastwood (MILLION DOLLAR BABY). The best directing job wasn’t even nominated, but of the five choices, I would give it to Scorsese. It may not be his best movie, but it’s the best choice of the options given.

RAY (originally reviewed in MovieHype00575. For more in-depth analysis, please read that)

RAY was a fine film, much better than I expected, and featured an outstanding acting performance from Jamie Foxx. If you care about music or Ray Charles at all, this would be a good movie to see. But while I thoroughly enjoyed watching, RAY was not quite one of the five best films of last year, and falls in 5th place on this list.

When I originally wrote my reviews, I refused to discuss MILLION DOLLAR BABY. Some misinterpreted this as an attack on the film, which it was not. There simply was too much emotion involved for me, and I found it impossible to discuss the movie without going into the controversy surrounding this film, which I also could not do. However, I now believe MILLION DOLLAR BABY will win Best Picture, so I will have a review of its in MovieHype next week. For today’s purposes, I will say MDB is a fine film, well deserving of all its nominations, but I would not vote for it, and it will not deserve its expected victory (very late) Sunday night.

I’ll have a more complete review of FINDING NEVERLAND next week (along with MILLION DOLLAR BABY AND HOTEL RWANDA). For now, let me say I was quite taken with this gem. The story involves author J.M. Barrie, and the events leading up to him writing PETER PAN. The historical facts are a bit fudged, but let that go and enjoy this movie. It was very touching, moving, and sentimental in a good way. You could take anybody to see this film without worrying they’d be offended or bored. FINDING NEVERLAND will not win Best Picture, or probably any of the seven categories for which it was nominated, but it certainly deserved them.

THE AVIATOR (originally reviewed in MovieHype00573)
The only film other than MILLION DOLLAR BABY that even has a chance. THE AVIATOR is a spectacular biopic of the life of Howard Hughes. The acting is superb and the feel is glitzy and Hollywood-eque; just what you’d want in a film about a mogul who changed Tinseltown before he changed the world. I have THE AVIATOR listed fourth on my Top Ten list from last year, so it certainly deserves all its acclaim. This isn’t a fantastic life-changing movie, but in a year full of very good movies, THE AVIATOR is near the top.

SIDEWAYS (originally reviewed in MovieHype00575)
First, let me say that I consider KILL BILL VOLUME 2 and HOTEL RWANDA to be the best two films of last year. Secondly, there is not a chance on Earth that SIDEWAYS will win the biggies, and the ways things are going, it may get shut out. That written, of the five nominees, SIDEWAYS would get my vote. It’s a comedy about two guys on the road for a week of vacation, each after different things. I’ve talked to several people, as different as night and day, who felt they identified with the main character Miles. As did I. That’s an achievement in and of itself. The acting will surprise you. The script has moments that will take your breath away. And best of all, the laughs are organic, well-earned, and at times painfully funny. Finally, I repeat what I wrote in my original review: SIDEWAYS made me want to write again. It made me want to be a wine snob—and I don’t even drink. It made glad there is passion in the world. Any movie that can do that is worth the top honors in my book.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll have those reviews I mentioned early next week in the Oscar wrap up MovieHype. If you’re a regular reader and would like to get my reviews, be sure to let us know.

Enjoy your Oscar parties. Chris Rock is hosting, and he should make some waves. I normally don’t even like the actual show, but this year I’m watching for sure. I hope you will be too.

February 25, 2005

Note - The 2004 Oscar Preview as Hyperion Chronicle #340 - "Oscars Wild" 

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