With the Golden Globe nominees announced, the New York, Los Angeles, and Boston Film Critics and the National Board of Review award winners all on public record, and every Oscar-freak with an FTP function filling the internet with mad predictions, here I am following the trend. If we Academy-obsessives could harness all of this energy into saving the world (or even, God forbid, into our various day jobs), imagine where we would be. Oh, wait; Bush is still president. See, right there, you've got a sellable virtue that justifies this feature: if I weren't compulsively prognosticating the Oscar nominations, I would be violently rioting in the streets. Consider it a public service on behalf of would-be innocent bystanders.

Simplest way to go about things, here on December 14, is to compare my thinking as of a month ago with the picture as it suddenly stands...
PictureDirectorActressActorSupporting ActressSupporting ActorOriginal ScreenplayAdapted Screenplay




November Predictions
The Aviator
Eternal Sunshine...
Fahrenheit 9/11
Finding Neverland
Ray


trailed by...
Closer
The Sea Inside
Hotel Rwanda
Kinsey
Sideways

and in the far distance...
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Phantom of the Opera
Alexander
A Very Long Engagement
The Incredibles
Shrek 2
The Passion of the Christ
But Since Then...
Eternal Sunshine reaped some Globe nods but lacks strong support from critics' groups.

Sideways has sold tickets, hoarded critics' prizes, and swept the Globe nods.

Bush lost the election, which either makes Fahrenheit more or less relevant. The Globes disqualified it, which makes its chances hard to read. Harvey 'n' Mike are sitting in a tree,
c-a-m-p-a-i-g-n-i-n-g.

Clint Eastwood came out of nowhere, swinging.

Oliver Stone sank back into oblivion, whining.

Closer and Finding Neverland are weakening a bit in the knees (though FN won NBR), while Hotel Rwanda is suddenly making waves. All three are taking baby steps into the marketplace, where Ray did well, Kinsey is having trouble, and the Jeunet film ain't taking off.
...thus, December Predictions
The Aviator
Fahrenheit 9/11
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby
Sideways

trailed by...
Hotel Rwanda
Ray

and in the far distance...
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Phantom of the Opera
Kinsey
Closer
The Incredibles
The Motorcycle Diaries





November Predictions
Forster/Neverland
Gondry/Eternal
Moore/Fahrenheit
Nichols/Closer
Scorsese/Aviator


trailed by...
Condon/Kinsey
Payne/Sideways
Hackford/Ray
Zhang/Daggers
Salles/Motorcycle

and in the far distance...
Almodóvar/Bad Ed.
Jeunet/Very Long
Stone/Alexander
Amenábar/Sea Inside
Mann/Collateral
Linklater/Before Sunset
Anderson/Life Aquatic
George/Hotel Rwanda
Bird/The Incredibles
But Since Then...
Payne is being hailed like a new Rohmer.

Eastwood elected not to sit this one out.

The Ray and Neverland campaigns have refocused on the actors rather than the films themselves, though both movies are still alive.

Closer and Kinsey are freaking everybody out, implying fewer top nods than might have been expected.

Continued good will toward the disqualified Hero and some critics' awards for House of Flying Daggers are making Zhang look even more like the cream of the foreign crop.

Mann scored at NBR, and Collateral has breathed anew.

Lots of the stragglers got ditched.
...thus, December Predictions
Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Michael Mann, Collateral
Alexander Payne, Sideways
Martin Scorsese, The Aviator
Zhang Yimou, House of Flying Daggers

trailed by...
Michel Gondry, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Marc Forster, Finding Neverland
Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 9/11
Mike Nichols, Closer
Bill Condon, Kinsey

and in the far distance...
Terry George, Hotel Rwanda
Richard Linklater, Before Sunset
Walter Salles, The Motorcycle Diaries
Taylor Hackford, Ray





November Predictions
Bening/Being Julia
Léoni/Spanglish
Sandino Moreno/Maria
Staunton/Vera Drake
Winslet/Eternal


trailed by...
Collins/Merchant
Delpy/Before Sunset
Vega/Spanglish
Tautou/Very Long
Thurman/KBv2

and in the far distance...
Kidman/Dogville
Mirren/The Clearing
Rossum/Phantom
Roberts/Closer
But Since Then...
Hilary Swank sailed in on that Million Dollar train (with a Boston prize to boot).

Staunton (mostly) and Bening have divvied up the other awards.

Spanglish has been left for dead.

Maria and its star have racked up some first-timer awards and look poised to win some Indie Spirit laurels.

Collins was filed as Supporting, not that anyone is noticing.

Delpy is playing peekaboo with minor critics' citations.

Thurman and Rossum got Globe nods, as (absurdly) did Scarlett Johansson. So did Kidman, but for her other film, and for her value-added as a red-carpet visitor.

Roberts had twins (awwww...).
...thus, December Predictions
Annette Bening, Being Julia
Emmy Rossum, The Phantom of the Opera
Catalina Sandino Moreno, Maria Full of Grace
Imelda Staunton, Vera Drake
Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby

trailed by...
Uma Thurman, Kill Bill, Vol. 2
Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

and in the far distance...
Julie Delpy, Before Sunset
Scarlett Johansson, A Love Song for Bobby Long
Nicole Kidman, Birth





November Predictions
Bardem/Sea Inside
Bridges/Door
Depp/Neverland
Foxx/Ray
Neeson/Kinsey


trailed by...
Pacino/Merchant
Bernal/Motorcycle
Law/Closer
Bacon/Woodsman
Cheadle/Rwanda

and in the far distance...
Penn/Assassination
Carrey/Eternal
Giamatti/Sideways
Butler/Phantom
Caviezel/Passion
Cruise/Collateral
DiCaprio/Aviator
Spacey/Beyond
But Since Then...
The critical awards that would best ignite Bridges' chances aren't coming.

The Globes went bio-crazy: Bardem, Cheadle, Depp, DiCaprio, Neeson, Foxx, Kline, Spacey.

Neeson, after a tiny slump, scored with the LAFC.

Giamatti, DiCaprio, and Cheadle are attached to especially hot films.

So is a certain Mr. Eastwood.

Bernal's flicks are out of the big races, but he's still in all the presses.

Penn is getting excellent pre-release notices. Butler isn't. Both struck out with Globes voters.

Law was in every movie released except for SpongeBob, but he hasn't drawn awards buzz for any of them.
...thus, December Predictions
Javier Bardem, The Sea Inside
Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby
Jamie Foxx, Ray
Paul Giamatti, Sideways
Liam Neeson, Kinsey

trailed by...
Johnny Depp, Finding Neverland
Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator

and in the far distance...
Gael García Bernal, The Motorcycle Diaries
Jeff Bridges, The Door in the Floor
Sean Penn, The Assassination of Richard Nixon
Kevin Spacey, Beyond the Sea





November Predictions
Blanchett/Aviator
Leachman/Spanglish
Linney/Kinsey
Madsen/Sideways
Portman/Closer


trailed by...
Christie/Neverland
King/Ray
Dern/We Don't
Streisand/Fockers
Tomlin/Huckabees

and in the far distance...
Vega/Spanglish
Winslet/Eternal
Hall/Ladykillers
Morgenstern/Passion
Streep/Manchurian
Bosworth/Beyond
Foster/Very Long
Okonedo/Rwanda
Sedgwick/Woodsman
But Since Then...
"But" what? The leaders of the pack have mostly extended their lead.

Winslet has replaced Christie as Neverland's supporting hopeful.

Sharon Warren has emerged as Ray's most buzzed-about lady. William Goldman himself gave her a public shout-out.

Dern shared a Boston critics' nod with Warren.

Leachman is the only survivor of Spanglish's cardiac arrest. But only barely.

The Globes remain Streep-obsessed. But not Babs-obsessed.

Lots of these films simply failed to catch fire.
...thus, December Predictions
Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Laura Linney, Kinsey
Virginia Madsen, Sideways
Natalie Portman, Closer
Kate Winslet, Finding Neverland

trailed by...
Sharon Warren, Ray
Meryl Streep, The Manchurian Candidate

and in the far distance...
Cloris Leachman, Spanglish
Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda
Laura Dern, We Don't Live Here Anymore
Lynn Redgrave, Kinsey





November Predictions
Carradine/KBv2
Dafoe/Aquatic
Law/Huckabees
Owen/Closer
Sarsgaard/Kinsey


trailed by...
Freeman/Million
Nolte/Rwanda
Schreiber/Manchurian
Highmore/Neverland
Cruise/Collateral

and in the far distance...
Wahlberg/Huckabees
Church/Sideways
De la Serna/Motorcycle
Lithgow/Kinsey
O'Toole/Troy
But Since Then...
Forces conspired to make me look idiotic. Dafoe? Law? O'Toole? Call CSI.

Thomas Haden Church roared, and he rampaged, to the front of the pack, with only Owen nabbing a prize (the NYFCC) from him.

Sarsgaard missed a Globe invite, but he's still on everyone's tongue.

I thought I was helpfully suggesting that Cruise could cheat and call himself supporting. DreamWorks has gone even loonier than that and decided that Foxx deserves a shot at double-glory. Where's the integrity?

Nolte and Lithgow look cold as ice, but Freeman is representing for the Oscarless vanguard.

No one in the Aviator crowd has set himself apart.

Highmore, Wahlberg, De la Serna, and Schreiber still get props from fans of their films, but in every case, there are too few fans to matter.
...thus, December Predictions
David Carradine, Kill Bill, Vol. 2
Thomas Haden Church, Sideways
Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby
Clive Owen, Closer
Peter Sarsgaard, Kinsey

trailed by...
Jamie Foxx, Collateral

and in the far distance...
Freddie Highmore, Finding Neverland
Mark Wahlberg, I Heart Huckabees
Rodrigo De la Serna, The Motorcycle Diaries





November Predictions
The Aviator
Eternal Sunshine...
The Incredibles
Kinsey
Ray


trailed by...
Bad Education
Spanglish
I ♥ Huckabees
The Life Aquatic...
Shrek 2

and in the far distance...
Before Sunset
Vera Drake
Hotel Rwanda
Garden State
Napoleon Dynamite
Fahrenheit 9/11
But Since Then...
Sideways has won almost every writing award in sight, so we still don't know much.

Eternal Sunshine has at least grabbed a couple of critics' prizes, and The Aviator has joined it among the field of Globes contenders.

Kinsey has attracted the kind of controversy that this category often likes.

The Incredibles has attracted the kind of box-office that this category often likes.

Hotel Rwanda has built considerable momentum, and Vera Drake is at least a succès d'estime.

Since Shrek 2 bears no relation to Steig's book, it's technically original, but DreamWorks may pull a switcheroo. In either case, since The Incredibles bowed, the green ogre never comes up.

Except for Sunshine, Ray is the least fresh of the six front-runners.
...thus, December Predictions
The Aviator
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Hotel Rwanda
The Incredibles
Kinsey

trailed by...
Ray

and in the far distance...
Before Sunset
Vera Drake
Bad Education
Collateral





November Predictions
Closer
The Door in the Floor
Finding Neverland
The Motorcycle Diaries

Sideways

trailed by...
A Very Long Engagement
The Merchant of Venice
We Don't Live...
A Home at the End...
The Phantom of the Opera

and in the far distance...
Being Julia
Before Sunset
Stage Beauty
But Since Then...
Sideways probably has the largest lead here of any entrant in any race.

The suddenly vital Million Dollar Baby is probably a shoo-in to oust Door in the Floor.

Neither Closer or Neverland is beloved enough to be a flat "lock," but they're close.

Dishonest though it is, running Shrek 2 as an adaptation is the kind of thing a desperate studio would do.

Dishonest though it is, Warner Independent is apparently convinced Before Sunset is adapted.

There are at least enough legit contenders now to drop the non-starters I recruited earlier as filler. (Stage Beauty? Ha!)
...thus, December Predictions
Closer
Finding Neverland
Million Dollar Baby
The Motorcycle Diaries
Sideways

trailed by...
Shrek 2
The Door in the Floor

and in the far distance...
The Phantom of the Opera
Before Sunset
A Very Long Engagement
We Don't Live Here Anymore

I'll do one more round of nomination predictions in early January, before the Oscar rosters are announced on Tuesday, January 25th.
Y'all come back now, you hear? (And don't be afraid to
be in touch in the meantime.)


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