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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
An Honor To Be Nominated
by Betty Jo Tucker

With the 62nd Golden Globe Awards now only history, itís time to concentrate on those 77th Academy Awards nominations coming up next week (on January 25). Which five movies will appear in the Best Picture category? Will the director nominees match the films nominated? Who will be on the list for Best Actor and Best Actress?

Although I fear many of my favorites will be missing from this yearís list of honored nominees, itís fun to make predictions about the slates in those four key categories. So here goes.

Best Picture.  Iíll be very surprised if The Aviator, Million Dollar Baby and Sideways are missing from the list of nominees here. Both The Aviator (drama) and Sideways (comedy/musical) won Best Picture awards in the Golden Globes competition, and during the past five years, the Oscar for that honor has gone to a film picked as Best Picture by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group responsible for bestowing Golden Globe awards. Because Million Dollar Baby, directed by Clint Eastwood, is picking up lots of support heading into the homestretch, I think it will also be one of the five films named.

The other two? Hmm. Finding Neverland, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Hotel Rwanda, Collateral, Closer and Ray all have a good chance. But Iím placing my bet on Finding Neverland and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I donít believe Hero, my favorite film of 2004, has a chance -- but Iíll be happy if I'm wrong. (According to my colleague Jeffrey Chen, because of some technical rule or two, Hero is ineligible for this year's Academy Awards consideration, so my hopes in this regard are already dashed.)            

Best Director.  Martin Scorsese (The Aviator), Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby), Alexander Payne (Sideways), Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) and Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) should be the nominees if the Best Picture candidates end up being the ones Iím predicting. Iíll never understand how the director of a Best Picture nominee can be left off the Best Director list. But it happens. Remember when Peter Jackson didnít get nominated -- even though his Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers made it to the Best Picture category? Arrrrgh!

Of course, Iíd love to see Zhang Yimou as one of nominees for Hero, his gorgeous Chinese epic, but thatís not gonna happen -- and Iíll just have to deal with it. Still, Yimou might have a chance with his newest film, House of Flying Daggers (which is eligible this year).   

Best Actress. If Annette Bening and Imelda Staunton arenít nominated, thereís no justice in the showbiz world. Bening knocked my socks off as the mesmerizing diva in Being Julia, and Staunton almost broke my heart as a sweet little lady who pays dearly for  trying to help other women in Vera Drake. Kate Winslet should also receive a nod for her fine work in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Hilary Swank seems a shoo-in for displaying her acting and boxing chops in Million Dollar Baby.

The last spot will probably go to Nicole Kidman (doesnít it always?) for Birth, a dreary movie in which she plays a woman who falls in love with a 10-year-old boy who claims to be her reincarnated husband. But, in my opinion, it should go to her for a much better performance in Dogville, an amazing film with nary a blip on the critical radar screen, perhaps mainly because of limited distribution.  

Best Actor.  Iím one of Johnny Deppís biggest fans, so I want him to be nominated in the worst way. Unfortunately, like Kidman, heíll probably be picked for the wrong movie. His understated performance in Finding Neverland will surely earn him a nod instead of his more remarkable work in Secret Window (which was released too early last year for most people to remember).

Leonardo DiCaprio seems certain to be nominated for The Aviator; Jamie Foxx is a sure thing for Ray; and Don Cheadle and Javier Bardem deserve nominations for Hotel Rwanda and The Sea Inside, respectively. However, Paul Giamatti (Sideways) might take Bardemís place, and it would make me smile a lot if Jim Carrey (Eternal Sunshine) and/or Kevin Spacey (Beyond the Sea) manage to sneak into the pack.      

Best wishes to all the potential Oscar nominees!

(Added on 1/25/05 Ray was nominated for Best Picture instead of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Taylor Hackford and Mike Leigh received Best Director nominations for Ray and Vera Drakerespectively, in place of my predicted Michel Gondry and Marc Forster;  Catalina Sandino Moreno was nominated for Best Actress for Maria Full of Grace, not Nicole Kidman as I expected; and the biggest surprise came with Clint Eastwood's nomination as Best Actor for Million Dollar Baby. I thought Javier Bardem would get that spot. For a list of all the nominees, go to                 

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