The Academy Awards are just as political and unfair as ever, and every year they seem to get farther away from actually giving the Best Picture award to the best movie of the year.
Of course, judging films is totally subjective and there will always be people who agree with the Academy’s choices. But by looking closely at past winners and reading about the collective attitude of Hollywood before this year’s awards, it’s easy to see that the process is not even close to fair.
Whether you just want to impress your friends, or you’re looking to win some money on the ridiculous gambling site tradesports.com, here’s who will leave Sunday night’s ceremony with statues.
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The finale in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy is amazingly crafted, but is not the best movie of the year. The Academy doesn’t care however, making LOTR one of the biggest favorites in recent memory. This trilogy will be popular long after Mystic River is forgotten, so why not throw the “Oscar-winning” title before it?
Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
The brilliant Jackson has yet to win an Oscar for his visionary work on the trilogy, and this is the one category that he absolutely deserves to win.
Sean Penn (Mystic River)
Bill Murray also has a shot for his great performance in Lost in Translation, but Penn is possibly the best living American actor and he’s never won an Oscar. He also had an excellent role in 21 Grams, which will help him get a few more votes than Murray.
Charlize Theron (Monster)
The Academy loves to make new stars with its acting categories (see Adrien Brody, Halle Berry, Hilary Swank, etc.), so Theron is basically a lock here unless conservative voters were too grossed out by Monster and pick the less deserving Diane Keaton for Something’s Gotta Give instead.
Best Supporting Actor
Tim Robbins (Mystic River)
The supporting categories are always a mystery, so this one could be a surprise, but Robbins will likely win because of his name recognition and because of the amazing acting by the entire cast of Mystic River. His anti-war sentiments this year have been controversial, but liberal Hollywood probably agrees and so that could help.
Best Supporting Actress
Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain)
Shohreh Aghdashloo’s brilliant performance in House of Sand and Fog would be the daring choice here by the Academy, and some voters may choose to award this underrated film with an Oscar for the Iranian actress, but the more marketable Zellweger will probably win instead for her standout role in the otherwise forgettable Cold Mountain.
Best Original Screenplay
Jim Sheridan, Naomi Sheridan, Kirsten Sheridan (In America)
The screenplay award could go to anyone, and Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation may pick it up if Murray doesn’t win Best Actor, but the most deserving screenplay of the year came from the Sheridan family. An Oscar win would also help this great movie get more recognition among mainstream audiences once it comes out on video and pay-per-view.
Best Animated Film
Unless there’s some silent legion of Nemo-haters, this is a pretty obvious choice. The Triplets of Belleville was also very well-liked, but is an extreme long shot.
For all the nominees, go to www.oscars.org. The 76th Annual Academy Awards will air live Sunday night, February 29, at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Shawn Wines can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.