EDITOR'S NOTE: JUST TOO EXCITED TO STOP DWEEBBLOGGING!!! A FEW MORE DAY-OF ITEMS TO GET US ALL IN THE MOOD. (SO TO SPEAK).Hanks hands out Oscar speech tips
Tom Hanks has been enlisted to give Oscar nominees expert advice on how to deliver the perfect acceptance speech.
Hanks, who has made the trip to the Academy Awards podium twice, presents a video that has been given to all 150 of this year's contenders.
If they win, they should address the audience with "wit, flair, creativity - or at least with brevity
", he says.
"Use a little of that Oscar-winning creativity to make your speech entertaining
," he tells them.
Hanks famously thanked his gay drama teacher and proclaimed that he was "standing on magic legs"
while accepting awards for Philadelphia
and Forrest Gump
in 1994 and 1995.
He is also vice-president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organises the Academy Awards.
Every nominee received a copy of the eight-and-a-half-minute video, An Insider's Guide: What Nominees Need to Know
, with their invitation to Sunday's ceremony.
It features clips of good and bad previous speeches - from Gwyneth Paltrow's tears to Jack Palance's one-armed push-ups.
His first tip is to get on stage and finish the speech in less than a minute."Instead of hugging everyone within a 10-row radius, you might have to settle for a few fast high-fives as you sprint down the aisle
," he says. EDITOR'S NOTE: FAR EASIER FOR A GUY IN TUX TO DO, THAN A SKINNY CHICK IN A SKINNIER DRESS.Memorable moment
He also says victors should "lose the list
" and not thank everyone they have ever known, while groups of winners should nominate just one person to speak.
"Maximise your moment
" to say something memorable is the final piece of advice.
Winners should be able to say something entertaining because "you've devoted your passion and your dreams to the entertainment industry
", he says.
The Academy is strict on overrunning speeches during the three-and-a-half hour ceremony, cutting off winners who take more than their allotted time.
Tom Hanks will also hand out an award at this year's show.Oscar's non-stop buffet
Hollywood's golden event is going to be more like a non-stop buffet than a one-course meal.
If the various portents for Sunday's Academy Awards hold true, Oscar diners are likely to go for healthy servings of Brokeback Mountain
, with side dishes of Capote, Walk the Line, The Constant Gardener
. They'll follow with Memoirs of a Geisha
Even though Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain
leads with eight nominations — a modest number for a front-runner — it is unlikely to sweep all or even most of its categories. There is far too much competition from other quality pictures and talent, in a year where small independent pictures out-muscled studio blockbusters for Academy attention.
How tempting are the tasting options?
Consider that for only the second time in Oscar history, all five Best Picture nominees also have nominations for directing and writing. The only other time that happened was in 1964, and it's an indication all five contenders are solid choices. EDITOR'S NOTE: OR THAT THE ACADEMY MEMBERS GOT LAZY, AND DIDN'T SEE THAT MANY MOVIES.
This suggests surprises are in store for the night, even though the numbing parade of competing awards and their me-too outcomes have made it seem as if everything has already been served, and the Academy is just reheating leftovers.
Much of this, I suspect, has to do with the Internet. The proliferation of websites and blogs analyzing and discussing Oscar trends gives voters a much bigger selection to choose from than in decades past.
It may also provoke a sense of ennui about the process, and a desire to shake things up.
Choices have become a lot more volatile as voters react to perceived trends — such as the shift away from Paul Giamatti towards George Clooney in the Best Supporting Actor category.
So watch for potential upsets, including a Canadian triumph in the Best Picture contest, where Paul Haggis' Crash
has gained much momentum over Brokeback Mountain
. That's why I've added a "Who Could Win" caveat to my top eight predictions this year.
The only thing for certain this year is that Oscar wants to sample a bit of everything.Here are my best bets for the 78th Annual Academy Awards, along with more hedging than usual:BEST PICTURE
What will win: Brokeback Mountain
What should win: Brokeback Mountain
What could win: Crash
Ang Lee's gay cowboy love story, the movie that everyone has been talking about since it debuted last September at the Toronto International Film Festival, has been on a roll throughout awards season.
It has roped in most of the major pre-Oscar prizes, including the Golden Globe for best drama and the Directors Guild of America award for best director.
It also leads the field with eight nominations, which is usually enough to guarantee a Best Picture trophy — the top nominee has triumphed 18 times out of the past 21. But this key indicator isn't as reliable as it once was. It didn't unlock a win last year, when Million Dollar Baby
scored a knockout over nominations leader The Aviator
. Tradition also failed in 2001, when the first Lord of the Rings
instalment lost to A Beautiful Mind
is an excellent movie, the best of the five choices. But it is also a potentially troublesome one for Academy conservatives. There have been repeated rumbles of a strong anti-gay sentiment amongst voters, with some of them suggesting they haven't even bothered to see the movie.
Another signal of trouble for Brokeback
is its lack of an editing nomination.
This may seem trivial, but only nine films have won Best Picture without a nod for editing. The last time it happened was 1980, the very strange year when Robert Redford's Ordinary People
beat Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull
There have also been signs of growing support for Crash
, the movie that probably means the most to Academy voters. Writer/director Paul Haggis was born in London, Ont., but he's lived in the Los Angeles area for the past 30 years, and he understands local racial and class tensions, which he used to fuel his ensemble drama. For most Academy members, Crash
is the story of the fire raging in their backyard, and that familiarity could translate into votes.
has its own voodoo to contend with. It's the only one of the five Best Picture nominees to have been released outside of the traditional September-December Oscar winner's circle, and that usually spells doom.Crash
could also run afoul of Academy conservatives, because of its foul language. It contains more profane language than any Best Picture nominee of the past five years, or so says the conservative values website FamilyMediaGuide.com. EDITOR'S NOTE: POOR LITTLE FAMILYGUIDE PEOPLE. THEY HAVE TO SIT AND COUNT ALL THE NAUGHTY WORDS. (THERE'S SOME IRONY IN THAT, DON'T YA THINK?!)
The swearing includes 99 utterances of the f-word, almost a cuss per minute.
As for the other nominees Capote, Munich
and Good Night, and Good Lu
ck, they are all worthy candidates that haven't generated anywhere near the buzz of Brokeback Mountain
. It would be a major upset for any of these three to win.BEST DIRECTOR
Who will win: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain
Who should win: Ang Lee
Who could win: Paul Haggis (Crash
)EDITOR'S NOTE: STILL OUT HERE IN THE WILDERNESS, ROOTING FOR GEORGE CLOONEY FOR "GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK". (GO GEORGIE!)
After all is said and done, Ang Lee for Best Director may be the safest bet going this year. He took the DGA award, still the best bellwether there is, and everyone admires his steady hand with Brokeback Mountain
, a movie that could have been disastrously campy. He's been nominated once before, for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
, and he's a rare foreign director that Hollywood embraces as one of its own.
His biggest competition comes from Canada's own Paul Haggis, who is every bit as popular in Hollywood as his film Crash
. He could snatch the crown from Lee, although that doesn't seem likely. As for Steven Spielberg (Munich
), Bennett Miller (Capote
) and George Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck
), better luck next year.BEST ACTOR
Who will win: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote
Who should win: Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow
Who could win: Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain
A race that looked like a walk for Capote
's Philip Seymour Hoffman has turned into a genuine contest.
Hoffman's note-perfect take on gilded author Truman Capote still has the edge thanks to numerous advance awards, including the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild prizes, but there is great admiration for Heath Ledger as the conflicted cowboy Ennis in Brokeback Mountain.
Coming up fast is Terrence Howard, whose role as a pimp seeking to become a rapper in Hustle & Flow
breathes life into a stereotype. Howard is my preferred winner; he may also be the third option for voters who can't choose between Hoffman and Ledger. Howard was also part of the ensemble cast of Crash
, sharing in the Screen Actors Guild award for that movie, so Hollywood loves him.
David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck
) and Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line
) have much respect for their performances, but by all accounts they don't have the votes. EIDTOR'S NOTE: NOT ONLY IS THIS THE TOUGHEST RACE THIS YEAR OF THOSE NOMINATED, BUT THERE WERE SEVERAL GOOD PERFORMANCES NOT NOMINATED....RUSSELL CROWE IN "CINDERELLA MAN", RALPH FIENNES IN "A CONSTANT GARDENER", JUST TO NAME TWO OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD. THIS WAS AN OVER-FULL YEAR FOR GREAT MALE LEADING ROLES.BEST ACTRESS
Who will win: Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line
Who should win: Felicity Huffman (Transamerica
Who could win: Felicity Huffman
As with Hoffman for Best Actor, the contest here seems to be already over. Reese Witherspoon's popular portrayal of country music legend June Carter Cash, the yin to Joaquin Phoenix's Johnny Cash yang, has everything going for it — the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, SAG — but is it possible she peaked too soon?
Felicity Huffman's outstanding portrayal of a man seeking to become a woman in Transamerica
has been quietly winning favour, as more and more voters catch up with the film. It's a far more impressive piece of work than Witherspoon's country clone act.
Huffman deserves to win, and she just might. Along for the ride but not setting the pace are Judi Dench (Mrs. Henderson Presents
), Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice
) and Charlize Theron (North Country
).BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Who will win: George Clooney (Syriana
Who should win: Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man
Who could win: Matt Dillon (Crash
Never thought I'd be predicting George Clooney to win over Paul Giamatti, but it's been that kind of year. Back in June, it looked like Cinderella Man
was the movie to beat for the Oscars this year, in large part due to Giamatti's powerhouse performance as the coach to Russell Crowe's plucky pugilist.
I also thought, like many people, that the Academy owed Giamatti for the Sideways
snub last year. But when has the Academy ever been fair? And Clooney has been working the awards circuit like a pro, building momentum, while Giamatti has been keeping a lower profile. I now think Clooney is going to win, if only because he won't take his other nominated categories, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. EDITOR'S NOTE: IT'S ALL GOOD. THEY ARE BOTH VERY WORTHY PERFORMANCES.
Best chance of a spoiler is Matt Dillon, whom voters might choose to help give Crash
its due. Jake Gyllenhaal could ride the coattails of a Brokeback
sweep, but that doesn't seem likely.
And William Hurt is fated to be a game-winning answer to a future Trivial Pursuit question, asking for the least-deserving actor in A History of Violence
to be nominated for an Oscar.BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Who will win: Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener
Who should win: Catherine Keener (Capote
Who could win: Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain
) and/or Amy Adams (Junebug
How's this for decisiveness? The only name missing here is Frances McDormand, who isn't likely to be making the dash to the Kodak Theatre stage. She was great in North Country
, but the movie never found an audience.
Rachel Weisz tops all polls as the likely winner for The Constant Gardener
, the only gold this great movie is likely to take. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND SHE WAS WONDERFUL IN THE MOVIE, TOO!
And Weisz deserves it. But if it were up to me, I'd give it to the under-appreciated Catherine Keener, who provides magnificent stealth support to Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote
, and who also played a wonderfully funny romantic foil to Steve Carell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin
This is possibly the most volatile of the major categories, however, because wins are also possible for Brokeback Mountain's
Michelle Williams and Junebug'
s Amy Adams, who shared the Critic's Choice award for this category back in January. Anyone for a five-way tie?BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
What will win: Crash
(Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco)
What should win: The Squid and the Whale
What could win: Good Night, and Good Luck
(George Clooney and Grant Heslov)
The screenplay categories are historically where Academy voters redress the wrongs of their nominations, usually by giving the prize to an overlooked or under-loved film.
This could bode well for Noah Baumbach's wistful and insightful script for The Squid and the Whale
, a superior drama about the toll exacted by divorce.
But voters are likely to hand the statue to Crash,
to be sure they give something to Haggis for a movie many of them really like.
They might be thinking the same thing about George Clooney and Good Night, and Good Luck
, his 1950s docudrama about fearless broadcaster Edward R. Murrow -- although I think the screenplay is the weakest part of the film.
Meanwhile, Stephen Gaghan's oil epic Syriana
probably confused more people than it wooed, and Woody Allen's British thriller Match Point
simply failed to score.BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
What will win: Brokeback Mountain
What should win: Brokeback Mountain
What could win: The Constant Gardener
Really, could you deny Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana the win for Brokeback Mountain
? They took a slim New Yorker short story by Annie Proulx and turned it into a sociological statement, without a single extraneous scene or character.
The competition is fierce, however. Jeffrey Caine's distillation of John le Carre's drug-cartel thriller The Constant Gardener
is a masterful act of editing, and it could garner support the movie has been denied elsewhere.
Josh Olson's text for A History of Violence
is also worthy of a look, although I'm puzzled why director David Cronenberg didn't get co-writer status. In any event, I don't see a win for it, or for Dan Futterman's Capote
or Tony Kushner's and Eric Roth's Munich. AND THE REST:
I haven't seen all the foreign-language film nominees, but I really like Tsotsi
, which I review today and which won the audience award at last September's Toronto International Film Festival.
Of the three choices for best animated feature — Howl's Moving Castle, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
and Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
— I say go for the bunny. And for animated short, I'm pulling a rabbit out of the hat and saying One Man Band
Do you really want to bet against March of the Penguins
for documentary feature? I sure don't, but if you insist, maybe put some coin on Darwin's Nightmare
as a surprise win.
As for documentary short, I haven't seen them all, but the smart money is on God Sleeps in Rwanda.
One thing you had to say about the underwhelming Memoirs of a Geisha
is that it looked and sounded great. So I'm predicting wins for the film in cinematography, costumes and art direction, which could well make it the night's biggest single winner.Memoirs
might also get best score, but I'm picking Brokeback Mountain's
unforgettable acoustic lilt for that. And, oddly, Memoirs
wasn't nominated for makeup, so I'm going with Chronicles of Narnia
there, because Tilda Swinton looks so good in white. EDITO'RS NOTE: THE "BROKEBACK" SCORE WAS FINE, BUT JOHN WILLIAMS' "GEISHA" SCORE WAS IN A CLASS ALL ITS OWN. UNLESS THE ACADEMY IS SIMPLY TIRED OF GIVING JOHNNY PRIZES, THEY SHOULD BOW BEFORE THE MASTER AND GIVE HIM HIS DUE.
Best song is tough, with three choices and all of them good: "In the Deep" from Crash; "Travelin' Thru" from Transamerica; and "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from Hustle & Flow. But the one I keep singing to myself is the pimp tune, so that has to be it, right?
For film editing, it's weird that Brokeback Mountain
didn't get a nom. But Crash
did, and since that's the runner-up favourite, I'm picking Crash
. And for sound editing, didn't you think those yells in King Kong
were cool? I sure did.
Speaking of King Kong
, if the monkey doesn't win for visual effects, I'm going bananas.
The best live-action short? It would be nice if we could download them on iTunes the way the Americans can. But I've seen Cashback,
courtesy of the CBC, and my cash is riding on that.
And finally, sound mixing, the category that could win the office pool. Apparently sound mixers really like Walk the Line
, so I'm going with them, even though the other four choices are probably smarter.EDITOR'S NOTE: AND THIS LAST ONE IS FOR MY PARENTS....A TWO-HYBRID HOUSEHOLD! (AS SOON AS THEY MAKE A RAV4 OR A MATRIX IN HYBRID, I'M THERE TOO!)Stars to Arrive at Oscars in Green Cars
Oscar nominees Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal and Frances McDormand are among those expected to step out of green vehicles and onto the red carpet at the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday.
In all, 25 VIPs are participating in the fourth annual "Red Carpet, Green Cars" event sponsored by Toyota Motor Corp. and the environmental organization Global Green USA. McDormand, Phoenix, Gyllenhaal, Jennifer Aniston and George Clooney are all expected to arrive at the Oscars in Toyota or Lexus hybrids, including the Toyota Prius, Lexus RX crossover and a hybrid version of the Toyota Camry, which goes on sale in May.
Event spokeswoman Kathy Kniss said the program began with just four participants in 2002, but interest in fuel-efficient vehicles has grown exponentially since then.
"There's a huge, huge following. People are flocking to the hybrids
," Kniss said. EDITOR'S NOTE: LEAVE IT TO THOSE OUT OF TOUCH, RADICAL HOLLYWOOD TYPES TO DO SOMETHING SO 'OUT THERE' AS TRY TO BE RESPONSIBLE TOWARDS THE ENVIRONMENT, EH?
Other automakers are also getting into the act. Ford Motor Co. said Cathy Schulman, the producer of best-picture nominee "Crash," plans to arrive in a hybrid Mercury Mariner, while best-supporting-actor nominee Gyllenhaal's entourage is scheduled to show up in a Ford Excursion powered by clean-burning biodiesel.
General Motors Corp. also will be bringing VIPs to the ceremony, but its focus will be on luxury rather than fuel efficiency. EDITOR'S NOTE: SPEAKING OF OUT OF TOUCH....GOD BLESS THE AMERICAN AUTO INDUSTRY....(SNORT)....
GM spokeswoman Ryndee Carney said a fleet of 50 Cadillacs — mostly 2007 Escalade SUVs — will be used to pick up and drop off celebrities. Carney said the automaker also will run ads during the broadcast featuring GM's two other luxury brands, Hummer and Saab. EDITOR'S NOTE: ANY CELEB I SEE GETTING OUT OF A CADDIE (OR A HUMMER!) GETS BOYCOTTED!