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77th Academy Awards Predictions: A Rockin' Oscars Fest

The Aviator Goes Head to Head With Million Dollar Baby


By Sara Michelle Fetters

with contributions by Dennis Landmann


For once, it’s actually wide open.


Alright, get your head out of the gutter; I’m talking about the Academy Awards after all, not some prurient event. That’s right, next Sunday, February 27 is the big day, and this time there aren’t and Hobbits, sexy sequined singing female murderesses or schizophrenic mathematical geniuses to make the outcome a forgone conclusion. This year, it’s not just the words coming out of host Chris Rock’s mouth that are going to be a surprise, but many of the winners which are more than likely going to follow suit. It just makes me shiver in my stilettos, the thought of an Oscar telecast without a clear frontrunner almost enough to make want to trade in my new Coach purse for a space on my neighbor’s moth-ridden coach so I can watch the show on his plasma screen TV.


In fact, there’s only one category that can even remotely be considered a lock, and even that one’s not completely a forgone conclusion. Normally, as you can probably guess from my comments above I’d usually be all excited about this, happy that, for once at least, Academy voters have to put some thought in to whom they’re going to dole out that little golden statue to. But, right now, I’ve got the crown for Oscar prognostication, defeating MovieFreak’s Webmaster and Editor-in-chief Dennis Landmann last year in head-to-head competition. It’s not a title I want to lose.


What’s on the line, you ask? Well, other than pride, I’m not really sure (maybe I can get a raise out of him if I win this competition two years in a row), but, and I’m almost loathe to admit this, sometimes pride is more than enough. I mean, really, would you want your editor to have gloating rights for a full 364 days? I certainly don’t, and that’s why this wide-open Academy Award contest is giving me the willies. Will Scorsese finally triumph? Can Eastwood score his second Oscar double (the other being for Unforgiven)? Is Jamie Foxx really a lock? Are The Incredibles truly more incredible than a green ogre named Shrek? Will Swank beat Bening for a second time or will Warren Beatty’s sexier other-half pull off an upset?


Good gawd, I don’t know, and while the critic in me is eager to find out the competitor in me is scared silly. But I can’t stall forever, and some picks must be made, only a few little sealed envelopes revealed by a bunch of movie stars the difference between a potential raise (a girl can dream, right?) and a year of second-best ignobility. The following are my picks and Steven’s, each of us doing are best to pick through the nominees and come up with the winner, while also offering up our own opinions on whom should really win. I’d like to say stick with me and my picks and you’re assured of office pool glory, but my confidence this year isn’t quite what it usually is.


Hey, even if I lose, I’ll still look cute. Hopefully. At least I think so. Maybe.



THE NOMINEES: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray, Sideways

WILL WIN (Sara Michelle Fetters): Million Dollar Baby – It’s a crowded field, and not all of these movies are deserving, but even with that said I think four of them have a legitimate shot. Both Sideways and Baby are critical darlings, while The Aviator is the flawed sentimental favorite of many mainly because Scorsese has been unforgivably ignored. The dark horse is Ray but I almost think it’s going to pull off the upset basically because it is the most traditional of all the nominees and the only one with a truly transcendent performance. I’m still going with Eastwood, though, as all the momentum sure seems to be with him and his gem of a boxing epic.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Million Dollar Baby – Absolutely shattering and an almost pitch-perfect example of an exceptional filmmaker at the top of his game. Perfect.

WILL WIN (Dennis Landmann): The Aviator – Even though this film doesn’t have equal momentum like Baby, it still seems like the frontrunner. Also, with Eastwood likely to upset Scorsese for best director, Scorsese’s film might take the prize. However, we could also see a reversal. Baby wins picture, Scorsese director.

SHOULD WIN (DL): Sideways – On the other hand, I’d much rather see Sideways get the win, because it is more uplifting and fun than Aviator and Baby, plus the script is quite excellent.



THE NOMINEES: Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby), Taylor Hackford (Ray), Mike Leigh (Vera Drake), Alexander Payne (Sideways), Martin Scorsese (The Aviator)

WILL WIN (SMF): Martin Scorsese – He can’t lose forever and, as much as I think The Aviator isn’t his best work, I think this is going to be the moment he gets the award, even if history will always look back on it as being a win recognizing an outstanding career not this insignificant movie.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Clint Eastwood – As much as I love the work Payne did with Sideways, I can’t very well call Million Dollar Baby perfection and then not want to give Eastwood the Oscar.

WILL WIN (DL): Martin Scorsese – There’s no doubt about it, this man is due some gold. He pulled off a big film with Aviator. While the film wasn’t flawless, its spectacle and overall filmmaking is terrific. Eastwood’s work is equally great, but I have to hand it to Marty.

SHOULD WIN (DL): Alexander Payne – This man is making sweet films, I mean, really good films. He’s no Eastwood or Scorsese, and he’s got a long career ahead of him, I’m sure, so he’s not going to win for Sideways, but it would be nice to see.



THE NOMINEES: Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator), Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby), Jamie Foxx (Ray)

WILL WIN (SMF): Jamie Foxx – It’s the only lock of the night, and I’d be flabbergasted if anyone, even DiCaprio who’s brilliant in The Aviator, other than he wins.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Foxx – It’s a transcendent performance going so far beyond impersonation it’s almost uncanny.

WILL WIN (DL): Foxx – I must confess, I haven’t seen Ray, though I’ve heard many things about Foxx’s performance, and with all the talk and winnings for Foxx at the Globes and SAG awards it’s quite clear he will win the Oscar…

SHOULD WIN (DL): Don Cheadle – …unless Cheadle’s best performance of his career succeeds to upset. Hey, somebody forgot Paul Giamatti, by the way. His performance should've been nominated over Depp's, I mean, really.



THE NOMINEES: Annette Bening (Being Julia), Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace), Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake), Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby), Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)

WILL WIN (SMF): Hilary Swank – It’s a close one, but I’m going with Swank in this rematch of 1999’s frontrunners. But don’t count Bening out. Even though her movie borders on the terrible she’s still brilliant in it and could very well pull off the upset.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Catalina Sandino Moreno – I still can’t shake the moment in Maria Full of Grace where she downs balloons full of heroin for the first time. I get shudders just thinking about it.

WILL WIN (DL): Swank – This is a tough call as Swank beat out Bening’s American Beauty performance years earlier, however Swank’s performance in Baby is more electrifying and emotional, and without much talk about Being Julia as a film it seems improbably Bening can win, but nothing is final until the 27th.

SHOULD WIN (DL): Swank – Swank’s character and performance stands out the most to me, although Moreno impressed quite a bit, yet I can’t see her winning (her nomination is more of an acknowledgement of her work like last year’s Keisha Castle-Hughes for Whale Rider).



THE NOMINEES: Alan Alda (The Aviator), Thomas Haden Church (Sideways), Jamie Foxx (Collateral), Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby), Clive Owen (Closer)

WILL WIN (SMF): Morgan Freeman – I’m basing this purely on sentimentality and nothing else, for Supporting Actor is the one category of the night that is literally anybody’s game. Personally, I think all five have a shot and the only reason I’m going with the Baby narrator is because he’s long since passed due for a golden guy.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Clive Owen – One of the best, most underrated actors working today completely mesmerized in director Mike Nichols sexual drama Closer upstaging both Jude Law and Julia Roberts with nothing more than a twitch of the eyelash.

WILL WIN (DL): Freeman – He’s a great actor and his performance in Baby is deserving of a win, not to mention he’s overdue for a statue.

SHOULD WIN (DL): Owen – As much as I admire Freeman, Owen’s performance is a powerhouse, not to mention a scene stealer! A win here could catapult Owen to stardom, although he doesn’t necessarily need that. He might upset Freeman, but it’s unlikely. Honestly, I’d rather see Owen win best actor a few years down the line, I’m sure he’ll find the right character and film for that. As a side note, what the heck is Alan Alda in here for? He was in the film for like twenty minutes tops; good performance, yes, but there were better ones out there by other people!



THE NOMINEES: Cate Blanchett (The Aviator), Laura Linney (Kinsey), Virginia Madsen (Sideways), Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda), Natalie Portman (Closer)

WILL WIN (SMF): Natalie Portman – The young ingénue, think Mira Sorvino and Marisa Tomei, typically takes this category, and I don’t see any reason for that to change this year although both Blanchett (who’s due) and Madsen (who’s won most of the critic’s award) have decent shots for an upset.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Madsen – There is a reason she’s won most of the critic’s awards, and that’s because she’s flat-out brilliant in Sideways and deserving of each and every single one of them.

WILL WIN (DL): Cate Blanchett – Everybody’s talking about her performance, but I don’t buy it. Yes, her mannerisms and such were fun to watch in the film, but her character is hardly as memorable as the other nominated roles. Madsen has a legitimate shot at the win, too, and I’d rather see her win than Blanchett.

SHOULD WIN (DL): Portman – Natalie is fucking great in Closer! It’s a side of her never before seen on film, playing a character against her type with such conviction, well, she is fantastic, period. She won at the Globes, but it doesn’t feel like Academy voters will follow suit.



THE NOMINEES: The Aviator, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Hotel Rwanda, The Incredibles, Vera Drake

WILL WIN (SMF): Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth’s script is the epitome of the word, “original,” nothing else on this entire list even remotely compares and, especially considering the movie was robbed of any other major nominations, it has to be seen as the frontrunner.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Eternal Sunshine – I may have thought The Incredibles was 2004’s best film, but this wasn’t far behind and was easily the year’s most daringly original.

WILL WIN (DL): Eternal Sunshine – This script is very original, so indeed it will win, except that nothing is for sure and Vera Drake could pull off an upset.

SHOULD WIN (DL): Eternal Sunshine – Seeing Charlie Kaufman accept the Oscar could be an interesting moment, or it may just be a normal acceptance speech, well, either way his work is the best here.



THE NOMINEES: Before Sunset, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, The Motorcycle Diaries, Sideways

WILL WIN (SMF): Sideways – This critical darling is going to be an afterthought pretty much the entire evening, but it has to win something so it might as well be for Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor’s funny, painful and vibrantly alive screenplay.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Before Sunset – Was there a better script this whole year? I certainly didn’t think so.

WILL WIN (DL): Sideways – Its chances of winning best picture are slim, but it certainly looks like the frontrunner in this category, and deservingly so.

SHOULD WIN (DL): Sideways – A toast with some Merlot at the after party? Sounds intriguing. Payne and Taylor’s script is great, but then again so is the one for Before Sunset.



THE NOMINEES: The Incredibles, Shark Tale, Shrek 2

WILL WIN (SMF): The IncrediblesShark Tale? SHARK TALE?!?!? How the heck did this get in here?

SHOULD WIN (SMF): The Incredibles – If all was right with the world this masterful movie would be competing for the top prize, not just the animation title; it is 2004’s best film after all.

WILL WIN (DL): Shrek 2 – Box office may dictate again as the first Shrek beat Monsters Inc a few years ago, which wasn’t right. I didn’t like the sequel as much as the first, but Incredibles was great fun, and I’m hoping the superhero family can walk home with the gold.
SHOULD WIN (DL): The Incredibles – I’m certainly hoping this film will win, but I just don’t know. Something feels off, like it may not be able to pull in all the votes.



THE NOMINEES: The Chorus (France), Downfall (Germany), The Sea Inside (Spain), As It Is Heaven (Sweden), Yesterday (South Africa)

WILL WIN (SMF): The Sea Inside – Masterful and poetic, I just don’t see how Academy voters can go any other way.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): The Sea Inside

WILL WIN (DL): The Sea Inside

SHOULD WIN (DL): The Sea Inside



THE NOMINEES: The Aviator, House of Flying Daggers, The Passion of the Christ, Phantom of the Opera, A Very Long Engagement

WILL WIN (SMF): The Aviator – Scorsese’s picture may not win the top prize, but it is sure as heck going to take home a heck of a lot of awards all the same; this will be one of them.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): The Passion of the Christ – I may not have really cared much for Mel Gibson’s historical epic, but I do appreciate it the skill and craftsmanship behind it, chief amongst that being Caleb Deschanel’s spectacular photography.

WILL WIN (DL): The Aviator – Great stuff here. The film looks terrific, and a lot of momentum is riding on Aviator’s back.

SHOULD WIN (DL): A Very Long Engagement – A beautiful-looking film. The cinematography is wonderful, elegant, and highly effective. As a side note, why isn’t Collateral featured here? Who cares about House of Flying Daggers? Not me, that’s for damn sure.



THE NOMINEES: The Aviator, Collateral, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray

WILL WIN (SMF): Collateral – I’m going with this because, basically, Michael Mann’s spectacular opus has to win something – anything – and many of the categories it should be nominated in; music, cinematography, script, directing; it’s bizarrely absent. That said, if you’re putting money on the category you might want to go with The Aviator instead. I’m just saying.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Collateral – Do I really need to say more than what I did above?

WILL WIN (DL): The Aviator – Good work here, but the film’s too long. The momentum is with this film.

SHOULD WIN (DL): Collateral – If I was voting, I’d vote for Collateral, because the editing work for this film is much better and more cool than the rest of the nominated films.



THE NOMINEES: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Phantom of the Opera, A Very Long Engagement

WILL WIN (SMF): The Aviator

SHOULD WIN (SMF): A Very Long Engagement

WILL WIN (DL): The Aviator

SHOULD WIN (DL): A Very Long Engagement



THE NOMINEES: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Ray, Troy

WILL WIN (SMF): The Aviator – For a movie I really didn’t care for I’m sure mentioning it a lot, aren’t I? Go figure.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): The Aviator

WILL WIN (DL): The Aviator

SHOULD WIN (DL): The Aviator



THE NOMINEES: Finding Neverland, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Passion of the Christ, The Village

WILL WIN (SMF): The Passion of the Christ – This the category where Gibson’s biblical epic finally gets a win. John Debney’s stirring score is almost impossible to ignore, especially if members of the Academy check out those staggering sales figures.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): The Village – Dumb movie, brilliant score and composer James Newton Howard is long past due.

WILL WIN (DL): The Passion of the Christ – I’ve sampled tracks from Debney’s score and it’s pretty good.

SHOULD WIN (DL): The Village – This one’s the real winner for me. A great, awesome score, and powerful! Haunting, too!



THE NOMINEES: “Look to Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)” from The Chorus, “Al Otro Lado Del Río” from The Motorcycle Diaries, “Learn to be Lonely” from The Phantom of the Opera, “Believe” from The Polar Express, “Accidentally in Love” from Shrek 2

WILL WIN (SMF): “Learn to be Lonely” from The Phantom of the Opera – Do I really have to choose? Who nominated these? Where’s “Breakaway” from The Princess Diaries 2 or any of the fabulously quirky and original songs from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Garden State? These, except for The Motorcycle Diaries song which is sublime, are pretty much all terrible. Blech.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): “Al Otro Lado Del Río” from The Motorcycle Diaries

WILL WIN (DL): “Accidentally in Love” from Shrek 2

SHOULD WIN (DL): “Al Otro Lado Del Río” from The Motorcycle Diaries



THE NOMINEES: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Passion of the Christ, The Sea Inside

WILL WIN (SMF): Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – It’s the obvious choice in the category. The Academy loves the obvious choice in this category.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): The Passion of the Christ – Just because it was gruesome, amazingly gruesome and more than a little off-putting actually, doesn’t still mean it still wasn’t spectacular.

WILL WIN (DL): The Passion of the Christ – The makeup department really pulled out all the stops with the Ketchup, err, I mean fake blood stuff. The work is effective, but not as exhaustive as in Lemony Snicket.

SHOULD WIN (DL): The Passion of the Christ



THE NOMINEES: The Aviator, The Incredibles, The Polar Express, Ray, Spider-Man 2

WILL WIN (SMF): Spider-Man 2

SHOULD WIN (SMF): The Incredibles

WILL WIN (DL): The Incredibles

SHOULD WIN (DL): The Incredibles



THE NOMINEES: The Incredibles, The Polar Express, Spider-Man 2

WILL WIN (SMF): Spider-Man 2

SHOULD WIN (SMF): The Incredibles

WILL WIN (DL): The Incredibles

SHOULD WIN (DL): The Incredibles



THE NOMINEES: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I, Robot, Spider-Man 2

WILL WIN (SMF): Spider-Man 2 – How exactly is Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow not nominated in this category?

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Spider-Man 2

WILL WIN (DL): Spider-Man 2 – Great special effects, integrated nicely into the action and story.

SHOULD WIN (DL): I, Robot – The special effects for I, Robot are applied very effectively and originally, and therefore it deserves to win over Spider-Man 2.



THE NOMINEES: Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids, The Story of the Weeping Camel, Super Size Me, Tupac: Resurrection, Twist of Fate

WILL WIN (SMF): Super Size Me – Other than Michael Moore’s little opus about some country’s leader (I can’t remember which, maybe you do?), Morgan Spurlock’s food fest was the year’s most talked about doc. How can it lose? But isn’t it kind of neat a rap documentary made it onto the list? I sure didn’t see that coming.

SHOULD WIN (SMF): Super Size Me – Of the films here, it’s easily the best.

WILL WIN (DL): Super Size me

SHOULD WIN (DL): Tupac: Resurrection



THE NOMINEES: Autism is a Word, The Children of Leningradsky, Hardwood, Mighty Times: The Children’s March, Sister Rose’s Passion

WILL WIN (SMF): Autism is a Word – Like I really have a clue? This one’s about kids and autism, so that’s good enough for me.

WILL WIN (DL): The Children of Leningradsky



THE NOMINEES: Birthday Boy, Gopher Broke, Guard Dog, Lorenzo, Ryan

WILL WIN (SMF): Gopher Broke

WILL WIN (DL): Birthday Boy



THE NOMINEES: Everything in this Country Must, Little Terrorist, 7:35 de la Mañana, Two Cars One Night, Wasp

WILL WIN (SMF): Little Terrorist

WILL WIN (DL): 7:35 de la Mañana


Article Posted: 02.18.05


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