By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
As the Oscar race heats up, alliances are shifting and feelings are changing to the point where Ray's Jamie Foxxwho's had the award in the gift bag for monthsmay reportedly get edged out by Clint Eastwood, who could be riding a Million Dollar Baby sweep. As you've heard, Jamie may be the victim of having peaked too soon; people have heard he's a shoo-in for so long that they feel he's already won and may want to throw their votes to old-timer Clint. But screw itI'm still betting on Foxx by a (Nicole Kidman) nose.
For Best Actress, Baby's Hilary Swank seems to be the favorite to once again clobber poor Annette Bening. (The deserved winner, Vera Drake's Imelda Stauntonis considered too obscure, though I'd love it if she pulled a Glenda Jackson/Emma Thompson and creamed the glamour gals.)
Best Supporting Actor seems to belong to Baby's Morgan Freeman, who gives a wry performance, and even if he didn't, it'd be a lifetime achievement sort of thing that'd make everyone feel good, except the other four nominees.
Best Supporting Actress is more complicated. Natalie Portman has a strong chance because the Academy loves a starlet (Mira Sorvino, Juliette Binoche, Kim Basinger) who turns out to actually have something. And Cate Blanchett can't be ruled out; she's universally admired for her willingness to do almost anything for a role. But I'm still counting on Virginia Madsen because she was transcendant and they have to give SOMETHING to Sideways!
Finally, it looks like Baby will sideswipe The Aviator for Best Picture, but in a reversal of the Golden Globes, Scorsese might cop Best Director as a way for the academy to say, "Thank you for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas, if not Bringing Out The Dead." Of course there's a chance Clint might nab that one out of the poor old guy's hands too, especially since the Oscar hasn't dabbled much in sentiment for about a decade now. (Lauren Bacall, Burt Reynolds, and the Titanic lady all got kicked to the curb. Hey wait a minute, maybe my Morgan Freeman prediction is way off base. Nah, I'm sticking with it.)
Anyway, who will we never listen to again? The pundits who swore that Johnny Depp couldn't possibly be nominated because he didn't campaign for it, and the freaks who similarly insisted Bening and Staunton were out of the running because their movies weren't big enough moneymakers. Pshaw! And what WILL we be watching? The Oscars on February 27! See you onstage!