Oscar 2006: EmanuelLevy.Com Oscar Predictions

February 15, 2007–The Oscar telecast is in 10 days, on Sunday, February 25. Here are my predictions for the top categories. As always, you can narrow down the competitors in each Oscar category to the two strongest contenders.

Best Picture:

This is a tough one, for the reasons below. My prediction is: “The Departed”

At this point, it's a two-way duel between “The Departed” and “Little Miss Sunshine.” Having won most of the guilds awards (producers, actors, and writers), “Little Miss Sunshine” was slightly ahead of the others. However, over the past two weeks, “The Departed” has been gaining momentum.

I wish the Academy published the number of votes each films gets, particularly this year, in which each of the three frontrunners has just as many things for it as against it. Let me explain.

Why The Departed

As well-liked as “Little Miss Sunshine” is, some Academy voters may feel that it's too small, too indie (the movie premiered at Sudance last year without a distributor!), too offbeat, plus it's a comedy, and comedies seldom win Best Picture. Additionally, few films whose directors were not Oscar-nominated had won the Best Picture. The lat time that has happened was in 1989, When Bruce Beresford was not nominated by his branch, but his movie, “Driving Miss Daisy,” won the top award.

In this case, the Academy may feel that it should
honor a “more Hollywood” kind of film, such as “The Departed,” which is a gangster film, but one that's well-crafted and also made a lot of money (over $135 million) at the box-office. “The Departed” may also benefit from the fact that Scorsese is finally going to win the Best Director Oscar.

There could be an upset here, if “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Babel” win the top award. Remember the crash of last year's “Crash”

Best Director:

There's no tough competition in this category, and there are some odd choices, such as the brilliant Paul Greengrass, nominated for “United 93,” a film that didn't receive any major nominations.

It's a relief to predict that this year finally belongs to Martin Scorsese, who won the DGA Best Director for “The Departed” and will nab the golden Statuette as well.

If Scorsese wins, he'll become the only filmmaker to earn the Oscar at his sixth nomination; other directors, such as George Cukor, won at their fifth nod. By the way, Scorsese is the same age as Cukor was when he won for the musical “My Fair Lady,” in 1964.

Best Actor:

The Best Actor is one of the few uncertain categories this year. The contest is between Forest Whitaker, who swept most of the critics, BAFTA, Globe, and SAG's Actor awards for his towering performance in “The Last King of Scotland,” and vet British thespian Peter O'Toole for “Venus,” who has been nominated seven times but never won a legit, competitive Oscar.

If O'Toole gets it, he will not only becomes one of the oldest winners, but, like Paul Newman, Al Pacino, and Geraldine Page before him, he'll be an actor honored–and compensated–for numerous Oscar-caliber performances in the past.

My prediction: Forest Whitaker.

Best Actress:

There's firm lock here, one predicted in these columns as early as August 2006, when I first saw “The Queen,” starring Helen Mirren in a regal performance. In an unprecedented move, Mirren has won all the critics awards, SAG, BAFTA, and the Globes (two, in fact, for playing two different queens!).

Best Supporting Actor:

Eddie Murphy, a mega box-office star for 20 years but has never been nominated for an Oscar, for the musical “Dreamgirls.”

Best Supporting Actress:

Jennifer Hudson, also a first-time Oscar nominee, for “Dreamgirls,” in a role that the other Jennifer (Holliday) made memorable in the 1981 stage production.

It's been a long time since the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress won the Oscars for the same film.

Quick quiz: When was the last year, in which the two Supporting Acting Oscars were in the same picture Answer: In 1986, Michael Caine and Diane Wiest won the Supporting Oscars for the Woody Allen comedy “Hannah and Her Sisters.”

Best Original Screenplay:

“Little Miss Sunshine,” by Michael Arndt, which just won the Writers Guild Award (WGA) in that category.

Best Adpated Screenplay:

“The Departed,” by William Monahan, which was also a winner of the Writers Guild (WGA).

Best Foreign-Language Film:

The real contest is between Mexico's “Pan's Labyrinth” and Germany's “The Lives of Others.” Both pictures are terrific and are on my Ten Best List (See reviews).

I predict it's Guillermo Del Torro's dazzling fable for adults, “Pan's Labyrinth,” which is nominated for six Oscars and may win in other categories as well. But I will not be upset if “Lives of Others” wins.

Documentary Feature:

“Inconvenient Truth,” produced by Lawrence Binder and directed by Davis Guggenheim. This docu, which premiered at Sundance Festival last year (though was not in competition), grabbed many important critics awards, including the L.A. Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics.

Animated Film:

Too close to call: It's between Disney's “Cars,” which won the Golden Globe, and Warner's “Happy Feet,” which just won the BAFTA Award.

My prediction: “Cars.”

Animated Short

“The Little Matchgirl.”

I have watched only two of the five shorts, so this is more of a guess than an informed prediction.

Documentary Short:

“The Blood of Yingzhou District.”

Like the previous category, it's one of two shorts I have seen.

Stay tuned!