Oscar Watch 2005: Predicting the Nominees


By Rex A. Okpodu

Hollywood is preparing for the annual film awards campaign season which begins in late November, right through to the Academy Award nominations in late January 2005, with the ceremony on February 27.

2004 has shaped up as a very interesting cinema year, with controversial films like The Passion of the Christ 'and Fahrenheit 9/11 dominating the box office thus far. In an election year and with the ongoing debate about same-sex marriage, there are bound to be a few feathers ruffled by the imminent release of some films with gay content or characters emerging as likely contenders for the awards next year.

Here is the buzz:

Best Picture

Alexander (Warner Bros)
Director Oliver Stone and costars Colin Farrell and Jared Leto previously indicated that there will be homoerotic relationships in the film'especially concerning Hephaestion, Alexander the Great's greatest love, and Bagoas, his Persian eunuch. The film is in post-production and it remains to be seen how it will all unfold considering that Warner Bros.' other offering, Troy, did not live up to critical expectations.

Other contenders:
The Aviator (Warner Bros.)
Finding Neverland (Miramax)
The Phantom of the Opera (Warner Bros.)
Closer (Columbia)
A Very Long Engagement (Warner Bros.)
The Passion of the Christ (Newmarket)
Spanglish (Columbia)

Longshot'Fahrenheit 9/11 (Miramax/Lion's Gate)

Best Director

Oliver Stone (Alexander)
Oliver Stone may not be consistently directing in Hollywood today, but if successful, Alexander may prove to be one of his greatest achievements.

Bill Condon (Kinsey)
A previous Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay (1998's Gods and Monsters), Bill Condon is back this year with the eagerly awaited biopic on Alfred Kinsey (played by Liam Neeson). Kinsey was a pioneer in the area of human sexuality research whose 1948 bestseller Sexual Behavior in the Human Male was the first major work addressing sexual behavior in America.

Richard Eyre (Stage Beauty)
Britain's famed theater director could be nominated for helming this comedy set in the 1600s when only men were allowed to play female roles on the stage.

Other contenders:
Martin Scorsese (The Aviator)
Marc Foster (Finding Neverland)
Mel Gibson (The Passion of the Christ)
Jeff Nathanson (The Last Shot)
Michael Mann (Collateral)
Mira Nair (Vanity Fair)
John Madden (Proof)
Mike Leigh (Vera Drake)

Longshot'Pedro Almodovar (Bad Education)

Best Actor

Liam Neeson (Kinsey)
A previous nominee for Schindler's List (1992), Neeson plays the title role in the aforementioned biopic about the life of Alfred Kinsey. Hollywood loves this genre and Neeson is picking up a lot of buzz for his performance. The subject matter of this film is bound to court controversy, especially from the right wing press looking to score some points against Hollywood.

Colin Farrell (Alexander)
Farrell, Hollywood's enfant terrible, has been on the radar since Tigerland, (2000) and this film with its bisexual overtones could get the gay friendly vote and lead to a nomination.

Billy Crudup (Stage Beauty)
Hollywood likes a stretch and Beauty could be this year's Shakespeare in Love. Edward 'Ned' Kynaston (Crudup) is England's most celebrated leading lady, using his beauty and skill to make great female roles his own.

Gael Garcia Bernal (Bad Education) or (The Motorcycle Diaries)
He is the hottest international star at the moment out with two prestige films this season.

Other contenders:
Jeff Bridges (Door in the Floor)
Jim Carrey (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Aviator)
Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland)
James Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ)
Tom Cruise (Collateral)
Bill Murray (The Life Aquatic)
Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Javier Bardem (Mar Adentro or The Sea Within)

Longshot'Kevin Kline (De Lovely)
Kline already has an Oscar, but his performance as the bisexual Cole Porter is the kind of star turn the Academy goes for, even when a film has not been commercially successful.