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Oscar Watch 2005: Predicting the Nominees

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 PictureAlexander (Warner Bros) Director Oliver Stone and costars Colin Farrell and Jared Leto previously indicated that there will be homoerotic relationships in the filmespecially concerning Hephaestion, Alexander the Greats 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) LongshotFahrenheit 9/11 (Miramax/Lions 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 (1998s 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) Britains 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) LongshotPedro Almodovar (Bad Education) Best Actor Liam Neeson (Kinsey) A previous nominee for Schindlers 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, Hollywoods 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 years Shakespeare in Love. Edward Ned Kynaston (Crudup) is Englands 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) LongshotKevin 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. Best Actress Robin Wright Penn (A Home at the End of the World) Robin Wright Penn also makes the vote for a gay friendly film costarring Colin Farrell. The Academy likes married couples in its circle: Sean Penn won this February and might be presenting the award next year. Other contenders: Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) Gwyneth Paltrow (Proof) Emily Rossum (The Phantom of the Opera) Nicole Kidman (Birth) Joan Allen (The Upside of Anger) Annette Bening (Being Julia) Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace) Andrey Tatou (A Very Long Engagement) LongshotsAnne Reid (Mother) and Uma Thurman (Kill Bill Volume II) Their acclaimed performances might benefit from a major push, especially if mentioned on several critics Top 10 lists in the late fall. Best Supporting Actor Peter Sarsgaard (Kinsey) Saarsgard should have been nominated for last years Shattered Glass, and this year he gives a sensational supporting performance as a bisexual young man completely comfortable with his desires in 1940s middle America. Saarsgard also deserves credit for being one of the few actors brave enough to go full frontal. Jared Leto (Alexander) Playing Alexanders lover makes him a contender if the film is a sweeping success and his role is big enough. Other contenders: Peter OToole (Troy) Jude Law (The Aviator) Alec Baldwin (The Last Shot) Patrick Wilson (The Phantom of the Opera) Dustin Hoffman (Finding Neverland) Morgan Freeman (An Unfinished Life) Jim Broadbent (Vanity Fair) Jamie Foxx (Collateral) David Carradine (Kill Bill Volume II) LongshotGary Oldman (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) Best Supporting Actress Laura Linney (Kinsey) The Academy always loves rewarding the supportive and long-suffering wife. Angelina Jolie (Alexander) The buzz is that she is great in the role of Alexanders mother and they may nominate her if only just to prove they were not wrong about that first Oscar. Other contenders: Irma P. Hall (The Ladykillers) Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland) Toni Collette (The Last Shot) Monica Bellucci (The Passion of the Christ) Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) Natalie Portman (Closer or Garden State) Meryl Streep (The Manchurian Candidate) LongshotSissy Spacek (At Home at the End of the World) The Academy loves to reward a cameo or small role by a previous Oscar winner. Original Screenplay Likely contenders: Alexander (Christopher Kyle and Oliver Stone) Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar) Kinsey (Bill Condon) Stage Beauty (Jeffrey Hatcher) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry) The Aviator (John Logan) Spanglish (James L. Brooks) Finding Neverland (Allan Knee and David Magee) The Last Shot (Steve Fishman and Jeff Nathanson) The Life Aquatic (Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach) Adapted Screenplay Likely contenders: A Home at the End of the World (Michael Cunningham) The Passion of the Christ (Benedict Fitzgerald and Mel Gibson) The Phantom of the Opera (Gaston Leroux and Andrew Lloyd Webber) An Unfinished Life (Mark and Virginia Spragg)
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