Oscar Race Breakdown

With 2006 being the most wide-open Oscar race in years, I think it's prudent to take a look at the race category by category to help decide who will take Best Picture, since at this point it's literally anybody's game.

I don't think the Best Picture winner will win more than 4 awards, if that (which isn't much of a stretch considering two nominees are only nominated for four - but neither one of those will win all their nominations). And it is more likely that it will only win 3 or less. The only film with a real chance to win more is Babel, which COULD win 5 (Picture, Screenplay, Supp. Actress, Score, Editing), but I doubt it. If Little Miss Sunshine takes Best Picture, it will do so with a maximum of 3 awards (unless the Academy goes ape for it and awards Abigail Breslin Best Supporting Actress, but again I doubt it), winning Picture and Screenplay, and MAYBE Supporting Actor. The little bus that could has a real shot at being this year's Cinderella story and taking home the gold, but I think it will have to settle for Best Original Screenplay.

The Departed could win Picture, Director, Screenplay and Editing. With editing such an important category when it comes to predicting Best Picture winners, that leaves it between Babel and The Departed. If either of those wins it could be an early indicator of a Best Picture win. If, however, the award goes to a non-Best Pic nominee, then we're back at square one. As for Martin Scorsese, I can't really envision a scenario where he doesn't win, even if The Departed doesn't win Best Pic. Unless the Academy decides to award Clint Eastwood for his double achievement of Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, which I highly doubt they will do because letting Clint beat Marty again would just be beyond cruel. The only other real challenger to Scorsese is Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who could win if Babel sweeps. But again, this award is Marty's to lose.

I could see a scenario where Letters takes home Best Pic while Departed wins Best Director, but if that's the case it could be the first time since Mutiny on the Bounty in 1935 that a film has won Best Picture and no other awards - since Sunshine will probably win Screenplay, and Departed Director. It could always pick up Sound Editing as a small throwaway prize, but I see that award going somewhere else. But you never know. Letters has a bit of a Munich vibe to me - the well respected, deadly serious masterpiece made by a beloved auteur that is just lucky to be nominated, and won't win anything.

As for The Queen, well, I think it's more of a threat than people realize. It's the only Best Picture nominee with across the board respect and admiration. No one has anything bad to say about it. Helen Mirren will win Best Actress, no question. But if it takes home Best Score, it might end up going all the way with a three win tally for Best Picture. It may be the only result that leaves everyone satisfied.

If I had a vote, it would go to Letters from Iwo Jima, followed closely by Babel. Eastwood's film represents half of one of the greatest filmmaking achievements of the last 20 years, while Babel is the most intricate and complex of the nominees. Both films generate empathy for other cultures, forcing us to see the world from the point of view of those who are different from us.
But the real point here, is that any one of these films, with the exception of Little Miss Sunshine, is a worthy Best Picture winner. And even Sunshine has that hard-won underdog glory vibe to it. This is anybody's game. Which makes my job of Oscar prognostication extremely hard.
Maybe things will become clearer as the season wears on. Perhaps this Saturday's SAG awards will help to narrow the race.
Either way, we are in for one of the most unpredicable Oscar ceremonies ever. And that only makes things more fun.


Anonymous said…
REBECCA won two Oscars. The last film to win best picture and no other Oscar was MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935).
Mattie Lucas said…
Thanks for the correction, I forgot about the Cinematography win.

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