When I made my Oscar predictions in January, I made them before the firestorm of press coverage Million Dollar Baby received when a number of conservative commentators complained about its right-to-life message. I was worried when that happened. I’ve been studying Oscar patterns a long time and I knew that there was a chance voters could be swayed by the opportunity to show their solidarity with Clint Eastwood and the movie’s politics. I knew, but was actually hoping that wasn’t going to be the case this time, and I chose not to change my prediction for Best Director and Best Picture. Unfortunately, Holly-weird never misses a beat when it comes to sending out a message to the rest of America, even when it’s massively out of touch. So I humbly acknowledge that the unheard of happened last night; The Aviator swept many of the under-appreciated categories, but lost out on the two major awards. If Martin Scorsese sneezes some time over the course of the next year, it will be nominated for an Oscar. I haven’t heard the press on this yet, but most people probably won’t realize what a massive upset this really was, or how very political a message it was intended to be.
That didn’t stop me from correctly calling most of the other categories. Well, the other categories weren’t embroiled in an outside brouhaha, they were just being influenced by the usual factors. Jamie Foxx got his Best Actor, there was no doubt in my mind about this one. Hilary Swank got her Best Actress, which I expected to be (and would have been in normal circumstances) the consolation prize. I was correct again about the edge that Morgan Freeman and Cate Blanchett had for their Supporting Oscars.
I do apologize on the one hand for calling Adapted Screenplay for The Motorcycle Diaries, but then again not so much, as it did come away with Best Song. I was going to be surprised if it didn’t come away with something, and Selma Hayek was annoyingly cloying in her description of it as a film about “two young idealists.” I was thrilled to see Charlie Kaufman win Best Original Screenplay for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the best film of the year not even nominated as such. I also called Spiderman 2 for Visual Effects, and it was very much deserved. Animated Feature going to Brad Bird and The Incredibles was such an easy call I take no credit for it, but I couldn’t be more happy about it all the same. Sideways winning for Best Adapted Screenplay was also something I was pleased about; out of the nominees up for Best Picture this year, I really think that wonderful, neurotic movie was the one that truly deserved the win. ‘Tis better to be wrong when the award is merited.
Animated Short was the category I watched with the most interest this year, and I cheered when Chris Landreth stepped up to the mike and made every animator of a certain age very proud. This was a special moment for Chris Robinson, for AWN, for the Canadian Film Board and for Ryan Larkin, one-time Oscar winner now panhandling on the streets of Montreal. Thank you, Chris Landreth, for telling the Academy how much we appreciate their continued support of the short film categories. It is “very cool.”