..Gary Dretzka
Noah Forrest
..Leonard Klady
..David Poland
..Douglas Pratt
..Ray Pride
..Kim Voynar
..Michael Wilmington


Here we go.

The window got one week wider from last year's 30 Weeks To Oscar. Soon… 52 Weeks To Oscar.


Forty-two films are listed on my complete list of movies that will run. I'm sure there will be one or two more added as time goes by, but 2005 doesn't seem to be a year of movie surprises to come. The "Eastwood slot" has been filled by Steven Spielberg, who will shoot, edit and deliver his Oscar frontrunner in less than six months.

Going through the contenders, the most striking thing is how incestuous it all is. Spielberg's Munich is the unquestioned leader, but close behind are Memoirs of a Geisha, a project Spielberg was attached to for years, All The Kings Men, adapted and directed by Spielberg protégé (and Oscar winner for writing Schindler's List) Steve Zaillian, and Jarhead, from the director of DreamWorks' first Oscar winner, American Beauty.

Walk The Line has to be nervous about the Oscar success of last year's Ray.

Jamie Foxx is in contention working for Mendes, while the Best Actor winner from the year before, Sean Penn, is in contention for a film from Zaillian.

Charlize Theron is in contention for a film by the filmmaker whose actress, Keisha Castle-Hughes, she beat two years ago. But of the 15 Best Actress nominees from the last three Oscars, only Theron, Diane Keaton and Kate Winslet are considered to be at all in contention this year. (The number is 8 for the guys.)

It is also rather striking that the field is already so narrow. There is always a film that jumps up from the crowd unexpectedly. But Universal and Columbia seem to have the dominant titles this year, with Paramount, Warner Bros, Focus and New Line right on their heels. Fox is the latest to find a last minute contender in The Family Stone, which will join Walk The Line on its list of contenders being promoted by first-time Oscar manager David Lux while Flo Grace sets up shop at Columbia and the Miramax Girls work all over town as partners in The Dart Company. There's even a film without distribution coming out of Cannes that is still in contention… or so it seems right now.

This would be a very good year to be an Original Screenwriter, though there is no way of knowing whether Munich will end up being pushed into the Adapted category, which would make Original an even better place to be.

The Actress categories are as weak as ever. My list has 14 candidates for lead and 13 for supporting… but I am doing some reaching. Lead has a slightly more veteran cast of characters, but still, Diane Keaton and Charlize Theron are the only top contenders who have been there before and Dench, Paltrow, Allen and Zellweger all seem unlike to step up again this year. In Supporting, Shirley MacLaine and Jesssica Lange are the only two real vets, with recent former nominees Toni Collette and Patricia Clarkson in play as well.

And on my list of 23 potential Best Director nominees… two women.

There are a number of ensembles to sort out this year. Memoirs of a Geisha, Munich, All The Kings Men, Jarhead and The Family Stone… then everyone other than Joaquin Phoenix in Walk The Line, the supporting men of The Producers… let's not even get started on Crash. What kind of great story will it be if it comes down to Middle East politics against Nazis on Broadway?!?!

If it's the Year Of. anything, it seems like The Year of The Accent… German, Israeli, Palestinian, Chinese, Native American, British and Southern American just for starters. It's enough to make them hire Meryl Streep to host this year.

Plus, you've got Woody Allen playing it straight, Jim Sheridan venturing into Black America, the Chinese playing the Japanese, Jude Law and Kate Winslet as southerners, Colin Farrell discovering America, Gyllenhaal & Ledger going gay and George Clooney going fat and black and white.

And of course, penguins. Oh, are we going to hear it about those penguins!

An so, we're off…

Oscar Charts
Actor/Supporting Actor
Actress/Supporting Actress
Original/Adapted Screenplay

2004 Oscar Columns

- Email David Poland



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