I had already given my take on who should be winning an Oscar this year, but thought I would do a rough follow-up now that nominations are out:
Best picture: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," "Lost in Translation," "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," "Mystic River, " "Seabiscuit." Who should win: This is a really tough call since the first three are all Oscar-worthy. I previously theorized that Return of the King should win based on the strength of the entire trilogy, but in retrospect I feel Lost in Translation is the better film. Who will win: I am guessing Return of the King has the edge.
Best Actor: Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"; Ben Kingsley, "House of Sand and Fog"; Jude Law, "Cold Mountain"; Bill Murray, "Lost in Translation"; Sean Penn, "Mystic River." Who should win: Absolutely Bill Murray... not even a contest (though Johnny Depp made that film). Who will win: Bill Murray... how could he not?
Best Actress: Keisha Castle-Hughes, "Whale Rider"; Diane Keaton, "Something's Gotta Give"; Samantha Morton, "In America"; Charlize Theron, "Monster"; Naomi Watts, "21 Grams." Who should win: Uma's Kill Bill performance was overlooked (idiots!), and the only one of these films I saw was the excellent Whale Rider, so I have no clue. Who will win: It looks like Charlize Theron has the edge, though Nicole Kidman is a Hollywood darling that could prove an upset.
Supporting actor: Alec Baldwin, "The Cooler"; Benicio Del Toro, "21 Grams"; Djimon Hounsou, "In America"; Tim Robbins, "Mystic River"; Ken Watanabe, "The Last Samurai." Who should win: I admit I haven't seen all these films, but I don't need to... Ken Watanabe's performance was one of the best I have ever seen in a film. Who will win: My guess is Tim Robbins.
Supporting actress: Shohreh Aghdashloo, "House of Sand and Fog"; Patricia Clarkson, "Pieces of April"; Marcia Gay Harden, "Mystic River"; Holly Hunter, "Thirteen"; Renee Zellweger, "Cold Mountain." Who should win: I didn't see any of these films, but Holly Hunter stands out because she doesn't usually lower herself to dramatic pap like "Cold Mountain." Who will win: Renee Zellweger can't seem to get any hotter in Hollywood right now.
Best Director: Fernando Meirelles, "City of God"; Peter Jackson, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"; Sofia Coppola, "Lost in Translation"; Peter Weir, "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World"; Clint Eastwood, "Mystic River." Who should win: I maintain that the direction of special-effects spectacles like Rings is too much in the hands of people at the computers rather than directors... so Sophia Coppola easily gets my nod for best director of Translation which she wrote as well. Who will win: They'll probably give it to Jackson for Rings just because of the mammoth effort it took to film the entire trilogy (and that's not entirely wrong, I think).
Best Animated film: "Brother Bear"; "Finding Nemo"; "The Triplets of Belleville." Who should win: The magic that Pixar pulled off in Nemo gets my vote (though Triplets is brilliant). Who will win: Nemo.
As for the other awards... Original screenplay: Sophia Coppola should win and probably will. Adapted screenplay: This is an area where Lord of the Rings deserves to win... it's the impossible task somehow done really well, but I have a feeling Cold Mountain will take it. Art direction: Both Last Samurai and Master and Commander are deserving, and Samurai should take it. Cinematography: Last Samurai really should have been nominated but, since it wasn't, Cold Mountain will probably grab it.