This might take a while...
BEST PICTURE fell out exactly as expected. They aren't my favorite 5 pictures of the year, but they are all okay (actually only one—Million Dollar Baby—is in my Top 25.) I also have a good deal of respect for Ray, Sideways and The Aviator, though I have pronounced the latter "boring" more than once in the last three weeks. I am hoping Baby wins it, and I think it will (in an upset.)
BEST DIRECTOR makes me a little happy. For one, there's the presence of Mike Leigh. For another, there's the absence of Marc Forster. Scorsese was expected to be nominated. Eastwood definitely deserves to be here. I think the presence of Hackford is questionable, and for me, Alexander Payne is this year's Sofia Coppola (not an insult: she made a film I respect but don't like, just like Payne) , but overall, this is okay. I do wish Lars Von Trier had been included, or Kim Ki-duk. Hopefully one of these days Walter Salles will be nominated, too. Expect Marty for the win. It's about fucking time, anyway.
BEST ACTOR is pretty silly. Depp gave one of his easiest performances ever and they threw him a nomination. He's way overdue—Hello! Sleepy Hollow, Edward Scissorhands, Benny and Joon, What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, From Hell—but really. The Academy can be so slow sometimes. Foxx deserves this nomination like crazy, I'm very glad to see Don Cheadle, who is wonderful in his film, and I'm also excited that Clint Eastwood is being recognized for his acting. But Leo? He maybe should've been nominated for Titanic and I sometimes think him talented, but he spends The Aviator being slightly better than Hayden Christensen in Star Wars Episode II. Whatever. And where the fuck is Paul Giamatti? I guess the Academy thinks that his characters are too close to his real-life persona. He's been snubbed two years in a row now! That's bullshit. Also, my top three picks are nowhere to be found. Lame. If Foxx doesn't win, there is no justice in the world.
BEST ACTRESS looks really good. Bening, Staunton and Swank were considered shoo-ins and Winslet and Sandino Moreno were both nominated by SAG, so their nominations are not unexpected, but I think the inclusion of both of these speaks very well for the Academy. It means they went out and saw some films that people didn't expect them to see. For some reason I also feel good when people my own age are nominated for things. Cheers, Academy. (I still haven't seen Maria Full of Grace, so I moved that to the top of my Netflix queue. Shame on me.) Bening deserves this one, but it's looking like Swank might take it home.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Boo to this category, too. Thomas Haden Church was not good in Sideways, IMO. He's one of the reasons I don't like the film. And while I think Jamie Foxx's performance in Collateral was one of the best of the year, this is just plain category fraud. He was the lead in that film—no question. I am very happy for Clive Owen and for Morgan Freeman, and Alan Alda is a nice surprise. He is very good in The Aviator, though I expect he got nominated on his film's coattails. Often that's what getting a supporting nomination comes down to (see John C. Reilly.) Once again my top three picks are absent. It's a shame. Wahlberg was nothing short of brilliant in Huckabees. Morgan Freeman should win this one easily. He's never won and this is his fourth nomination.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS I'm very happy about the Sophie Okonedo factor. I loved her in Dirty Pretty Things and I think she gives a sturdy, emotionally powerful performance in Hotel Rwanda. Blanchett and Madsen are both wonderful in their films: they carry them, in fact, and I think Portman is fairly good in Closer. I never really like Laura Linney, but Oscar does love a longsuffering wife, and that Kinsey woman sure put up with a lot. But damn I am sad that Regina King's name wasn't announced this morning. Blanchett will win this one, I think, but they should probably give it to Madsen: they might never get the chance to reward her again, and Blanchett will certainly be nominated for Best Actress again.