First things fuckin' first: I know I'm not the only film fan who's still pissed about Crash winning over Brokeback Mountain in 2006's Best Picture race. In fact, let's change the subject before I punch the nearest preachy ensemble drama (look out, Babel!). Cinemaniacs actually have a bigger problem this year, with the prospect of an Academy Awards ceremony chockablock with predetermined winners. You might as well time your corner-store run during the Best Actor and Best Actress awards, cause there's zero mystery about who's gonna snag those trophies (this way you can actually watch the People Who Died montage for once). But who else will win besides Forest Whitaker and Helen Mirren? Can we make it through four hours of entertainment-related programming without mentioning Anna Nicole Smith? And are there any showdowns worthy of honorary Oscar recipient Ennio Morricone's iconic The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly score?
Best picture: Surprisingly, who'll go home with the biggest O is anyone's guess. The choices are Babel (which won the Golden Globe), The Departed (a big-budget box office hit), Letters from Iwo Jima (stellar movie, but Clint Eastwood's already got like 57 of these things), Little Miss Sunshine (the little indie that could?), and The Queen (a good movie made great by Mirren's performance). I'm aiming at my Oscar dartboard (it's taped on a Crash poster) and picking Babel. Or Little Miss Sunshine. Or The Departed. Yep, I'm useless.
Best director: If Martin Scorsese doesn't win for The Departed, I'm shaving my hair into a Mohawk. Paul Greengrass (United 93) I could maybe live with. But if Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel) gets his mitts on Marty's trophy, it's Bickle time.
Supporting actor: Frankly, I'm just psyched that the Academy chose to nominate The Departed 's Mark Wahlberg (funny, bitchy) instead of going the predictable route with Jack Nicholson (over-the-top in a bad way; what the fuck was that Tony Montana scene about anyway?). Despite mutterings about how Norbit's hideous existence is gonna harm his chances, Eddie Murphy's Dreamgirls comeback will prove hard to beat, what with the singing, dancing, and acting chops and nary a fat suit in sight.
Supporting actress: It's Dreamgirls' J-Hud all the way. Insert your own "and I am telling you" pun here. Think she'll thank Beyoncé in her acceptance speech?
Foreign-language film: Pan's Labyrinth is on a roll. Give Guillermo del Toro his much-deserved due. You know you loved Blade 2 as much as I did.
Original screenplay: Even with the hokey thing about the stag, The Queen, written by the havin'abanner year Peter Morgan, is pretty appropriately regal. But the superfreaky Little Miss Sunshine contains the line "Do what you love, and fuck the rest," which may be kind of a cliché but is endearing enough to win me over. Kind of like the movie itself.
Adapted screenplay: Wizard sleeves! Vanilla faces! Gypsy tears! Wa wa wee wa! Oh, all the nominees in this category are deserving, but if they don't give this to Borat genius Sacha Baron Cohen and his crew, the Academy will have chosen wisely. Not.
Documentary: Al Gore will never be president, but he can win an Oscar. (Or at least his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, can.) He's kind of like Ronald Reagan in reverse.
Costume: I almost want to say Curse of the Golden Flower, for the sheer fact that it made Gong Li's knockers defy gravity. However, I think the sequin-per-capita rule applies here: Dreamgirls, you may not have snagged a Best Picture nom, but getting snubbed has never looked so glamorous.