Oscar Preview
And the winner is...
By Matt Mulcahey

Happy 75th birthday, Oscar.

The Academy Awards have now spent more than seven decades of shamelessly overlooking vision and daring.

Regardless of the Academy's usual indifference to honoring the year's brightest artistic achievements, each March when the Oscar rolls out the red carpet (though it's being skipped this year for security), every form of media in the United States is required by federal law to run some sort of Academy Awards preview. Predictions must be duly presented for the record.

Best Picture

Likely Winner


Lacking the feverish energy or imagination of Moulin Rouge, Chicago is exactly the type of impeccably designed, beautifully mounted, yet emotionally bankrupt film that the Academy eats ups.

The Runner-Up

The Hours

Intellectual and literary. In a year without Chicago that Oscar duo of stuffiness would probably be enough.

The Longshot

Gangs of New York

Uneven and overlong, Gang's only chance is to ride the wave of Martin Scorsese brown-nosing as the Academy tries to make up for years of oversight.

Don't Bother Writing a Speech

The Pianist

Schindler's List had Steven Spielberg's pedigree and Life is Beautiful had a light-hearted, feel-good mentality. The Pianist has a convicted rapist as a director and an unknown as a star.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The only thing Oscar hates more than sequels is fantasy films. The Two Towers has about as much chance of winning Best Picture as Catherine-Zeta Jones does of being genuine.

Best Director

The Winner

Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York

Making up for years of unjust neglect with an award for lesser work is a tradition as old as Oscar itself.

The Runner-Up

Stephen Daldry, The Hours

After years of greedily buying nominations for films like Chocolat and The Cider House Rules, it looks like it's time for a Weinstein backlash.

The Long Shot

Rob Marshall, Chicago

Chances? Slim and none. The Academy won't vote for someone they've never heard of in this category.

Save Your Tux Money and Stay Home

Roman Polanski, The Pianist

If Russell Crowe slapping around some British awards show producer cost him an Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, what are the chances for a guy who was convicted of raping a 13-year old girl? Yes, it was over 25 years ago, but it won't matter.

Pedro Almodovar, Talk to Her

No speaka the English, no getta the Oscar in this category. Ask Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini, who went a combined goose egg for seven in this category.

Best Actor

The Winner

Daniel Day-Lewis, Gangs of New York

Psychotic dedication to a role is hard to ignore.

The Runner-Up

Jack Nicholson, About Schmidt

He's "already been rewarded"(most recently for As Good as it Gets).

The Longshot

Nicolas Cage, Adaptation

The movie itself was too creative and edgy for a best picture nod, and Cage's performance is probably too creative and edgy to win.

Save Your Tux Money and Stay Home

Michael Caine, The Quiet American

Caine picked the wrong time to make a movie with anti-American undertones, though he's a shoe-in for the French film awards.

Adrien Brody, The Pianist

A wonderful actor finally receiving overdue attention, but most of the voters probably don't even realize he's nominated.

Best Actress

The Winner

Nicole Kidman, The Hours

Arguably the biggest female star in Hollywood right now and a willingness to appear unattractive (she wears a prosthetic proboscis; DeNiro and Hanks gained weight) always equals great acting to the Academy.

The Runner-Up

Julianne Moore, Far From Heaven

She should've won for Boogie Nights and she should win for Far From Heaven. Moore has taken home nearly every critics' award this year, but the fact that she's more an actress than a glamorous movie star hurts her chances.

The Long Shot

Renee Zellweger, Chicago

She won the Golden Globe, and apparently the opinions of a bunch of part-time European journalists are now extremely important.

Skip the ceremony, no red carpet this year

Diane Lane, Unfaithful

Lane's performance is excellent, but the film isn't. Plus it was released in the summer, and voters never seem to be able to remember that far back.

Salma Hayek, Frida

Nicole's ugly nose tops Salma's unibrow.

Best Supporting Actor

The Winner

Chris Cooper, Adaptation

This is the hardest category to call. Five great actors, with two screen icons battling three supporting greats who've never won. Cooper seems to have the ever-mysterious "buzz" on his side.

The Runner-Up

Ed Harris, The Hours

If any actor is due to be recognized, it's Ed Harris, who's been passed over four times in the last eight years.

The Long Shot

Christopher Walken, Catch Me If You Can

Walken is a survivor, and that's who this category likes to honor (i.e. James Coburn). But, unlike Coburn, Walken already has a statue for The Deer Hunter and he's been in too many bad flicks lately (Kangaroo Jack and The Country frickin' Bears).

Save Your Tux Money and Stay Home

John C. Reilly, Chicago

If the award were for an entire year of work, Reilly would win (Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, and The Good Girl). But it's not, and he's the low-key character in a movie built around razzle dazzle.

Paul Newman, The Road to Perdition

Newman is Hollywood's longest-running movie star, but The Road to Perdition received mixed reviews and if Tom Hanks can't squeeze out an acting nod, no one in the cast has a shot.

Best Supporting Actress

The Winner

Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago

With the Julia Roberts combination of phony humbleness and old-school movie star glamour, Zeta-Jones is the favorite. But this is the one category where the voters sometimes go a little bit crazy (Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost? Marisa Tomei for My Cousin Vinny?).

The Runner-Up

Meryl Streep

Voters won't go for both Streep and Nicholson, they've been nominated too many times. Her only chance is if Jack gets passed over.

The Long Shot

Julianne Moore, The Hours

Cursed by the infamous "splitting her own votes" argument, in which, in some bizarre bit of Oscar math, two nominations cancel each other out.

Skip the ceremony, at least you won't have to talk to Joan Rivers

Kathy Bates, About Schmidt

Her nakedness has scarred a nation.

Queen Latifah, Chicago

The Academy handed out two statues to African-Americans last year. They'll probably wait another decade before feeling obligated to do so again.