Award season shouldn't start 'til the end of summer, but just like
Christmas, it just keeps creeping up earlier and earlier. Even in August, Oscar
talk bubbles to the surface in La-La-land. With end of the year contenders like
"Memoirs of a Geisha," "Walk the Line," and "Jarhead" already screened in some form or another (thank
you, my spies), the races are really starting. A number of these candidates will
be shown at next month's Toronto Film Festival (yes, look for complete coverage
here at MSN Movies and Hitlist), but before we trek to the Great White North,
here are 10 questions that can already be answered about this year's award
Is Steven Spielberg's "Munich" this year's "Million Dollar Baby"?
Yes. One advantage to
being the last major Oscar contender screened is that it benefits from award
season fatigue. With its late December release date, Spielberg's retelling of
the 1972 Olympic hostage crisis is primed to take the reigns of the Oscar race
just like "Baby" did last year.
Will the Best Picture race be dominated by the studios this
No. Well, more so than last year, but an independent feature
has been nominated for Best Picture every year since 1993. That's not going to
Will George Clooney prove his directing chops aren't a one-time
Yes. Clooney impressed many with his first directing effort,
"Confessions of a Dangerous Mind." His follow up, "Good Night. And, Good Luck," has been chosen as the opening
night film at the New York Film Festival (a prestigious slot) and it may become
this year's "Quiz Show."
Is Peter Sarsgaard this year's Jude Law?
No. With four movies coming out before
the end of the year ("The Skeleton Key," "Flightplan," "Jarhead" and "The Dying Gaul") Sarsgaard is certainly duplicating Law's
multiple picture overload from 2004. Luckily, they are mostly supporting roles
and his turn in "Jarhead" might just get him the Oscar nod he missed out on for
Which movie is more of a serious Oscar contender: "Crash" or "Cinderella Man"?
of the Paul Haggis drama are very passionate about it and while
there are those that dislike it (myself included), don't be surprised by
nominations for Don Cheadle, Thandie Newton, Screenplay and (gasp) even Best Picture.
"Cinderella Man" may suffer from "Million Dollar Baby" backlash and Russell Crowe's recent arrest won't help. "Cinderella" is
far more likely to follow "The Road to Perdition" (not many) than "Seabiscuit" (a bunch) in its pursuit of nominations.
Could Keira Knightley and Reese Witherspoon get their first
Yes. Word is Knightley carries the charming "Pride and Prejudice" and Witherspoon is exemplary as June Carter Cash in "Walk the Line."
Is this the year of the ladies?
Yes. Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh ( "Memoirs of a Geisha"), Diane Keaton ("The Family Stone"), Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand ( "North Country"), Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette ("In Her Shoes"), Maria Bello ("A History of Violence"), Kate Winslet ("All The King's Men"), Uma Thurman ("The Producers"), Judi Dench ("Mrs. Henderson Presents"), Felicity Huffman ("Transamerica"), and previously mentioned Witherspoon ("Walk
The Line") and Knightley ("Pride & Prejudice") are just the beginning of a
very crowded field.
Could Steve Martin finally get his first Academy Award
Yes. The legendary comedian may find himself in the Best
Adapted Screenplay category for "Shopgirl," which is based on his own novel. Hopefully, the
upcoming "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" isn't a blemish on his campaign.
Are there seriously good movies and performances we haven't seen that
are already in danger of being overlooked?
Yes. The excellent "The Squid and the Whale" and Robin Wright Penn's amazing turn in "Nine Lives" deserve the same buzz as the big dogs out
Is this the year that a remake is nominated for best
Yes. "All The King's Men," "The Producers" and "King Kong" (too many prognosticators are counting this one
out) all have a legitimate shot. Remakes are rarely nominated, but this year
could buck that trend.
MSNBC looks at the 2005 Oscar