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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I wanna thank my mom, my dog, Jesus...: Part 2

Let's hear it for the boys...

Best Actor:

Last year, four out of the five Best Actor nominees were actors playing real-life people. This year, biopics look set to dominate again. Top of this pile are Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, Philip Seymour Hoffman as gay writer Truman Capote in Capote, David Strathairn as Edward R. Murrow in Good Night and Good Luck and the surliest man in town, Russell Crowe as boxer Jim Braddock in Cinderella Man.

Phoenix is the early favourite but he will have to see off increasing buzz from Aussie actor Heath Ledger who is receiving rave reviews for his portrayal of a repressed gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain. Repressed emotions is what Ralph Fiennes does particularly well in The Constant Gardener and gathering momentum for Munich might make Eric Bana a contender too.

There is always room for the indie favourites in acting categories these days and there are more than enough actors competing for limited space here. Irish eyes will be looking on Cillian Murphy for his extraordinary performace in Breakfast on Pluto, although an anticipated mixed reaction to the movie could set him back. Viggo Mortenson does good work in A History Of Violence and who couldn't love recidivist Robert Downey Jnr in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang?

Jeff Daniels is getting the best reviews of his career for divorce drama The Squid and the Whale whilst Cannes winner Tommy Lee Jones enters the race with his self-directed movie The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which should get an Oscar for Worst and Most Unmarketable title of the year. Can't rule out George Clooney for Syriana, Terence Howard for Hustle and Flow, Jake Gyllenhall for Gulf War drama Jarhead and Bill Murray for another deadpan, hangdog performance in Broken Flowers.

Best Supporting Actor:

The supporting categories often allow the Academy to be more adventurous so they are always worth watching out for. Having said that, they can also be used as a Lifetime Achievement prize or as an evenue to correct a grave wrong from previous ceremonies. Last years' Oscar snubee Paul Giamatti could well be rewarded this year for his turn in Cinderella Man.

Donald Sutherland might bag his first - yes, his first - Oscar nomination for his role as the Bennett patriarch in Pride and Prejudice. Semi-old timer Craig T. Nelson might also make his Oscar debut for his effective performance in The Family Stone. Young guns are also gearing up for the race. Jake Gyllenhall is almost a lock to be nominated for Brokeback Mountain. His Jarhead co-star Peter Saarsgard - arguably Hollywood's most interesting and talented actor - might feature here too. Ensemble drama Crash offers a raft of potential nominees - Terence Howard, Don Cheadle and, best of all, Matt Dillon in a career best performance.

Munich also features former winner Geoffrey Rush (Best Actor, Shine, 1996) and new Bond Daniel Craig. Frank Langella is a strong contender for Good Night and Good Luck, as is Chris Cooper in Capote, Steve Martin for Shopgirl and Kevin Costner in The Upside of Anger. Val Kilmer - yes, him - should be taken seriously for some great work in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.

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