77th Annual Academy Awards Roundup
Brian Doxtader | Tuesday, March 1, 2005
The 77th Academy Awards Ceremony was certainly a memorable one, with more surprises and controversy than in past years. While there were some obvious winners who were expected to take home statuettes, some of the biggest awards were uncertain until the moment the envelope was opened. As for myself, I predicted exactly half of the major awards correctly. In every category where I predicted incorrectly, I at least had the good sense to claim that the eventual winner was deserving of the award, so I had narrowed the field down to two major contenders in each case – which was how most of the award ceremony played out. Although this was two of five, at least I didn’t think that “Ray” would win Best Picture, as New York Times critic A.O. Scott did.Unlike last year, when “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” took all eleven categories in which it was nominated, there was no clean sweep this year by any major film.”Million Dollar Baby” overcame its dark horse status to become the major winner, taking home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. It lost the Best Adapted Screenplay award to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor’s “Sideways.” It marked Eastwood’s second Best Picture and second Best Director Award (both for 1992’s “Unforgiven”).”The Aviator” took home most of the technical awards, including Art Direction (Dante Ferretti), Cinematography (Robert Richardson), Costume Design (Sandy Powell), and Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker). Its only major win was in the Best Supporting Actress category; it lost Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. Martin Scorsese once again walked away empty-handed; this was his fifth Best Director nomination since his first in 1980.
Best ActorWho won: Jamie Foxx (“Ray”)Who I said would win: Jamie Foxx (“Ray”)Who I said should win: Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Aviator”)No surprise here. This was the most obvious of the awards, as Foxx’s impeccable recreation of the music giant was the unquestioned favorite. Every actor in this field turned in a great performance and each will likely one day have an acting statuette (with the possible exception of Clint Eastwood). Foxx is now indisputably a great actor and though his performance showboated just slightly, it still remains one of the more memorable in recent history. There was no doubt that Foxx was going to win the award, although it would not have been fully undeserved had it gone to any other nominee. It also marks Johnny Depp’s second-consecutive loss; last year’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” was his first acting nomination. This discounts the plethora of great performances he has given in the past, for films like “Edward Scissorhands,” “Ed Wood” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
Best Adapted ScreenplayWho won: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (“Sideways”)Who I said would win: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (“Sideways”)Who I said should win: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Kim Krizan (“Before Sunset”)As a picture, “Sideways” was beaten out of the gate. Before awards season rolled around, it was the best-reviewed, best received motion picture of the year. The backlash that set in all but killed its chances of winning the Best Picture award. As consolation, and in recognition of the film’s strengths, the Academy awarded it the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, a category in which it was the heavy favorite. Though “Million Dollar Baby” might have given it a run, the other awards given to it assured Sideways that it would emerge with at least the screenplay Oscar (the only major award the picture won).
Best DirectorWho won: Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby”)Who I said would win: Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby”)Who I said should win: Martin Scorsese (“The Aviator”)Ah, the irony runs deep and rich. It is only fitting that Mr. Scorsese lost his fifth Oscar nomination to actor-turned-director Clint Eastwood. Mr. Eastwood even claimed that Scorsese should have won for Raging Bull, the director’s 1980 boxing biopic. Instead, Scorsese lost again to a director who made … a boxing biopic. At least the 62-year-old director remains in good company – neither Alfred Hitchcock nor Charlie Chaplin ever won a Best Director award. As for the 74-year-old Eastwood, who collects his second directing Oscar, he has aged like a fine wine, only getting better and more astute with age. “Million Dollar Baby” marks his second straight winner in a row, after last year’s “Mystic River.” May both he and Scorsese continue to make fine motion pictures for years to come.
Best PictureWhat won: “Million Dollar Baby”Who I said would win: “The Aviator”Who I said should win: “Million Dollar Baby”The success of this picture played out like its plot: a small film that nobody wanted to make suddenly rises to greatness, just as it follows a small-time boxer that nobody wants to train as she rises to greatness. The low-budget, extremely intimate film obviously won great favor within the Academy voters, overcoming the Miramax marketing machine to take home the highest honor. It was refreshing to see such a well-made, personal film take home the Best Picture Oscar, since the winners in the past several years have all been major blockbusters (“Lord of the Rings,” “Chicago,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Gladiator”). Eastwood crafted a surprisingly affecting and powerful film and was rewarded accordingly. The Academy got it right.
Best ActressWho won: Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”)Who I said would win: Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”)Who I said should win: Kate Winslet (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)Hilary Swank goes two for two, taking home her second Best Actress statuette and once again beating Annette Bening. Though this award was much deserved and it didn’t come as a major surprise, there was the widespread belief that either Annette Bening would upset Swank or Bening and Swank would split the vote and Vera Drake’s Imelda Staunton would take the award. As for Winslet, she is a very fine actress, so there is no doubt that her time will come – as long as she keeps taking interesting roles and attacking them with the same level of creativity as she did in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”
Best Supporting ActorWho won: Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”)Who I said would win: Thomas Haden Church (“Sideways”)Who I said should win: Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”)It was really good to see Morgan Freeman finally get his due. I didn’t expect him to win this award for a few reasons. Church’s nomination seemed almost a dual nod for himself and lead actor Paul Giamatti, who failed received a nomination. It seemed that “Sideways” would’ve taken more major awards than just screenplay. It didn’t seem likely that “Million Dollar Baby” would have won as many awards as it did, and if one category was going to be affected, it would be this one. Despite this, Freeman turns in one of his strongest performances and is justly rewarded. He remains to this day one of Hollywood’s most reliable actors and his dignified performance in “Million Dollar Baby” is indicative of his entire career. A solid and well-deserved Oscar.
Best Supporting ActressWho won: Cate Blanchett (“The Aviator”)Who I said would win: Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”)Who I said should win: Cate Blanchett (“The Aviator”)Blanchett overcame criticism of her performance as Katherine Hepburn to take home the award. Virginia Madsen, a largely untested actress, does not have the strong body of work that Blanchett does, although one imagines that her time will come eventually. Though I expected Madsen to win this award since the Academy tends to favor actresses as they emerge into greatness, as this actress does in “Sideways,” Blanchett’s win was more deserved. Her careful reproduction of Katharine Hepburn’s quirks was extremely strong and the Academy took notice and gave this fine actress the award.
Best Original ScreenplayWho won: Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)Who I said would win: John Logan (“The Aviator”)Who I said should win: Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, and Pierre Bismuth (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)Quentin Tarantino once called the Best Original Screenplay Oscar a consolation award for the hip film losing the Best Picture Oscar. He could not have been more right than with this, a welcome surprise that awards Kaufman for what is undoubtedly the Best Original Screenplay of the year. In my original assessment, I claimed that “The Aviator” had a less memorable script than previous Scorsese films, and the Academy took notice, giving the award to the more deserving “Eternal Sunshine.” This was a surprise, but certainly a welcome one. Kudos to Kaufman, Gondry and Bismuth for their wonderfully original work and kudos to the Academy for having the good sense to recognize it.
A BREAKDOWN OF THE OTHER AWARDS
Spain’s “The Sea Inside” won the Best Foreign Film award, defeating Miramax’s French film “The Chorus.”uPixar’s “The Incredibles” won the Best Animated Feature award. This came as no surprise as the film was far and away the finest animated film of the year. It was also one of the best pictures of the year, but a nomination in that category was unlikely (the only animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture was 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast”).Jan A.P. Kaczmarek won the Best Original Score Oscar for “Finding Neverland,” beating out such veterans as five-time Academy Award winner John Williams (for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”) and Thomas Newman (for “Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events”).Jorge Drexler’s “Al Otro Lado Del Rio” from “The Motorcycle Diaries,” performed at the ceremony by Antonio Banderas and Carlos Santana, won the Best Original song. It was the film’s sole win in two nominations. The film was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.Robert Richardson won Best Cinematography for “The Aviator” in a crowded field of contenders, which included Zhao Xiadong for “House of Flying Daggers” and Caleb Deschanel for “The Passion of the Christ.” “The Passion” took neither award for which it was nominated (Best Cinematography, Best Makeup). Thomas Stern’s beautifully dark, atmospheric cinematography for “Million Dollar Baby” was not even nominated.Zana Briski’s “Born into Brothels,” a documentary about the red light district of Calcutta, won the Best Documentary Feature award, defeating Morgan Spurlock’s “Supersize Me.” “Farenheit 9/11,” which was withdrawn from documentary contention in order to maintain Best Picture eligibility, was not nominated for any awards. It won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year.uScott Millan, Greg Orloff, Bob Beemer and Steve Cantamessa won Best Sound Mixing for “Ray,” the film’s only technical award. It was also the only technical nomination in which that “The Aviator” was defeated.Michael Silvers and Randy Thom won the Best Sound Editing for “The Incredibles.” During their acceptance speech, one of the recipients derided claims that Sound Editing is a technical award, calling it an art.Thelma Schoonmaker won her second Best Editing Oscar, this time for “The Aviator.” It comes 24 years after her first win for “Raging Bull” in 1981. It also marks the second time that Schoonmaker won the editing award while Scorsese failed to win Best Director and the film itself failed to win Best Picture.