The Oscars – Live

Welcome to FILMdetail’s live coverage of the 77th Academy Awards. Here are my predictions for the main categories.

BEST FILM
The Aviator
Million Dollar Baby
Finding Neverland
Ray
Sideways

Who will win: Million Dollar Baby
Who should win: Sideways

BEST ACTOR
Clint Eastwood – Million Dollar Baby
Jamie Foxx – Ray
Don Cheadle – Hotel Rwanda
Johnny Depp – Finding Neverland
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Aviator

Who will win: Jamie Foxx
Who should win: Jamie Fox

BEST ACTRESS
Hilary Swank – Million Dollar Baby
Imelda Staunton – Vera Drake
Kate Winslet – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Annette Bening – Being Julia
Catalina Sandino Moreno – Maria Full of Grace

Who will win: Hilary Swank
Who should win: Imelda Staunton

BEST DIRECTOR
Martin Scorsese – The Aviator
Clint Eastwood – Million Dollar Baby
Alexander Payne – Sideways
Taylor Hackford – Ray
Mike Leigh – Vera Drake

Who will win: Clint Eastwood
Who should win: Alexander Payne

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alan Alda – The Aviator
Clive Owen – Closer
Jamie Foxx – Collateral
Thomas Haden Church – Sideways
Morgan Freeman – Million Dollar Baby

Who will win: Thomas Haden Church
Who should win: Thomas Haden Church

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett – The Aviator
Virginia Madsen – Sideways
Laura Linney – Kinsey
Sophie Okonedo – Hotel Rwanda
Natalie Portman – Closer

Who will win: Cate Blanchett – The Aviator
Who should win: Virginia Madsen – Sideways

Updates and commentary will follow throughout the evening. Let’s hope they don’t open the show with a stupid self congratulatory dance number.

Team America: World Police

Whilst this gleeful satire on the “War on Terror” featuring marionettes instead of actors has some hilarious moments, the film as a whole doesn’t quite match the brilliance of the initial concept.

When the trailers first appeared for Team America: World Police it seemed that Matt Stone and Trey Parker (the creators of South Park) had managed to achieve the impossible. They had seemingly convinced a major Hollywood studio (Paramount) to fund a riotous satire on the foreign policy of the current US administration – with puppets. Could it be true? Given the current political climate Stateside you would think it unlikely at best. And you would be right. Well, sort of. Whilst the the film does take aim at the patriotic fervour lying at the heart of recent conflicts it also reserves plenty of venom for the liberals who have denounced such adventures.

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Million Dollar Baby

It may not be the masterpiece some US critics have suggested but Clint Eastwood’s latest film is a moving and refreshingly restrained boxing drama.

Continuing a trend in Eastwood’s recent career, Million Dollar Baby seems to be a subconscious subversion of his earlier career. In the early 90s Unforgiven re-examined the violence of the Westerns that established him as a star, whilst last year’s Mystic River was a cop drama that turned the revenge themes of the Dirty Harry movies on their head, with its focus on victims over heroes. Continuing the trend Million Dollar Baby seems to be a more serious revision of Every Which Way But Loose, the critically reviled hit that had Clint fist fight his way across America with a pet orang-utan. Instead broad comedy we have a much more serious examination of the highs and lows of boxing.

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Closer

Mike Nichols must have seemed the perfect choice to direct the film version of Patrick Marber’s play, a funny and sharp exploration of modern relationships. But despite the pedigree behind the camera and a terrific cast, the end result is cold and curiously lifeless.

The story involves two couples whose relationships intersect over a four-year period in London. When Alice (Natalie Portman), an American stripper, meets a journalist called Dan (Jude Law) they strike up a relationship. A few years on Dan meets a photographer, Anna (Julia Roberts), and decides to flirt with her. She initially rejects his advances and instead ends up going out with a dermatologist called Larry (Clive Owen). Undeterred, Dan meets up with Anna a year later at an exhibition of her work and they begin cheating on their respective lovers.

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Vera Drake

Mike Leigh’s latest film is a beautifully crafted and heartbreaking tale of a cleaner leading a secret double life as an abortionist in 1950s London.

But if you are expecting a preachy film on the issue of abortion then you will be mistaken. Instead we have an engrossing study of characters caught up in events out of their control. It’s portrayal of working class Londoners is detailed without ever being patronizing and it skilfully focuses on the emotional fallout created by the abortion laws rather than the legal question itself. Viewers are confronted with the issue but not necessarily from the angle you might expect.

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