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February 24, 2005 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-24

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10B - The Mic1l n Daily - Thursday, Feuary 24, 2005 w w

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The Michigan Dail

The .:..h..b..Da"J

CATEGOPY

I

EEST SUppoPTwIG Acrpiss

CAil1GOPY

I

BEsi ACTOR.p

Blanchett the favorite in competitive race

Foxx dominates as Ray Charles

By Amanda Andrade
Daily Arts Writer
The Best Supporting Actress race
is notoriously difficult to call. The
category's more prestigious older
sister, Best Actress, tends to grab all
the headline-making transformations
along with the big-name fashion icons
making good on years of empty fame.
Supporting wins, on the other hand,
can serve lesser-known favorites such
as a surrogate Lifetime Achievement
Award (Judi Dench, "Shakespeare
in Love" 1999), a welcome-to-Hol-
lywood anointing ceremony (Ange-
lina Jolie, "Girl, Interrupted" 2000),
an apology for past oversight (Renee
Zellweger, "Cold Mountain" 2004)
or just another way of honoring the
year's favorite movie (Jennifer Con-
nelly, "A Beautiful Mind" 2002 and
Catherine Zeta-Jones, "Chicago"
2003).
With no clear-cut definition of
what, exactly, makes a Best Sup-
porting Actress winner in a field of
all-around superb talent, 2005's Sup-
porting Actress competition is this
year's definitive Oscar-betting spoil-
er, as well as one of the most exciting
reasons to watch.
Typically, there's at least one
nomination in every category who
appears out of nowhere - and for
"Best Supporting Actress," her name

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Cate Blanchett
will win
UT-...
Virginia Madsen
should win

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is Sophie Okonedo. Playing the wife
of Don Cheadle's Paul Ruesasaba-
gina in "Hotel Rwanda," Okonedo
was certainly very effective. More
importantly, "Rwanda" is the most
politically important film competing
this year. Here is an event in which
a million people were brutally killed
while the Western world turned its
eyes away. Because Cheadle has no
chance against Jamie Foxx, and the
Academy loves to pretend it cares, a
win for Okonedo wouldn't be entirely
plausible. Her relatively unknown
status, however, and the limited
development of her character, not to
mention the fact that she is compet-
ing in a tough field of big-name talent
all make the win improbable.
Also unlikely to take home the
Oscar is Laura Linney. She was
stunning as the wife of famed sex
researcher Alfred Kinsey in the
largely overlooked biopic, "Kinsey,"

but, like Okonedo, she played the
wife character in a movie focused
overwhelmingly on the husband.
Linney certainly has her fans, but
she's not a celebrity powerhouse,
her movie received almost nothing
else in the way of Academy or box
office recognition and she hasn't had
an Oscar stolen from her yet. Though
the strength of her performance war-
rants her an Oscar, she's not likely to
win it this year.
Virginia Madsen's small role as a
wine-loving waitress and the object
of Paul Giamatti's affection in Alex-
ander Payne's poignant and lyrical
"Sideways" was among the most ele-
gant and unforgettable performances
of the year. Madsen transformed a
brief and thinly written paper role
into a complex, fully-fleshed human
being, hitting every emotional note
with perfect clarity. "Sideways" marks
a remarkable comeback for Madsen,
which would be nicely capped by an
Academy Award. On the strength of
her performance alone, she deserves
it more than any other competitor.
That being said, this is a movie that
seems to have peaked in hype at least
a month ago, and lead actor Paul Gia-
matti's omission from the Best Actor
category doesn't bode well for the
chances of his co-stars. On the other
hand, Academy voters may feel that
an award for "Sideways" in this cat-
egory is an award for the whole cast.
Probably the most famous nomi-
nee, Natalie Portman's chances in
this category look exceedingly good
coming off a Golden Globe win.
Portman played an alluring and
mysterious stripper with spectacular
grace and powerfully understated
emotional depth - the first of many
signs in "Closer" that the whole
parade was completely unreflective
of reality. However, the fact that she
wasn't even nominated for a Screen
Actor's Guild award is a major red
flag. The Guild is comprised of
mostly Academy members who tend
to duplicate their votes, making it
the most reliable Oscar predictor.
Nicole Kidman also failed to pick
up a SAG nomination for "Moulin
Rouge" in 2001 and went on to lose

AND 111lif
NDMH ftIS
APEOOO

Don
Cheadle

By Jeff Bloomer
Daily Arts Writer

"Hotel
Rwanda"

Johnny
Depp
"Finding
Neverland"

Leonardo
DiCaprio

In all the major categories at this
year's Academy Awards, there is
only one with a sure-fire winner, and
that is Jamie Foxx's much-lauded
performance in "Ray." Following his
powerhouse speech at last January's
Golden Globes, he is even more of
lock, because after all, there is noth-
ing like bad musical renditions and
happy tears to entice Academy vot-
ers. What's more, Foxx has swept
nearly every major industry award,
including the coveted Screen Actor's
Guild Award and has received the
highest accolades from innumerable
critic's circles, which are always a
welcome addition to any performer's
chances to take home the Oscar.
Foxx's overwhelming odds are
especially impressive considering
the competition. In a rare occur-
rence, the Best Actor race has risen
above Best Actress as the strongest
performer's category of the year. For
every nominee, an equally deserving
actor went unrecognized. Most noto-
riously, Paul Giamatti's universally
acclaimed work in "Sideways" was
ignored in his second straight omis-
sion from this category, following
his snub for last year's little-seen
"American Splendor."
Among the other nominees, Clint
Eastwood, a man who has one Best
Director award to his name, is run-
ning a distant second in the Best Actor
category for his subtle, skillful work
in "Million Dollar Baby." His perfor-
mance provides much-needed emotion-
al stability in a heartbreaking film, but
it is ultimately garnering more affec-
tion than awe from Academy voters,
which is never a strong incentive for
them to favor him come Oscar night.
Even less likely to take the award
is Johnny Depp, who earns his sec-
ond straight nomination in this cat-
egory after his nod for last year's
"Pirates of the Caribbean." His turn
as "Peter Pan" playwright J.M Bar-
rie is possibly the most surprising
addition to this year's race, but it is
likely intended as a rain check for a
probable future win. The same goes
for first-time nominee Don Chea-
dle, whose virtuoso performance in
"Hotel Rwanda" will ultimately be
overlooked because so few Academy
voters have seen the film.
That leaves Leonardo DiCaprio

Courtesy or Universa

Hey, is that Gwyneth Paltrow?
the Best Actress race.
And though Portman deservedly
earned the biggest raves for "Clos-
er," the movie garnered a lukewarm
reception from critics and was mostly
reviled by audiences. Still, the also
gorgeous then-starlet Angelina Jolie
won for another indifferent little-
seen movie, and voters are likely to
consider Portman's work in "Garden
State" as well, making her odds in
this category extremely strong.
But if you have to pick a winner,
the safest bet is the luminous Cate
Blanchett. The chameleonic actress
with a career of great performances
delivered another triumph this year as

"The Aviator"

.

Hollywood icon Katharine Hepburn
in "The Aviator." Although Blanch-
ett bears little physical resemblance
to the late star, her uncanny manner-
isms and dedication to interpreta-
tion rather than mere impersonation
make for a sufficiently Oscar-worthy
performance. "The Aviator" enters
awards night with 11 nominations
- the highest for any film - as well
as the most robust box office, all
boosting Blanchett's chances through
association.
Though she's been better and
doesn't really deserve to beat Mad-
sen, Blanchett's also a perennially
great performer who's been on the
Academy's oversight list since an
egregiously unfair loss to it-girl
Gwyneth Paltrow in 1999. If the
Academy is in the mood for amends,
as it often is, then expect Blanchett to
own this category.
"*" " "" " " "" " "0""0000"0
"

*
"
. Eastwood
0 "Million
. Dollar Baby"
"
" Foxx
" "Ray"
Courtesy of MGM, Miramax, Universal, Warner Bros.

Oscar ... on my mind.
and his portrayal of the late, haunted
billionaire Howard Hughes, in a per-
formance that has deservedly earned
him widespread acclaim. Despite the
buzz, though, DiCaprio has a penchant
for Academy snubs, famously failing
to earn nominations for three recent
high-profile roles in "Catch Me If
You Can," "Gangs of New York" and,
most notoriously, "Titanic." In fact,
his only previous nod was for 1994's
"What's Eating Gilbert Grape," made
when he was just 19 years old (he's
now 30). Though his nomination is a
show of faith, given this track record,
his chances at actually taking the
award are slim at best.
Despite the odds, it would not
be the Academy Awards without
an upset, and industry conspiracy
theories that Foxx will not take the
award have pervaded Hollywood.
One prevailing idea is that because
he is nominated for both Best Actor
and Best Supporting Actor, votes for
Foxx will be split down the middle
in both categories. In that case,
Eastwood would likely triumph over
Foxx as a general reward for his
multifaceted work on and in "Mil-
lion Dollar Baby." The theories that
go beyond that are as far-fetched as
they are implausible - but as past
years have shown, anything is pos-
sible come Oscar night.
And while Foxx may be the front-
runner, he is probably not the most
deserving contender. Granted, his
performance is superb - one that

not only silenced his critics but alsc
astounded audiences worldwide. But
there is another performance, one
equally outstanding but far more
understated, and that is Don Chead-
le's portrayal of one man's unrealized
heroism in "Hotel Rwanda." It doesn't
hurt that he stars in a far superior film
but the underrated Cheadle finds a
complex perfection in his role, while
Foxx essentially strikes one note and
holds it throughout all of "Ray." It's a
hell of a note, yes, but Cheadle ulti-
mately rises above the competition
with his riveting work that is still
yet to be discovered by a majority of
moviegoers.
In the end, despite the doomsday sce-
narios, this race has a bottom line: It is
Foxx's year, and he will take the award.
It's going to be a bitch for him to top
that Golden Globes speech, though, and
you had better believe Academy voters
and viewers alike will be watching with
eager anticipation at what he has in store
for them. Let's just hope he hasn't run
out of grandmothers to thank.

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WE PRfDCT
Jamie Foxx
will win
WIT...
Don Cheadle
should win
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If the Academy is in the mood for amends,
as it often is, then expect Blanchett to own
this category.

Man, Paul, you got screwed this year.
"
'Cate C 9Laura
* Blanchett Linney
"The Aviator" "Kinsey"
.. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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ES APIK oo0

Virginia
Madsen
"Sideways"

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Sophie Natalie
)konedo Portman
"Hotel "Closer" 0
Rwanda"
Coutes.o.Fo.arl t M irmaxSe .Entertainment

Attention: Pre-Med/Pre-Nursing Students
Excellent opportunity to work with doctors in a camp
infirmary setting, as a Camp Health Officer.We
willpay for the short certification course.
Enjoy working in a beautiful Northern
Michigan setting.

1

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