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Monday, January 30, 2006

3rd Annual Utopian Oscar Picks

Last year the Academy agreed with an impressive nine of my forty picks. This year they'll probably be down to three (Witherspoon, Bello, Williams).

1. The Best of Youth
2. King Kong
3. Funny Ha Ha
4. Turtles Can Fly
5. Kings and Queen
Also considered: Tim Burton's Corpse Bride; Me and You and Everyone We Know; Breakfast on Pluto; Oldboy; 2046.

1. Arnaud Desplechin, Kings and Queen
2. Wong Kar-Wai, 2046
3. Bahman Ghobadi, Turtles Can Fly
4. Peter Jackson, King Kong
5. David Cronenberg, A History of Violence
Desplechin bobs and weaves so thrillingly that his material seems to make sense. Wong, as you know, is God.
Also: Andrew Bujalski, Funny Ha Ha; Neil Jordan, Breakfast on Pluto; Tim Burton and Mike Johnson, Corpse Bride; Miranda July, Me and You and Everyone We Know; Jia Zhangke, The World.

1. Naomi Watts, King Kong
2. Kate Dollenmayer, Funny Ha Ha
3. Miranda July, Me and You and Everyone We Know
4. Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
5. Maria Alche, The Holy Girl
With respect to the animators, it's Watts who gives the great ape its personality. Dollenmayer does the same for a whole community.
Also: Rachel McAdams, Red Eye; Helena Bonham-Carter, Corpse Bride; Judi Dench, Ladies in Lavender; Emmanuelle Devos, Kings and Queen; Charlotte Gainsbourg, Happily Ever After.

1. Mathieu Amalric, Kings and Queen
2. Luigi Lo Cascio, The Best of Youth
3. Soran Ebrahim, Turtles Can Fly
4. Tony Leung, 2046
5. Cillian Murphy, Breakfast on Pluto
Amalric seems the least likely candidate to hold together the whizzing Kings and Queen, but he does it without breaking stride. Lo Cascio seems the most likely candidate to hold The Best of Youth together, and he does so for six hours.
Also: Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote; Robert Downey Jr, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain; Steve Carrell, The 40 Year-Old Virgin.

1. Taraji P. Henson, Hustle & Flow
2. Maria Bello, A History of Violence
3. Tilda Swinton, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
4. Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain
5. Sharon Stone, Broken Flowers
Henson's discovering-yr-inner-strength scene is musical; by telling us "it's hard out there for a pimp" she finds her soul. Bello carries Viggo Mortensen through the most expressive and disturbing sex scene of the year.
Also: Catherine Keener, The 40-Year Old Virgin; Gong Li, 2046; Yuen Qiu, Kung Fu Hustle; Faye Wong, 2046; Jasmine Trinca, The Best of Youth.

1. Stephen Rea, Breakfast on Pluto
2. Gavin Friday, Breakfast on Pluto
3. Alessio Boni, The Best of Youth
4. Christian Rudder, Funny Ha Ha
5. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Serenity
Rea has a small, perfect role in Pluto as a magician in love with a girl; the revelation scene plays off its mirror in The Crying Game meltingly. Friday has a slightly bigger, almost as perfect role, which makes you wonder if he wouldn't be better off going all the way glam.
Also: Jesse Eisenberg, The Squid and the Whale; William Hurt, A History of Violence; Michael Lonsdale, Munich; Mathieu Amalric, Munich; Ed Harris, A History of Violence.

1. The Best of Youth
2. Turtles Can Fly
3. Me and You and Everyone We Know
4. Kings and Queen
5. Oldboy
In The Best of Youth, Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli explore forty years of Italian history while never losing sight of the humanity of their characters. Bahman Ghobadi's Turtles Can Fly is a classical tragedy where the mysticism serves a purpose.
Also: Tim Burton's Corpse Bride; Serenity; Funny Ha Ha; 2046; The 40 Year-Old Virgin.

1. Breakfast on Pluto
2. Harry Potter 4
3. The Beat That My Heart Skipped
4. Duma
5. King Kong
Neil Jordan condenses each chapter of Patrick McCabe's novel Breakfast on Pluto into a music video, only with good lyrics. Steve Kloves extracts all the exciting bits from J.K. Rowling's sprawl, then stitches them into a 2 1/2 hour headrush.
Also: The Constant Gardener; A History of Violence; Brokeback Mountain; Pride & Prejudice; Howl's Moving Castle.


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