A Night at the Oscars

Evan Smith

And the Nominees are.Yes, it’s almost that time again for the Oscars. Sunday March 5th will mark the 78th annual Academy Awards ceremony, a very important day in the world of film, where the Oscars will be handed out to all of those well deserving of the statue. The Oscars will be shown on ABC starting at 8 p.m. hosted by comedian Jon Stewart.

The five major categories, Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Leading Role, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, are the most sought after awards of the night. Only three films, It Happened One Night (1934), One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), and Silence of the Lambs (1991), have taken home all five coveted awards in the 77 year award history.

This year the category of Best Picture is truly up for grabs. With the nominees being, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, and Munich. Brokeback Mountain has been the movie with the most publicity due to its “controversial” plot of two young men, a ranch-hand (Gyllenhaal) and a rodeo cowboy (Ledger), who fall in love and commit to a life-long connection with one another in 1960’s Wyoming. Each of the movies nominated in the “Best Picture” category, other than Munich, have been produced by independent film companies, a feat that has become more popular over the years. My Pick – Brokeback Mountain.

The category of Actor in a Leading Role has some new faces up for the award. Phillip Seymour Hoffman for Capote, Terrence Howard for Hustle and Flow, Heath Ledger for Brokeback Mountain, Joaquin Phoenix for Walk the Line, and David Strathairn for Good Night and Good Luck. Other than Joaquin Phoenix, who was up for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Gladiator, the other nominees are up for their first Oscar awards. Phillip Seymour Hoffman portrays Truman Capote, a popular writer in the 1950’s for The New Yorker, in Capote. In 1959, Truman Capote (Hoffman) travels to Holcomb, Kansas when he hears about the brutal murder of a family of four. As Capote digs deeper into the story behind the murder he becomes deeply involved with the characters surrounding it. Truman Capote wrote about the events in his most noted book “In Cold Blood”, a novel that changed modern literature as we know it. My Pick – Phillip Seymour Hoffman

The category of Actress in a Leading Role is also filled with new faces Felicity Huffman for Transamerica, Keira Knightley for Pride and Prejudice and Reese Witherspoon for Walk the Line as well as former winners, veterans Judi Dench for Mrs. Henderson Presents and Charlize Theron for North Country. Reese Witherspoon, also her first Oscar nomination, was put along side Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix making a dynamic duo on screen. Her role as June Carter, one of Johnny Cash’s loves and fellow country singers, is extremely well done with Witherspoon singing June Carter’s songs throughout the film. At times her singing can fall off, but overall her compassion for fellow singer shines through as she puts on an Oscar worthy performance. It will be a tough decision for the award panel to make, taking Witherspoon over Theron’s role in North Country. My Pick – Reese Witherspoon

The category of Best Director is much like the other categories, filled with talent. Nominees include: Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain, Bennett Miller for Capote, Paul Haggis for Crash, George Clooney for Good Night and Good Luck, and Steven Spielberg for Munich. The standout direction of this group goes to Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain. His ability to turn two inexperienced actors into fantastic screen presence and his beautiful work with the landscapes should land him his first Oscar. Ang Lee was nominated twice in 2000 for his direction, and best picture for his film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. My Pick – Ang Lee

The final category, Best Original Screenplay should be an easy pick, but that is easier said than done. Several of the nominees are loaded with talent, but only one truly sticks out. Nominated in this category are: Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco for Crash, George Clooney & Grant Heslov for Good Night and Good Luck, Woody Allen for Match Point, Noah Baumbach for The Squid and the Whale, and Stephen Gaghan for Syriana. Crash is the standout film of this group due to its unique story line. A group of individuals clash over the period of two days in Los Angeles. Racial and cultural tensions grow as the events unfold. Each character is brought to face a prejudice that they had not seen, or have hidden. The story is beautifully told, though the dialogue at times can be bare, and the story flows very smoothly. My Pick – Crash

It will be a very interesting year at the Academy Awards because each category is filled with such talent that it will be hard to truly predict what the outcomes will be. Expect many upset decisions and don’t be afraid to yell at the television every once in a while, you may even hear a few shouts from the rooms next door. Remember, the Oscars are a celebration of film in general, not just the ones who win. So good luck to all those up for the awards, I encourage you to turn on ABC on March 5th.