The Oscar nominees are out and it’s time for everyone to make some predictions. I have an odd sort of hobbyist’s interest in the patterns of the Academy; I know how to ignore the promotions, the stupid things celebrities say throughout the year and the annual onstage shennanigans and analyze with some accuracy how the Academy itself will vote. So comments:

Best Picture/Best Director: This will be Martin Scorsese’s year. The Academy has been desperate to honor him, made obvious by their attempt to honor him for Gangs of New York. If The Aviator was going to be any good at all, it was going to do very well at the Oscars. Not that I think this will be a sweeps year, I don’t think The Aviator excited enough people to take home every category it’s nominated for. But I will be posting a very surprised entry if Scorsese does not come home with the prize he’s been waiting for.

Best Actor/Actress: There’s no better formula for a best actor Oscar than drug abuse, infidelity, crying and becoming the spitting image of a real person. Add minority status for the sentimental vote and Jamie Foxx has this one in the bag. Depp will have his day but not this year. For actress I’m going to go with Hilary Swank this time, although this particular year this is a difficult call. I loved Kate Winslet and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but I think its more likely that Swank will receive the consolation prize for Million Dollar Baby as it loses out to The Aviator in the major categories.

Supporting Actor/Actress: I never make a prediction in this category, historically it’s the most likely to be affected by split votes. My best guess will be that Alan Alda and Morgan Freeman have an equal chance based on sentiment, which may split the category in someone else’s favor. Cate Blanchett has an edge in her role as a real and much loved Hollywood actress (remember Laundau winning for playing Bela Legosi? This is a frequent phenomenon).

Animated Feature: The Academy gave themselves away here… The Incredibles is nominated for Best Screenplay, and that makes it a shoe-in for the winner of this category. If this category didn’t exist, The Incredibles would have been up for Best Picture. And it would have lost, because, remember, this year is Scorsese’s. So the animation community can stop whining to me about the existence of this category, I’ve been wanting it for years.

Art Direction: I think the Academy would like to give something to The Phantom of the Opera. Art Direction seems like an appropriate award.

Cinematography: I’m going to be watching this one with great interest. Unlike some people I listen to and admire, I’m impressed that the Academy touched The Passion of the Christ at all. Although its disappointing and yes, unfair not to see Mel in the director category, he wouldn’t have won. Politics, and by that I mean personal politics, is heavily at play here. And as far as cinematography goes, as incredible as I thought The Passion of the Christ was it has stiff competition from House of Flying Daggers.

Animated Short: I rarely get to see all of these before the Oscars. It’s interesting to note that Boundin did not make the list, and I appreciate that actually. It shows that a Pixar cartoon is not an automatic entry, and Boundin was not a personal favorite of mine. As soon as I find out more about the nominees I will post more on them at length.

Visual Effects: A race between Harry Potter and Spiderman, and I think Spidey will probably edge out this time around.

Documentary Feature: Significant by what it lacks. When Michael Moore decided to air Fahrenheit 911 on television prior to the awards he was purposefully disqualifying himself for this category. Which he would have won. His gamble didn’t come through for him though, no great surprise if you follow the Academy, so we will not be enjoying one of his eloquent acceptance speeches this year. I’m sure you’re as disappointed as I am.

Writing Original/Adapted: Here is where I believe the voting members will make a head-turning statement. If The Motorcyle Diaries doesn’t walk away with the Adapted statuette I will be posting a mighty big apology the next morning. Combine a quality piece of film-making with a subtle opportunity to veer wildly left and you have a one-two punch to Million Dollar Baby. Charlie Kaufman is my personal choice for Original, and he’s been nominated enough times to deserve it but Brad Bird may just have a chance this year.

I’m going to let the sound categories surprise me.

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