Predictions, expectations and declarations
The Constant Gardener
Good Night, and Good Luck
Hard to see how Brokeback Mountain won't win with the head of steam it has generated. Capote looks promising, but perhaps more as another great PSH performance. As I have already declared that I missed The Constant Gardener (dvd to watch I guess or catch on the re-release re-run) so there won't be much to comment on that over the following categories. Crash was excellent, one of my favourite films of last year. I have good expectations for GN&GL, partly because I remember reading a stonking biography of Murrow when I was younger and being really struck by his approach to journalism. And of course the film stars David Strathairn.
Best British film
A Cock and Bull Story
The Constant Gardener
Pride and Prejudice
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit
AKA the category to reward those not likely to be nominated/win elsewhere. Winterbottom is nominated for being 'clever': not necessarily a bad thing (24 Hour Party People was an unexpected hit in our house) but TS is such a weird thing to even try and adapt that I am at least intrigued to see this (we have the graphic novel version that Martin Rowson did a few years back) . Festival - from reports I have heard from friends - is uncomfortably funny but it missed my radar. I've been a fan of Matthew Macfayden since the Polikoff drama "Perfect Strangers" but somehow missed being dragged by swooning girlfriends to see this. From what I have seen though I think he probably captured more of the broody wounds of Mr Darcy than did Colin Firth. Am sure to be persecuted to an easrly grave for that heinous response. Wallace and Gromit was fabulous fun of course, but perhaps stretched the format to its time limits: the Wrong Trousers remains the perfect W&G show. That leaves The Constant Gardener to sweep this one as I doubt the BAFTAs would dare to give their top award to the local show and keep out the front runner of Brokeback Mountain.
Best actor in a leading role
David Strathairn - Good Night, and Good Luck
Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Ralph Fiennes - The Constant Gardener
A very open category this one, albeit predictable for the nominations. I've not seen any of these performances but they are all fine actors at the top of their game.
Best actress in a leading role
Charlize Theron - North Country
Judi Dench - Mrs Henderson Presents
Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
Reese Witherspoon - Walk The Line
Ziyi Zhang - Memoirs of a Geisha
I fully expect that Rachel Weisz will take this. Judie Dench is a fine actress but really; nominating her for this is like nominating her for a comedy show cameo. Though Ziyi Zhang has a mesmeric talent for conveying strength and fraility simultaneously, I have issues with the Geisha novel and won't be going to see the film. It also smacks of 'token non-Western actress nomination needed.' Reese Witherspoon should, of course, have won bucket loads of awards for her performance in Election. By all accounts she does a good job in the Cash bio-pic though I still think a lot of its plaudits come from the appealing legacy and mythology of Cash himself (whose voice still moves me spectacularly). Although CT transformed herself magnificently in Monster, I'm still not convinced by her acting talents. I would actually like to see North Country, although there has been criticism of the ending. Not the most inspiring list. Chief amongst them I note nothing for Maria Bello, so excellent in A History of Violence (for which there are too few nominations)?!
Best actor in a supporting role
Don Cheadle - Crash
George Clooney - Good Night, and Good Luck
George Clooney - Syriana
Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
Matt Dillon - Crash
Its often interesting to watch which category studios decide they will put their actors into: leading or support? Is it to give them a better chance of winning, to omit competition from the same film's other actors or from other films against which they think they cannot compete? Here we have two nominations from the same ensemble film (I think the Screen Actors Guild have it right to have that category, just as they do for the Emmys: sometimes no one should or does stand out but is instead lifted by the ensemble as a group). Jake Gyllenhall stands aside for Heath Ledger to go for the Lead Actor win, although it would hard to say that one is substantially THAT much greater a role in terms of screen time or significance to the plot. And poor George gets his vote split across two films: that's hard but probably says something key about how he has come a long way from just tilting his head in a sexy manner on ER [note: hmm... not unlike the gesture pilfered by Vincent D'Onofrio in Law and Order: Criminal Intent].
I'll come back to this with other categories and probably to complete this post with some links.
And before someone says it: yes, I know awards matter not a jot, but they are a good provocation for thought on the nominations and winners.