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Kytherian Cinema Review

Aussie Oscar hopefuls wait.

By Peter Mitchell

in Los Angeles

January 22, 2007
Article from: AAP

Will the dancing penguins avenge their Golden Globes loss and will Cate Blanchett earn her second Oscar in three years?

Has enough time passed for the Academy to forgive Mel Gibson for his racial slurs?

Hey, it snowed in Malibu the other day proving anything can happen in Tinseltown.

Early on Wednesday (AEDT), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will reveal its nominees for the 79th Annual Academy Awards.

Blanchett and George Miller's animated moneymaker, Happy Feet, are expected to be Australia's highest-profile nominees, but there are a handful of other Aussies in with a decent shot.

Actress Toni Collette is a chance for her performance in Little Miss Sunshine, Dean Semler is building momentum to continue Australia's tradition in the cinematography category, and two Sydney students are in the running for a short film nomination.

The prospects of Naomi Watts (The Painted Veil), Nicole Kidman (Fur), and Hugh Jackman (The Fountain) have all faded as lead-up awards ceremonies ignored their performances.

Here's how Australia's Oscar hopes shape up and predictions for the nominees in the main categories:

Miller and his singing and dancing penguins in Happy Feet, as they were earning hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office, were once considered a chance of snagging a best picture nomination.

It's unlikely now.

The competition for the five slots is just too hot.

Same goes for Gibson's Apocalypto. Even if Mel had taken one less swig from his tequila bottle that fateful night in Malibu last July, it's doubtful Apocalypto would get a best picture nomination.

LIKELY NOMINEES: Babel, The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, Dreamgirls and United 93.

Who said there aren't any roles for women?

This category will be stacked with talent this year, although it's unlikely there will be an Aussie among the five nominees.

Blanchett, who won the best supporting actress Oscar in 2005 for The Aviator, headed into this awards season with three high-calibre performances.

She played an adulterous English school teacher involved in an affair with a student in Notes on a Scandal; a post World War II prostitute in The Good German; and an American tourist shot in Morocco in the epic Babel.

Notes on a Scandal is Blanchett's best Oscar chance following the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild nominations she picked up.

The big question is: Will the Academy nominate Blanchett as best actress or supporting actress?

The Golden Globes has an "eligibility committee" that decides what category an actor/actress will compete in. The Globes decided Blanchett was a supporting actress.

The Academy leaves it open to its members.

It is a possibility Blanchett, whose performance in Notes on a Scandal was arguably just as powerful as her co-star, Judi Dench, could be nominated for an Oscar in the best actress category.
Dench was nominated for a Globe in the best actress category.

The same goes for Collette in Little Miss Sunshine. The Globes anointed her a best actress nominee, despite many pundits believing her role was supporting.

Watts' The Painted Veil has been one of the biggest disappointments of the awards season. Set in 1920s China, beautifully shot and with co-star Ed Norton, it was thought to be perfect bait for the Oscars, but Watts and her film have had as much success as the English test cricket team.

If Watts is nominated it will be a shock.

As for Kidman, if Watts' Oscar prospects are cold, Kidman's for Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, sit in a blizzard in the North Pole.

LIKELY NOMINEES - Helen Mirren (The Queen), Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada), Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal), Penelope Cruz (Volver) and Kate Winslet (Little Children).

This is the category Blanchett will likely find herself nominated in.

With the A-List talent of Mirren, Streep, Dench & Co in the best actress category, the supporting category is also Collette's best shot.

One interesting scenario is Dreamgirls' Jennifer Hudson, who won the Globe last week for best supporting actress, being nominated by the Academy in the best actress race.

That would make Blanchett an odds on favourite to win the statuette.

LIKELY NOMINEES: Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal), Hudson (Dreamgirls), Adriana Barraza (Babel), Rinko Kukuchi (Babel) and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine).

Hollywood's nicest guy, Jackman, was an early Oscar hope for The Fountain and The Prestige, but he has felt zero love from the lead-up awards. Count Hugh out.

Russell Crowe is usually Australia's great hope in this category each year (even if he is a Kiwi), but his comedic flop A Good Year made 2006 a bad year for Rusty.

LIKELY NOMINEES: Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Leonardo DiCaprio (Blood Diamond), Peter O'Toole (Venus), Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness) and Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson)

No Aussie chances here.

LIKELY NOMINEES: DiCaprio (The Departed), Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond), Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls), Jack Nicholson (The Departed) and Michael Sheen (The Queen).

Early on Australia looked in great shape for a nomination with Miller (Happy Feet), Phillip Noyce (Catch a Fire), John Curran (The Painted Veil) and Chris Noonan (Miss Potter).

They have all faded.

The competition in the category is also too hot with plenty of talk Martin Scorsese, after five director nominations but no gold men, will finally win an Oscar.

LIKELY NOMINEES: Scorsese (The Departed), Clint Eastwood (Letters from Iwo Jima), Paul Greengrass (Flight 93), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel) and Bill Condon (Dreamgirls).

This is Australia's best chance for an Oscar win.

Miller's Happy Feet was the favourite, but last week's Golden Globe win by the Pixar studio's Cars made the race for the Academy Award interesting.

Pixar has won two of the last three Oscars in the category with Finding Nemo in 2004 and The Incredibles in 2005.

Will Miller's penguins avenge the Golden Globe upset?

LIKELY NOMINEES: Happy Feet, Cars and Monster House.

With Dion Beebe's win last year for Memoirs of a Geisha, Australians have won the cinematography Oscar three of the past five years.

Dean Semler, winner of the Oscar in 1991 for Dances with Wolves, is the Aussie lensman most likely to grab a nomination this year for his work on Apocalypto.

It just depends on the strength of the anti-Mel sentiment.

Semler's chances were bolstered when he was recently named one of five nominees for this year's American Society of Cinematographers Awards. The ASC winner is announced on February 18.

Beebe won the ASC last year before going on to claim the Oscar.

LIKELY NOMINEES: Tom Stern (Letters from Iwo Jima), Rodrigo Prieto (Babel), Tobias A Schliesser (Dreamgirls), Guillermo Navarro (Pan's Labyrinth) and Emmanuel Lubeski (Children of Men).

Miller and his Aussie Happy Feet writing team of John Collee, Warren Coleman and Judy Morris are outside chances.

LIKELY NOMINEES: Babel, The Queen, Little Miss Sunshine, Letters from Iwo Jima and Bobby.

Watts may not get an Oscar nomination for The Painted Veil, but fellow Aussie Peta Lawson is in with a decent shot.

A few pundits have pencilled her in.

LIKELY NOMINEES: Dreamgirls, Letters from Iwo Jima, Pan's Labyrinth, Marie Antoinette and Curse of the Golden Flower.

Australian Film Television and Radio School students writer/director Peter Templeman and producer Stuart Parkyn have a 50 per cent chance of being nominated. Their film, The Saviour, is one of 10 films short-listed for the five Oscar nominations.

The Oscar nominations will be announced at the Academy's Beverly Hills headquarters at 5.30am Tuesday (12.30am Wednesday AEDT).

The 79th Annual Academy Awards ceremony will be held at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre on February 25.


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