The Underdogs of the Oscars

With this year’s Oscar buzz being focused on Helen Mirren and Jennifer Hudson, it’s easy to forget that many of the other races do not have clear frontrunners or that the best movies nominated are not nominated for Best Picture.

Best Actor

On Sunday night Peter O’Toole, one the greatest living screen actors, could become the most-nominated actor never to win an Academy Award.

The fact that O’Toole has never won a competitive Academy Award (he received an honorary Oscar in 2003) is a crime. However, this year is his best chance to finally win. Despite Forest Whitaker’s obvious domination of the Best Actor category, O’Toole is the most likely actor to an Oscar upset.

The Academy loves to honor actors who have never won, especially those who may have just delivered their last great performance. Think of Henry Fonda winning for On Golden Pond or Jack Palance for City Slickers.

O’Toole’s touching performance as the aging actor Maurice in Venus could (and should) allow him one final moment to shine.

Best Foreign Language Film

When Pan’s Labyrinth, Mexico’s submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category, received six Oscar nominations, there was a common expression of surprise among entertainment reporters.

Compared to the two films that received more Oscar nominations, Babel and Dreamgirls, Pan’s Labyrinth has gathered the least publicity and it is without a doubt the best of the three films.

Director Guillermo del Toro has created a cinema masterpiece. The film is about a young girl who uses a fairy tale to escape her troubled life. Don’t be surprised when this wonderful film walks away with not only the Academy Award in this category, but in other categories as well.

Best Picture

The award show season unofficially begins sometime during December. By the time the Golden Globes occur in early January, the frontrunners in most categories are obvious. Yet, this year is unique because there is no apparent leader for Best Picture.

The favorite flip flops between Babel and The Departed, and then other days Letters from Iwo Jima or The Queen seem [to be] the likely victors. Little Miss Sunshine has always been the underdog.

Maybe after last year’s Crash/Brokeback Mountain fiasco, critics are more wary to pick a winner. Or maybe it is because this has been a superb year for performances and not a great year for movies. Honestly, the Best Picture of 2007 is anyone’s call and the only certainty is that Dreamgirls doesn’t have a shot at winning.

Published: The Mount Holyoke News
February 22, 2007

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