::UPDATE - Midnight, 2/26/07::
Click here for a complete list of the evening's nominees and winners.
Some were chosen by my head, some by my heart. As promised, here (in bold) are my picks for this year's Academy Awards:
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
It's possible that Sunshine could play spoiler here, but I honestly believe that The Departed is one of Marty Scorsese's best pictures, and it's way past time the Academy recognized his work.
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Babel
Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Clint Eastwood, Letters From Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears, The Queen
Paul Greengrass, United 93
Like I said above, (I sure hope) this is Marty's year.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
I've always enjoyed Whitaker's work, but this is the first time he's ever truly given himself over to a character. He was absolutely brilliant as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. He earned this award.
Penélope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet, Little Children
I haven't seen any of these films yet, and it appears unlikely that I will prior to Sunday night's awards ceremony, so I'm going with my head here and picking the woman who's already taken home something like two dozen awards for her role as England's Queen Elizabeth II.
Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg, The Departed
Going with my head once again here. Everyone has been raving about Murphy's performance in Dreamgirls, it'd be a surprise if he didn't win. Personally, I loved Alan Arkin as the heroin-addicted grandfather in Sunshine.
Best Supporting Actress
Adriana Barraza, Babel
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi, Babel
See above. Hudson has seemed like a lock for this award since before the film even opened.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer and Todd Phillips, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, Children of Men
William Monahan, The Departed
Todd Field and Tom Perrotta, Little Children
Patrick Marber, Notes on a Scandal
While my heart wants to vote for Borat, I can't overlook Bill Monahan's gritty, brutal script. He wrote The Departed like 21st century Shakespeare. I mean, c'mon, everybody freakin' dies.
Best Original Screenplay
Guillermo Arriaga, Babel
Iris Yamashita and Paul Haggis, Letters From Iwo Jima
Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine
Guillermo del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth
Peter Morgan, The Queen
I so want Pan's Labyrinth to win this award, because I just love del Toro's work, but this might be the only big award Sunshine has a real chance to win.
Children of Men
What can I say? The Departed was one of my favorite movies of 2006.
The Black Dahlia
Children of Men
Watch the movie. It's nothing less than stunning to look at.
Best Art Direction
The Good Shepherd
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
I don't know what looked more spectacular, the bright, vibrant fantasy world or the harsh, somber real one. Both are a real treat for the eye.
Best Foreign Language Film
After the Wedding, Denmark
Days of Glory (Indigenes), Algeria
The Lives of Others, Germany
Pan's Labyrinth, Mexico
Labyrinth is such a grim(m), beautiful and touching movie, in any language. I can't wait to see what del Toro gives us next. (Hellboy 2, I think.)
Best Animated Feature
C'mon, it's Pixar.