Don’t be a grouch: An A&E romp through this year’s Oscar noms

Aaron AllenA&E Writer

“…And I’d like to thank my lawyer, the lady who walks my dog, the Incredible Hulk, my husband…” Gil Cates, producer of this year’s Oscar show, gathered up the nominees and told them to keep it short. If your acceptance speech runs more than 45 seconds, he will cue the band-them’s the rules. Of course, rules are meant to be broken. Julia Roberts proved this a few years ago when she all but told the conductor to stick his little wand where the sun don’t shine. Emotional wins withstanding, shorter means better to Cates. There’s even talk about some of the technical awards being delivered straight to the winners’ seats. How about they give a pair of roller-skates and a hairnet to the presenters? “Do you want fries with your Oscar?” On the bright side of things, the Academy has picked some fine movies to consider for its various prizes, including Best Picture. In the A&E section today, check out our picks and reasoning in a somewhat particular order.

Top prize: Best Picture”Finding Neverland”Directed by Marc Forster Johnny Depp stars as “Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie in this weepy flight of the imagination. Forster was overlooked in the directing category, which pretty much kills any Best Picture chance this movie had. Expect an award for its sentimental score, but unless someone invents a category for “Sexiest Male Cheekbones,” “Neverland’s” haul come Sunday night will be next to nil.

“Million Dollar Baby”Directed by Clint Eastwood It’s not a sports drama, but an intense story about a manager and his boxer who must face the big questions about life and death. It’s stirring up a lot of controversy, and it has got the momentum-that, and it’s a damn good movie. Expect Eastwood and company to storm the stage at the end of the night. Unless it’s upset by…

“The Aviator”Directed by Martin Scorsese DiCaprio stars as obsessive- compulsive billionaire Howard Hughes. Scorsese’s never won a directing Oscar and many people thought this would be his year. However, Eastwood won the Director’s Guild Award a few weeks ago, which is typically a sure-fire indicator of who will win at the Oscars. Could there be a split? Best Picture to “Baby” and Best Director to Scorsese? Only in a perfect world.

“Ray”Directed by Taylor Hackford Jamie Foxx will win Best Actor for his portrayal of music legend Ray Charles-it would be a major upset if he didn’t. As for the movie itself, too many people think it’s mired in biopic clichs for it to gather enough support for the big award.

“Sideways”Directed by Alexander Payne This story about a couple of buddies on a trip through California’s wine country swept the critics’ awards. Oscar won’t be so kind. Not only are they stingy when it comes to honoring comedy, but the movie’s star, Paul Giamatti, was snubbed in the Best Actor category, which proves it doesn’t have strong support. An adapted-screenplay award may be its lopsided consolation prize.

Aaron Allen’s slick picksBest PictureWill Win: “Million Dollar Baby”Should Win: “Sideways”

Best DirectorWill Win: Clint Eastwood (“Million Dollar Baby”)Should Win: Martin Scorsese (“The Aviator”)

Best Actor in a Leading RoleWill Win: Jamie Foxx (“Ray”)Should Win: Jamie Foxx (“Ray”)

Best Actress in a Leading RoleWill Win: Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”)Should Win: Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”)

Best Actor in a Supporting RoleWill Win: Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”)Should Win: Thomas Haden Church (“Sideways”)

Best Actress in a Supporting RoleWill Win: Cate Blanchett (“The Aviator”)Should Win: Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”)

Best Original ScreenplayWill Win: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindShould Win: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Best Adapted ScreenplayWill Win: SidewaysShould Win: Sideways