First off, Jake Gyllenhaal got the shaft this year. Seriously, he should be up for Best Actor along with Heath Ledger. I know they don't want to place one against the other, because then neither is likely to win or whatever, but still. But to be in the same category as William Hurt who was only in the film for about 10 minutes (brilliant as they were) when Gyllenhaal was in about 75% of the film seems unfair. The problem is, his role would normally fall into the category of "Best Actress in a Lead Role", but since he's a man, and the film is MARGINALLY more about Ledger's character, he's pushed into supporting actor. Not only that, but his work in Jarhead went completely unnoticed (but then again, so did the whole film...not a single nomination, and it was a surprising excellent film). I really hope he at least gets the Oscar he's nominated for, though I doubt he will.
I doubt Gyllenhaal will get it because I'm fairly sure it will go to George Clooney. Clooney is up for three Oscars: Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, and for Direction on "Good Night and Good Luck". Now, I think the writing award is going to go to Stephen Gaghan, since that's the only other nomination Syriana seems to have (I was actually PLEASANTLY surprised it wasn't up for Best Picture). That's the iffiest one though, and it MIGHT go to Clooney. Or it might go to Woody Allen, for all I know, everyone on the list this year is pretty top notch (though I can't speak for Crash...can't imagine why they'd name the film that after Cronenberg's film...that was enough for me not to see it). I have a gut feeling Best Director won't go to Clooney. But he got the Golden Globe for Supporting Actor if I recall, and I have a feeling that this year that will translate to an Oscar as well. Besides, he has a beard in that one, and we all know beard=awesome. That, and his fingernails got ripped off.
To me, the Best Actress nominees are pretty dull, honestly. Nothing stand-out like Charlize Theron in "Monster" (the only award I agreed with that whole year). Maybe Reese Witherspoon will get it, but my gut goes with Felicity Huffman. Again, I can't really say anything definate in this category, it's pretty so-so. Best Supporting Actress is a little more interesting, I'd like to see Catherine Keener get it because she's well-deserving of the award, but Michelle Williams wouldn't be a bad choice either. These are the two major categories that I care the least about though.
Best Original Screenplay could go any way, though as I said, I tend to think it will go to Gaghan. I'd love it if it didn't though...that'll show him for being heavy handed, Mr. "I-Wrote-Traffic-And-I'm-Awesome,-Bitche
My favorite for Best Director is of course Ang Lee, as anyone who knows an iota about me could probably guess. I think he'll get it too, since he didn't get it for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Speilberg made what I hear is a great film (I still haven't had a chance to see it, though I do actually want to), but I think the reasons for it NOT to be Speilberg are obvious. If it doesn't go to Lee, then I hope Clooney gets it. He's a damn fine director. This is yet another tricky category to say definately, but my leaning it towards Lee.
As I said, I feel that whoever wins Best Screenplay (whichever category) will probably win Best Picture. That's the way it usually goes, isn't it? I'd like to see it go to Brokeback Mountain, naturally, but feel like it may well go Capote or Munich. Best director will still go to Ang Lee regardless of these two though, I think.
Best Lead Actor is my last category because this is actually, in my opinion, the toughest category to decide on. Philip Seymor Hoffman has had an OUTSTANDING career and deserves an Oscar for his work (one of the "lifetime acheivement" choices). He's brilliant and I love him. He's a very strong choice. Joaquin Pheonix is also an excellent actor, and deserving, but I think he's less likely to get it (his is one of the "it's an honor just to be nominated" sort of things...I think he'll get one someday, just not this year). And then there is Heath Ledger. His career is hands down not as brilliant as Hoffman's. But he's nominated for an admittedly excellent perfomance...as a gay cowboy. That would be a STATEMENT on the part of the Academy, and I think it's the statement they want to make this year (his is the political choice...like Halle Berry a couple years back). So it's hard for me to even say who I WANT to win, let alone who WILL win. I'm torn who to "root" for. In the end, I'll be happy with Hoffman or Ledger, I suppose.
Now, all I have to do is wait for a month to see what happens...
P.S. - Howl's Moving Castle is my choice for Best Animated Film, but it could also go to Corpse Bride and I'd agree with that. This category doesn't really fit in with the rest of the rant.