Analysis: On to the Oscars

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Jan. 17, 2005 at 7:56 AM   |   0 comments

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- "The Aviator," "Million Dollar Baby" and "Sideways" seem to be at the head of this year's class of Oscar contenders, following big wins for all three at the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills on Sunday.

"The Aviator" -- Martin Scorsese's movie biography of Howard Hughes -- was the big winner with three awards, including the top prize for best motion picture drama and a best dramatic actor award for Leonardo DiCaprio. Howard Shore also won for his original music score for "The Aviator."

Scorsese -- who won a Golden Globe two years ago for directing "Gangs of New York" -- did not manage to repeat this year. The directing award went instead to Clint Eastwood for the boxing-themed drama "Million Dollar Baby" -- which also took the top prize for actress in a drama movie, for Hilary Swank's performance as a working class woman whose dedication takes her to a title bout.

"Sideways" -- a favorite among movie critics' organizations during the current awards season -- won for best musical or comedy movie. Its director, Alexander Payne, won for best screenplay with his writing partner Jim Taylor.

"Closer" -- the latest from director Mike Nichols -- also won two Golden Globes, for supporting performances by Clive Owen and Natalie Portman.

Jamie Foxx won for best actor in a musical or comedy for his performance as Ray Charles in "Ray." Foxx seems to be virtually unstoppable on the road to Oscar gold -- despite highly regarded performances by DiCaprio, Paul Giamatti in "Sideways," Don Cheadle in "Hotel Rwanda," Javier Bardem in "The Sea Inside" and Johnny Depp in "Finding Neverland."

Speaking with reporters backstage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Foxx called the win -- and the critical praise for "Ray" -- a "blessing," coming so close to the birthday of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

"I feel great for black people," said Foxx.

Annette Bening won for best actress in a musical or comedy for "Being Julia." She and Swank will almost certainly be among the nominees for Best Actress when this year's Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 25 -- with the rest of the field possibly including Imelda Staunton for "Vera Drake," Kate Winslet for "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and Catalina Sandino Moreno for "Maria Full of Grace."

Along with "The Aviator," "Million Dollar Baby" and "Sideways," two other films -- "Finding Neverland" and "The Incredibles" -- stand the best chance of winning the Best Picture Oscar. They are this year's nominees for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award, the Producers Guild of America's annual prize for best picture -- and 11 of the past 15 PGA winners have gone on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

"The Sea Inside" won for best foreign language film. Director Alejandro Amenábar said the movie -- based on the life of Spanish poet Ramon Sampedro, who fought for his own right to die after he became paralyzed -- would help promote Sampedro's cause.

Euthanasia also figures prominently "Million Dollar Baby" -- although it is depicted with some moral ambiguity. Eastwood said he had no expectations that the movie might have any influence on public policy regarding right-to-die issues.

"How people feel about that is up to them," he said. "I'm not a pro-euthanasia person and this is a story about a giant dilemma and how one person had to face that."

In the TV categories Sunday, the F/X plastic surgery drama "Nip/Tuck" won for best drama series and ABC's campy breakout hit "Desperate Housewives" won for best comedy series.

Ryan Murphy, the creator of "Nip/Tuck" -- citing such shows as his own, "The Shield" and "Rescue Me" -- credited the F/X cable channel with supporting artists and freedom of expression.

"Every year we try to push the boundaries of what television does," he said. "For me F/X is now the place to go for vanguard programming in town."

However, Geoffrey Rush -- who won a Golden Globe for his performance in the title role of HBO's "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" -- said HBO was still on the cutting edge of TV production.

"They don't cut corners," he said, "and they do give actors the richest material possible."

"The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" won for best miniseries or made for TV movie.

In both film and TV categories, the Golden Globes this year paid tribute to mature women. The average age of all women nominees was 38, and the average of age of the winners was just a shade under 40.

Backstage, someone asked Teri Hatcher -- who won for best actress in a TV comedy series, "Desperate Housewives" -- if she could explain it.

"Because it's the new 30," she joked. "Maybe it was an accident. Maybe they didn't realize we were over 40 when they cast us."

More seriously, Hatcher, 39, said women over 40 may just be more interesting.

Glenn Close, 56, won for best actress in a miniseries or made-for-TV movie for Showtime's "The Lion in Winter." She said cable is presenting better opportunities to older actresses.

"There have been wonderful things on network," she said, "but on cable the wonderful roles that they're offering us -- I think that's made a huge difference."

Someone asked Mick Jagger about it when he came backstage, after winning a Golden Globe with Dave Stewart for "Old Habits Die Hard," a song they wrote for last year's remake of "Alfie." Jagger, 60, turned the age question into something of a laughing matter.

"You have to do great performance," he said. "It's not enough just to be old."

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(Please send comments to nationaldesk@upi.com.)

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