Best Actor and Actress - Hoffman and Huffman
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN (Capote) has won almost every major Best Actor Award this season, including best actor Golden Globe in the drama category. His portrayal of the late author Truman Capote is exceptional and uncanny, to say the least, and this one is probably a done deal.
That is not to discount HEATH LEDGER (Brokeback Mountain), who could win on the coattails of the movie because it is being touted as the sure best film winner. JOAQUIN PHOENIX (Walk the Line) is the popular choice, having won the Golden Globe in the musical/comedy category, and Walk the Line has done well at the box office, having topped one million.
TERRENCE HOWARD is nominated for Hustle & Flow, instead of Crash, and that may weaken his chance. DAVID STRAHAIRN (Good Night, and Good Luck) gives a perfectly understated performance as Edward R. Murrow, the newsman who quietly and deliberately countered the mass hysteria surrounding the McCarthy-led, "commie witch hunt in the 1950s." The problem for STRAHAIRN is, "Who really remembers Murrow fifty years later?" The problem for WILLIAM HURT (A History of Violence), is that the title of the film may hurt his chances (no pun intended).
FELICITY HUFFMAN (Transamerica) has also won some important awards in this category, including the Golden Globe in drama, and she has the highest female "likeability" quotient among Academy members. Of course, there are some heavyweights running strongly, chief among them REESE WITHERSPOON (Walk the Line), winner of the Golden Globe in musical and/or comedy, is a popular choice. KEIRA KNIGHTLEY (Pride & Prejudice), would win hands-down if beauty were the only requirement for wining. Both DAME JUDIE DENCH (Mrs. Henderson Presents) and CHARLIZE THERON (North Country) are certified heavyweights. However, I don't think this is the year, or the movie vehicle, that will allow either to win. Neither film has made any kind of a showing at the box office."
Best Supporting Actor and Actress - This category is always a crap shoot, because there are so many variables, but I'm going with CLOONEY and WEIZ.
There are three actors who stand the best chance of winning the best performance by an actor in a supporting role. The leader of the pack is GEORGE CLOONEY (Syriana), also nominated for best director and producer of Good Night, and Good Luck; and he won the Golden Globe in the best-supporting category. Of all the actors, CLOONEY has the highest male "likeability" quotient among the Academy members.
However like Heath Ledger, JAKE GYLLENHAAL, (Brokeback Mountain) might benefit from the coattail effect. Both PAUL GIAMATTI (Cinderella Man), and MATT DILLON (Crash) certainly give strong performances, and both have won at least two prior major awards. Either one could squeak through if the vote is split, as often happens with this category.
RACHEL WEISZ (Constant Gardener) won the Golden Globe in this category, and seems to be a front runner. According to the buzz I hear and read, the film is well liked and so is WEISZ. Both she, and another not-too-well-known, AMY ADAMS (Junebug) are strong contenders. The same is probably true for FRANCES McDORMAND (North Country) as it is for Charlize Theron, this is not the year or the movie to make McDORMAND a winner.
MICHELLE WILLIAMS (Brokeback Mountain) has that coattail effect going for her. Either she, or CATHERINE KEENER (Capote), could win if the vote is split, which also happens fairly often in this category.