- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

Best Picture

Heart says: “Brokeback Mountain.” With terrific films like “Hustle & Flow,” “The Squid & the Whale” and “King Kong” left off the list, “Brokeback” is the best of a disappointing quintet.

Head says: “Brokeback Mountain.” It’s hard to imagine how momentum won’t take “Brokeback” to the winner’s circle this weekend.

Best Director

Heart: Paul Haggis, “Crash.” Mr. Haggis’ film isn’t perfect, but it’s the most thought-provoking of the lot.

Head: Ang Lee, “Brokeback Mountain.” A twofer for academy voters: They can congratulate themselves on their broad-mindedness for embracing a same-sex romance, plus reward a talent whose range (from “The Ice Storm” to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) makes him the envy of his peers.

Best Actor

Heart: Terrence Howard, “Hustle & Flow.” Who could make a no good, dirty pimp worthy of our measured respect? Mr. Howard can, and the Oscars should act accordingly.

Head: Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Capote.” The erstwhile character actor vaults into the big leagues with his pitch-perfect performance. Believe the buzz.

Best Actress

Heart: Reese Witherspoon, “Walk the Line.” The film may be overrated, but there’s nothing hollow about Miss Witherspoon’s transformation into June Carter Cash.

Head: Reese Witherspoon, “Walk the Line.” Miss Witherspoon’s closest competition comes from “Transamerica’s” Felicity Huffman, but more voters likely saw “Walk the Line” and want to christen Miss Witherspoon as the next bankable actress.

Best Supporting Actor

Heart: Matt Dillon, “Crash.” A terrific performance for a young old pro who rarely gets acknowledged for his broad range.

Head: Paul Giamatti, “Cinderella Man.” The Oscars love to use the current year to wipe out mistakes of yore. How Mr. Giamatti got overlooked for “Sideways” remains a mystery, so guilty voters will right that wrong.

Best Supporting Actress

Heart: Michelle Williams, “Brokeback Mountain.” The “Dawson’s Creek” actress shattered our hearts with her turn as the spurned wife holding her family together at all costs.

Head:chel Weiszcq, “The Constant Gardener.” Miss Weisz mesmerizes as the idealistic anti-pharma warrior, a difficult role she makes look so very simple. The academy will want to recognize this assault on capitalist amorality, and this will be the best way to do so.

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