- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2007

Best Picture

Heart says: “Letters From Iwo Jima.” Clint Eastwood’s empathic vision of the enemy during World War II is the sort of transformative experience that defines an Oscar-caliber film.

Head says: “Babel.” Consider “Babel” “Crash 2.0,” a quasi-message movie that makes voters feel good while applauding something that’s both rigorously crafted and intricately layered.

Best Director

Heart says: Paul Greengrass, “United 93.” I’m as grumpy about Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-less mantle as the next film geek, but Mr. Greengrass flat-out deserves the honor for shooting such a moving, dare we say important, film.

Head says: Martin Scorsese, “The Departed.” It’s time to right the decades-long wrong, and “The Departed” is a better vehicle for doing that than “The Aviator” or “Gangs of New York.”

Best Actor

Heart says: Peter O’Toole, “Venus.” Win or lose, Mr. O’Toole should win the lovely bugger outright for his towering performance as a lothario out for one last conquest.

Head says: Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland.” Mr. Whitaker’s superlative re-creation has won nearly every best actor award so far. This weekend will be no different.

Best Actress

Heart says: Helen Mirren, “The Queen.” As the cold, calculating Queen of England, Miss Mirren conveys more with a pursed smile than Al Pacino does in full rant mode.

Head says: Helen Mirren, “The Queen.” The biggest no-brainer of the night.

Best Supporting Actor

Heart says: Eddie Murphy, “Dreamgirls.” The comic summons his improvisational genius for this career-resurrecting role.

Head says: This critic’s antennae are still fuzzy on this one, but my hunch is Mr. Murphy’s can’t-miss status slipped a few notches in recent weeks. If I have to pick a dark horse, I’ll go with Jackie Earle Haley, whose creepy character in “Little Children” manages to elicit both moral revulsion and compassion.

Best Supporting Actress

Heart says: Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls.” I watched grown men and women at a screening stand up and cheer Miss Hudson during one powerhouse sequence. Part of me wanted to stand, too.

Head says: Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls.” Miss Hudson didn’t become our next American Idol. She’ll have to settle for an Oscar.

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