- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2007

Best Picture

Heart says: “The Departed.” My pick for best film of the year wasn’t nominated — the German film “The Lives of Others” is astonishing, but great foreign language films are rarely given the recognition they deserve. Still, I don’t have to go down very far. Martin Scorsese’s exploration of the many guises of evil was a serious but seriously engaging film.

Head says: For the first time in years, this is a real five-way race. My guess is that “The Departed” will eke out a victory over “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Best Director

Heart says: Martin Scorsese, “The Departed.” With no missteps and showing almost perfect judgment, “The Departed” is the culmination of a career exploring the American psyche.

Head says: Martin Scorsese, “The Departed.” With eight nominations and no wins, it’s about time.

Best Actor

Heart says: Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland.” The great Peter O’Toole, after eight nominations, certainly deserves a win. And his shocking performance in “Venus” must have been difficult to pull off. But as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, Mr. Whitaker accomplished the even trickier feat of showing us that a monster is also a man.

Head says: Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland.” As soon as I walked out of “The Last King of Scotland” at the Toronto Film Festival last year, I knew its star’s acting tour de force was going to be hard to beat.

Best Actress

Heart says: Helen Mirren, “The Queen.” The sexy Miss Mirren completely disappeared into her savvy, thoughtful portrayal of Elizabeth II. (But I’m still wondering why Laura Dern wasn’t nominated for her masterly, wide-ranging work in David Lynch’s “Inland Empire.”)

Head says: Helen Mirren, “The Queen.” This is Miss Mirren’s year. We should be thankful that the acclaim for her pitch-perfect performance has made her reconsider a possible retirement.

Best Supporting Actor

Heart says: Jackie Earle Haley, “Little Children.” One feels like Mr. Haley put everything into his brave, moving performance as a disturbed sex offender. The former child actor should have gotten more notice for a startling comeback with this and “All the King’s Men.”

Head says: Alan Arkin, “Little Miss Sunshine.” I’ll swim against the Eddie Murphy tide here, and guess that the veteran actor’s scene-stealing work as the deliciously dirty grandpa had academy members in stitches, too.

Best Supporting Actress

Heart says: Rinko Kikuchi, “Babel.” The young Miss Kikuchi bared all — physically and emotionally — in a stunning performance that would be impressive in an actress with twice the experience. As a deaf teenager fumbling for human connection, she stole the show from the pros in the ensemble film.

Head says: Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls.” Many critics were star-struck by the American Idol runner-up’s performance of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Academy voters will be, too. They’ll also feel good about themselves voting for an underdog who played an underdog.

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