Heidi Oringer's Oscar Predictions

Try as I might, I just couldn't avoid it. I wore a hat, ate right, washed my hands several times a day, and wiped the phone each time someone else used it. Still … I caught it.

I have Oscar fever!

I am making my predictions early so, if I'm right, you can say you heard it here first. If I'm not right, well … that just can't happen because I've got someone's college tuition and a mortgage riding on my picks. (OK, maybe it's only a crisp $20, but times are tight!)

Chicago went haywire with 13 nominations, one shy of Titanic's record of 14. The only missing nod from the bunch here was one for Richard Gere.

On a high note, it's nice to see women rule as Gere's co-stars Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah all garnered nominations. Everyone in the cast is saying it wouldn't have happened without the uncanny sensibilities of Rob Marshall, the film's director. They're probably right because, although their performances are strong, it's the whole sensory experience that makes this film a classic. We Owe One to Scorsese

Chicago will most certainly win Best Picture (prediction numero uno), but it's not likely that Mr. Marshall will see victory as its director, not because he doesn't deserve it, but because Martin Scorsese is nominated for Gangs of New York and the Oscar has eluded Martin on many occasions.

Whether he deserves it or not for Gangs, Scorsese is the sentimental favorite and he's practically a shoe-in (prediction numero dos). Of course the category is loaded with other talented men including Roman Polanski for The Pianist. No matter how good that film may be, let's face it, he isn't taking a Hollywood Holiday unless he wants to spend his latter days really living the HBO series, Oz.

In 1977, Polanski was embroiled in a scandal over having sex with a 13-year-old model, and rather than face the charges, he fled the country, where he's continued his career. If he steps onto U.S. soil, officials say he'll be arrested immediately. The Academy so poo-poos people who don't pick up their awards in person, so Roman's a no-show/no-go as far as I can see.

The other fellows up for best director, Stephen Daldry for The Hours and Pedro Almodovar for Talk to Her have to be happy just getting nominated. Moore Can’t Be Doubly Disappointed As for the ladies, Nicole Kidman seems, to the awards show novice, the likely frontrunner for best actress for her powerful performance in The Hours. However, Julianne Moore was outstanding in Far From Heaven and with a double nomination (one in the Supporting category for The Hours) she's got to walk away with something.

Moore's career has been stellar, and it is likely she will squeeze by Nicole and win the bigger prize of the two (numero tres).

I said weeks ago that Diane Lane deserved a nomination for Unfaithful. But that's as far as she'll get. Salma Hayek also got the Academy's howdy-do for Frida. That's the Oscar-end for her as well, but the recognition will open a door of juicy acting opportunities for these ladies so that should suffice as just reward. I anticipate though, as a side bet, that Diane Lane will receive an Oscar at some point in her career.

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