Yes, when making our three-out-of-five predictions on who would be nominated here, we argued how refreshing it was to see a prospective category stocked with supporting performances, instead of co-leads. Even though, in replacing Jack Nicholson and Brad Pitt (who both were sort of iffy on the lead-supporting continuum) with Mark Wahlberg’s middle finger and Jackie Earle Haley’s little appendage, the Academy implicitly agreed with us, the no-small-parts-only-small-actors initiative will probably fail to move through committee if Oscar voters vote with where history has informed us their hearts lead them: lefty, global market agitprop. Eddie Murphy has the Globe and the SAG endorsement backing him up. However, Djimon Hounsou’s ferocity in his co-leading Blood Diamond role—hell, he might actually have a tad more screen time than DiCaprio—will certainly translate to ethical sincerity to many Oscar voters (who already indicated their affinity for the film by nominating it in nearly as many categories as Murphy’s film). It’s a battle of showbiz sensationalism against political…um, sensationalism. Even on the shorter Oscar calendar, it’s difficult not to perceive the Dreamgirls snub in the Best Picture category as a sign of even-still receding enthusiasm. If Hounsou could get nominated out of thin air for In America (and over a strong list of also rans including Peter Sarsgaard, Albert Finney, and everybody in Seabiscuit), it’s difficult to imagine he can’t win for Blood Diamond. Sure, we may still end up hedging our bets when money’s on the table in our Oscar party pools and opt for Murphy (whose alternately rakish and morose performance, the only human thing in all of Dreamgirls, is certainly more award-worthy than Jennifer Hudson’s turn). But if the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe voting bodies are largely made up of people who are just thrilled to be in the same room with stars like Murphy, the Oscars are mostly voted on by people who actually have to work with him…on scale with no residuals. Add to that the release of the Mama Klump-besmirching Norbit and we’re not exactly cashing in the goodwill here.
Will Win: Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Should Win: Mark Wahlberg, The Departed