No doubt about it, Paul Giamatti shoulda been honored as a contender. Still, no doubt about it, the Oscar oughta go to Foxx for the fire with which the star of Ray doesn't so much play Ray Charles as become him, in a tour de force transformation.
In her towering performance in Vera Drake, playing a motherly British abortionist circa 1950, the anti-star shows a self-effacing commitment to naturalistic anti-dazzle in the service of character truth. The results are. . .dazzling.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
He's the guy who pulls the whole cast closer in Closer by his sheer, hell-for-leather ferocity as a man driven to grab what he wants out of life and to punish those who thwart him.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Madsen's irresistible comeback story in Sideways is why we love Hollywood: A knocked-about blonde makes audiences swoon in a glorious career second act playing a knocked-about blonde.
BEST SCREENPLAY (ORIGINAL)
The cool, black-leather-jacketed downtown chick in me salutes Eternal Sunshine. . . for its origami beauty and magic. But all of me is in awe of Brad Bird's supple, funny-serious cartoon/family saga and the incredible originality with which Bird has expanded the dramatic capabilities of animated storytelling.
BEST SCREENPLAY (ADAPTED)
Rex Pickett is the luckiest first-time novelist on earth: Unnervingly gifted screenwriters Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor have turned Pickett's wine-soaked buddies-on-the-road fiction into the year's warmest, wisest, and most sophisticated adult fairy tale.
Because Eastwood made a great, unflinching movie his own damn way, with economy, grace, and the courage to say tough stuff simply. And because he inspired the same virtues in everyone who worked on Million Dollar Baby with him.
Wouldn't it be amazing and delightful and reason for hope if Academy voters got wild and crazy and gave the top Oscar to the movie that best exemplifies the exciting creative possibilities that can come of blending indie sensibility with Hollywood sense? Wouldn't it be grand if the hippest choice won?
Swaying with virile joy, speaking in a mellifluous hipster stutter that craftily conceals his ego, Foxx's Ray Charles is an impersonation of sheer virtuosity, yet what's indelible is the way that the actor invites us to see through the mind's eye of a man whose triumph, and tragedy, is that he had to do it His Way.
She creates a punkette heroine who is such a vibrant and unstable free spirit that it wounds, and moves, us to discover the lost-girl vulnerability she only thinks she can hide.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Thomas Haden Church
At first, I thought he was a bad actor playing a bad actor. Then I saw the sly magic of Church's deceptively goofy turn as a guy who could almost be addressing the audience when he says, ''You don't understand my plight.''