After much deliberation, Oscar Frenzy is pleased to announce our fall predictions for Best Picture. More than previous years, there has been surge in Oscar predictions among leading Oscar sites and blogs. To check out what everyone else is forecasting, click on the PredictMatrix. Meanwhile, here are our picks (in alphabetical order):

BREAKING AND ENTERING (The Weinstein Company)
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS (Paramount/Dreamworks)
THE GOOD SHEPHERD (Universal)
LITTLE CHILDREN (New Line)
UNITED 93 (Universal)

BREAKING AND ENTERING:

This film has been on our radar ever since March. Minghella is due for a breakthrough, after both The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain missed out on Best Picture nominations. “Breaking” received lavish praise at the Toronto Film Festival and we think its December release (pushed back from October) will position it perfectly for the awards season.

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS:

The only hesitation in picking Eastwood’s latest offering is that the country may not be interested in a war movie, therefore diminishing “Flag’s” box office potential. Still, we think the Academy will recognize the quality and prestigious nature of the picture. Furthermore, we just cannot fathom that an Eastwood directed and Spielberg produced film will not crack the Academy’s top five.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD:

As it stands, this is the riskiest of the five. There has been very little word of mouth or buzz heading into October. Plus, Deniro is still unproven as a director and this is only his second feature film. We’re standing behind this pick, however, based on the story. The inside tale of a man who helped to build the CIA during the Cold War, all the while keeping his work hidden from his family sounds intriguing. Matt Damon kicked off his career with a great dramatic effort (Good Will Hunting, also nominated for Best Picture). After commercial success through the Bourne and Ocean’s franchises, we think Damon marks his awards-caliber return in style.

LITTLE CHILDREN:

This movie will really tap into people’s souls. It’s about deep rooted emotions, desires, and prejudices. Todd Field (In the Bedroom) is a capable director who understands the art of subtlety. Something tells us the combination of good story, gutwrenching performances (namely Kate Winslet and newcomer Patrick Wilson), and restrained direction will lead to a Best Picture nomination. The trailer is awesome.

UNITED 93:

Very rarely do the five Best Picture nominees not include one film from the spring or summer. United 93 and Thank You For Smoking stand out as the only serious contenders from early 2006. But “Thank You,” a satire and social commentary, doesn’t quite fit the Oscar mode. “United,” on the other hand, is the perfect blend of raw emotion and creative, realistic story-telling that captures people’s attentions. With World Trade Center too hokey for critics and audiences alike, look for United 93 to pick up the slack in the year of 9-11’s five year anniversary, when terrorism and heroism are on people’s minds.

Interestingly enough, four of our current fall picks were also our spring Best Picture predictions, made shortly after this year’s Oscar telecast. Only The Departed is now replaced with United 93. That being said, let’s also take a look at the other would-be contenders, and the reasons they failed to make the short list.

DREAMGIRLS is on most people’s top five list, and we had them there for a while too. But we now believe it may not be serious enough to qualify. 2006 appears to be shaping up much like last year, where all the nominees were serious, somewhat dark dramas. THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND has picked up good buzz, but it might get pigeon-holed into being a “performance-driven” movie, as Forest Whitaker is a front-runner for Best Actor. Same goes for Helen Mirren and THE QUEEN. Marty Scorsese is back with THE DEPARTED, but a remake of Infernal Affairs, a gangster movie, doesn’t quite sound like Oscar material. THE GOOD GERMAN seems promising with Clooney, Blanchett, Soderbergh, and a World War II backdrop. But something tells us it’s going to flop. Sounds a little too much like Oscar-baiting. We’re certain BABEL will be a critical success and favored to be nominated. But one favorite usually gets left on the sidelines. This year, we’ll predict Babel since its storyline seems strikingly familiar to last year’s winner Crash. Finally, THE PAINTED VEIL seems like an excellent story, but there’s been zero buzz thus far and frankly, the picture just seems too small to get noticed.

Until December, folks.

The 6th Day movie