Sakeriver Movie Awards for 2006

Huzzah! More than a full day remains before the Oscars and the SMAs are ready and rarin' to go!

OK, enough of that silliness, on with the show (I know you are all just waiting with bated breath):

Best Drama: The Departed

I really wanted to give this one to The Great New Wonderful--not only was it a really, really good movie but picking such an unknown film would have been really satisfying to my inner snob. In the end, though, I had to go with Scorsese. A lot of people think that this could be the one that breaks Scorsese's long streak of losing at the Oscars and I can see why. Thrillers don't get much more intense than The Departed and, besides, the whole cast was fantastic.

Runners-Up: Babel, Children of Men, The Great New Wonderful, Pursuit of Happyness, The Queen

Best Comedy: Little Miss Sunshine

I'm not completely sure why I picked this one. Borat was funnier, and all of the runners-up were smarter. Still, Little Miss Sunshine had a certain charm to it. I can't quite put my finger on what about it I like so much; I just like it. Not exactly high praise, I know, but there you have it.

Runners-Up: Borat: Cultural Learnings of American for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Stranger than Fiction, Thank You for Smoking, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

Best Actor: Will Smith (Pursuit of Happyness)

This was another close one for me--Hugh Jackman really did a fantastic job in The Fountain. Ultimately, I chose Will Smith because I think his role was a little more challenging. See, the "down-on-his-luck guy who struggles and eventually makes good" story has been told enough times now that the shine has worn off, and it's really easy to let that role slide into cheese. Smith, though, actually brought tears to my eyes. I'm a pretty jaded movie snob but even I found this movie heart-warming, and that was entirely due to Smith's performance.

Runners-Up: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed), Paul Giamatti (Lady in the Water), Hugh Jackman (The Fountain)

Best Actress: Helen Mirren (The Queen)

So, it does turn out that Helen Mirren wins my award this year because she's the only one who qualified, but don't let that fool you. She really did do a fantastic job with this performance, investing her character with both authority and vulnerability. Mirren's performance inspired me to learn more about the real Queen Elizabeth--I can't think of much higher praise I could offer.

Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine)

Funny and moving--what more could you ask for? That's Alan Arkin for you. On the one hand, his grouchy old man schtick made me laugh out loud. At the same time, the relationship with his on-screen granddaughter was really quite touching. He really made the movie, for me anyway.

Runners-Up: Billy Crudup (Trust the Man), Robert Downey, Jr. (A Scanner Darkly), Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls), Mark Wahlberg (The Departed)

Best Supporting Actress: Emma Thompson (Stranger than Fiction)

What struck me about Emma Thompson in Stranger than Fiction was how old she looked. That's one of the things I find so interesting about her, the way she can look so different from movie to movie. In this one, she just nailed her character--a curmudgeonly hermit of a writer. I'm never surprised when Thompson does a good job, but I'm always impressed.

Runners-Up: Adriana Barraza (Babel), Jacinda Barrett (The Last Kiss)