Has this been a good year for cinema? I think so...
Blockbuster/event movies did less well and thought provoking indie films have made a great resurgence. Political and personal stories (and actors, not stars) seem to be back on the agenda.
Hollywood may be realising that film is an art form and that there are audiences for "grown-up" topics. It shouldn't be all about the takings. Well, we can but hope.
My guesses for this year's Oscar nominations:
Best film - Brokeback Mountain will doubtless win. It has won everything so far and I don't see the Academy bucking the trend. I'd also like to see Good Night, and Good Luck, Crash, Walk the Line and Jarhead go up for it, but reckon the latter will miss out to Capote. Syriana and Munich are outsiders.
Director - I've always enjoyed Clooney's style behind the camera, but reckon he'll be beaten by Ang Lee. Paul Haggis (Crash), Bennett Miller (Capote) will be there and Steven Spielberg (Munich) may edge out Fernando Merilles (The Constant Gardener) and Sam Mendes (Jarhead).
Actor - I think Philip Seymour Hoffman is amazing and would be very surprised if he or Heath Ledger don't scoop it. David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) and Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line) will be there, but there could be a surprise nomination - I'd like to see Jake Gyllenhall get some recognition for his turn in Jarhead.
Actress - I think Reese Witherspoon may get this based on her career rise, but Felicity Huffman is becoming a hot tip. Oscar likes it when women "play ugly". Charlize Theron (North Country), Ziyi Zhang (Memoirs of a Geisha) and our own Dame Judi (Mrs Henderson Presents) to round out the nominations.