The 2006 Oscar Race Has Begun!
December 29, 2005

Oscar ballots went out Thursday, and "Extra," with the help of movie guru Richard Roeper, has your ticket to the hottest Academy Award contenders for 2006!

In the Best Actor category, Roeper told us, "This is a breakout year for George Clooney. His performance in 'Syriana' is the best work he's ever done."

"I think the one performance that everybody is saying is slam dunk for a nomination is Phillip Seymour Hoffman for 'Capote,'" Roeper added.

And don't discount "Brokeback Mountain" come Oscar time. Roeper said, "Heath Ledger's performance is astonishing."

Meanwhile, Joaquin Phoenix could be walking toward a nomination for "Walk the Line." "I think Joaquin Phoenix gives a better performance in 'Walk the Line' than Jamie Foxx did in 'Ray,'" added Roeper.

Move over all you Best Actor contenders, because there are some hot Best Actresses on the way. Reese Withersoon is in strong contention for Best Actress for the first time, playing the love of Johnny Cash's life, June Carter.

"To me it's one of the best performances of the year," Roeper said. "I think she's got a good shot."

But despite the hype, Reese isn't feeling the pressure. "The main pressure was making the film," she admitted. "And living up to the expectations."

Roeper thinks the small film "The Squid and the Whale" could have a whale of a time during Oscar season. "Laura Linney I think has a shot for 'The Squid and the Whale,'" he told us.

Besides "Syriana" and "Capote," Roeper hopes the Academy considers "Crash" for Oscar gold in the Best Picture category. "Those performances, that film, the screenplay 'Crash' should be remembered," he insisted.

The remake of the classic beauty and the beast story, "King Kong," could also scare up a nomination. "We shouldn't discount that as an Oscar contender," Roeper said.

But Roeper's number one Oscar contender for Best Picture is "Munich," which opened in limited release last week. "Just because of the pedigree of Steven Spielberg, the subject matter and the buzz around it," he explained.


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