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w/ WNT midfielder Aly Wagner

With the 76th Annual Academy Awards coming up this Sunday (Feb. 29 – live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT), resident U.S. Soccer movie critic Aly Wagner critic sizes up the nominees for the top six awards in this special Oscars installment of “Aly at the Movies.”

Best Supporting Actress

  • Shohreh Aghdashloo, “House of Sand and Fog”
  • Patricia Clarkson, “Pieces of April”
  • Marcia Gay Harden, “Mystic River”
  • Holly Hunter, "Thirteen"
  • Renée Zellweger, “Cold Mountain”

Aly’s Pick: “I'm going to go with Holly Hunter in ‘Thirteen.’  I have a certain affinity for these independent films.  I'm a big fan of actors and actresses who will take roles in these types of movies for less pay and less notoriety.  How can you not admire someone for cutting their modest pay from 20 million to a mere 1 million?!  In all seriousness, I do respect the actors and actresses that will stretch their limits in these often uncomfortable roles.  Note to the Academy: If Renee ‘I try too hard to have squinty, sexy eyes’ Zellweger even sniffs the little gold man, I will be ill.”

Best Supporting Actor

  • Alec Baldwin, “The Cooler”
  • Benicio Del Toro, “21 Grams”
  • Djimon Hounsou, “In America”
  • Tim Robbins, “Mystic River”
  • Ken Watanabe, “The Last Samurai”

Aly’s Pick: “I'm going with the man who typifies that you don't have to be strikingly handsome to be sexy: Benicio Del Toro.  Package a sexy voice with burning eyes, throw him in a thought-provoking, somber film, and you've got my vote for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  Let's just be honest, I'm just voting for him in hopes that I can hear him speak as he accepts his award.”

Best Actress

  • Keisha Castle-Hughes, “Whale Rider”
  • Diane Keaton, “Something’s Gotta Give”
  • Samantha Morton, “In America”
  • Charlize Theron, “Monster”
  • Naomi Watts, “21 Grams”

Aly’s Pick: “I loved ‘Something's Gotta Give,’ but I can't give my nod to two old people making out.  Jack was great, Diane was great, but two grandparents doing a poor impression of sucking face does not make for enticing entertainment.  Charlize Theron is my choice.  You've got to love any beautiful actress that will alter her appearance so drastically for the worse in order to completely become the character she is playing.  Besides that, she is just a phenomenal actress and her tremendous range shows through in this film.”

Best Actor

  • Johnny Depp, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”
  • Ben Kingsley, “House of Sand and Fog”
  • Jude Law, “Cold Mountain”
  • Bill Murray, “Lost in Translation”
  • Sean Penn, “Mystic River”

Aly’s Pick: “It's a toss up.  Don't do this to me, Center Circle!  Do I go with always hilarious, but tragically unattractive, Bill Murray in one of my favorite films of the year?  Or, do I stick with my superficial tendency to always choose the super-sexy bad boy Johnny Depp?  Ayyee matey, it must be Johnny who gets the gold!! (Did anyone even think I have matured enough to NOT pick the hot guy?).  Actually, how could you not chose a guy whose inspiration for the role was the combination of the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards and famous cartoon skunk Pepe LePew?”

Best Director

  • Fernando Meirelles, “City of God”
  • Peter Jackson, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
  • Sofia Coppola, “Lost in Translation”
  • Peter Weir, “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”
  • Clint Eastwood, “Mystic River”

Aly’s Pick: “My feminist side is going with Sofia Coppola, the only woman nominated in this category.  I was a big fan of her film ‘The Virgin Suicides’ and this follow up is even better.  There are moments in this movie that are subtly hilarious and kind of insightful at the same time.  Anyone recall the underwater shot of the old people doing aquatic aerobics?  Or the scene when Bill Murray attempts to ride the elliptical machine? Haven't we all had those moments when we are glad a camera wasn't watching?  Besides, I didn't vote for Bill for Best Actor, so hopefully his director will win.”

Best Picture
  • "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
  • “Lost in the Translation”
  • “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”
  • “Mystic River”
  • “Seabiscuit”

Aly’s Pick: “Russell Crowe? Negatorio (sic).  A horse?  Inspirational, but not gonna happen--read the book.  Scary, intense thriller?  Great for cuddling with your boyfriend, yes, but mmm...not so much.  Indie film?  Negative ghost rider, the pattern is full.  And the winner is...‘Lord of the Rings.’  Have I not professed my undying love for little people?  (In this case, the Hobbits).  And I will leave you with two words: Viggo Mortensen.”

Table of Contents

1.  Armchair Midfielder: A Look Back at “The Streak”
2.  In 3’s: WNT midfielder Lindsay Tarpley
3.  Gear Galore: New Nike MNT kit
4.  Queries & Anecdotes: MNT forward Josh Wolff 
5.  Mark That Calendar: WNT Olympic Qualifying
6.  Aly at the Oscars: WNT midfielder Aly Wagner
7.  Fan Point/Counterpoint: Top American in England?
8.  You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall): “Americans Overseas” Trivia

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