Performance as Idi Amin is mortal lock
in race for Academy's Best Actor Oscar
MAITLAND, Fla. — Over the years I have made lots of predictions — about sports, movies, life — but I rarely will commit to calling something a sure-thing, lead-pipe-cinch, mortal-lock, no-brainer guarantee.
I learned my lesson in sports on Dec. 22, 1979. For nearly a month leading up to the Holiday Bowl, I was telling anybody who'd listen (thankfully, not many did) to bet all the money they could find on BYU over Indiana. BYU was led by Marc Wilson, one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time, and they were 11-0. They won that year by scores of 48-3, 31-7, 54-14, 59-7 and 63-14.
The betting line opened at BYU minus 9, and I bet the Cougars. It moved to 11 ... I grabbed the late Kenny Hlatuch(?) at Lad's Tavern on Broadway and bet BYU again. The line went to 13, and I matched the two earlier bets.
To make a long story short — but no less painful — Wilson threw, like, a dozen interceptions, BYU missed, like, six field goals, the Cougars fumbled, oh, seven times, and Indiana ran back, like, four kicks for scores. The Lee Corso-led Hoosiers actually won the game 38-37 ... appropriately when BYU's kicker missed a 27-yard field goal at the buzzer! I lost $400 — $440 with the vig, more than I had at the time — and haven't bet on football since.
That brings me to movies. I've made only four Academy Award guarantees, and I'm 3-1.
In 1981, I said I'd never go to the cinema again if Sissy Spacek didn't get Best Actress for her performance as Loretta Lynn in "Coal Miner's Daughter." She won, thankfully.
In 1991, I said Val Kilmer's portrayal of Jim Morrison in "The Doors" was better than Spacek as Lynn, and that he'd easily win the Oscar. He didn't even get nominated! (Oliver Stone backlash, no doubt.)
In 2001, I was taking a class at the University of Central Florida, and I wrote on a student Web site that Denzel Washington was a lock for Best Actor in "Training Day." (Part of it was he was great, and part of it was he was due, after getting screwed as Malcolm “X.”) He won.
In 2004, I — and the rest of the world — said Jamie Foxx WAS "Ray" Charles, and he'd have to win the golden statuette. He did.
That brings me to 2006, and the latest lock of the century.
Forest Whitaker will win the Academy Award for "Best Actor in a Leading Role." His portrayal of Uganda's Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland" defies description, but Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal tried when he wrote:
“Whitaker's portrait of Idi Amin is enormous, mercurial, terrifying and endlessly seductive. It's one of the great performances of modern movie history."
I couldn’t have said it better myself ... but I did say as much, when I walked out of the Enzian Theater on Saturday (and before I read Morgenstern’s review).
Whitaker has always been a good actor — if you haven’t seen him in Jim Jarmusch’s “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai,” go rent it — but he’s beyond amazing as Amin.
It’s a shame, but all the other actors of 2006 can skip writing acceptance speeches.
Forest Whitaker will win the Oscar.
I guarantee it!
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As for sports, bet Ohio State minus the points against Michigan on Nov. 18. They won't lose on my 50th birthday ... will they?