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Best Picture Breakdown: Letters From Iwo Jima

From now until the 2007 Oscars air this Sunday night, I'll be breaking down each Best Picture nominee and giving you the scoop on why certain movies might win and why others probably don't have a chance. Today's featured movie is Letters From Iwo Jima, the second part of Clint Eastwood's one-two World War II punch that began with the schlockier Flags of Our Fathers.

Both movies tell the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima, but the better film, Letters, is presented from the perspective of the Japanese troops, led by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe). For a look at Letters From Iwo Jima's chances in the Best Picture race,

Why It Might Win

  • The Academy loves Clint Eastwood. If this legendary man's-man-turned-director makes a good movie (read: Million Dollar Baby and Unforgiven), the voters often seem unable to resist its charms. But it's also possible that Eastwood could score the directing statuette, in which case, Letters probably won't win.
  • It is has the benefit of being both arty and manly. Not only is Letters a serious war movie, but it is also a visually stunning film with textures and colors that capture the era without looking contrived.

Why It Might Not Win

  • With the exception of inside Hollywood types, very few people have seen it. The movie was only released nationwide in late December, and by then, most of the reviews had been out for months, so the buzz was minimal to say the least.
  • The lack of big-name actors (aside from Watanabe) and everyday reference points means the movie lacks universal appeal. Lately, it seems Oscars are increasingly going to movies about modern-day characters with whom voters and viewers identify, e.g. Crash and American Beauty.

Chances of Winning: Moderate

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

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