My little brother Stephen, who is 23 and fresh out of college, was visiting Austin last weekend. I thought I would consult him about his Oscar predictions. His taste runs more to horror, science fiction, and comic-book movies than to the type of drama the Academy loves to reward, but I thought that would make him even more clear-headed than most people in picking Oscar winners.

In addition to discussing the top five Oscar categories, Stephen also informed me that the Best Foreign Film category should have included the Turkish film G.O.R.A. and something directed by Takashi Miike, and that special "redemption" awards should go to Eric Bana (Munich) and Frank Miller (Sin City) for reviving their careers after the disasters of The Hulk and RoboCop 3, respectively.

We compromised on his Oscar picks; I let him pick twice in each category. For his first pick, I limited Stephen to the actual nominees. But he also named a second pick, the winner he thought was most deserving from all 2005 films. Needless to say, the second picks are a lot more fun than the "real" predictions. I think we should find a way to let Stephen nominate and vote for films next year, because I like most of his anything-goes picks much better than the official Oscar selections.
Best Picture
  • Nominated films—"Gotta be Crash. All the other movies were supposed to be good, we knew that before we saw them. But in Crash, even the mediocre actors did a good job. It was unpredictably good."
  • All films—"Wallace and Gromit, it was hilarious ... it was f*ckin' awesome. Any movie where it ends and I'm, like, 'It's over? Sh*t!' is great."

Best Director
  • Nominated films—"I love Crash, and I think Paul Haggis needs recognition as a director. The other movies didn't push the envelope for direction ... except Good Night and Good Luck. Ang Lee doesn't deserve to win anything since he f*cked up The Hulk. Paul Haggis wrote Million Dollar Baby, but everyone thought the movie was totally Clint Eastwood and Haggis was under the radar. "
  • All films—"Stephen Chow for Kung Fu Hustle. Come on. Let's be honest. How does he come up with this sh*t? The movie was so ridiculous and over the top, but at the end, it touches your heart. And it's so kickass! You get that incredible movie-magic feeling."

Best Actor
  • Nominated actors—"Joaquin Phoenix, just because I love Johnny Cash and I thought he [Phoenix] did a good job with the role. None of the other nominees could sing like that. I mean, Philip Seymour Hoffman didn't have to sing. Plus, Joaquin Phoenix could have been shot if he'd f*cked that up, especially in the South, but he pulled it off. Now he can show his face in any bar in the South and get free drinks."
  • All actors—"Mickey Rourke as Marv, in Sin City. No one else could play that character that perfectly. For once, you enjoyed seeing Mickey Rourke being Mickey Rourke. You enjoyed watching him beat the sh*t out of people. He was Marv, just like Ron Perlman was Hellboy."

Best Actress
  • Nominated actresses—Stephen fell asleep while I recited the names and films for the nominated actresses. When I finally managed to wake him, he mumbled something about Reese Witherspoon. I decided not to push my luck (I didn't want to subject any of you to his patented Judi Dench Hate Rant).
  • All actresses—"Rachel McAdams in Red Eye. The script sucked, the premise was overdone, the direction was bad, but Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy completely salvaged the movie, just the two of them. Especially her. Without her, I would have shut the movie off halfway through."

Best Original Screenplay
  • Nominated films—"I have to go with Good Night and Good Luck. The way the characters were presented, the way they spoke and were developed within the script, made them seem authentically part of that time period."
  • All films—"Wedding Crashers. Seriously. It was so well-written—I love that movie. The sh*t the characters were saying was hilarious. I laughed so hard the first time, I missed funny stuff I didn't catch until the second time."

Best Supporting Actor
  • Nominated actors—"Matt Dillon, just because he came out of nowhere. He was a washed-up Eighties star and he ended up doing an awesome job in Crash. He made me say, 'Matt Dillon's pretty kickass,' and who ever thought anyone would say that?"
  • All actors—"Robert Joy, in Land of the Dead. Joy played this retarded guy who was incredibly good with a rifle. He was so convincing—it made this movie even better. And if you're going to nominate Sean Penn in I Am Sam, and Dustin Hoffman in f*ckin' Rain Man, it's only fair to nominate Robert Joy."

Best Supporting Actress
  • Nominated actresses—"I liked Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener. I've seen her in a lot of those movies like The Mummy, and I always thought she was kinda ditzy. But lately she's pulled herself out of those candy-cane roles and has come into her own as an actress. I was impressed."
  • All actresses—"Aw, you know who gets it ... the lady from Kung Fu Hustle who played The Landlady [Qiu Yuen]. You know, all the Aeon Flux type movies, Catwoman, that kind of female action star ... The Landlady didn't have to fit that stereotype. She was badass. And her cigarette was the greatest!"