This isn t easy for me Four years ago when I took my first stab at predicting Oscar, I never thought this would become an annual trend. Of course, much of that had to do with the fact that I got so good at it. My record? 18 for 24 over the last three Academy Awards — only the major categories remember; I never waste time with stuff like Best Live Action Short Film. But see, now theres that level of expectation hovering over me. I have to hit six out of eight again. At least. And you thought picking a president was hard.
On Sunday, February 22, 2009 the 81st Academy Awards ceremony will take place at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. Oscar-watchers can finally see whether all those bellwether awards — the Golden Globes, SAG, Directors Guild, Film Critics, etc — really do influence the 5,000 or so Academy voting members (many of whom are so old, they still think Whoopi Goldbergs hosting). All we know at this point is that cloud of dust over the horizon is supposed to have been kicked up by the runaway critical darling Slumdog Millionaire. What the fuck happened to Batman man?
Herewith, my barely informed roundup of this years winners:
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin — Milk
Robert Downey Jr. — Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman — Doubt
Heath Ledger — The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon — Revolutionary Road
Those who know me well will tell you that I think Seymour Hoffman is greatest method actor that ever graced the silver screen. Remember the hype after Capote? Well, forget that. I was enraged that nobody listened to me two years before that after I saw Love Liza. In Doubt, he was stellar. As usual. Alas, Hollywood loves two things — a good comeback story and honouring an actor after his tragic death. Downey Jr., whose promising career was derailed almost a decade ago by drugs, receives his second nomination sixteen years after playing Charlie Chaplin. Heath Ledger, well, I dont need to tell you what happened to him. I also dont need to tell you that hes going to pick this one up easy. Oh, but wouldnt it be so sweet if everyone was proven wrong. I just love the underdog. Josh Brolin anyone?
Prediction: Heath boo hoo — hes dead Ledger
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams — Doubt
Penelope Cruz — Vicky
Viola Davis — Doubt
Taraji P.Henson — The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei — The Wrestler
Theres something about Penelope Cruz in a Hollywood production that I just cant stand. Maybe its that scene in Vanilla Sky when she says open your eyes in that annoying whisper. God, I hate Tom Cruise. On the other hand, Cruz is remarkably convincing in Spanish filmfare. Im still wondering how she lost for Volver two years ago. For Woody Allens Vicky Christian Barcelona, she was a hoot. Henson is an interesting pick, especially when you consider how well nominated Benjamin Button is and the fact that its somehow threatening to sweep almost every statu ette in sight. But no, I cant say that it will. Because days after watching Doubt, I was still wondering how Amy Adams managed to steal that movie from Meryl Streep.
Prediction: Amy Adams
Richard Jenkins — The Visitor
Frank Langella — Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn — Milk
Brad Pitt — The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke — The Wrestler
One thing that seemed consistent with the reviews for Milk was the fabulous acting throughout. Critics even went as far as to say that Josh Brolin and Emile Hirsch gave the performances of their career. Penn of course didnt need any praising. After I am Sam and Mystic River, people just expect him to be that good. Im just wondering how hes able to get better and better. But forget all that. What was I saying earlier about Hollywood and a good comeback story? Mickey Rourke spent fifteen years in the acting wilderness. Sin City launched his comeback. The Wrestler confirmed his arrival. Though I must say….Langella in Frost/ ixon was thrilling to watch.
Prediction : Mickey Rourke
Anne Hathaway — Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie Changeling Melissa Leo — Frozen River
Meryl Streep — Doubt
Kate Winslet — The Reader
Ok no, seriously, who the hell watched Changeling? I didnt. So Im not even going there. I will tell you though, when I watched Mr and Mrs Smith (on free cable mind you), I was hoping Brad would kill off Angelina and win the war. Hathaways chances are romantic at best. Still, it is acknowledgement that Rachel Getting Married (which I thought would be this years Juno) was her best work to date. Streep has been nominated (and lost) for way better performances and Winslet is nominated for the wrong movie here (Revolutionary Road…How could they not?) So that crosses out all except for Leo in Frozen River. I dont understand how Benjamin Button gets 13 nominations and yet no Best Actress nod for Cate Blanchett.
Prediction: Kate Winslet
Best Adapted Screenplay
Eric Roth and Robin Swicord — The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley — Doubt Peter Morgan — Frost/Nixon
David Hare — The Reader
Simon Beaufoy — Slumdog Millionaire
Not too much to say here. But before we ship this one off to India, I just want to say that Roth (Forrest Gump, Munich) and Swicords adaptation of Fitzgeralds piece of literature was astounding. Come to think of it, so was Shanleys film version of his own play and David Hares work on The Reader. Its a pity they released Slumdog in the same year.
Prediction: Simon Beaufoy — Slumdog Millionaire
Best Original Screenplay
Courtney Hunt — Frozen River
Mike Leigh — Happy Go Lucky
Martin McDonagh — In Bruges Dustin
Lance Black — Milk
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter — WALL-E
Remember when WALL-E was released and in a week, managed to get into the top 5 of IMDBs highest ranked films of all time? Im serious, it almost toppled Shawshank. Fucking people aye? Anyone watched In Bruges? Delightful. Chances? Nadda. Unless this was Sundance or Cannes. No the academy is more susceptible to the middleupper production type films. But then again, Milk was SO uninspiring. Jenny Lumets Rachel Getting Married is an official absentee here. Very questionable…
Prediction: Courtney Hunt — Frozen River
Best Director David Fincher — The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard — Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant — Milk
Stephen Daldry — The Reader
Danny Boyle — Slumdog Millionaire
First and foremost, omitting Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) is downright despicable. When Quentin Tarantino revived John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, he received an Oscar nod for recognition of the fact. Who the hell do you think Rourke is going to thank when he picks up the Best Actor? I have this lousy feeling that The Reader would come so close with all its nominations and not walk away with anything. Were talking about whats arguably the most riveting and rewarding film of the year here. And I say this as someone whos sick of Holocaust movies already. Unfortunately, it doesnt entertain the same way that Slumdog does. And love it or scratch your head, Danny Boyle mustve worked magic on the set. However, because we all know whats going to happen with the last and most coveted award of the night, the academy might just nudge this one over to Fincher.
Prediction: David Fincher — The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Amazing isnt it? The number two film of all time (box office earnings) shut out of this one. This years awards would draw so much more hype if The Dark Knight were pitted against Slumdog. Now its almost a foregone conclusion. Benjamin Button, for all its 13 nominations, is really just a smokescreen for the inevitable. Lets face it — Slumdog was simply too enjoyable. The only thing I cant quite seem to digest is the films poster right alongside No Country for Old Men. It just…isnt…right.
Prediction — Slumdog Millionaire