Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Nominations, Part One

As most of you know, the nominations for the Academy Awards were announced this morning, and I was one of the few non-professional people watching it live on TV. By now, most people have heard the nominations and are talking about it, so it's my turn to speak my piece.
First of all, I want to express my extreme displeasure that The Dark Knight was not nominated for Best Picture or Director. I was aware that such nominations would be long shots and difficult to acheive, but the Academy made a profound mistake in ignoring it. Ten years down the line, people will not remember The Reader or Frost/Nixon, but they will remember-and will still be watching- The Dark Knight. It is a profound film that was not only an exceptional action story, but changed the entire genre of superhero movies. The general public will be very angry and I expect some people will boycott the Oscars this year because of it. But, I'm not one to complain, so I will say no more of it.
Even though I'm mad about that, it is the Oscars, and there are still lots of reasons to celebrate. Despite its Best Picture snub, I am PSYCHED that The Dark Knight managed to get eight nominations, including Best Supporting Actor- Heath Ledger. I am PSYCHED that Slumdog Millionaire got ten nominations, as it totally deserves them all. I am PSYCHED that WALL-E got six nominations, including Best Animated Feature. I am PSYCHED that Richard Jenkins got his first nomination. I am PSYCHED that Amy Adams got nominated for Doubt. I am PSYCHED that Kate Winslet got nominated, and in a surprising turn too! I am PSYCHED about the Best Original Song category, which has the opening and closing songs from Slumdog Millionaire, and the closing song from WALL-E, all of which I already had in my iTunes library. I am PSYCHED that Presto got nominated for Best Animated Short Film. I am PSYCHED that one film- Benjamin Button- got thirteen nominations and has a chance to break the record for most awards ever won.
Today marks the start of my one-month high as I officially begin my obsession with the Oscars, and it won't go away until after the ceremony is over.
Now I'll present the nominations in all the major categories to compare them to my predictions. This is not my winners predictions. (That will come later.) This is just to see how close I was, and my thoughts on the results. (I didn't get all five nominations right in any category!) If I have a prediction for the winner, I'll give it, but at this point, it's not worth much, and will probably change later.

Best Picture

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Four out of five correct. Obviously, I put in The Dark Knight instead of The Reader, and I think most people were surprised by its inclusion here. I knew Dark Knight was the most vulnerable of my predictions, but if I had to replace it, I would have said Doubt or Revolutionary Road, not The Reader. At this point, Slumdog Millionaire seems set to win, and with Batman gone, I hope it does.

Best Director

Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant, Milk

Four out of five correct. Well, I was right that Director and Best Picture would square up, I just had the wrong movie. Obviously, I put in The Dark Knight's Christopher Nolan instead of Daldry. Experts said that even if Dark Knight didn't get in the Best Picture race, Nolan was a shoo-in here. I didn't agree with that, but it did give me hope. Hope...gone. At this point, my money's on Boyle.

Best Actor

Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Four out of five correct. I put in Clint Eastwood for Gran Torino instead of Pitt. Benjamin Button was a very quiet character, and also a very easy part to play, so I thought the Academy would give it to the much louder, and the much more entertaining Eastwood. Oh, well. They redeemed themselves by giving Jenkins a nomination, my personal favorite here. At this point, I'd say it's between Penn and Rourke for the win.

Best Actress

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, The Reader

Three out of five correct. Like I said in a previous note, I'm always surprised by this category. I was right about them nominating an actress for an indie film no one's seen; but I said Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky and Kristin Scott Thomas for I've Loved You So Long, when they actually gave it to Leo for Frozen River. (Who the hell is she?) I actually did think Winslet would get nominated for The Reader, but for Supporting Actress. Her entire performance is in flashback, which would have given her the supporting nomination, but the fact that she's the female lead and that it's an amazing performance (and apparently better than her turn in Revolutionary Road, which failed to get nominated) got her an upgrade. At this point, it's all up in the air for the winner. I'm thinking somewhere between Hathaway, Streep, and Winslet.

Best Supporting Actor

Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road

Four out of five correct. I said David Kross for The Reader instead of Shannon, and honestly, I don't think anyone knew who would take that last spot. I left Revolutionary Road off of my predictions altogether, which I see now was a mistake. I applaud the Academy for nominating Ledger posthumously, and for a popcorn movie, and he is currently set to win, although a Hoffman upset win isn't unthinkable.

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

Four out of five correct. Technically, I guessed all the nominees, it's just that Kate Winslet got a lead Actress nomination instead of here. Tomei took the spot she occupied on my list. Adams' nomination puts Doubt at four acting nominations (and five with its screenplay nomination), and not in the Best Picture race. It's one of the very few films to do that, but I'm happy this exceptional cast all got nominated. At this point, the race is completely open, and I can see any of the nominees potentially winning.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Four out of five correct. I was right in that all Best Picture nominees got a screenplay nomination, so I put down The Dark Knight instead of The Reader. I'm thinking Slumdog Millionaire is the favorite to win here.

Best Original Screenplay

Frozen River
In Bruges

Two out of five correct. (Yikes!) In my predictions, I said that I might be way off. Instead of Frozen River, Happy-Go-Lucky, and In Bruges, I said Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Visitor, and The Wrestler. I think I'm happier with these results, especially having two comedies nominated. I again applaud the Academy for nominating WALL-E here. I'm thinking Milk will take home the award, since first-time screenwriter Dustin Lance Black worked for years on it, interviewing the real Harvey Milk's friends and beating out several other scripts.

That's it for now. My next entry will feature all the other nominations, which I consider the technical awards, and my thoughts on them.
Go to for movie trailers of all the films mentioned here.

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