Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Nomination Game

Well, the academy award nominations were released this morning; and there are some actual surprises mixed in among the usual indie crap that no-one saw, and politically motivated BS.

I'm going to intersperse my commentary, and my predictions will be in bold. If I bold two, it's because I can't really decide which one. If I italizcize it, it's because I think that entry SHOULD win, instead of the one I think WILL win.
Best Motion Picture Of The Year:

The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
This is the one that's going to piss the most people off I think. For one thing, I think most people are going to be surprised that a movie about a NAZI pedophile is on the best picture list, and Dark Knight isn't.

Oh and for the I don't know how manyth year in a row, I have seen two or less of the nominees. In fact, I haven't seen any of them, and this is coming from a certified movie nut; though admittedly I'll probably watch Milk, Frost Nixon, and Slumdog on DVD.

As to my prediction, it's Slumdog all the way. It's going to win for every major category the movie is nominated for (though surprisingly, it wasn't nominated for any of the performance categories). There is way too much buzz and way to much bandwagon, with NO backlash (which is almost unheard of) for it not to.
Achievement In Directing:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button David Fincher
Frost/Nixon Ron Howard
Milk Gus Van Sant
The Reader Stephen Daldry
Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle
No question here, Danny Boyle is getting his Oscar. There isn't even an outside shot for anyone else.

Still haven't seen any of them.
Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role:

Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Richard Jenkins in The Visitor
Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn in Milk
Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
Again, I haven't seen any of the movies; though I will also be watching "The Wrestler" on DVD in addition to the others mentioned above.

There's a HUGE backlash against Sean Penn right now, for playing a gay man while at the same time sucking up to Castro and Chavez, dictators who persecute gays.

Also, people just don't like Sean Penn. He's a nasty, not very bright, and seriously offensive man; even to other liberals. I predict that will take him out of the running, and leave it to Mickey Rourke.

Brad Pitt is the more obvious choice, especially given how many nominations Benjamin Button recieved; but I'm predicting a shutout for Button; and the day hollywood gives the guy who started in soap operas and sitcoms, and whose first notable role was as the beefcake in thelma and louise... Well I'd say that's ice skates in hell day, but the Cardinals are in the superbowl, so I think we've already passed that milestone.
Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role:

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Josh Brolin in Milk
Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt
Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road
There doesn't even need to be any discussion on this one. Heath Ledger has been anointed for this since they put his coffin in the ground.

I am thrilled to see Downey nominated for "Tropic Thunder" however. Everyone knows that Ledger is a dead lock, so the real win here is for Downey; and it's especially nice because his second nomination comes from a comedy.
Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role:

Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie in Changeling
Melissa Leo in Frozen River
Kate Winslet in The Reader
Again, there's that Nazi Pedophile thing... But Winslet has a huge steamroller of momentum going for her, and only a relatively minor backlash. No-one else has any kind of buzz or momentum.

Neither Jolie nor Hathaway deserve to be in that list... in fact Jolie didn't deserve her first Oscar either (for Girl Interrrupted; but the vote split between Katherine Keener and Chloe Sevigny that year and she got it by default). She's there mostly because Hollywood likes good stories, and it's a great story having Pitt and Jolie nominated simultaneously.

Oh and yet again, haven't seen any of them; and in this case don't plan to.
Performance By An Actress n A Supporting Role:

Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Amy Adams in Doubt
Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis in Doubt
Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler
This one is a little tougher, as there is no strong momentum for any particular candidate; but the buzz is around Penelope Cruz.

If it wasn't a Woody Allen movie, she wouldn't even have been nominated; but it is, and the academy likes to throw Woody a bone whenever he's got a movie. Also, her costars are last years golden boy Javier Bardem, and hollywood IT girl Scarlett Johansen.

With two noms from "Doubt" their vote would be split anyway; and I doubt Marisa has a shot given the role she was playing.

Oh and you guessed it, haven't seen any of them, don't plan to see any of them but "The Wrestler".
Best Animated Feature Film Of The Year:

Kung Fu Panda
Well, the fact that they included "Bolt" should be an indication of how thin the pickings were in this category this year; but it doesn't matter because Wall-E is a dead solid lock... and if there were any kind of justice in the academy award process, it would be up for best picture as well. It wouldn't win, but it should be up there.
Original Screenplay:

Frozen River
In Bruges
I'll be honest with you, I'm having a hard time predicting this one. It could end up being a sop to Milk, for being swept off the stage in all the other categories; especially since the writer himself is both a well known gay activist, filmmaker and writer; and an ex mormon who is very publicly critical of the church.

On the other hand, there is a strong feeling among the actors in the academy that "Happy Go Lucky"should win something; and it isn't going to in any other category.

I think in the end, I'm going with Milk for this one.
Adapted Screenplay:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire
Again, I'm guessing Slumdog continues it's sweep; though there is an outside chance "The Reader" will pick this up.

It also may go to Button as a consolation prize for being the best $150 million dollar movie spanked in every way by a $15 million dollar movie... but I doubt it.

So, another year in which I, a certified movie nut, have seen a grand total of four of the movies nominated in any major category.

Funny enough only those four have broken the 100 million mark (actually Benjamin Button has if you count international, and Vicki... made 80m or so including international)... in fact only six of them even broke 50 million domestic, and not one of the under 100s earned out (including Button).

Meanwhile, the second most successful movie of all time, and a massive critical hit as well (a rare combination); having grossed just 3 million less than a billion dollars (and still going strong internationally) gets one nomination in a major category, and it's for a dead man.

Anyone want to predict how big a ratings disaster this years Oscars will be?