Monday, January 26, 2009

My Oscar predictions


I've bolded the nominees I think will win and italicized the ones I prefer. Where these coincide, nominees are both bolded and italicized. I've left everything normal-looking in categories about which I know too little to guess, and I've included commentary below some category listings. (The New York Times' analysis is worth checking out, too, as is my top 10 list. Oh, and Slate.) Enjoy!

BEST PICTURE

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal)
* “Milk” (Focus Features)
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company)
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight)

It's Slumdog's year, and they could do a lot worse than to honor it with Best Picture. That said, Milk is a better movie. And while we're at it, I'd replace The Reader and Benjamin Button with The Wrestler and WALL·E.

BEST ACTOR

* Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor” (Overture Films)
* Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” (Universal)
* Sean Penn in “Milk” (Focus Features)
* Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
* Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Penn was so good that I'd normally want him to win. But when will Rourke find a role like Randy "The Ram" again? Never, I suspect, so give him the damn trophy. I just wish the Academy could split it in two.

BEST ACTRESS

* Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Angelina Jolie in “Changeling” (Universal)
* Melissa Leo in “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics)
* Meryl Streep in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company)

I've seen exactly one of these performances (Hathaway's), but as with Slumdog, it's a Winslet kind of year (she's also won great acclaim for her work in Revolutionary Road), and heaven knows she deserves an Oscar for her body of work.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

* Josh Brolin in “Milk” (Focus Features)
* Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
* Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.)
* Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)

You'd have to be a pretty cold bastard not to want Ledger to get this one posthumously. Brolin continued his hot streak in Milk and the other performances are quite strong as well, from what I've heard, but the deceased Dark Knight star should get the statuette not just for the good work he'd already done when he died but for what he would have accomplished in the future.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

* Amy Adams in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (The Weinstein Company)
* Viola Davis in “Doubt” (Miramax)
* Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
* Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

The pundits are saying Cruz, and the way she (further) enlivened Woody Allen's romantic dramedy is what a lot of Academy voters like to see. That said, Tomei or Davis could pull an upset, though the former already has an Oscar on her mantel.

BEST DIRECTOR

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Fincher
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Ron Howard
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Gus Van Sant
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Stephen Daldry
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle

Again, the Indian epic has a lot of momentum following the Globes. I really wish they'd give it to Van Sant, though, because who knows when he'll make another mainstream picture of this quality? And the Academy won't be rewarding him for whatever strange little feature he makes with the change he finds under his couch cushions.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

* “Bolt” (Walt Disney), Chris Williams and Byron Howard
* “Kung Fu Panda” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount), John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Andrew Stanton

BEST ART DIRECTION

* “Changeling” (Universal), Art Direction: James J. Murakami, Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Nathan Crowley, Set Decoration: Peter Lando
* “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Art Direction: Michael Carlin, Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway
* “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Art Direction: Kristi Zea, Set Decoration: Debra Schutt

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

* “Changeling” (Universal), Tom Stern
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

* “Australia” (20th Century Fox), Catherine Martin
* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Jacqueline West
* “The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Michael O’Connor
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Glicker
* “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Albert Wolsky

C'mon. It's about clothes.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

* “The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)” (Cinema Guild), A Pandinlao Films Production, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
* “Encounters at the End of the World” (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment), A Creative Differences Production, Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
* “The Garden” A Black Valley Films Production, Scott Hamilton Kennedy
* “Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
* “Trouble the Water” (Zeitgeist Films), An Elsewhere Films Production, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal

Water is about Katrina, which I think will appeal to Academy voters more than the much less political Wire. I haven't seen the former, so I can't say for sure that it shouldn't win. But I do know that Wire is lovely. (Encounters wasn't anything to sneeze at, either.)

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT

* “The Conscience of Nhem En” A Farallon Films Production, Steven Okazaki
* “The Final Inch” A Vermilion Films Production, Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant
* “Smile Pinki” A Principe Production, Megan Mylan
* “The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306” A Rock Paper Scissors Production, Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde

BEST FILM EDITING

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lee Smith
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Elliot Graham
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens

Should be a shoo-in.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

* “The Baader Meinhof Complex” A Constantin Film Production, Germany
* “The Class” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Haut et Court Production, France
* “Departures” (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan
* “Revanche” (Janus Films), A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production, Austria
* “Waltz with Bashir” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production, Israel

I haven't seen any of these, sadly. The Class was a critical darling, though, and should handily beat Bashir.

BEST MAKEUP

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Greg Cannom
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan
* “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Universal), Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz

Button has to win something, right? It may clean up in the technicals.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Alexandre Desplat
* “Defiance” (Paramount Vantage), James Newton Howard
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Elfman
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Thomas Newman

Elfman's was the better score, but this category may become part of a Slumdog mini-sweep.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

* “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel
* “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
* “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman andMaya Arulpragasam

I think this is the song that accompanied the end credits, in which case, dude. It has to win.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT

* “La Maison en Petits Cubes” A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato
* “Lavatory - Lovestory” A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production, Konstantin Bronzit
* “Oktapodi” (Talantis Films) A Gobelins, L’école de l’image Production, Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand
* “Presto” (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland
* “This Way Up”, A Nexus Production, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT

* “Auf der Strecke (On the Line)” (Hamburg Shortfilmagency), An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production, Reto Caffi
* “Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
* “New Boy” (Network Ireland Television), A Zanzibar Films Production, Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
* “The Pig” An M & M Production, Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh
* “Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank

I loved the look of Manon on the Asphalt, which was easily the most visually gorgeous of the films. It's the kind of film, in fact, that reminds me why I love movies. Also, it had the balls to wear its major influence -- HBO's Six Feet Under -- on its sleeve, though ultimately its narrative device owes more to The Lovely Bones. Anyway, a close second. On the Line, too, was quite well done -- a romantic comedy with the comedy (mostly) removed and replaced by tragedy. Toyland was typical Holocaust self-flagellation from Germany, and The Pig wore out its welcome. New Boy should and will win because it combined strong emotions with canny humor and political oomph, and Oscar loves that stuff.

BEST SOUND EDITING

* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King
* “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Tom Sayers
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
* “Wanted” (Universal),Wylie Stateman

BEST SOUND MIXING

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney),Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
* “Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
* “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
* “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

* “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
* “Doubt” (Miramax), Written by John Patrick Shanley
* “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Screenplay by Peter Morgan
* “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Hare
* “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

I have to give Full Monty writer Beaufoy credit: Slumdog feels fresh in a way that many literary adaptations don't. I'd attribute that more to the director, Danny Boyle, than to Beaufoy's ambitious but flawed screenplay, but it's easily the most interesting nominee in the category (in that Frost/Nixon's playwright adapted his own work for the screen, as did Doubt's).

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

* “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt
* “Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh
* “In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
* “Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black
* “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

Milk had better win something, and its strong screenplay was one of the keys to its success.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"but the deceased Dark Knight star should get the statuette not just for the good work he'd already done when he died but for what he would have accomplished in the future."

really? the Oscars are not the place for this sort of "tribute". I guess you can count me as a 'cold bastard', but i'm totally over this obsession with honoring Ledger. yes, he did a good job in TDK and yes, he should have been honored for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. But, it will not be a travesty if someone else wins.

Get a grip, please.

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