Saturday, February 21, 2009

Academy Award predictions

Goodness gracious it's been awhile since I've tended shop here at Blah Blah Blog - I've been busier than beavers over at Fear the Fin, and I haven't been to a concert since December 20th, so I felt no need to update the ol' personal blog... until now.

The Academy Awards are tomorrow, and since I was technically a film major, I'll take the opportunity to break down who I think will win the statues. I still haven't seen Milk, Rachel Getting Married, Changeling, or The Visitor, but just as the Academy members aren't required to see all of the films to vote, neither will I require myself to do the same.

Best Picture nominees
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Prediction = Slumdog takes it home. The film is amazing to the point where I can't see Milk, which I haven't yet seen, measuring up either in substance or in popularity - and neither of the three other films I have seen (Button, Frost, and Reader) can even hold a candle to Danny Boyle's masterpiece. The Academy will also want to appeal to the "Third World" - think of it as an extension of white guilt. Fortunately, the politics of the Academy won't compromise the selection of the proper film for the honor.

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

Prediction = Mickey Rourke. If Sean Penn hadn't already won, then the Academy would honor him. The battle comes down to those two. The Academy will be conflicted over wanting to honor Milk in something other than the screenplay nod on the one hand, and wanting to pick the comeback-story-of-the-year on the other. I have yet to see Sean Penn's film, and something tells me he is even better than Rourke - but even though the Academy will want to honor Milk in the wake of Prop. 8, Mickey Rourke will get his statue.

Best Actress nominees
Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie in Changeling
Melissa Leo in Frozen River
Meryl Streep in Doubt
Kate Winslet in The Reader

Prediction = Kate Winslet, even though it should go to Meryl Streep. I would jump up and down if Melissa Leo pulled off the upset, but her nomination is the reward for both her film and herself. Like the best actor award, it comes down to two individuals. Streep should win - Kate Winslet was great in Revolutionary Road, but barely qualifies for a leading role to begin with in The Reader - and the performance is inferior both to her other film and that of Meryl Streep. However, the Academy has a bad history of awarding careers and not performances, and thus they will award Winslet for the first time. Politics wins again.

Best Supporting Actor nominees
Josh Brolin in Milk
Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt
Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road

Prediction = This is the only sure-fire bet of the night. Heath Ledger, hands down. I originally felt that it was silly wanting to immortalize a dead guy, but his role is so devestating, so complete, and so unforgettable that it sets the bar for all supporting roles to come. The award should go to Ledger not so much for his legacy as for a standard by which to measure acting. In a side note - I saw Revolutionary Road before studying the list of nominees, and thought to myself, "MAN, that guy (Michael Shannon) should have been nominated." When I got home, I double-checked the list, and was pleasantly surprised. Philip Seymour Hoffman was amazing as well - good thing he's won before, since he doesn't stand a chance.

Best Supporting Actress nominees
Amy Adams in Doubt
Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis in Doubt
Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler

Prediction = This category, much more than its male counterpart, is notorious for its unpredictability. I HAVE seen all of the nominees' films, however (the only category in which my judgment is complete), and I have to go with Amy Adams (and not only because I have an enormous crush on her). Voters will be torn over her and Viola Davis, but even though Davis has one hell of a devestating scene, Amy Adams plays the role of a naive nun to perfection. Penelope Cruz was certainly memorable, but her film suffers from being less fresh in the minds of the voters. Marisa Tomei has won already, but her role in The Wrestler was certainly worthy of the nod... plus she makes a strong case for being the sexiest 44-year old alive.

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

Prediction = Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight - a write-in campaign. Just kidding (?) - it will go to Danny Boyle, as it should. Ron Howard has won for A Beautiful Mind (blech), though no one else has won yet. Gus Van Sant could weigh on voters' minds, but expect Danny Boyle to bag the Oscar on his first - and long overdue - nomination.

P.S. - if The Reader wins, I'm going to permanently boycott the Oscars, without exaggeration. Last year I threatened a boycott if Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) didn't win, but I really did not like The Reader. Harvey Weinstein's connections and influence (read - ability to prey upon Holocaust sensibilities amongst the Jewish Hollywood population) are the only reason this contrived piece of b.s. is in the running, while The Dark Knight is not. For shame.

The Academy Awards will air tomorrow at 5pm PST.