Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Best picture predictions

My best picture predictions are the result of what I'd like to see and what I think will get the nominations. This is because I will get double the enjoyment out of seeing the films I want to get the nominations be rewarded and enjoy the fact that I called it. I am going to try not to base this on historic trends because I have protested the other movie writers getting so obsessive about forecasting the oscars

Here is my list:
Picture: Slumdiog Millionaire, Milk, Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon
Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, Buttons, and Frost/Nixon are all in and Dark Knight and Wall-E are fighting for the fifth slot is my understanding. Both films are unconventional choices but so well-loved that they could potentially both get in. I at first wanted Wall-E to get in. It was on so many critics' number one lists, but later I felt that Dark Knight was somewhat unstoppable (at least for the nomination) and that I've seen an animated film nominated for best picture in my lifetime (Beauty and the Beast) but I've never seen a superhero film nominated in my lifetime. I disagree that Dark Knight was an effective film thematically and I'll cover that in a different post, but in the meantime, because I'm tired as hell and trying to get to sleep.....

Director: Sam Mendes, Revolutionary Road; Chris Nolan, Dark Knight; Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon; David Fincher, Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons; Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire.

I hate to follow historic precedent but a very large percentage of the time, the best picture and best director line up in 4 of 5 cases. The tragedy of this is that because I believe it has only happened once out of 77 Oscar ceremonies that the film (it might have happened a few more times in the '30s or '40s) that didn't get the director nomination won best picture (Driving Miss Daisy, 1989), that fifth picture is immediately relegated to "not going to win, happy to be nominated status" so it becomes a race of four films. I was tempted to go five for five, but because I am a fan of Sam Mendes' work and the other films that got the next 5 sports for best pictures have directors that are less comparable:
-Andrew Staunton for Wall-E directed an animated film which takes significantly less effort
-David Stanley Hare for the Reader has a very thin resume
-Darren Aranofsky might have a chance for the Wrestler but he's a bit more of a cult director and David Cronenberg wasn't rewarded for going mainstream in 2005
-Stephen Daldry for Doubt (his first name is Stephen, right? if it isn't i don't care) already has more than enough noms for films that have since been forgotten (i.e. how many people even remember a film named "Billy Elliot" 8 years later?)
As for the four other directors, the two frontrunners, Boyle and Fincher have been cult directors with cult hits like Fight Club and Seven for Fincher and Trainspottin for Danny Boyle. Chris Nolan has been also somewhat of a cult director with American Psycho, Momento, Insomnia before getting mainstream recognition with the Batman series and Prestige. Neither of the three have been anywhere near this kind of recognition before this year. The fourth guy is your average Joe with commercial tastes, Ron Howard, who's had two best picture nominations before but only one nom with Beatiful Mind.

Actor: Pitt, Buttons; Eastwood, Gran Torino; O'Rourke, Wrestler; Penn, Milk; Langella, Frost/Nixon

I haven't seen Jenkins but I know that the other two borderline performances, Eastwood and Pitt are truly outstanding. Brad Pitt has been gathering goodwill and is slowly becoming the most loved Hollywood star on the planet and he's been waiting for a lead actor nomination for close to 20 years now, so I'm having trouble beleiving Richard Jenkins can compare to that at this point. Clint Eastwood is a former cowboy star who just won't quit making quality films and expanding his boundaries. This is clearly superior as a performance to Million Dollar Baby or Unforgiven, and it deserves to be recognized on behalf of all aging actors who deserve one last shot at creating a great iconic character on screen.

Actress: Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long, Meryl Streep, Doubt; Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road; Melissa Leo, Frozen River; Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Hathaway, Winslet, and Streep are locks. I DO want Angelina Jolie on here and I DON'T want Sally Hawkins on here (mostly because I dislike Mike Leigh who directed the film), so I'll split the difference and put two actresses with equally good chances. As for Kristin Scott Thomas, a French woman got nominated last year and won, so I'm getting the feeling that good performances in French films don't go unnoticed.

Original Screenplay: Rachel Getting Married, Wall-E, Wrestler, Milk, Gran Torino
If people are as gaga as they say they are over Wall-E, then I have a feeling it's going to get a few more nominations than it deserves. I don't think Wall-E is a remarkable screenplay (the first 15 pages or so must consist of "Wall-E: beep, Eve: beep beep" over and over again with stage cues) but rather a remarkable story and a remarkable job on animation, but because I don't believe (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that Wall-E is eligible for art direction or cinametography, It will get rewarded here. The Wrestler and Milk are favorites for the picture. Rachel Getting Married has been one of the most highly praised films of the year by the critics. For the fifth slot, there are a lot of quirky films like In Bruges, Happy-Go-Lucky, Syndechone New York and I was thinking Burn After Reading. I thought if the academy members love Gran Torino to half the extent that some of the critics are (including myself), it could get slot #5. My alternate is Burn After Reading. Vicky Christina Barcelona is a possibility but I will not bet on it. Woody Allen has more screenplay noms than anyone else in history at this point and it's already been known that he won't show up for the ceremony.

Adapted Screenplay: Frost/Nixon, Doubt, Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, Buttons
I think people are ready to give some love to Eric Roth (who wrote Forrest Gump) again and Slumdog is a clear front-runner. Patrick Marber adapted a rather static stage play with only one set into a lively film so that takes guts. I've just seen on the other oscar prediction sites that Doubt will get nominated, and I'll go for Revolutionary Road to be consistent. If the voters are voting RR as the spoiler, they'll like it enough to put here. Dark Knight will get left out, because it's just a comic book and not even a specific issue from which the film is adapted from. I know it's impressive to make a comic book THAT good, but quality comic book adaptations have been going on since the X-Men and Spiderman series and it's the technical awards that made Spiderman good.

Supporting Actor: James Franco, Milk, Ralph Feinnes, The Reader, Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight, Josh Brolin, Milk, PS Hoffman, Doubt
See previous entry

Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Doubt; Penelope Cruz, Vickey Kristina Barcelona; Amy Adams, Doubt; Taraji P Henson, Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons; Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
I think there's too much wishful thinking on my part to think that Rosemarie DeWitt, Amy Adams, and Taraji will all get noms. I think The Reader has enough category fraud that voters might not go for it, especially since they're nominating her for lead in Revolutionary Road. Unless it's incredibly clear, actors and actresses normally don't get two noms in the same awards ceremony. Holly Hunter, Al Pacino, Cate Blanchett and Jamie Foxx were pretty clear-cut in their definitions. No one put Al Pacino for lead on Glengarry Glenn Ross or Jamie Foxx on Collateral for example. Julianne Moore in 2002 was a different story, however, and provides a good counter example. I also just think Kate Winselt didn't have a lot of precursor love aside form the Globes and since the Globes is 80-something reporters, I can't imagine that they're not impervious to their choices being snubbed for the Oscars. Amy Adams was nominated once but she was considered being denied a win and she has been slowly building good and frequent roles (i.e. Charlie Wilson's War, Talladega Nights, Enchanted) to merit another nom 3 years later. Henson played a diverse range of ages.

Best editing: Wall-E, Buttons, Slumdog Millionaire, Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon
Frost/Nixon, Dark Knight and Slumdog would be the front-runners. I'm not even sure if Wall-E is eligible for cinametography or art direction since it's animated, but I think it might be eligible in animation since I've seen that predicted on an Oscar predicted site. Milk is also an option here but I don't see it getting any other technicals.

Best cinametography: Dark Knight, Australia, Buttons, Slumdog Millionaire, Revolutionary Road
Australia is sure to grab a few technical nods plus the same old powerhorses of DK, Buttons and Slumdog. Sam Mendes' films usually grab art direction and cinametography nods.

Art Direction:
Indiana Jones, Australia, Revolutionary Road, Benjamin Buttons, Duchess
Indiana Jones should get at least 2 or three nods. Even if the story faltered, it's respected technical work. Australia and Revolutionary Road are still in. Slumdog Millionaire is a close call.

Reader, Slumdog Millionaire, Defiance, Frost/Nixon, Wall-E
Wall-E's score was the only thing that kept it going for quite some time. Slumdog Millionaire looks positioned for a win. Frost/Nixon has a good score as well.

Slumdog Millionaire, Gran Torino, Wall-E, Cadillac Records, Wrestler
This means I have to discard Cadillac Records, but I think Wall-E will get nominations all over the place, and I just think it would be fun to see Clint Eastwood sing. Wrestler has Bruce Springstein who's hard to vote against. Slumdog Millionaire's entry is more like a dance track than it is a song with lyrics.

Australia, Benjamin Buttons, Duchess, Valkyrie, Iron Man
Tom Cruise's film I'll predict will get it's only nom here as a consolation for being well-made technically. Duchess is a period piece and Indiana Jones should have a place here

Visual Effects:
Iron Man, Benjamin Buttons, Dark Knight
Honrestly, I would have picked Indiana Jones and the Day the Earth Stood Still if I could. I don't think Dark Knight had much to offer in terms of effects

Indiana Jones, Frost/Nixon, Iron Man, Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon

Sound Ediitng:
Frost/Nixon, Dark Knight, Iron Man

Benjamin Buttons, Tropic Thunder, The Reader
Tropic Thunder could potentially sneak in, who knows.

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