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Slam Dunk, "Millionaire": 2009 Oscar Predictions PDF Print E-mail
Movies - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 16 February 2009 08:41

Dev Patel and Freida Pinto in Slumdog MillionaireI know, I know ... you heeded my Oscar advice to the letter last year, and wound up guessing correctly in only 11 of the 24 categories. I'm truly sorry if you ended up looking like an idiot at your Academy Awards party. But it was a tough year, and there were a lot of deserving contenders, and at least you were cool for predicting Marion Cotillard, and ... .

Ah, screw it. Let's try this again, shall we?

BEST PICTURE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Frost/Nixon

Milk

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

 

It is written.

 

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

 

In 2007, it was Scorsese. Last year, it was the Coen brothers. This year, it's gonna be Boyle. I am loving this trend.

 

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

 

Oh, Mickey, you're so fine. You're so fine you blow my mind. Hey, Mickey!

 

BEST ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Angelina Jolie, Changeling

Melissa Leo, Frozen River

Meryl Streep, Doubt

Kate Winslet, The Reader

 

My head says Winslet, 'cause all the signs are pointing that way. My heart says Streep, 'cause she'd give the most entertaining speech. I'm going with my gut.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Josh Brolin, Milk

Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt

Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road

 

No joke(r).

 

Penelope Cruz in Vicki Cristina BarcelonaBEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, Doubt

Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Viola Davis, Doubt

Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

 

A legitimate five-way race. I'm guessing, though, that Henson's role will be considered too saccharine, that one Oscar for Tomei is (for now) enough, that Davis' subtlety and limited screen time will work against her, and that Adams won't win over Davis. Enhorabuena, Penélope!

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Dustin Lance Black, Milk

Courtney Hunt, Frozen River

Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky

Martin McDonagh, In Bruges

Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter, WALL●E

 

Another toughie, but when in doubt, go with a category's lone Best Picture nominee. (Except, you know, on Best Supporting Actress. And Best Actress.)

 

BEST SCREENPLAY ADAPTATION

Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire

David Hare, The Reader

Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon

Eric Roth, Robin Swicord, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

John Patrick Shanley, Doubt

 

To my mind, the screenplay is actually Slumdog's weakest element. But hey, without Beaufoy, we wouldn't have The Full Monty. So I'm at peace with it.

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Bolt

Kung Fu Panda

WALL●E

 

That dog and bear shouldn't even bother renting tuxes.

 

Waltz with BashirBEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Baader Meinhof Complex, Germany

The Class, France

Departures, Japan

Revanche, Austria

Waltz with Bashir, Israel

 

I really should go with The Class here, as the Golden Palm winner at last spring's Cannes Film Festival seems to be gaining considerable momentum. But it's hard to ignore Israel's animated documentary winning a Critics Choice Award, and a Golden Globe Award, and a Directors Guild Award, and a Writers Guild Award, and ... .

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)

Encounters at the End of the World

The Garden

Man on Wire

Trouble the Water

 

Conversely, Man on Wire has won just about every documentary prize under the sun, but I'm still not picking it. (Perhaps stupidly, as the movie is, among other things, an elegy for the Twin Towers.) I'm instead choosing this exploration of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath - winner of the Grand Jury Prize at last year's Sundance Film Festival - and my runner-up would be Werner Herzog's Encounters, because (a) the movie is extraordinary, (b) the legendary Herzog, bypassed for 2005's Grizzly Man, is long overdue for Academy recognition, and (c) the notoriously cranky director would no doubt accept the statuette with pissed-off eloquence.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Slumdog Millionaire, "Jai Ho"

Slumdog Millionaire, "O Saya"

WALL●E, "Down to Earth"

 

Because the Pixar tune isn't quite strong enough to break the tie, and because "Jai Ho" is insanely catchy.

 

Slumdog MillionaireBEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Changeling

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire

 

And Anthony Dod Mantle will soon have a trophy for his mantel. (Sorry. Too obvious to resist.)

 

BEST FILM EDITING

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Frost/Nixon

Milk

Slumdog Millionaire

 

The scene with the ringing cell phone alone should seal it.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Defiance

Milk

Slumdog Millionaire

WALL●E

 

WALL●E composer Thomas Newman, also up for Best Original Song, has now been nominated 10 times, and hasn't won yet. I'll bet he freakin' hates Slumdog.

 

BEST ART DIRECTION

Changeling

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Duchess

Revolutionary Road

 

Oh my God! A tech category that Slumdog isn't nominated in! This one's yours, Button!

 

Keira Knightley in The DuchessBEST COSTUME DESIGN

Australia

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Duchess

Milk

Revolutionary Road

 

But you probably can't have this one, Button. I figure if voters could give it to the wretched Elizabeth: The Golden Age last year, I'm guessing there's no British period soap opera too lame for this award.

 

BEST SOUND EDITING

The Dark Knight

Iron Man

Slumdog Millionaire

WALL●E

Wanted

 

BEST SOUND MIXING

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Slumdog Millionaire

WALL●E

Wanted

 

In truth, I still don't understand the difference between these sound categories. But I figure WALL●E's gotta win at least one of 'em, so I'm just playing the odds here.

 

Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonBEST MAKEUP

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

 

A Dark Knight victory would be hugely deserved, but could be seen, I think, as a slight slighting of Heath Ledger (i.e., "He was great because of the makeup"). Voters won't take the chance. And Benjamin Button's makeup was pretty amazing.

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Iron Man

 

Forrest Gump won this category, too. Hey! There's another similarity!

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

The Conscience of Nhem En

The Final Inch

Smile Pinki

The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306

 

And your short subjects in question are, from top to bottom, the Khmer Rouge's takeover of Cambodia, impoverished Indian children in need of vaccinations, a pre-teen social outcast with a cleft lip, and the assassination of Martin Luther King. Okay then. Let's go with the occasionally accurate "the longest title wins" rule of thumb.

 

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Auf der Strecke (On the Line)

Manon on the Asphalt

New Boy

The Pig

Spielzeugland (Toyland)

 

Tempting as it is to reflexively choose Spielzeugland (Toyland) - the same way voters chose to nominate The Reader five times over - I'm opting for The Pig, a seriocomic parable about the differences in Muslim and Western philosophies

 

La Maison en Petits CubesBEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Lavatory - Lovestory

La Maison en Petits Cubes

Oktapodi

Presto

This Way Up

 

Most everyone has seen WALL●E's short-film appendage, Presto, and it's a funny flick. But while Pixar used to dominate this category, the studio hasn't won here since 2002, after which it started dominating the Animated Feature category. I'm opting for the Japanese memory piece La Maison here. And look! It's got the longest title, too!

 

For a closer analysis of the Best Actor and Best Actress races, see "Sean & Mickey & Kate & Meryl... and Melissa."

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