Thursday, 22 January 2009

Oscars 2009

The Oscar nominations have just been announced. So far, and they are still in the process of announcing them, they look like this:

Best Picture
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire

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'

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'

Best Actress
  • Anne Hathaway, 'Rachel Getting Married'
  • Angelina Jolie, 'Changeling'
  • Melissa Leo, 'Frozen River'
  • Meryl Streep, 'Doubt'
  • Kate Winslet, 'The Reader'
Best Supporting Actor
  • Heath Ledger, 'The Dark Knight'
  • Robert Downey Jr., 'Tropic Thunder'
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, 'Doubt'
  • Josh Brolin, 'Milk'
  • Michael Shannon, 'Revolutionary Road'

Best Supporting Actress
  • Marisa Tomei, 'The Wrestler'
  • Taragi Henson, 'Benjamin Button'
  • Viola Davis ,'Doubt
  • Amy Adams, 'Doubt'
  • Penelope Cruz, 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'

For Best Picture, it surely has to be a three-way battle between Benjamin Button, the lavish $150 million David Fincher directed Southern fairy-tale, the thespy Frost/Nixon, and the out and out favourite, Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. The Reader is a) not good enough and b) too divisive to win, and Milk is an example, common to all biopics, of a movie in which the the acting, in this case that of Sean Penn (and a very underestimated James Franco), is better than the movie itself. If I was a betting man, I'd say its Slumdog's year...

I think Best Director is a formality. The sheer energy and dynamism that Danny Boyle was able to draw out of his Mumbai experience make him a clear fav, and I can't really see anyone else coming close, although I thought Fincher did a superb job with Button, as he did with Zodiac, The Game, and pretty much every movie he has ever worked on.

Best Actor is probably the toughest of the major categories to pick. Will the Academy voters go for Mickey Rourke's art-mirrors-life performance in The Wrestler, Sean Penn's prosthetically-aided rendition of gay politician Harvey Milk (heck, it worked for Nicole Kidman in The Hours), Richard Jenkin's understated performance as Walter Vale, a disenchanted college professor in The Visitor, or Frank Langella's gracious and magnanimous performance as the disgraced President Nixon? Although I thought Pitt was superb, I think this won't be his year, and Lord knows he is sure to get plenty more chances. I personally thought he should have got a Best Supporting Actor nod for his performance in Burn After Reading, but c'est la vie. I would like to see the award go to Langella, as I feel he deserves it for his work both on and off-screen, but Rourke and Penn are both very much in the race.

I hated The Changeling, and if all it takes to win a Best Actress statuette is to look both pretty and upset for over two hours, then Angelina has this one wrapped up. Don't be surprised if Kate steals the show here. She has been overlooked so many times that this might well be her year. However, seems mad to me that she might win it for The Reader, which to my untrained eye seemed like little more than a titillating apologia for the abuses of the Third Reich. Having said that, I didn't think she was much better in Revolutionary Road, so maybe they just flipped for it?! Its good to see Melissa Leo there for a great performance in a what is a pretty boring film, and as for Anne, never fear love, your time is coming.

The Academy voters seem to love a backstory and for that reason, I think Heath will win Best Supporting Actor. Cue retrospective montage and not a dry eye in the house. Don't utterly discount Michael Shannon and Josh Brolin. Actually, scrap that. They haven't got a chance.

Finally, as for Best Supporting Actress, I think Viola Davis will nab it for 'Doubt' but I'd like to see it go to Amy Adams. I've been mad about her since 'Catch Me If You Can', and thought 'Enchanted' was the best Disney movie since 'The Lion King'. She was also great in the as yet unreleased 'Sunshine Cleaning' and I expect big things of her. Bring on 22nd February!

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