Thursday, January 22, 2009
The Oscars decided not to be cool this year.
Judging from the Oscar nominees this year, the Academy seems determined to reinforce stereotypes about themselves. Said stereotypes had been absent for a few years as edgy movies like The Departed took home the top prize. The Oscars were close to being...cool. Well, they put a stop to that!
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader? Come on. This proves once again that even a mediocre movie about the Holocaust can bump out a great movie about anything else. Was The Dark Knight really out of the question? It was the movie of the year, the most seen, the most talked about, and in my humble opinion, the best. And if it was just too badass for these old fogeys, they could have at least given that fifth slot to Wall-E, an amazing movie which will have to settle for the annual consolation prize of an easy win the Animated Feature Category. For the record, I have no problem with the other four nominees. They're all good. But The Reader, though it has its moments, is not worthy of the movies that could have been here. But it is produced by the Weinstein company. Don't forget that the Weinsteins are responsible for that incredible act of mass hypnosis that convinced the Academy that The English Patient was the best film of 1996. These guys know how to work the system. They should enjoy it, because Slumdog is going to stomp on them in the final vote.
Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry for The Reader
David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant for Milk
The directors all line up with the nominees for Best Picture, which is actually unusual. Generally, there's one wild card. Not this year.
Richard Jenkins in The Visitor
Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn in Milk
Brad Pitt for The Curious, oh let's just call it Forrest Gump II. Come on, you know it's true.
Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
Jenkins was a surprise. I didn't know if anyone had seen that tiny movie, I've barely heard of it. A lot of the prognosticators thought Clint Eastwood's scowling in Gran Torino would get him another nomination, but it seems the Academy decided that he has enough Oscars. Some very good performances here.
Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie in Changeling
Melissa Leo in Frozen River
Meryl Streep in Doubt
Kate Winslet in The Reader
Leo is another nice underdog suprise, but the interesting part of this is how they decided to deal with Kate Winslet. The studios were hoping to get her dual nominations, lead actress for Revolutionary Road and supporting for The Reader. However, this was kind of stupid because if you've seen The Reader, it's obvious that's a leading role. But since Oscar rules say actors can't be nominated twice in the same category in the same year, the studios distort things. It's clear by now that the voters like The Reader a lot better than Revolutionary Road, and Winslet was definitely the high point of that movie. It is kind of nice to see the voters ignore the marketing BS and just go with their gut.
Best Supporting Actor
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
This is probably the category I'm happiest with. Not just because Ledger made it, but Downey was hilarious in that movie and it's nice to see a comedic performance get recognized.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams in Doubt
Penelope Cruz in Vicky Christina Barcelona
Viola Davis in Doubt
Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Ca, yeah yeah yeah.
Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler
Damn, seems like the whole cast of Doubt was nominated. Problem is, when a movie doubles up in an acting category, the two nominees seem to always cancel each other out. This category is famous for upsets, though, so don't rule anything out.
The other nominations can be checked out at the official site. Closer to the ceremony, I'll make my "official" predictions.