Predictions for Oscars 2009.

17 December, 2008

As a film fan, I find the Oscars both fascinating and reprehensible. Reprehensible in that they turn works of art into racehorses, and fascinating in that they reveal interesting trends in not only the Academy voters but in the honored films themselves. Plus, every once in a while, they will look past the usual crop and honor pictures that don’t compromise and act as honest representations of the artists behind them. Of course, I’m talking about this past ceremony, with masterpieces like There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men taking center-stage while they would be utterly ignored in past ceremonies.

Films that bold and daring are noticably absent from pre-Oscar hype (Although I’m holding my breath for Benjamin Button.) I loved Slumdog Millionaire but it’s not Boyle’s magnum opus by any means, and for once the notion of a career Oscar for a director I love (I will defend Scorsese’s win for The Departed till the day I die, despite the sloppy third act.), is bitter-sweet for me. Must it be this film? Where was his consideration for Trainspotting? Even 28 Days Later and Sunshine deserved a Best Director nod even if the screenplays were rather weak.

If Slumdog wins then it is undoubtedly a sign of the nation shifting away from extreme pessimism to hopeless optimism. In other words, from Bush to Obama. It’s not hard to connect the Oscar winners of the past to the feelings of the American people at the time; everyone was miserable in the ’70s, everyone felt great in the ’80s. This decade is no different, from our desire for escapism with Lord of the Rings to our desire to marinate in the misery with No Country. So many Americans have gotten high off of Obama’s victory whilst accepting that the grim, lasting effects of the Bush years are here to stay for quite some time.

Which other contenders reflect these feelings? There’s Milk, but if Brokeback Mountain couldn’t secure the Best Picture trophy, this film doesn’t have a shot in Hell. Lots of bloggers are throwing it in for WALL-E but because of the deeply patronizing Best Animated Feature category, I can’t see myself joining the choir for this one (Otherwise I would instantly get behind it.) Am I forgetting anything else? All the other contenders look like your usual melodramatic fares, from Revolutionary Road to The Reader.

Then there’s The Dark Knight. Ah yes. The film that nearly knocked Titanic off its undeserved Highest-Grossing Film title and seemed to finally unite audiences and critics for the first time in years. We all know Heath Ledger is a lock; that goes without saying. I’m also certain that a Best Picture nomination is in order given its staggering box-office success. But here we are, back into the territory of the paranoia and pessimism of the Bush years. In one month, those years will be but a distant memory. Americans are masters of cultural amnesia, and perhaps the film’s relevance will die as soon as Obama takes the oath on Inaguaration Day.

I’m sure my connections to the American political framework will sound absurd to some but you only need to look at the previous films. The connections are there; always have been, always will be. Only when this notion is embraced will the Oscars start to make a little more sense, especially when we come upon what will be a very interesting and off-beat Oscar ceremony.

Without further ado:

BEST PICTURE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Milk
Slumdog Millionaire*
Revolutionary Road, The Reader, or Frost/Nixon

BEST DIRECTOR

Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire*
David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight
Gus Van Sant – Milk

BEST ACTOR

Leonardo DiCaprio – Revolutionary Road
Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn – Milk
Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler*
Brad Pitt – Benjamin Button, Richard Jenkins – The Visitor, Clint Eastwood – Gran Torino

BEST ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married*
Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky
Kristin Scott-Thomas – I’ve Loved You So Long
Meryl Streep – Doubt
Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Josh Brolin – Milk
Robert Downey Jr. – Tropic Thunder
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight*
Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt, Michael Sheen – Frost/Nixon or Liev Schreiber – Defiance

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Penelope Cruz – Vicky Christina Barcelona*
Viola Davis – Doubt
Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler
Kate Winslet – The Reader
Taraji P. Henson – Benjamin Button or Debra Winger – Rachel Getting Married

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Dustin Lance Black – Milk*
Charlie Kaufman – Synecdoche, New York
Mike Leigh – Happy-Go-Lucky
Jenny Lumet – Rachel Getting Married
Andrew Stanton – WALL-E
Martin McDonagh – In Bruges

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Simon Beaufoy – Slumdog Millionaire*
Justin Haythe – Revolutionary Road
Peter Morgan – Frost/Nixon
Eric Roth – Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley – Doubt

As always, none of these predictions rely on an exact science, so feel free to pick them apart if you like. As William Goldman brilliantly put it, “Nobody knows anything.” That said, I am confident in the predictions I’ve made, with the exception of Best Actress which I’m always uncertain about for some reason. Thoughts on that category are especially appreciated.

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11 Responses to “Predictions for Oscars 2009.”

  1. Ally said

    Milk and Brokeback Mountain are nothing alike. One is a love story, and one is about a movement, and the man behind it. I do agree with a lot of your predictions though.

  2. Noah said

    Yes but the fact is they’re both about homosexuality which sadly is still a taboo subject in this country. It is well-documented that Brokeback’s loss had a lot to do with right-wing pressure groups insisting on a lifetime boycott of the ceremonies. And that film only had a couple of gay characters whereas Milk is almost entirely gay. It’s a shame that this shit still matters to people but there you have it.

  3. Ally said

    Brokeback Mountain was also boring as shit. Which might also have had to do with their loss.

  4. Mr. Russell said

    Pfft — wake me when it’s time for the BAFTA’s!

  5. Noah said

    True, Brokeback was pretty boring. But it also won every single pre-Oscar award there was. I mean, it was a sweep, like No Country for Old Men for instance. But whatever, the past is the past. And for all its faults, Brokeback Mountain is no Crash. Ugh…

  6. Ally said

    But No Country For Old Men was riveting! Exciting! I mean… by comparison, Brokeback was about as intriguing as The Holiday.

  7. David said

    I agree with most of your choices. I think the academy will give Best Picture to SM while giving Best Director to Fincher because they dont really respect Boyle and because CCoBB is much more a director’s triumph of vision whle SM is more a triump of story.

  8. Noah said

    I don’t know how much the Academy respects Fincher either. They’ve both been snubbed for every single one of their movies. But we’ll see. Either way it’ll make for a more interesting telecast.

  9. Casey said

    Although I agree with most of your choices I disagree with some too – but GREAT list, thanks for posting. Heres what Im thinking:

    For BEST PICTURE I’d agree with your top 4, but the 5th spot is more than likely going to go to Frost/Nixon I’d say. making the nominees:

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    The Dark Knight
    Frost/Nixon
    Milk
    Slumdog Millionaire

    for the winner, I think its a little too early to claim a win for Slumdog, even though its winning everything. I am going out on a limb and saying that Milk will take the top prize.

    for BEST DIRECTOR I think you’re gonna be dead on. 5/5 you agree with me

    Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire
    David Fincher – The Curious Case of B. Button
    Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
    Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight
    Gus Van Sant – Milk

    I think this prize is up for grabs, right now I’d say Danny Boyle is the front runner.

    for BEST ACTOR i think youre being a little generous with Leonardo, although I think he is wonderful in the film. I do agree that Mickey Rourke will pull out the win, slightly over Penn, but I think replacing Leonardo will be Richard Jenkins and for the 5th slot Clint Eastwood will sneak in, making the nominees:

    Clint Eastwood – Gran Torino
    Richard Jenkins – The Visitor
    Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon
    Sean Penn – Milk
    Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler

    I also disagree with you on BEST ACTRESS. I think there are 3 locks for nominations, and those are: Anne, Meryl, and Angelina (whom you didn’t list). Angelina has seen a huge surge the past couple of weeks with the satellite win, the golden globe and SAG noms, PLUS she was overlooked last year for her fantastic performance in “A Mighty Heart”, and I think her work in “Changeling” is even better. Early on I thought Kristin Scott Thomas was a sure bet, but now I don’t. I do think Sally Hawkins will slip in, but I am betting Winslet will win more support with The Reader, and critical darling Melissa Leo will slip in her spot. making the nominees:

    Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married
    Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky
    Angelina Jolie – Changeling
    Melissa Leo – Frozen River
    Meryl Streep – Doubt

    for the win, I will at this point say that Anne will still win though, but wouldn’t be surprised with any of the 5 winning in the end, they all were fantastic.

    for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, I don’t understand how you’re confused on the 5th slot. Hoffman is a lock, whereas Michael Shannon is not – he could be threatened by any of the other Milk boys, however I do think he makes it in (the sole acting nominee from Rev. Road) making the nominees

    Josh Brolin – Milk
    Robert Downey Jr. – Tropic Thunder
    Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt
    Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight*
    Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road

    as for the winner, anyone who doesn’t predict Heath is a fool (although I personally think Phillip and Josh are just as deserving)

    for BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS we have a couple different opinions. Obviously Cruz and Davis are locks, and I think Winslet is too because she will be shunned from actress. I am hoping amongst hopes that Tomei is included, because she is beyond wonderful. That leaves the final spot. While Taraj P Henson could get the nom, it could easily go to Rosemarie DeWitt from Rachel Getting Marrie, but I am counting on the fantastic Amy Adams who has been seeing a surge as of late too (SAG and GG noms). Making the nominees:

    Amy Adams – Doubt
    Penelope Cruz – Vicky Christina Barcelona
    Viola Davis – Doubt
    Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler
    Kate Winslet – The Reader

    for the winner – I think everyone believes that Penelope will win, and she rightfully may. I think Viola Davis will pull out a surprise win.

  10. Noah said

    How could I forget about Angelina Jolie? You’re absolutely right on that one. Also now that the SAG nominations are out, Richard Jenkins has a much stronger shot in my mind, more so than DiCaprio.

    But Milk for Best Picture? Again, any film that deals with homosexuality that strongly is going to have a tough time gaining the acceptance of the general public. There are a lot of bigots out there still.

  11. Casey said

    its sad but true.
    I dunno I just think the momentum of the film is rising, and with the parallels to Prop 8 in California makes this a big statement, and the Oscars like making statements.

    i am most excited about best actress – I honestly think any of them could win. Anne, Meryl, Angelina, Melissa, Sally, and Kate all have won awards so far, and any could win. Whereas we know actor is Rourke or Penn, S Actor is Heath, and S Actress is Cruz Vs. Viola.

    Its gonna be a good year I think.

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