My choices for the five Best Picture nominees don't differ all that much from the prediction I made a couple of months ago, save for one. While I was dead-on in calling the meteoric rise of Slumdog Millionaire, I miscalculated with Revolutionary Road, which turned into a bigger awards disappointment than anyone could have predicted. Something like this is always tricky and almost requires a balance between playing it straight and taking some well-chosen risks. We'll see how I do.
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
Analysis: I have my fingers crossed that I'm wrong and the preposterously overrated Milk fails to earn a Best Picture nod, which isn't so far-fetched considering it's been losing a lot of steam lately. That's my one wish for the morning, as negative as it sounds. This category still isn't set in stone as The Reader, The Wrestler or even Gran Torino could easily sneak in. Doubt is also still a possibility. Button is the second most vulnerable. I haven't seen those four but I'm still confident any of them would almost have to be a better choice than Milk. I'm just not completely sold that voters will agree. And no, WALL-E isn't out of this yet.
Darren Aronofsky, “The Wrestler”
Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire"
Clint Eastwood, “Gran Torino”
David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight”
Analysis: The picture and director nominations NEVER MATCH (as little sense as that makes). This means someone's getting snubbed. It'll be Gus Van Sant who has the least "directorly" film of the nominees. Sean Penn's getting all the credit anyway so voters will probably just assume he directed himself. This opens the door for Aronofsky. The Wrestler probably peaked too late to get the Best Pic nod so they'll want to reward it for something other than the acting and song categories. Besides, with names like Boyle, Fincher and Nolan there doesn't it seem weird NOT to have Aronofsky joining them? Ron Howard was overloooked before for Apollo 13 and now it'll happen again with Frost/Nixon. Acknowledging Eastwood in the twilight of his career is just too great an oppportunity for the Academy to pass up.
Clint Eastwood, “Gran Torino”
Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”
Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
Sean Penn, “Milk”
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”
Analysis: This is pretty cut and dry with the exception of one surprise. Actors make up a large voting block so I'm predicting they'll find it impossible not to nominate Richard Jenkins' understated but brilliant work in The Visitor. It was just too good. They'll see Brad Pitt's performance in Benjamin Button as an achievement in visual effects more than anything else. That film is already on shaky ground as it is so it'll get hit here. In a repeat of 1997 when he had to stand by and watch Winslet grab all the glory, DiCaprio will be shut out for Revolutionary Road.
Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"
Sally Hawkins, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Meryl Streep, “Doubt”
Kristin Scott Thomas, "I've Loved You So Long"
Kate Winslet, “Revolutionary Road”
Analysis: Mark my words: Angelina Jolie's getting snubbed for Changeling. If she didn't get a nomination for A Might Heart (a better received performance) she sure won't be getting one for this. Every year it seems they like to honor a boring accomplished actress no one cares about in a performance nobody saw. So it's essentially a coin toss between Frozen River's Melissa Leo and I've Loved You So Long's Kristin Scott Thomas. While it's bad timing for Hathaway that Bride Wars hit theaters just as ballots were being mailed out, she's sitting pretty after the Globe co-win and is actually considered a front-runner along with Streep.
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, “Milk”
Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Dev Patel, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Analysis: A.K.A. the four actors who will be losing to Heath Ledger. Here's one case where it is actually just an honor to be nominated. If nothing else, Dev Patel will at least have a wild story to tell his friends. The only other outside possibility is Revolutionary Road's Michael Shannon but his buzz has completely died out.
Analysis: No surprises here either. It's possible Doubt's Amy Adams or Rachel Getting Married's Rosemarie DeWitt could sneak in, but not very likely. A really thin category this year.
Analysis: I'm not exactly sure how Dustin Lance Black's script for Milk is considered an "original" screenplay but it is, so therefore it'll be nominated (despite it being undeserving). Even scarier, it has a good chance of winning. I'll take it just so long as the film gets shut out of the Best Picture race.
Analysis: Voters won't be able to think outside the box enough to be able to acknowledge The Dark Knight in this category. It'll get a the Best Pic nod and a handful of tecnical accolades but miss out here to more "literary" endevours like The Reader and Doubt.