Sunday night, February 22nd, the 81st Annual Academy Awards. It’s Oscar Night!!
Unlike the Grammy Awards of two weeks ago, where you see who wins the award and you say to yourself, “Who are these people? And where did all the good music go?” At the Grammys they always have to drag out our old favorites like Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and others to bring us back to why we liked music to begin with. The Oscars delivered some very big performances. I am proud to be a movie buff and very proud that Hollywood, Bollywood and all points in between still take pride in the craft that is filmmaking. I was lucky enough to see all five Oscar nominated films and then some over the past year. I did not see every nominated film, but most critics did not either.
Here are my 2009 Oscar Predictions, these are just my picks, do not go bananas if you disagree, but I’d love to hear your opinions.
I will start with the two easiest ones of the evening. These two are my pick and whom the Academy will select, the rest will change.
Best Adapted Screenplay – Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy. A fairy tale worthy of Snow White.
Best Original Screenplay – Milk written by Dustin Lance Black. It is should not be close. This was not just a portrait, it was a masterpiece. Only wish Harvey Milk was alive to see his story come to the screen so beautifully.
Best Song – Jai Ho, Slumdog Millionaire. Take Your Pick of the Slumdog Millionaire songs which I am sure will win. The Best Song should have gone to Bruce Springsteen for “The Wrestler.” Thanks to a nonsensical rule by the Academy, states that the nomination of a song must be in the movie and not during the credits. If “The Wrestler” was good enough for the Golden Globes, it should have been good enough for the Academy. Few will remember the winner of Best Song this year, but I know I will not forget “The Wrestler”. Springsteen nails the character of The Wrestler with this song. It is nice to see Peter Gabriel nominated here, but when I think of him and movies, I will always think of “Say Anything”. “In Your Eyes”" was one of the best uses of a song in a movie.
Academy Pick – Jai Ho, Slumdog Millionaire
Left Out: The Wrestler, Bruce Springsteen, The Wrestler. See above.
Best Supporting Actress – Amy Adams, Doubt.
This may be the one award where all 5 have a legit chance at the statuette. I did love Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler”, but I doubt the Academy will reward her again. I would not be upset if they did give her another golden statuette. Viola Davis had a great scene in “Doubt”, but should one scene reap this reward. It has a couple times in the past, but I thought Adams was better in the whole movie. Davis winning would be the equivalent of David Tyree winning last year’s Super Bowl MVP. He was not on the field that much, but made the play that everyone remembered. Taraji P. Henson deserved the nomination for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, very good but not the best. I did not see “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and cannot comment on Penelope Cruz’s performance, but I did see clips and I have read that she is deserving and could win.
Academy Pick – Viola Davis, Doubt
Left Out – I cannot really think of any, they nailed it, with this superb cast of five. While Kate Winslet won the Golden Globe for Revolutionary Road, she is already nominated for Best Actress and that was a far better performance.
Best Supporting Actor – Heath Ledger, Dark Knight. This one is the lock of the evening in acting. Ledger saved his best for last, tragically.
I loved Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt, he played the part of the priest in scandal to near perfection. I did not think Josh Brolin was outstanding in Milk, good, yes, but his nomination was sketchy to me. Michael Shannon’s acting as a man out of his mind, but brutally honest at the same time was a good one. You will hear more from him. Robert Downey, Jr. should enjoy the parties after the ceremony. You have to feel for this year’s other nominees.
Academy Pick – Heath Ledger, Dark Knight.
Left Out – David Kross, The Reader. At 18, he gave a tremendous effort. Even if he was nominated, he would not stand a chance against Ledger; I just wanted to give him his just due. I thought he was terrific, and I hope he will be in more English-speaking roles. Not an easy role to play when you are paired with someone so talented as Kate Winslet, but he grew in to the role nicely.
Best Actor – Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler. A movie that made you truly believe that Rourke and his character Randy “The Ram” Robinson, were one in the same. The mirror images of “The Ram’s” career and Rourke’s life are pretty stunning. Rourke gives everything he has left in this performance. It was the comeback performance of the year. Sean Penn, may win any other year for Milk. He was fabulous, but the Ram is an unstoppable force. Frank Langella was great as President Richard Nixon, but was it more of an imitation than it was acting? I did not see “The Visitor” and could not comment on Richard Jenkins performance.
Academy Pick: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Left Out: Leonardo DiCaprio, “Revolutionary Road” – I thought this was a very underrated performance. There was no need to make a huge stink over it, the winner is either Rourke or Penn; they are head and shoulders above the rest.
Best Actress – Kate Winslet, The Reader. An absolutely captivating performance. Yes, we could have done without all the nudity, lol. But, her portrayal of a German woman standing trial for her past was excellent.
Meryl Streep as always delivers the goods in “Doubt”, and her ability to master any accent comes flying through here. She is as good as we have ever seen when it comes to acting. Ironic that Winslet’s award winning performance as a former Nazi guard could beat out a woman who once played a Nazi concentration camp inmate in “Sophie’s Choice.” I would not be surprised if Kate took a page from Meryl from Sophie’s Choice on how to play an accent with her role. Angelina Jolie was very good in “Changeling”, but this is a two woman race like best actor is a two man race. I would be more than satisfied if either Winslet or Streep won. It was nice to see Anne Hathaway get nominated for “Rachel Getting Married” I hope she will steer her career towards more dramatic roles instead of crapola romantic comedies. I did not see “Frozen River” and cannot comment on Melissa Leo’s performance, but I have heard few others have seen it as well.
Academy Pick: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Left Out: I, personally did not see any other performances worthy of a nomination, but there may be others. Winslet and Streep rise above all.
Best Director – Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire. Brilliant storytelling. This movie could have been easily juggled if in someone else’s hands. It was handled with precision by Boyle. Seeing how Bombay (Mumbai) and the children grew from the slums to living in condos and having high-tech cell phones was very dramatic. Boyle gets to the heart of the squalor in Mumbai and does not spare a detail, even if it will make your stomach cringe. The actors were good enough to carry this amazing screenplay and directing. Gus Van Sant probably wins this in many a year for his work in Milk. Ron Howard did his usual above average job, and Stephen Daldry deserved his third Best Director nomination for his direction in The Reader.
Academy Pick: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire.
Left Out: Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler. Tremendous directing, turning what could have been a high-budget and overdone project into a movie that will touch your heart and has more of a feel of a documentary than it does as a film of fiction.
Best Picture – Milk. I know it is sacrilegious to pick a different director and picture combination, but this has happened three times this decade. Milk was so true to its story. A terrific performance from Penn. If the Academy picks Milk, I think this will count as a makeup for not picking “Brokeback Mountain” for Best Picture in 2005 due to its homosexual tones. This award will probably go to Slumdog Millionaire, but the movie I enjoyed the most was Milk. I think Slumdog is very good, borders on great, but it is not Best, Dev Patel’s mediocre job on the accent really brings the film down a notch for me. Frost/Nixon is very good, but is more imitation, than that of new filmmaking. The Reader is terrific, and if not for a half-hearted effort from Ralph Fiennes this movie could have a shot, but it doesn’t. Benjamin Button gets better in the second hour, but the first hour should be called Snooze Button. It is a very good story, but not best picture in 2009.
Academy Pick: Slumdog Millionaire
Left Out: The Wrestler and The Dark Knight. Maybe, there are not enough pro wrestling fans in Hollywood, but this picture was worthy of a nomination and could have been a contender for the trophy. I am not sure how the Dark Knight was not considered here. Maybe the Academy wanted to keep this popular movie out, but it deserved a nomination.
Well, there you have it, my 2009 Oscar Picks. What a great year for movies, it sure makes you forget about that music award show earlier this month. Let’s hope the Jonas Brothers are nowhere near the stage. Oh, one more pick, I think Hugh Jackman will do a very fine job.