Saturday, January 24, 2009
While announcing this year's Oscar nominees only two days after a long-anticipated Presidential Inauguration may have been an unwise choice (the first time in years that I was caught unawares), the picks themselves proved to be so dull and blah that few have even mustered enough energy to complain. Last year, the annual "I've never heard of that movie!" argument seemed pretty silly, with There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men leading what was for once a halfway worthy pack. This year there's not even a clear audience favorite like the godawful Juno and its Woman Of Letters Diablo Cody (currently polluting airwaves with her scripts for The United States of Tara) to raise any naysayer's ire. I thought Ben Button was muddled and Slumdog wafer-thin, but both films have just enough virtues that I'm unable to hate either one. I'm not the biggest fan of The Dark Knight or WALL-E either, nor have I seen Gran Torino, but any of those titles would have offered more interest than Hollywood's increasingly isolated selections.
My tenuous predictions (don't use these in your party pool) and random observations are as follows.
Benjamin Button will win Best Picture and David Fincher Best Director; I'm just not sold on the it-is-written certainty of Slumdog Millionaire, though I wouldn't be terribly surprised if the latter won the bigger awards while Button took the technical achievements. Milk and Gus Van Sant could even pull an upset, though Hollywood's closeted anti-gay demographic should never be underestimated.
I'm probably wrong, but I don't see Sean Penn winning this time either; there may well be a Mickey Rourke upset.
In past years, Kate Winslet was pissed off she didn't win an Oscar; following this year's overindulgence at the Golden Globes, she may be outraged at not taking home two. I'm a little surprised her nom was for The Reader and not Revolutionary Road, but regardless I think this is finally Her Year.
The supporting categories: Heath Ledger and Penelope Cruz. Milk will win original screenplay and Slumdog adapted. I sense an Eric Roth backlash for Button regardless of the movie's overall chances.
I disliked Rachel Getting Married pretty intensely, yet I thought Anne Hathaway was deserving. I disliked Happy-Go-Lucky too, yet I'm pleased Sally Hawkins got snubbed. Would have been pleased with an Eddie Marsan surprise supporting nom, however.
Funny how the Oscars can make one sick of an actor one has always liked. Philip Seymour Hoffman: I'm tired of seeing the guy's name.
I was tired of Werner Herzog even before his first nomination ever (for Best Documentary). The man is a narcissistic bore.
Frankly, the longer I write this, the less certain I am about Benjamin Button.
The Dark Knight's action chop-suey for Best Editing....really?
Some of the most fun I've had with Oscar picks is a high-success ratio of guessing a winning title at random. This year I'm going with Auf der Strecke as the winner for Best Short Film. I've never heard of that movie!