And the Winner is…

And the Winner is…

by Danny Minton

On February 22, most of relevant Hollywood will be walking down the red carpet and a lucky few will be honored by their peers by receiving the coveted Academy Award, or Oscar.  So if you are like me, and this night is as important to you as the Super Bowl, then you have probably been paying attention to who is supposed to win, who is supposed to lose, and which races are the closest.  So far this season, Slumdog Millionaire has been sweeping the awards shows.  But at this year’s Oscars, Benjamin Button has the most nominations.  Even for folks like me that follow this closely, winning an Oscar pool can be a very challenging task.  But if you would like to have my odds of winning (trust me – they aren’t that great) while attending your big Oscar party, here is what you will need to mark down.

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire.  While Button just barely edged out Slumdog on my top 10 movies of the year, I think that Slumdog has the edge here.  In 10 or 20 years I think that Benjamin Button will be the movie most remembered, but it’s about this year, not 2029.  Don’t rule out Milk either which could prove to have a very successful night Sunday. 

Best Director: Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire.  Let’s forget about the fact that Boyle is one of the most important directors of our time and he has never been honored by his peers.  Slumdog couldn’t have been what it is without Boyle behind the scenes.  While I love Button’s David Fincher, I honestly can’t say the same about his film. 

Best Actor: Sean Penn – Milk.  While I personally loved Mickey Rourke, and will be crossing my fingers for him, I think that Penn has too much steam going and that Hollywood will also choose to honor Milk with the Best Actor trophy rather than Best Picture.

Best Actress: Kate Winslet – The Reader.  Who doesn’t love a Nazi camp guard turned pedophile?  There is no doubt that Winslet is deserving of an Oscar (sorry for the pun).  I’m not sure it’s for this, but there is still no doubt.  But needless to say, she is the favorite to win and if enough voters saw The Reader, she probably will.  I really hope that Anne Hathaway pulls a big upset here for Rachel Getting Married as I think that she is the most deserving this year.

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight.  One of the most popular questions I have gotten this past year is “do you really think Heath was that good?”  The answer is an absolute yes.  I thought he was wonderful as the maniacal Joker and would have deserved the trophy whether alive or dead. 

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz – Vicky Christina Barcelona.  This was by far the weakest category of the year and really only two of the performances turned my eye: Cruz and Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler.  But Cruz was truly fantastic in this strange romantic comedy and deserves to take home the trophy. 

As for the rest of the categories, here are the selections I plan on making:

Original Screenplay: Milk
Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire
Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Original Score: Slumdog Millionaire
Original Song: “Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire
Costume Design: The Duchess
Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Sound Editing: WALL-E
Sound Mixing: WALL-E
Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Foreign Language Film: Waltz with Bashir
Documentary Feature: Man on Wire
Documentary Short: The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306
Animated Feature: WALL-E
Animated Short: Presto
Live-Action Short: Auf der Strecke

And The Winner Is…

Just a couple of weeks ago it looked like we might be missing a televised Oscar ceremony this year.  Fortunately, the writer’s strike is officially over and the fiasco that occurred with the Golden Globes won’t be repeated for the big show.  John Stewart is poised and ready and now has a team of writers to help him make the most of the biggest night of the year for movies.  A lot of folks think the winners for the top six will be fairly predictable, and the odds-makers agree.  As for my ballot, I am going to predict some bigtime upsets.  While most think that the Coen’s latest pic No Country For Old Men will steal the show, I think that the buzz might have faded out early and that there will be some huge surprises.  There is one thing for sure – there will be many different winners on February 24.  So who will they be?  Here are my thoughts…

Best PictureThere Will Be Blood.  While I think that AtonementJuno are far superior films, and that the odds are in No Country’s favor, I think there will be just enough votes to push Blood into the winner’s circle.

Best Director – Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.  While he might be best known for his beautiful paintings, Butterfly has got Hollywood singing Schnabel’s praises and if the Coen’s have lost any steam at all, this could be the surprise of the night.  As an aside, Schnabel received his B.F.A. from the University of Houston and deserves some cheering on from the locals!

Best Actor – Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood.  While the competition is good, I think that Lewis is the winner by a mile.  It’s rare that the front-runner is this far ahead of the pack. 

Best Actress – Jule Christie, Away From Her.  As much as I want Ellen Page to win for Juno, I think that Christie’s portrait of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease will take the trophy. 

Best Supporting Actor – Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men.  Personally, I preferred the performance of Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild due to the fact that he actually acted rather than just terrified, but I have to admit that Bardem gave a truly scary performance that will be remembered for years to come. 

Best Supporting Actress – Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone.  As a character, she upset me more than any other character I saw on screen this year.  Her performance was almost too real and evoked some very hateful feelings from it’s audience.  If that doesn’t earn an Oscar, then i don’t know what will.  

As for the rest of the slate, here’s how I would vote.

Best Animated FeatureRatatouille
Art DirectionSweeney Todd
CinematographyThe Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Costume DesignAtonement
Documentary FeatureSicko
Film EditingThe Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Foreign Language FilmMongol
MakeupPirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Original ScoreAtonement
Original Song – “Falling Slowly” – Once
Sound EditingThe Bourne Ultimatum
Sound MixingThe Bourne Ultimatum
Visual EffectsTransformers
Adapted ScreenplayNo Country For Old Men
Original ScreenplayJuno

While these aren’t all my personal picks, this is how my ballot would look if I had to try to predict the future.