You’re most likely reading this Monday morning, but I wanted to make sure I got this up before tonight’s Academy Awards Show. That way you can grade my predictions.
Most year’s I don’t really have a take on who should win an Oscar and why, however this year I am very interested in making predictions for one reason: I haven’t seen most of the nominated movies. Most years I’ve seen nearly all the movies nominated in the relevant categories, had an idea about who should win an award, and then been completely baffled when they gave another one of those statues to some “Judi Dench type“ (more on this latter).
Now some of you might be thinking: “Isn’t it ridiculous to make predictions on movies and actor/actresses performances when you haven’t seen them?” How silly of you to think that matters. I would contend that in the years that I saw all the films I was TOO informed, and therefore too biased to actually predict winners. From what I can tell, the Academy voters aren’t identifying the best movies and best performances, but rather trying to show you how progressive and informed they are about “the art of film”. Think of them as an art critic looking at you cross-eyed because you think an abstract painting looks like crap.
With all that said I’m going to use ridiculous backdoor logic and reasoning to predict winners and losers. I promise to use as little information about the performances from the movies I have actually seen as possible. Lets see how close I get.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINEES:
Amy Adams (Doubt)
Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Viola Davis (Doubt)
Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Maria Tomei (The Wrestler)
I’ve actually seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but so have a lot of other people. Too many in fact for Henson to win this award. I haven’t seen any of the other movies represented in this category. I wanted to see The Wrestler, but it has only been playing in small art-house theatres and hasn’t gotten a full release yet (probably to give the film some mystery so its actors can win awards). Tomei can’t win because she already won a best supporting actress award she shouldn’t have (My Cousin Vinny) and won’t be given another one. Really this category comes down to Viola Davis and Cruz. Viola Davis has a chance to win because I’ve heard she has a VERY small role in Doubt, and the academy has some history of giving awards to actresses who have small and “impactful” roles (Judi Dench won and award for 7 minutes in Shakespeare in Love!). However, I’m going to give this award to Penelope Cruz because she is nominated for a Woody Allen movie. Oscar votes love for people to think that they get Woody Allen movies. By giving her an award there is also a chance that Woody will be in attendance. People just want to publicly view Woody, and want to see his reaction when she thanks him in her acceptance speech. Also, I heard she does her role in Spanish. Doesn’t make it a better performance, but it does increase her chances of winning.
WINNER: Penelope Cruz
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR NOMINEES:
Josh Brolin (Milk)
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)
These actors are nominated in this category for various reasons. Robert Downey Jr. because he had a “comback” year and the Academy LOVES a comeback story (more on that later). They also want to show the public that they have a sense of humor by nominating him for role in a movie likeTropic Thunder. Hoffman, who I actually like a lot, gets nominated every time he is in a movie about a serious topic (as he is in Doubt). So that’s why he’s in here. I haven’t seen Revolutionary Road (and have exactly zero interst) but heard Michael Shannon plays a partially mentally-handicapped individual. That’s worth a nomination because he (to quote Downey’s character in Tropic Thunder) “didn’t go full retard. People can’t identify with full retard.”
Oh and by the way, if you didn't know, Ledger wins this category by a landslide. I’ve seen Dark Knight, and his performance is inspired,transcendent, and deserves an Academy Award….but that’s not why he wins here. Most years he would not have gotten this nomination because he was in a comic book movie. Usually too low brow for the Academy. However, this year he had an ace up his sleeve…..he died. It’s not like he can win next year. Sympathy is a powerful thing. Enough so that the Oscar voters do the right thing here and inadvertantly award the best performance in this category.
WINNER: Heath Ledger
BEST DIRECTOR NOMINEES:
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionare)
David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon)
Stephan Daltry (The Reader)
Gus van Sant (Milk)
How presumptuous is this category? How is anyone supposed to know who the best director was if……you weren’t on the movie set everyday! To me that’s akin to people making Joe Torre the Manager of the Year a bunch of times, when all the voters ever saw him do was pick sunflower seeds out of his teeth. As far as predicting a winner,...sorry Ron Howard but you have no chance to win. You're too famous. Usually famous directors get hosed, because its not fun to pick them. It's like picking all #1 seeds in NCAA basketball office pool. Most famous director in the group wins like once every ten years.
I’m going to go with Danny Boyle, because 1) I don’t know who he is and 2) I’ll bet Slumdog Millionare wins best picture and the movie didn’t have any name actors. So his perceived role was so much greater. Plus its just so neat and clean to package those two awards together.
WINNER: Danny Boyle
BEST ACTOR NOMINEES:
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
Sean Penn (Milk)
Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Like I said, I’ve seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It was pretty good, maybe a 3 star movie, but not nearly as deserving of all the nominations it has gotten. One of the nominations that it didn’t deserve is this one. In my mind Pitt and Angelina Jolie (nominated for best actress) are nominated so as to ensure they will attend the ceremony together. Any time they are both on tv, the ratings basically double.People just like to view them. I’m also going to make a prediction within a prediction: Some time in the next 12 months Pitt will get tired of living with half the third world and dump Angie and all those kids he “loves”. I’d bet a million dollars on it.
In most years, Penn would win this award because he was “daring” enough as a heterosexual actor to play a homosexual role. Is his performance really that great in Milk? I dunno…. haven’t seen it. But that hardly matters.
Rourke wins this category in a landslide because, as previously mentioned, people love a comeback story. I ask you this: how much of this movie was really acting? Rourke is an over the hill broken man hanging on to past glory who plays: an over the hill broken man hanging on to past glory. The only real acting you might see out of Rourke is if he cries during the acceptance speech. The Oscar people would love that.
WINNER: Mickey Rourke
BEST ACTRESS NOMINEES:
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
Melissa Leo (Frozen River)
Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Kate Winslet (The Reader)
This is a fun category to predict. First off, I haven’t seen any of these movies. Not one. (so I am completely unburdened by the actual acting performances). Also, Frozen River I have never even heard of. Seriously, someone prove to me it actually exists. I bet you can't.
Secondly, I think a few different schools of thought are at play here. On the one hand, you have Meryl Streep, this years requisite “Judi Dench type”. By that I mean an older actress that has an impressive body of work whose EVERY performances is lauded, celebrated, and then nominated. She would normally win this category going away, however this year she is up against a juggernaut. She has to contend with: the hole in Kate Winslet’s resume, her British accent, and her naked butt. Let me explain.
Kate Winslet has been nominated for 5 other Academy Awards and won zero! That’s important for the sympathy factor, and Oscar voters will be looking to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Also, although I have not nor will I ever actually see The Reader, I hear that Kate Winslet does a fair number of nude scenes in the flick. Don’t underestimate the power of nudity. When a woman actress does “tasteful and artistic nudity” people view it as a “daring” move. She'a pro at this too. She managed to score a nomination for Titanic basically for dropping trough.
Another reason she’s going to win: women generally like her. They like her because she’s good looking, but not so good looking that they can’t relate to her. This is the same reason Reese Witherspoon gets $20 Million a picture and a six-foot former model like Charlize Theron only gets like $5 million and often has trouble finding work. Its very important to garner the sympathy of women because 80% of them in this country will be tuned in to the Oscar’s show. Therefore Winslet = ratings.
Also, be on the lookout for Winslet pretending to be shocked and overwhelmed by winning then feigning a loss of composure.
I think they call that acting.
WINNER: KATE WINSLET
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
I don’t know about you, but the best film I saw this year was The Dark Knight. It was a complete film with a terrific and complex story, great characterizations, great performances (Bale, Ledger, and the underrated Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent), great action, great effects, and perfect ending. Unfortunately, the Academy is not quite ready to nominate a comic book movie for its highest honor.
Among the nominated movies I’d say Slumdog Millionaire has to win.
Why? Because it’s was the best movie (not named The Dark Knight) made this year and the most deserving? Maybe, but that’s not why I’m picking it to win. I’m picking it because if Slumdog in an underdog of sorts. Independent film with a small budget up against, among other things, Brad Pitt and his square jaw. People like that. Makes them feel good. Also best picture is handed out as the last award of the evening. If it doesn’t win people will be unhappy and left with a bad taste in their mouths. Hey you got to give the people what they want.
WINNER: SLUMDOG MILLIONARE