Just for you-- I've got the rundown of the big competitions for the Oscars. Not been paying attention? Hey, I'm not judging—there are many reasons why you might not be aware of what's up with Oscar. You might still be walking on sunshine from the inauguration, you might have no electricity because you live in that large chunk of the United States that got hit by an ice storm, or you might have been waiting for me to break the award categories down for you.
Hooray for Bollywood!
Of course, I plan to offer my opinions. My first opinion: Hugh Jackman? As host? Seriously? I heard he had a blast at the Tonys, but that doesn't mean it's okay for him to do the Oscars. I will go in with an open mind, though, and try to give him a fair shot, even if I would much rather see Jon Stewart.
Because this is my column, I'll go in the order of my choosing, starting with the three noms for Best Animated Feature Film: BOLT, KUNG FU PANDA and WALL-E. Clearly, it's WALL-E that should and will win. Some friends of mine were offended that it wasn't nominated for Best Picture and was delegated to the "kiddie table." I see it differently: Yes, WALL-E is clearly good enough to be nominated for Best Picture, but why not nominate it for something it can win? And Best Animated Feature is no slap in the face. We wouldn't say a doc nominated for Best Documentary instead of Best Picture had diminished honor, right?
Which leads quite conveniently to my discussion of Best Picture: MILK, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, THE READER, FROST/NIXON and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. What I think will win: MILK. The film that should win: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. I know, I know, I've heard the criticisms. It's unrealistic (the triumph of love winning out, the fact that kids raised on garbage heaps in any country wouldn't ever know who's on the U.S.
hundred dollar bill, it's typical Bollywood, blah blah blah), but guess what I say in response: It's a movie. It's supposed to be what movies are. It's a film that draws the viewer in with its compelling story that's well-crafted with perfect editing and scenery. It's also got great acting and terrific music by M.I.A.
Richard Jenkins: not just Nate Fisher
The nominations for Best Actor are Richard Jenkins for THE VISITOR, Sean Penn for MILK, Brad Pitt for THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, Frank Langella for FROST/NIXON, and Mickey Rourke for THE WRESTLER. Who will win: Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, or Mickey Rourke. Who should win: Richard Jenkins. In a perfect world, actors and directors would be judged solely on the strength of the work in question, but that doesn't always happen with the Oscars. Brad Pitt hasn't yet won an Oscar, and for some reason I cannot fathom, the country is in love with him and Angelina Jolie these days. If Pitt wins, I suspect that would be why. And the U.S. loves a comeback story and is probably happy that Mickey Rourke hasn't already died in a pile of his own sick, so that would explain that. But if the voters vote on the strength of the performance in question instead of for the romance surrounding the actor's personal narrative, Richard Jenkins should win. His performance in THE VISITOR was perfect. As a movie, THE VISITOR was almost perfect, and frankly, I'm a little pissed that it wasn't nominated for Best Picture.
Supporting Actor noms are Heath Ledger in THE DARK KNIGHT; Josh Brolin in MILK; Robert Downey, Jr. in TROPIC THUNDER; Philip Seymour Hoffman in DOUBT; and Michael Shannon in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. Who should and will win: Heath Ledger. And not because Ledger died tragically last year. While Downey doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell, kudos to the Academy for
their uncharacteristic recognition of an actor's terrific work in a silly comedy.
Rachel's sister stole the move. Screw Rachel. She bugged me.
Best Actress nominees are Anne Hathaway for RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, Meryl Streep for DOUBT, Melissa Leo for FROZEN RIVER, Angelina Jolie for CHANGLING, and Kate Winslet for THE READER. Who will win: Meryl Streep, Angelina Jolie, or Melissa Leo. Who should win: Anne Hathaway or Melissa Leo. There are many reasons why Jolie shouldn't win, if only because of the annoying inconsistency of her accent in CHANGLING. Hathaway deserves it; she shouldn't be punished for appearing in a sub-par film ... or GET SMART. And she just might win; the Academy doesn't always hold the movie against the actor: After all, Hillary Swank won Best Actress for BOYS DON'T CRY in 1999.
In the Supporting Actress category, we have Amy Adams for DOUBT, Penélope Cruz in VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, Viola Davis in DOUBT, Taraji P.Henson in THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, and Marisa Tomei in THE WRESTLER. Who will win: No idea. Who should win: Penélope Cruz or Amy Adams. Like Hathaway, Cruz shouldn't be punished for the sub-par film she appeared in (or for the huge career mistake of appearing in THE SPIRIT). If it's true that Natalie Portman turned down Adams' role in DOUBT, I'll bet she's kicking herself.
Finally, my thoughts on Directing: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE READER, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, MILK and FROST/NIXON. Danny Boyle deserves to win, for all of the reasons I named in my discussion of Best Picture. Yes, Ron Howard is good, fine. But Gus Van Sant shouldn't be rewarded simply for not ruining a film about a great man, and Stephen Daldry certainly shouldn't be rewarded for ruining a film that had so much potential to be fantastic, but just wasn't.
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