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Monday, February 23, 2009

Who Will Win (And Who Should Win) at the 2009 Oscars

Posted by CoolerKing in Features

When I spoke to Danny Boyle last October, he was surprised by the positive response that his Slumdog Millionaire was starting to receive stateside after buzz from the Toronto Film Festival began getting louder and louder. Four months later, in the wake of dozens of awards and on the eve of an Oscars in which most people predict Slumdog will win at least half a dozen awards, I often wonder if he's still surprised now. What would surprise him more? A win for best Picture, Director, or Adapted Screenplay? It looks like finally, after a string of Oscar bridesmaids - Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno - Fox Searchlight will finally be the bride, thanks to Slumdog.

And, if Slumdog is the blushing bride this year, then an old-looking baby gets to be the Best Man. If our predictions are right, Slumdog and Button will be the big winners on Sunday night with Boyle's film taking home an amazing seven awards and David Fincher’s three. Other films that won seven Oscars? Lawrence of Arabia, Patton, Out of Africa, The Sting, The Best Years of Our Lives, and The Bridge on the River Kwai. Incredible company. And, if we're right, Slumdog will have one more trophy than The Godfather, Part II and Star Wars. It's been an absolutely amazing, almost unprecedented run, and I don't expect any other movie to get anywhere near that seven-trophy total on Sunday night.

The closest competition for Best Picture this year and the only film that could conceivably take the grand prize from Slumdog is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but I think that film will only be recognized technically, taking home three Oscars. It almost feels like vindication for a generation that adored Trainspotting and Se7en to watch the auteurs that we knew would eventually be among the greats finally ascend to the throne of Oscar recognition.

If you want to drop some trivia on your Oscar friends on Sunday night – What's the last movie to win Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Editing, AND Cinematography, as most people are predicting Slumdog Millionaire to do? Schindler’s List. Nice company.

And we're predicting that other multiple trophy winners will include Milk, The Dark Knight, and WALL-E. So, without further ado, here are our picks who will win (and who SHOULD win) at this Sunday's award ceremony, presented category by category with commentary on the big eight...

- Brian Tallerico

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BEST PICTURE

WILL WIN: Slumdog Millionaire

SHOULD WIN: Milk

You could really call this one a lock. After winning most of the precursor awards - including the Golden Globe and, surprisingly, the SAG ensemble award - and being a near sure-thing for the best director and adapted screenplay awards, it would be really surprising for anything but Slumdog to take this home. You can cross Frost/Nixon and The Reader off the list instantly. Neither even deserved nomination and they would be the most shocking winners in Oscar history. Milk doesn't have enough support. That makes this a two dog race, and the Millionaire is going to win by a lap.

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BEST ACTOR

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Sean Penn, Milk

One of the closest contests of the night will be in the lead actor category between two '80s icons - Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke. The comeback kid or someone widely recognized as one of the best actors working today? If Penn hadn't won just a few years ago for Mystic River, this would be a slam-dunk lock for Sean, but winners taking home two awards within a decade is not as common as you'd think. And that opens the door for the great work by Mickey Rourke. On the other hand, if Randy "The Ram" had taken home the SAG Award, which is voted on by the group with the largest number of in-common voters as the Academy, I'd give Rourke the edge, but Penn did and that makes this a 50/50 shot. The last time SAG didn't match up with the Oscar? Five years ago when the Guild went with Johnny Depp instead of Penn. It comes back around this year, and Penn barely edges out Mickey. Don't be surprised if he brings him up on stage. The best possible outcome? A tie and they accept together. That would rule.

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BEST ACTRESS

WILL WIN: Kate Winslet, The Reader

SHOULD WIN: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Kate Winslet won most of the precursor awards for her work in The Reader, but those prizes were awarded in the Supporting Actress category, creating an interesting race in the lead category. We can eliminate Angeline Jolie and Anne Hathaway, even though the latter deserves to win, in my opinion. Melissa Leo seems to have built steam lately with some people suggesting she could take it if the two more likely candidates split the vote. I don't see that happening. Here's what to think about before you place your bet in this category - Will people who think that Winslet should still be in supporting choose to not vote for her in lead? Will that be enough people to make her lose for the sixth time? If she does, this will clearly go to Meryl Streep with her third win but first in a quarter-century. Like Best Actor, this one is close to 50/50, but I don't think they're going to let Winslet go home empty-handed for the sixth time and they'll want to make sure that Harvey Weinstein goes home with at least one trophy. This is The Reader's only real shot and no one likes an empty-handed Harvey.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

What more is there to say? If Ledger loses it would be the biggest shock in Oscar history. Expect a standing ovation. Expect tears. Expect a very deserving win for an actor we will miss for a very long time.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

WILL WIN: Viola Davis, Doubt

SHOULD WIN: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

What the hell is going to happen here? If Best Actor and Best Actress are 50/50 races between Penn/Rourke and Streep/Winslet, this one is 20/20/20/20/20. No joke. If you do even a minimal amount of web-searching for Oscar predictions, you will find someone picking every single candidate. When Winslet moved up to Best Actress, it left a hole in the precursor awards for this category. The small majority seems to be going with Cruz for Vicky Cristina, but I think the lack of support for that film, as evidenced by no original screenplay nod, makes Penelope less likely to win. I think voters will go with Winslet for lead, making Doubt, a very well-liked film, more likely to go home empty-handed. Voters will then want to correct that here and give Supporting Actress to Amy Adams or Viola Davis. I'm guessing the latter and one of the more heartwarming, genuine speeches of the evening.

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BEST DIRECTOR

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

A lock. The winner of most precursor awards, including the top prize from his peers in the DGA, will go home with his first Oscar. If anyone else wins, it will be David Fincher. If they read Ron Howard, Stephen Daldry, or Gus Van Sant's name on Sunday night, you will hear screams of shock. That could be entertaining.

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Slumdog Millionaire by Simon Beaufoy

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Milk by Dustin Lance Black

I expect the Academy to get these categories right. They often come through in the screenplay categories, and Beaufoy’s and Black’s work were easily the best of the year. Beaufoy took an anecdotal book that could have been a melodramatic disaster in a lesser writer’s hands and made it inspirational gold, and Black took an amazing true story and balanced the political with the personal, crafting a vital statement on the important of gay rights. They are two of the best screenplays of the last several years. WALL-E has an outside shot at original screenplay, but I think the Academy will go with Milk, especially with the specter of Prop 8 still lingering like a bad taste in their mouths.

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

WILL WIN: Slumdog Millionaire

SHOULD WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

BEST ART DIRECTION:

WILL WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

SHOULD WIN: Synecdoche, New York (I know it wasn’t nominated but it should have been)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

WILL WIN: The Duchess

SHOULD WIN: Milk (How did The Dark Knight and Slumdog Millionaire not get nominated over Australia? That’s ridiculous.)

BEST SOUND:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: WALL-E

BEST EDITING:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Slumdog Millionaire

BEST SOUND EDITING:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: The Dark Knight

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

BEST MAKEUP:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

BEST SONG:

WILL WIN: "O Saya" from Slumdog Millionaire

SHOULD WIN: "Down to Earth" from WALL-E

BEST SCORE:

WILL WIN: Slumdog Millionaire

SHOULD WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

BEST SHORT FILM, ANIMATED:

WILL WIN: Presto

SHOULD WIN: La Maison en Petits Cubes

BEST SHORT FILM, LIVE ACTION:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Manon on the Street

BEST DOCUMENTARY:

WILL WIN: Man on Wire

SHOULD WIN: Trouble the Water

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Waltz With Bashir

BEST ANIMATED FILM:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: WALL-E


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