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Monday, January 26, 2009

Oscar Update: Slumdog on Cruise Control

Over the weekend, we saw both the PGA and SAG hand out their awards. Surprise, surprise. Slumdog Millionaire took home both awards. While the PGA was expected, the SAG is just downright wrong. I'm at the point in this season where I can confidently say that I'm sick of this film. Yes, I said it. It's just getting ridiculous. This race is ova (that's right I'm using my Boston accent)!

Here's the thing, I don't hate this film. I enjoyed it in the cinema, but it's extremely overrated in my opinion. For it to possibly sweep Best Picture at the major guilds (DGA, PGA, SAG, and WGA), Globes, NBR, BAFTA, a number of critic groups, and the Oscars is unfortunate. Not even No Country or Brokeback (both films dominated up to the Oscars) pulled off that feat. No Country lost the Globe and BAFTA. Brokeback lost SAG.

I just look at last night and to say Slumdog was the best ensemble is just downright wrong. I want someone to tell me with a straight face that this film's ensemble was better than either Milk or Doubt. Hell, even The Dark Knight had a stronger ensemble and it was not nominated. Do people realize that this film did not get one acting Oscar nomination? SAG should realize that members vote on the best film rather than best ensemble. Just simply change the name of the award and it will probably lessen the outbursts from people like me and a bunch of other annoyed awards enthusiasts.

Yes, 2008 was a weaker year for films, but I feel like some of the love should have been spread. People are going to look back on this film 20 years from now and think Slumdog is the greatest movie ever made considering how many awards it won. Then, when the credits roll most people are going to wonder what the hell we were all thinking. End rant.

Let's take a look at some updated Oscar rankings plus a full list of my current picks for all 24 categories...

* Films I've seen.

Best Picture
1. (1) *Slumdog Millionaire
2. (2) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
3. (5) *The Reader
4. (3) *Milk
5. (4) *Frost/Nixon

This race is unofficially over. It's somewhat pointless to even write about it anymore unless Slumdog manages to lose the DGA, WGA, or BAFTA. The only difference in this race is bumping The Reader up. Why? Harvey Weinstein. He stole the Oscar in '98 with Shakespeare over Private Ryan. Will he do it again? Doubtful, never underestimate his power.

Best Director
1. (1) *Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
2. (2) David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
3. (3) *Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
4. (4) *Gus Van Sant, Milk
5. (5) *Stephen Daldrey, The Reader

Like the above race not much should really change. I don't see anyone knocking off Boyle at this point. He should cruise to the DGA and the DGA is the best precursor at predicting the Best Directing Oscar. It almost always matches up.

Best Actor
1. (1) *Sean Penn, Milk
2. (2) *Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
3. (3) *Frank Langhella, Frost/Nixon
4. (4) Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
5. (5) Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Penn won the SAG last night and is back in the lead. I have been picking him to win since the beginning. Yeah the Globes picked Rourke, but Penn has a bad history with the Globes. This is still a two man race and Penn should be standing the podium in a month.

Best Actress
1. (1) *Kate Winslet, The Reader
2. (2) *Meryl Streep, Doubt
3. (3) *Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
4. (4) Melissa Leo, Frozen River
5. (5) Angelina Jolie, Changeling

Meryl won the SAG last night. Though, Kate should still be the frontrunner. Here's the thing about both actress races this year. They are out of whack due to Winslet being nominated for The Reader as supportng this entire season. Then, the Oscars puts it in lead. As I wrote last week, the problem is that there is nothing to really compare.

I feel like a hidden agenda of the Academy this year is going to be award Winslet and I see this being her moment. The only interesting thing to consider is that Meryl Streep has not won an Oscar in almost 25 years. Yeah, she's been nominated like a bunch since then, but no wins. If Doubt is smart, then the should drive that into voter's heads. If they do that effectively, I think this could really turn into a tight race between two of the best actresses alive today.

Best Supporting Actor
1. (1) *Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
2. (2) *Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
3. (3) *Josh Brolin, Milk
4. (5) *Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
5. (4) *Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder

Heath Ledger's sweep of this category is somewhat phenomenal. I can't remember anything like it. It's amazing to think he has been dead for over a year now and is still riding this wave.

I was thinking last night if anything would be any different if Ledger were alive. I figure there wouldn't be standing ovations every time he won, but would he swept this category if he were still alive? We'll never know, but it's something to ponder.

As nice and emotional as this ride has been, I find it disappointing that many people are now only realizing how talented he was after he died. A premature death sadly adds to your legend. It presents a series of what if's. When his name is announced in a month, the what if's will continue and his legend will grow even more.

Best Supporting Actress
1. (1) *Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
2. (2) *Viola Davis, Doubt
3. (4) *Amy Adams, Doubt
4. (5) *Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
5. (3) Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Well, Kate Winslet won the SAG as expected, so that really doesn't help us in this category. I'm sticking with Cruz in this category. Though, the Doubt girls (Davis and Adams) could pull this off. I like Cruz also because she has Harvey Weinstein behind her. Though, this film wasn't received as well with the Academy. They may want to give Doubt something for its fine acting. This could be the best opportunity for that. I guess what I'm indirectly writing is I need a little more time, but for the moment I'll stick with Penelope.

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
Best Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Original Screenplay: Milk
Best Adapted Screenplay: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Animated Feature: WALL-E
Best Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Costume Design: The Duchess
Best Documentary - Feature: Man on Wire
Best Documentary - Short Subject: The Witness, From the Balcony of Room 306
Best Film Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Foreign Language Film: Waltz with Bashir
Best Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Original Score: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Original Song: "Jai Ho", Slumdog Millionaire
Best Short - Animated: Presto
Best Short - Live Action: Spielzeugland (Toyland)
Best Sound Editing: WALL-E
Best Sound Mixing: The Dark Knight
Best Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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