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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Oscar Update: The Final Stretch

We're literally less than a week away. By this time next week the Oscars will be already in progress. Let's hope I can pull off another good night. I'm having a lot of different thoughts of the state of this race. This is the type of year that you almost want to do two different ballots. One with a Slumdog sweep. The other with strong Slumdog love, but spreading the love in categories Slumdog shouldn't win.

Besides the Slumdog love, there is also a great Best Actor race going on here. Then, there is a wide open Best Supporting Actress race. Plus, will there be any upsets?

I'm going to post one more of these next Saturday. Probably have it done by the afternoon. It gets to a point when you simply have to face the music and make final decisions. There's always going to be a couple categories that you're worried about, but that's part of the fun of the Academy Awards.

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. (3) *Milk
3. (2) *The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
4. (4) *The Reader
5. (5) *Frost/Nixon

It feels like Slumdog is getting stronger as we get closer to the Oscars. It just won the CAS award, which is really didn't deserve. At this point, it feels like people will vote for it regardless of category. An upset here would be huge. I'd love to see it, but I'm a realist. It's not happening.

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

Boyle has had a strong grip on this race for a long time. There's absolutely no stopping this train.

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

Is Rourke really the frontrunner now? I'm not changing my pick yet. I want to stress the word yet. I may by next Saturday. I've been a Penn supporter since the beginning of this race, but if it really looks like he will lose, then I'm changing my pick. Predicting the Oscars isn't about playing favorites. It's about getting as many correct as possible.

Here's why I still don't like Rourke here. He won the BAFTA and Globe (don't vote for Oscars). Penn won the SAG (some members do vote for Oscars). I also don't see the older Academy digging Rourke as much as the public does. The internet can sway a lot of opinions, but many times doesn't know anything. Oscar voters aren't going to vote for someone because the public loves them.  They pride themselves on being independent.  What does help Rourke though is his public campaigning, which Penn hates doing. The biggest question, which will probably determine the winner is whether the campaigning for Rourke was too late.

I really like Rourke's performance, but I still think Penn's is superior. Will the Academy agree? I think so (for now).

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

Like Danny Boyle, Kate is in control of this race. She probably is not a slam dunk like Boyle, but I can't picture Streep or Hathaway taking this.

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

The better question now may be who will accept Ledger's Oscar? Seriously, can he lose it? I would say there's a 1% chance (refuse to say 0% since I don't want to jinx it).

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

A lot of people have different opinions on this race. Some like Cruz. Some like Davis. Some like Tomei. Some even like Adams. I think Henson is the only one without strong support. I give Cruz the slight edge due to the support of Weinstein. She's also very attractive, which actually helps (sadly). Davis still is a major threat. Her performance is short, but very powerful. I just think of Ruby Dee last year as she possibly also lost the Oscar due to her time in the film being too short.

Best Original Screenplay
1. (1) *Milk
2. (2) *WALL-E
3. (3) *In Bruges
4. (4) *Happy-Go-Lucky
5. (5) *Frozen River

Milk should get this for a consolation prize of losing Best Picture. WALL-E could prove to be a spoiler, but I have a feeling the Academy (sadly) has a bias against animation films.

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

This is another race that Slumdog should easily win. I don't see any of the films having a chance.

Other Oscar Thoughts:
- I'm switching back to Jai Ho for Best Song. I don't think WALL-E can do it.
- The Sound categories (mixing and editing) are being a pain this year. There's a good chance that Slumdog could now win both. Even if they don't will they go to The Dark Knight and WALL-E? Will they split? What award will go to what film? It's a mess that many people (myself included) are going to probably screw up.
- I'm not sold on Waltz with Bashir winning Best Foreign film. I just recently learned that only people who have seen all five nominees in a theatre can vote on this category (roughly 200-300 a year). This explains why Lives of Others "upset" Pan's Labyrinth two years ago. Hearing support for The Class and Departures.

Complete Oscar Predictions:

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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