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OSCARS 2009 PREDICTIONS

Posted by Charles Reece, January 24, 2009 08:02pm | Post a Comment

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As a final fuck you to the outgoing President, the Academy has decided to do the near exact opposite of the facts that I so kindly placed before it in this here blog. Hey Hollywood, don't blame all Texans for that family of carbetbaggers! My predictions are in orange -- the "hook 'em horns of Satan" color -- followed by my attempts at psychoanalyzing the voters.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Richard Jenkins in The Visitor (Overture Films)
  • Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon (Universal)
  • Sean Penn in Milk (Focus Features)
  • Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
  • Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler (Fox Searchlight)
Langella's been around a long time without an Oscar nod, but mostly in crap that goes under the Academy's radar. His best chance is that Ron Howard specializes in the liberal schmaltz it loves, but he's not playing a murdered gay man. Ditto for Jenkins, and he doesn't even have Howard. Then there were three. This is a tough one: oppressed minority in a biopic versus pretty actor looking ugly with special effects versus Hollywood reincarnation myth. Penn's been rewarded before, true, but these are ideological times and he's an ideological actor in an ideological film. I'm going with the anti-Prop 8 vote.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
  • Josh Brolin in Milk (Focus Features)
  • Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt (Miramax)
  • Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.)
  • Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)
Get the fuck out of here! They should've just renamed this category "most promising dead young actor killed by an Olson Twin." Der. Ledger's gonna bury the competition!

Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Angelina Jolie in Changeling (Universal)
  • Melissa Leo in Frozen River (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Meryl Streep in Doubt (Miramax)
  • Kate Winslet in The Reader (The Weinstein Company)
This is a simple matter of bean-counting. Winslet's been nominated 5 times previously and never won. She's in a Holocaust film. Jolie's already won. Although Hathaway plays a narcissistic drug addict, Rachel is too real for the type of realism celebrated by the Academy. What the fuck is Frozen River and who cares? It's an odd-numbered year, so the "Meryl Streep" award goes to Winslet.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Amy Adams in Doubt (Miramax)
  • Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (The Weinstein Company)
  • Viola Davis in Doubt (Miramax)
  • Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
  • Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler (Fox Searchlight)
Cruz has been most on the radar, and this time she's in a generally liked film by Woody Allen that didn't receive squat otherwise. Henson and Davis will probably split PC-geared votes, regardless of talent. Adams is young and will have plenty of chances later on. Tomei has already won and her actress-who-could-pass-for-25-playing-a-burned-out-broad-over-40 role is too close to the one from 2007's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.

Best animated feature film of the year
  • Bolt (Walt Disney) -- Chris Williams and Byron Howard
  • Kung Fu Panda (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount) -- John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
  • WALL-E (Walt Disney) -- Andrew Stanton
Pixar plus serious message equals a cartoon that even adults can love. Regardless, it's gotta be better than the other two.

Achievement in art direction
  • Changeling (Universal) -- Art Direction: James J. Murakami / Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt / Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
  • The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) -- Art Direction: Nathan Crowley / Set Decoration: Peter Lando
  • The Duchess (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films) -- Art Direction: Michael Carlin / Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway
  • Revolutionary Road (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage) -- Art Direction: Kristi Zea / Set Decoration: Debra Schutt
For the past 20 years or more, art direction in the Oscars has meant special effects or period piece, so this isn't an easy prediction. I'm going with period piece created with special effects (cf. Forrest Gump and Titanic).

Achievement in cinematography
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- Claudio Miranda
  • Changeling (Universal) -- Tom Stern
  • The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) -- Wally Pfister
  • The Reader (The Weinstein Company) -- Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
  • Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) -- Anthony Dod Mantle
Edit: I accidentally had the best director's list here, rather than the one for cinematography. That Benjamin Button has a lot of special effects was my original reason for picking it. I note that my personal choice was Milk, which I thought was too subtle for the Academy. Well, it didn't even make the list. I'm still going with Benjamin Button over The Dark Knight, because the former is more "serious drama," even if both have a ton of effects.

Achievement in costume design
  • Australia (20th Century Fox) -- Catherine Martin
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- Jacqueline West
  • The Duchess (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films) -- Michael O'Connor
  • Milk (Focus Features) -- Danny Glicker
  • Revolutionary Road (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage) -- Albert Wolsky
With the exception of The Adventures of Priscilla, there's been a +50 years constraint on what constitutes best costuming. Milk has a stereotypical connection to that exception proving the rule, and its 70s look is flawless. While watching it, I realized that my own fashion sense largely resembles many of the Castro's residents during the first half of that decade, so I'm rooting for the film. I'll go with my heart, my Urban Cowboy attire and, most importantly, the anti-Prop 8 voters.

Achievement in directing
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- David Fincher
  • Frost/Nixon (Universal) -- Ron Howard
  • Milk (Focus Features) -- Gus Van Sant
  • The Reader (The Weinstein Company) -- Stephen Daldry
  • Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) -- Danny Boyle
The "better late than never" award. The entrails all read in Fincher's favor: more of a blockbuster-mainstream name than Van Sant or Boyle, Howard's already won, "didn't give your film the Best Pic award" and "we really loved all the other films for which you're actually celebrated."

Best documentary feature
  • The Betrayal (Nerakhoon) (Cinema Guild) -- Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
  • Encounters at the End of the World (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment) -- Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
  • The Garden (A Black Valley Films Production) -- Scott Hamilton Kennedy
  • Man on Wire (Magnolia Pictures) -- James Marsh and Simon Chinn
  • Trouble the Water (Zeitgeist Films) -- Tia Lessin and Carl Deal
First, let me check to see if any of these docs are about Nazis or the Holocaust ... Okay: Betrayal is about the U.S. bombing of Laos, which isn't enough of Vietnam to make up for the lack of the Holocaust; Encounters is Herzog in Antarctica, which sounds fun, only not "important" or "dramatic;" Garden is about urban farmers in L.A. after the 1992 riots, bringing to mind the old Sam Kinison joke about starving Ethiopians; Trouble the Water is about a rapper living in the Katrina aftermath, so enough said. Therefore, the most financially successful of the five, Man on Wire, is safe enough with its apolitical remembrance of the Twin Towers.

Best documentary short subject
  • The Conscience of Nhem En -- Steven Okazaki
  • The Final Inch -- Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant
  • Smile Pinki -- Megan Mylan
  • The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306 -- Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde
Two of these, Final Inch and Smile Pinki, are about poor Third Worlders getting helped by Western scientific know-how, which makes us feel good about ourselves. But what really makes us feel good is Obama, and I'm thinking his golden aura will encompass The Witness, a guy celebrating his memory of Martin Luther King. The Khmer Rouge makes everyone feel bad, but about acceptable subject matter (cf. all the Oscar hooplah surrounding 1984's The Killing Fields). Plus, the director of The Conscience, Okazaki, has been nominated without winning 4 times previously. That might put him over for the win. On the other hand, he's not a star, so track record might not mean shit here. Who to choose, who to choose? To paraphrase Wesley Snipes, always bet on Obama.

Achievement in film editing
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) -- Lee Smith
  • Frost/Nixon (Universal) -- Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
  • Milk (Focus Features) -- Elliot Graham
  • Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) -- Chris Dickens
Looking at the history of this award, two factors contribute to what the Academy considers good film editing, neither of which really concerns editing: big special effects and high melodrama. Thus, there's only two real choices here: The Dark Knight versus Benjamin Button. Probably melodrama more than special effects-delivered action.

Best foreign language film of the year
  • The Baader Meinhof Complex A Constantin Film Production - Germany
  • The Class (Sony Pictures Classics) A Haut et Court Production - France
  • Departures (Regent Releasing) A Departures Film Partners Production - Japan
  • Revanche (Janus Films) A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production - Austria
  • Waltz with Bashir (Sony Pictures Classics) A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production - Israel
There are only 2 of these in play: The Class versus Waltz with Bashir. Points for the first: it's French, and the Academy loves them above all others for this category; it's about yet another inspirational teacher; it's about an inspirational teacher in France. Points for the latter: it contains a lot of self-important self-analysis from the side of power -- a staple of serious Hollywood filmmaking since the 50s; lots of word of mouth. Close call, but I'm going with the teacher over a cartoon.

Achievement in makeup
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- Greg Cannom
  • The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) -- John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O'Sullivan
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Universal) -- Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz
Lots of obvious use of makeup for a suppsedly realistic effect spells win.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- Alexandre Desplat
  • Defiance (Paramount Vantage) -- James Newton Howard
  • Milk (Focus Features) -- Danny Elfman
  • Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) -- A.R. Rahman
  • WALL-E (Walt Disney) -- Thomas Newman
The Academy really loves Howard (7 previous nominations, no wins), Newman (8 previous nominations, no wins) and Elfman (3 previous nominations, no wins), so in this year without a John Williams, Howard Shore or James Horner, it'll be one of them. I'm eliminating Defiance, since no one much cares about it. Of the remaining two, Newman's is the best, but it's attached to a film that's not serious enough -- at least, a cartoon for kids doesn't signify "seriosity." If only American Beauty had come out in 2008. And Newman is up for Best Song. Therefore, it's Elfman's time.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
  • "Down to Earth" from WALL-E (Walt Disney) -- Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman / Lyric by Peter Gabriel
  • Jai Ho from "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) -- Music by A.R. Rahman / Lyric by Gulzar
  • O Saya from "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight) -- Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam
Honestly, who can tell the difference between the two Rahman tunes by memory? Divided votes will result in yet another award for aging rockers turned adult contemporary artists on soundtracks.

Best motion picture of the year
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
  • Frost/Nixon (Universal) -- Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Eric Fellner, Producers
  • Milk (Focus Features) -- Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, Producers
  • The Reader (The Weinstein Company) -- Nominees to be determined
  • Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) -- Christian Colson, Producer
Catchy world-beat dance score, orientalist flourishes and a contrived feel-good story about overcoming an impoverished existence equals smug first-world satisfaction. "We really love diversity."

Best animated short film
  • La Maison en Petits Cubes -- Kunio Kato
  • Lavatory - Lovestory -- Konstantin Bronzit
  • Oktapodi (Talantis Films) -- Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand
  • Presto (Walt Disney) -- Doug Sweetland
  • This Way Up -- Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes
Presto was the best thing about WALL-E. Being attached to one of the biggest hits of 2008 won't hurt its chances any. It also looks to be the most fun out of these 5.

Best live action short film
  • Auf der Strecke (On the Line) (Hamburg Shortfilmagency) -- Reto Caffi
  • Manon on the Asphalt (La Luna Productions) -- Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
  • New Boy (Network Ireland Television) -- Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
  • The Pig -- Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh
  • Spielzeugland (Toyland) -- Jochen Alexander Freydank
Well, shit, I don't know. Toyland has all the right code words in its description: "In 1942, a German boy believes that his Jewish neighbors are going to Toyland."

Achievement in sound editing
  • The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) -- Richard King
  • Iron Man (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment) -- Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
  • Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) -- Tom Sayers
  • WALL-E (Walt Disney) -- Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
  • Wanted (Universal) -- Wylie Stateman
Bang! Pow! Wham! The word is made flesh and Batman is more popular than the other superheroes.

Achievement in sound mixing
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
  • The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) -- Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
  • Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) -- Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
  • WALL-E (Walt Disney) -- Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
  • Wanted (Universal) -- Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt
If The Dark Knight is awarded the previous award, then that leaves two possibilities here: Benjamin Button versus WALL-E. Slumdog will be thought of for its music (even if it doesn't win), so that's enough regarding its sound. And no one cares about Wanted. I'm going with precedent: sound for animation involving realistic people trumps that for animation involving cartoonish looking people.

Achievement in visual effects
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
  • The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.) -- Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
  • Iron Man (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment) -- John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan
This is the "keep the tech geeks happy, even though we don't much respect the stories on which you're most needed" prize. It always goes to sci-fi, monster or fantasy films. I guess Batman.

Adapted screenplay
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount and Warner Bros.) -- Screenplay by Eric Roth / Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
  • Doubt (Miramax) -- Written by John Patrick Shanley
  • Frost/Nixon (Universal) -- Screenplay by Peter Morgan
  • The Reader (The Weinstein Company) -- Screenplay by David Hare
  • Slumdog Millionaire (Fox Searchlight) -- Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy
Slumdog will have enough. Slamming the Nazis versus slamming the Catholics versus slamming Nixon, or do they want to continue giving more stuff to Benjamin Button, since it won't win Best Pic? Fincher's got Director, so it'll probably be one of the others. I bet liberal schmaltz.

Original screenplay
  • Frozen River (Sony Pictures Classics) -- Written by Courtney Hunt
  • Happy-Go-Lucky (Miramax) -- Written by Mike Leigh
  • In Bruges (Focus Features) -- Written by Martin McDonagh
  • Milk (Focus Features) -- Written by Dustin Lance Black
  • WALL-E (Walt Disney) -- Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon / Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter
Consolation prize and anti-Prop 8 sentiment. An adaptation of a documentary is "original?" Harumph! Sorry, In Bruges, you deserve it out of these 5.

Relevant Tags

Academy Awards (17), Oscars (31)