Thursday, January 22, 2009

And the Nominees Are . . .

Well, the Oscar nominations were announced this morning at about 7:30 Central Time. How thoughtful of the Academy to schedule the announcement at a time when I can watch them live on CNN rather than furtively sneaking online to see the list when I should be inspiring students to love Shakespeare and Steinbeck and the like.

Today's nominations had a couple shockers (Kate Winslet failing to snag a Supporting nomination, some indie films getting some big acting nods, the big shocker in Best Pic), but they did seem to fall in line with much of the conventional wisdom.


For those of you who missed the announcement, here's the list along with how they stacked up against my predictions and some comments. I've starred the ones the match my picks and parenthetically mentioned who snuck in in lieu of my predicted nominee. (The nominees are presented in the order they were announced.)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams, Doubt (Missed this one -- I pegged Kate Winslet here)
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona*
Viola Davis, Doubt*
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button*
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler*


Amy Adams was the surprise here. Well, not really that big of a surprise in that she was nominated for several early awards. I still think the race is wide open here, especially now that Winslet is out. I kinda figured she was the frontrunner, and now she isn't even in the race. Cruz may have regained her status as the frontrunner, but I wouldn't discount any of the others here. This may be the "office pool" buster!


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Josh Brolin, Milk*
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder*
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt*
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight*
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road (I'd gambled on Kevin Bacon. I was wrong.)


I knew Bacon was a gamble, and I kind of knew I was in for a disappointment. I just didn't expect Michael Shannon to be the one to sneak in there. Until this morning, I kind of thought maybe Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel would be the one to sneak in here. I've not seen Revolutionary Road yet, but I did just finish reading the book this weekend, and Shannon's part is definitely built for Oscar. He plays a mental patient with the offputting habit of telling the truth, no matter how hard it may be to hear. I'm impressed by the Academy putting this relative unknown in with these heavyweights. Obviously, this award probably still belongs to Ledger, but this is also a category where shockers happen. (Think of Alan Arkin beating Eddie Murphy two years ago.)


BEST ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married*
Angelina Jolie, The Changeling*
Melissa Leo, Frozen River (beating out my pick of Sally Hawkins)
Meryl Streep, Doubt*
Kate Winslet, The Reader* (Sort of. I had pegged her getting this nomination for Revolutionary Road, but apparently the Academy ignored the film's campaign -- which was pushing Winslet for Best Supporting -- and put her here.)


Melissa Leo was a nice shock. Frozen River is a tiny little indie film that probably not very many people have seen, although I hear that Leo's performance is amazing. Chances are likely that her nomination is as far as it will go (although I wouldn't count out her chances for a Spirit Award) as I think that this race is probably between Hathaway and Winslet.


BEST ACTOR

Richard Jenkins, The Visitor (He took Eastwood's spot!)
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon*
Sean Penn, Milk*
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button*
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler*


Again, a nice shock to see Jenkins's work in a small, indie film get the nod here. Langella won the Tony for this same role, but I think this still boils down to a race between Penn and Rourke.


BEST DIRECTOR

David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button*
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon*
Gus VanSant, Milk*
Stephen Daltry, The Reader*
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire*


I wasn't overly concerned when Daltry's name was read here since it's not unusual for a director to sneak in here whose film wasn't deemed worthy enough for the big dog. (2006 was the last time that the best director list matched the best picture list.) Here, I think it depends on which way the Academy decides to go -- is it going to be a Slumdog night or a Button night? Button leads in nominations (13), but Slumdog seems to be riding the swell a little more successfully so far. We'll see what the next month holds, but I'm thinking either Boyle or Fincher will join his film in claiming glory.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Frozen River (The Wrestler)
Happy-Go-Lucky (Rachel Getting Married)
In Bruges (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Milk*
Wall-E*


I told you I suck at screenplay nominations.



BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button*
Doubt*
Frost/Nixon*
The Reader (Revolutionary Road)
Slumdog Millionaire*


A little better here. I just picked the wrong Kate Winslet movie. :)


BEST PICTURE

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frost/Nixon
Milk
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire


So no Dark Knight. I guess I'm not overly shocked at that, although The Reader's presence here is a little more surprising. What is more more surprising is for a film like Doubt to get four acting nominations and no Best Picture nomination. The most recent example is 2003's Adaptation which picked up acting nominations for its three principals -- Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, and Chris Cooper (who actually won) -- but no Best Pic nomination. Then there's also the classic example of 1996 where both Dead Man Walking and Leaving Las Vegas picked up acting nominations for the principals (Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon for Dead Man and Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue for Las Vegas -- with Sarandon and Cage taking home the trophies) as well as Best Director nominations for Tim Robbins and Mike Figgis respectively but weren't deemed "worthy" enough for Best Picture nominations. The point is that Doubt is a bit of a rarity and just may hold the record of having the most acting nominations without a Best Pic nod to go along with it (I'm still researching that assertion.) Again, though, I think this is a Slumdog vs. Button race. Slumdog is the little indie film that everyone loves while Button is the sort of big studio film that used to be a lock for something like this. The winner here could actually really signal a shift in the direction of the Oscars -- whether it's sticking with the indie route and embracing a "foreign" voice or returning to form with the studio epics. Time will tell.

NOTE: I made some corrections. My initial belief was that Kate Winslet had been nominated for Revolutionary Road, but her nomination actually came for The Reader, negating an earlier comment I made about The Reader picking up no acting nods. Oops!

1 comment:

Danielle Mari said...

And how 'bout Clint getting the ol' screwgie?! What up with that?!

(The word I have to type in is "bravippo")