Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tight Oscar Race

So the nominations for the upcoming Academy Awards were just announced this morning and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON was the big winner with 13 nods. While there were a few surprises and some glaring snubs, it's pretty clear that this year's battle for the trophies is going to be very competitive. Except probably for the late Heath Ledger, there are no obvious front runners in the major categories. Of course, I'm still in denial that SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, with its 10 nominations, might just win it all. Great movie but isn't 2008's best in my opinion. And just as I thought (and hoped), except for Mickey Rourke and Heath Ledger, the acting winners at the Golden Globe are not going to be factors in the Oscar ballot (Winslet's winning performance in THE READER is in a different category).

  • I love that the Academy ignored the industry campaign for a supporting actress nomination for Kate Winslet in THE READER when, clearly, she is the lead actress. Her "promotion" meant an extra spot in that category with either Amy Adams (DOUBT) or Marisa Tomei (THE WRESTLER) getting a lucky break. But just as surprising is Winslet's non-nomination for REVOLUTIONARY ROAD where she gave a better performance. Does this pave the way for a Hathaway-Streep showdown for the lead actress award?
  • A very solid lineup of acting nominees which almost mirrors the SAG Awards list with the exception of Marisa Tomei in THE WRESTLER and the wonderful Michael Shannon in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD.
  • Supporting nods for Taraji P. Henson (BENJAMIN BUTTON) and Michael Shannon (REVOLUTIONARY ROAD). Yey!
  • Lead acting nods for Richard Jenkins (THE VISITOR) and Melissa Leo (FROZEN RIVER). Double yey!
  • Cutting down the Best Song nominees to three and giving two of those spots to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.
  • The last minute ascent of THE READER into front runner status, scoring nominations in the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actress categories.
  • Zero nominations for Clint Eastwood and GRAN TORINO. Not even a Best Song nod? Seriously?
  • No major nominations for both THE DARK KNIGHT and REVOLUTIONARY ROAD.
  • No Leo DiCaprio for Best Actor but it could have also paved the way for Richard Jenkins. So it's all good.
  • Some amazing Foreign Language films that did not make the cut in that category.
  • Some people were hoping for an acting nomination for Dev Patel for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. I wasn't.
  • No nomination for critics' darling Sally Hawkins (HAPPY-GO-LUCKY) for lead actress.
  • Where are the songs of Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Bruce Springsteen and Clint Eastwood?
So what do you think of the nominations? Will BUTTON, with the most nominations, go home without a single win as it did at the Broadcast Critics' Awards and the Golden Globe? And just how many trophies will SLUMDOG win?


Adam said...

To be fair, I still haven't seen a lot of the major Oscar contenders this year, but I'm extremely underwhelmed by the Academy's choices. I always long for a few brilliant, way out in left field nominations, but they never seem to materialize (though where the hell did Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder come from?).

Another source of disappointment: this year there were several huge films (Wall-E, Iron Man, The Dark Knight) that managed to achieve the rare feat of garnering critical acclaim in addition to making boatloads of money and I thought sure that this was the year the Academy would get over their snobbery and show the blockbusters some love. Again; not meant to be.

At least we'll have Hugh Jackman to oogle and keep us entertained during the ceremony...

Michael G said...

I hear you on the exclusion of blockbuster movies in the marquee categories. Except for Ledger's acting nomination for THE DARK KNIGHT and WALL-E's Best Animated movie nomination, the three films were relegated to the technical categories. However, year after year, people lament that studio films dominate the nominations. But this year, only BENJAMIN BUTTON and FROST/NIXON are studio films among the Best Picture nominees. So indie films actually did well this year especially that both relatively unknown actors from little-seen films (Melissa Leo and Richard Jenkins) got Academy recognition. I don't mind then that the indie films may have bumped off the huge studio blockbusters.

P.S. Downey's nomination wasn't really a surprise. In fact, his performance in TROPIC THUNDER has been widely praised.

Michael G said...

I was just reading and read something interesting: at 45, Brad Pitt is the youngest among the Best Actor nominees. Hurray for veteran actors!

radioman said...

I'm pleased with myself that, back several months ago I took it upon myself to get to The Little Theater and see two movies that very few others were seeing...and now I'm glad. Not only did I enjoy them both, but FROZEN RIVER and THE VISITOR have nominations!
Rcihard Jenkins has been doing fine work for decades, and it makes me happy to see him recognized.

Bob said...

I put another "notch" in my movie belt last night by seeing
Frost/Nixon. It was a terrific film and Frank Langella was superb. He still hasn't replaced my pick of Sean Penn for best actor this year though. Once I see The Wrestler, "Changeling" will be the only nominated film I haven't seen. I've never been able to do this well in past years!

Stefan said...

I really enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire but somehow I don't know if it will get best picture. I still need to see Benjamin Button and the other 2 (besides Milk) to know what may really get best picture, but...

The academy can really get things messed up sometimes. They are known to wimp out majorly. Like the year when they gave best picture to Crash when it really should've gone to Brokeback Mountain. (duh!)

Michael G said...

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE got more momentum with wins at the SAG and PGA (Producers' Guild) over the weekend. The two actress categories got even murkier with wins by Winslet and Streep at SAG. I'm still rooting for Streep since she basically just acted with her face (that's all you can see in that habit she is wearing) and it was even unadorned by makeup. Plus I think Winslet's performance in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is much richer than in THE READER. Anne Hathaway can also contend for the award. And now that Winslet is not in the Supporting Category, who is the frontrunner now?

Michael G said...

Stefan, let's not forget SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and the over-adoration of Roberto Benigni and LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.