Despite my sometimes less-than-stellar track record, I continue to find it fun to make predictions in public. I think this year is pretty easy to call (hint: Slumdog is going to win a shitload of awards, and deservedly so), but that remains to be seen, of course. Below are my predictions for who will win, as well as my personal choices if it were up to me to decide the winners (the “should wins,” if you will). We’ll see if I do better than I did last year (and at the very least, hopefully the format of this post is more clear than last year’s). I realize that a lot of this is redundant with my previous 2008-in-summation post, but this one is specifically geared towards the Academy Awards.
Category: Best Picture
Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire
My Pick: Slumdog Millionaire
I can’t really see this category going to any other nominee, although if I had to name a dark horse, I think Milk might have a chance in always liberal, always happy to make a political statement Hollywood. Don’t count on it, though.
Prediction: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
My Pick: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Though I’ve not seen it, I would not be surprised if this went to David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. My money’s still on Boyle, though.
Prediction: Sean Penn, Milk
My Pick: Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
There are three really outstanding performances in this category (the two listed above, plus Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler), one that was as much special effects as it was acting (Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button), and one that’s the indie darling that probably not enough voters have even seen for it to have a shot (Richard Jenkins in The Visitor). I think it’s nearly a toss-up between the “big three,” with my personal preference being for Langella’s heartfelt portrayal of Nixon, because I think it was the most difficult to pull off, but again I think that the Academy might prefer the more topical and politically-charged Penn role (and he’s certainly deserving).
Prediction: Meryl Streep, Doubt
My Pick: I have to abstain, due to not having seen 4 of the 5 films
I think this is basically a two-horse race between Streep and Kate Winslet, and it could go either way.
Category: Supporting Actor
Prediction: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
My Pick: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
I think this is as much of an Oscar lock as there’s been in a long time. I do love RDJ’s performance in Tropic Thunder, though.
Category: Supporting Actress
Prediction: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
My Pick: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
The dark horse potential surprise pick here is Viola Davis for her incredible single-scene performance in Doubt, but I think I’d rather see one of the two I’ve listed here take it. They’re neck-and-neck in my book, too, but the buzz has seemed to be centering more on Cruz, so I think that’s what the Academy will go with.
Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire
My Pick: The Dark Knight
Benjamin Button might have a real chance in this category as well, if for no other reason than the fact that it might be the most visually ambitious film of the year. While I don’t think that Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog) would be undeserving, I really thought that Wally Pfister (TDK) broke some new and impressive ground.
Category: Original Screenplay
Prediction: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
My Pick: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
Though I really think that In Bruges deserves at least some recognition, I could see this category going a few different ways. Mike Leigh wouldn’t surprise me too much with a win here for Happy-Go-Lucky (though, from the accounts I’ve heard, he wouldn’t be too happy to accept it, believing his film to be more of a collaborative, improvisational writing effort). We shouldn’t overlook the originality and biting social commentary of WALL-E, either, which I could see being rewarded here as well as in the Best Animated Feature category. I think this is another chance for the Academy to recognize Milk, though, and they’ll likely embrace it.
Category: Adapted Screenplay
Prediction: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
My Pick: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
I’m having a really hard time imagining any of the other nominees winning this category, but I think if I had to pick a dark horse it’d be Doubt because of the tight, dialogue-heavy script. I wouldn’t be betting against Slumdog here, though.
Prediction: Chris Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire
My Pick: Chris Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire
Lee Smith (The Dark Knight) might have a slight chance here, but really what this comes down to is the fact that this is Slumdog‘s year, and rightfully so. It was the most visually interesting, the most polished production, and the most effective storytelling of the year, and I think (along with pretty much everybody else) that it’ll be rewarded handily.
While I don’t think this was nearly as strong of a year as 2007 was, I do think that this should be a good Oscars ceremony, not only because it sounds like it’ll be a bit unique, but also because I look forward to seeing a celebration of Danny Boyle, one of my favorite filmmakers of recent times who is long overdue for some recognition and looks to be primed to finally receive some in spades.