This is the part of the year when Lauren and I go to the pictures and see as many of the films picking up lots of awards nominations as we can. Yay!
Here are my thoughts on the nominees at the major categories at the upcoming Academy Awards, except Best Supporting Actress, as we’ve only seen one of the movies. We’ve managed to see all the Best Picture nominees, which we don’t always get to do in New Zealand, where smaller movies can take months to arrive, but as always there’s plenty of much-nominated films that we’ve not seen - like The Wrestler, Doubt and Vicky Christina Barcelona.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire is the favourite here, and it deserves to win. The other films are very good, especially The Reader, but Slumdog’s verve and brilliant storytelling give it the edge. But it’s a shame that the best film of the year, WALL-E, or the best superhero movie of all time, The Dark Knight, didn’t get nominations. They’ve got a good chance of picking up plenty of awards in the ‘minor’ categories, like effects and sound, but they should have had a shot at the big one.
Check out the comments for Lauren’s thoughts on the nominees and my top films of the last 12 months. Please leave your thoughts too.
Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry – The Reader
David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant – Milk
Probably Boyle, if the Academy is sharing everyone else’s love of Slumdog, but I think Gus Van Sant might sneak this for Milk. I have a suspicion the Academy wants to make a statement by recognising this strong film about the US’s first openly gay politician, Californian Harvey Milk, particularly given the state recently quashed proposals to allow gay marriage.
Richard Jenkins – The Visitor
Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn – Milk
Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
Pitt is very good, Langella’s portrayal of the flawed president is better, and Penn is better still as Milk. But Hollywood loves a comeback, which former drug washout Rourke has done in grand style, so I think he’ll get it. Other actors who would have been worthy nominees in this category are Colin Farrel in In Bruges and David Cross, the young man in The Reader.
Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie – Changeling
Melissa Leo – Frozen River
Meryl Streep – Doubt
Kate Winslet – The Reader
Only seen Jolie and Winslet’s performances, which are both excellent. Winslet is the hot favourite and deserves a win, both for pulling off a very challenging role and for being perhaps the finest actress of her generation.
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin – Milk
Robert Downey, Jr. – Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road
Ledger would be the favourite for this even if he didn’t get the sympathy vote. With his death, he’s unstoppable. Has there ever been a better performance as a villain? Nice to see Downey Jr nominated. The dude playing the dude playing the dude disguised as a dude was hilarious. Deserving of a place is Brendan Gleeson, who was wonderful as an ageing, philosophical hitman in In Bruges. The reliable Ralph Fiennes was also top draw in The Reader.
Best Original Screenplay
A tough one. In Bruges is brilliantly wordy, WALL-E is brilliantly unwordy, but Milk might get it for the reasons stated above.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Expect this to go with the Slumdog tide – if it doesn’t, that could point to an upset in Best Picture. By the way, Lauren says the book the movie is based on, Q&A, is well worth reading.
Click here for a list of all the nominees. Expect The Dark Knight, Slumdog and Benjamin Button to share the technical and musical awards.