Friday, February 20, 2009

My - sigh - Oscar Picks

Okay, okay. I know, I'm a "movie" blogger. I get it. But do I have to talk about the Oscars? I mean, honestly, does anyone really care, anymore? It's not like it used to be. The real glamour left Hollywood in the 90's. The old stars started dying and the new ones? Well, they're pretty and all, but they just don't have the same flair, you know? I mean, there will never be a gentlemen like David Niven again. Can you imagine Clooney making such a witty quip in quite the same manner if a streaker ran past while he was presenting an award? I mean, I love George and all, but it would never happen. He would make some kind of vulgar dick joke that would have be bleeped (or am I thinking of Kathy Griffin?). And can you picture Ryan remarrying Reese and giving her the biggest rock in the world? Me neither. Old Hollywood is long gone, my dears, and the world is worse for it. Passionate moguls like Louis Mayer and Jack Warner no longer linger over every detail of every picture they make. These days, artless accountants make movies because they are part of proven franchises that will make money whether they suck or not. I know, I know... there are still some truly talented writers, directors and actors out there and they occasionally make wonderful movies. But no one sees them. It used to be that everybody saw every movie that was nominated. Now, everyone sees the crap ($45M+ for Friday the 13th) and no one sees the good stuff (Milk). And rarely does the best picture win best picture (Crash? Really? Come on!).
Alright - I'll stop ranting and tell you who and what I think will and should win this year's major categories. As a bonus, I'll even let you know who I think was robbed of at least a nomination. Not that you should (or do) care what I think. See whatever you want. Just promise you'll try and see one really good movie every year.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Should Win: Amy Adams, Doubt
Who Will Win: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Who Was Robbed: Joan Allen, Death Race
Adams continues to prove herself a force to be reckoned with. After her 2007 turn in Enchanted (for which she was robbed of a nomination), she gives another amazing performance as a conflicted young nun in Patrick Shanley's adaptation of his Tony winning play. Cruz (as creepy as I may find her) is fine in Woody Allen's comedy, but I just don't get her. As for Ms. Allen, anyone who can play that role with a straight face, deserves an Oscar.
Best Supporting Actor
Who Should Win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Who Will Win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Who Was Robbed: James Franco, Milk; Gary Oldman and Aaron Eckhart, The Dark Knight
We all know that The Dark Knight is Ledger's legacy film. His Joker is so original, so creepy and oh-so-psychotic, how could he not win? Plus, he should have won for Brokeback Mountain, two years ago. But Franco continues to grow as an actor and his turn as Harvey Milk's lover, Scott Smith, is just superb. As for Oldman and Eckhart, it's just a shame that two exceptionally fine performances were over-shadowed by Ledger's death.
Best Animated Film
What Should Win: Wall-E
What Will Win: Wall-E
What Was Robbed: Sex and the City
Wall-E tied for number one on my list of the best movies of 2008. It is nothing short of astonishing. Sadly, Sex and the City was shut out of this category becau... What? Really? Those were real live actresses and not cartoons? Oh, my mistake.
Best Original Screenplay
What Should Win: Wall-E
What Will Win: Milk
What Was Robbed: Outlander
Wall-E's screenplay by director Andrew Stanton and co-writers Pete Docter and Jim Reardon is simple and lovely. How many modern movies can you name that are heartwarming, poignant and funny with no dialog for the first 40 minutes? But, of all the Harvey Milk biopic screenplays that have been floating around for years, Dustin Lance Black's was the one that got made. And it's mighty fine. As for Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain's Outlander... come on! It's about Aliens and Vikings. How much more original can you get?
Best Adapted Screenplay
What Should Win: Frost/Nixon
What Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire
What Was Robbed: Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Peter Morgan adapted his play Frost/Nixon and the result is a surprisingly compelling look at notoriety and infamy, but Simon Beaufoy's adaptation of Vikas Swarup's novel helped turn Slumdog Millionaire into an indie sensation. Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of Mike Mignola's comic books elevated what could have been just another silly superhero movie to high art.
Best Director
Who Should Win: Gus Van Sant, Milk
Who Will Win: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Who Was Robbed: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Van Sant is a hit-or-miss director whose misses (Psycho) are simply dreadful, but whose hits (My Own Private Idaho) border on brilliant. Milk is simply one of his best. Boyle continues to stretch and take on as many genres as he can, and the heat generated by Slumdog seems unstoppable. Most egregiously left off the ballot is Nolan, who took a superhero movie and turned it into a noirish crime thriller filled with wondrous visuals, brilliant performances and the sexiest Batman ever.
Best Actor
Who Should Win: Sean Penn, Milk
Who Will Win: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Who Was Robbed: Robert Downey, Jr, Iron Man
Penn is nothing short of amazing as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California. Rourke, despite looking like he had one too many sessions with Kenny Rogers' plastic surgeon, is good, too. But Downey deserves a nom simply for turning his life around even more dramatically than Rourke, who I imagine will go back into a downward spiral even after winning his first (and only) Oscar.
Best Actress
Who Should Win: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Who Will Win: Meryl Streep, Doubt
Who Was Robbed: Sally Hawkins, Happy Go Lucky
Hathaway, another Brokeback Mountain alum who should have been nominated, continues to prove that she is among the best of Hollywood's young talents and her low-key turn as a drug addict in Rachel... is nothing short of revelatory, but Ms. Streep (arguably the greatest living actress) hasn't won in a long time, and Doubt will break her long losing streak. sadly, Sally Hawkins' amazing performance as a cockeyed optimist in Happy Go Lucky was ignored by the Academy. And that's just a cryin' shame, because she was wonderful.
Best Picture
What Should Win: Milk
What Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire
What Was Robbed: Wall-E and The Dark Knight
It seems that Slumdog is unstoppable, and this rags-to-riches love story is this year's Crash - a good movie, but not the Best movie. Sadly, Hollywood is still homophobic, despite the overwhelming number of LGBT people who work in the industry, which will leave Milk out in the cold. As for Wall-E and The Dark Knight, my pics for the best movies of the year were just too popular with audiences - a kiss of death where Oscar s usually concerned, despite The Return of the King and Titanic.
Well, there you have it. Make no bets based on my predictions. I'm often very wrong. We'll see on Sunday.
More, anon.

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