Okay, yesterday I saw all five of the Best Picture nominees and ate more popcorn than a human being really should consume in a 13-hour period. Slumdog Millionaire was definitely my favorite of the five, followed closely by Milk. I also loved Frost/Nixon and (surprisingly) The Reader. I enjoyed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button but didn’t think it was even remotely Best Picture-worthy.
Both Sean Penn and Frank Langella would deserve a Best Actor win, but I think it will go to Mickey Rourke, even though I haven’t seen The Wrestler. Brad Pitt is a terrible choice. At no point during Benjamin Button did I really feel like I was watching a child in an old man’s body, or vice-versa–amazing special effects, yeah, but not a great performance. (In fact, until the very end, I wasn’t quite sure if he was aging backwards mentally, or just physically.)
I’ve only seen one of the Best Actress performances, but I’ll predict the one I saw: Kate Winslet in The Reader, even though it’s really more of a supporting role.
I think Heath Ledger is a deserving lock for Best Supporting Actor. The Joker was awesome. Although it would be the greatest thing in the entire world if Robert Downey Jr. managed to win for Tropic Thunder. When most actors say “Golly, I never dreamed in a million years that I’d be up for an Oscar for this role!” you know they’re lying their asses off, but in this case I can’t imagine that Robert Downey Jr. filmed his “you never go full retard” speech and thought that he would be an Academy Award nominee.
WALL-E can’t possibly lose for Best Animated Film, and should probably be up for Best Picture. But I can’t help but think that the Academy had a different calibre of nominees in mind when they created the category–pretty much every year has a “Bolt? Seriously?” pick.
The screenplay awards are tricky because, well, I haven’t read the scripts. But, again, Benjamin Button, which must have 20 different scenes where they cut back to the story being told in the present, is a lousy choice.
On Friday I saw all of the Live Action and Animated Shorts. For Live Action, I’m rooting for The Pig, a dark comedy about an old man about to undergo surgery who finds comfort in the dumb little painting of a pig on his hospital room wall, and his distress when it’s taken down. I also really liked New Boy, although it seems unlikely to win. On the Line would’ve been my top pick except for the non-ending.
It almost seems kind of unfair to have Presto on the list for Best Animated Short Film, since it has the mega-budget power of Pixar behind it…although my favorite of the bunch is This Way Up, which is about two morticians trying to deliver a casket to a gravesite. Oktapodi packs an enormous amount of entertainment value into its two minutes, and Lavatory – Lovestory is a charming little film with minimalist animation. The winner will probably be La Maison en Petits Cubes, which is the one serious film of the bunch, but I hope not.
So, in summary: Go Slumdog Millionaire!