I'm shocked that The Reader did so well! It raked in major nominations, including for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, and yet it stands at a mere 60% on RottenTomatoes.com with 150 reviews counted. Could it be the least positively reviewed film to get a Best Picture nod since...Ghost?
I would hazard a guess that its Nazi theme helped it with the Hollywood crowd. Anything about the Nazis—presuming it's good in the first place—gets an extra boost. Remember Adrien Brody's out-of-nowhere win for Best Actor? Not casting aspersions (I've been dying to see the movie), it's just an interesting trend to me. Hollywood also smiles upon movies with liberal social agendas, such as The Cider House Rules or Crash (realllly smiled upon it) or this year's Milk. It's not that they aren't good, it's that they're probably extra-favored for content as well as form.
I'm a bit miffed that Revolutionary Road was overlooked. I loved it! But it's also quite interesting considering the film was directed for Oscar winner Sam Mendes and stars two beloved Hollywood actors. Maybe the Academy felt giving nods to Brangelina was enough red-carpet consideration.
The eight nominations for Milk show a genuine affection and respect for the film, even if I think it will only win for Best Original Screenplay. ("Only" he says—that would be an amazing award.)
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button gets 13 nods, but I would guess it will lose most of those. It's such a BIG movie with so many potential nominees, but none jump out as sure-bet winners.
I expect these except for The Reader, but I don't think Frost/Nixon was any better than Doubt, which was unnominated despite having everyone in it snagging recognition. I think the winner—and rightfully so—will be Slumdog Millionaire.
I do appreciate that they kept the category consistent with the Best Picture nominees—it's always so frustrating when they choose to exclude one director whose film was among the best, as if it directed itself. I believe it's Danny Boyle's year.
I believe Brad Pitt's nomination was due to the fact that he plays the title character in a generally pretty good movie, but truthfully, he was nothing special. I would have preferred Michael Sheen from Frost/Nixon.
I also noted a big fuck-you to Clint Eastwood and his Gran Torino (77% on RottenTomatoes.com!), which boasts his stated last performance.
Sean Penn's early momentum is gone. Now, it's all about Mickey Rourke's amazing comeback. Hollywood loves that narrative. I'd be shocked if Rourke didn't win, no matter how many times he uses the word "faggot" in the heat of anger and then later apologizes. He's virtually uncastable thanks to his fucked-up face, but Hollywood likes to reward people who'll never do anything again—they're an in-the-moment lot.
I find the exclusion of Sally Hawkins as Best Actress for Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky a bit shocking—she was never a lock, but she seemed to be more likely to sneak in that Melissa Leo. I have yet to see Frozen River, but I did have the feeling Leo would get recognized, based on her buzz.
I expected Jolie, but she wasn't that special.
This will probably go to Kate Winslet for The Reader (why not Revolutionary Road, I don't know) as a career Oscar. Anne Hathaway was awfully, awfully good, but it's probably Kate's year.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Again, Josh Brolin is singled out from Milk even though I honestly preferred James Franco and Emile Hirsch.
Robert Downey Jr.—I wish the world would snap out of this misguided adoration of Tropic Thunder. It wasn't that great. His performance was just a slightly better than average comic turn.
I'm ecstatic that Revolutionary Road's Michael Shannon was recognized! I called him out in my review as an exceptional part of that exceptional film.
But this belongs to Heath Ledger. I hated The Dark Knight, but he was mesmerizing whenever I glanced over at it in-between blogging.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams is a pleasant surprise. I felt her work in Doubt was quite important to the success of the piece as a whole, even if Viola Adams steals the show.
Taraji P. Henson was so hammy, almost a caricature by the end of Button. What are people thinking? It's not for most acting, it's for best acting.
I think this is going to Viola Davis, but I have to admit that Penelope Cruz could easily snatch it up for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. How many times have women been nominated as supporting actresses in Woody Allen films and lost?
If Oscar loves Button so much and we know it loves Cate Blanchett, why wouldn't they nominate her for this movie? She, to me, was the only extraordinary thing about it.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
I would hope they'd stay consistent and go with Slumdog, but all of the nominees are strong.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
I see Dustin Lance Black taking this for Milk, and this being Milk's only win. Mike Leigh should not be given awards or even nominations for "writing" improvised films.
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
Too bad Let The Right One In wasn't Sweden's offering, but Waltz With Bashir is a shoo-in.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
I'm guessing Man On Wire unless any of them were about Nazis.
BEST ANIMATED FILM
BEST ART DIRECTION
I'll say The Dark Knight, but maybe Button.
It's gotta be Slumdog.
BEST FILM EDITING
Let's go with Slumdog.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
This could actually be Milk, in a weird way. But I'll choose Button.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
They seem to have gone out of their way to make sure Miley Cyrus could not sneak in. Seems like Peter Gabriel would be more familiar, but "Jai Ho" from Slumdog is prominently heard in ads. I don't hear either of the Slumdog songs as Best Original Songs...but I'll say "Jai Ho." Where is Bruce Springsteen?
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Obviously, this is Button.
BEST SOUND EDITING
I would think The Dark Knight, but I'll go with Slumdog because I think Hollywood is going to make it a Slumdog funfest.
BEST SOUND MIXING
I'll say Slumdog.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
I'll pick Presto because Nathan finds it funny.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Let's say The Conscience Of Nhem En.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Has to be Button.