Okay, so the 2009 Academy Award nominations were announced, this morning at 8:30 ET/5:30 PT as per usual, and here's how they line up:
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
GOT WRONG: Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky (instead of Michael Shannon) (4/5 right)
I loved Marsan, but I'm glad Shannon got in there. Very interesting the film's leads didn't get nommed, but he did. He does have three extraordinary scenes that get right to the heart of what Revolutionary Road is all about. It's the textbook example of a supporting performance. That said, we all know who THE WINNER is going to be: Heath Ledger, the only extraordinary aspect of the overrated Dark Knight. He deserves to win, and will win.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicki Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
GOT WRONG: Kate Winslet, The Reader (instead of Amy Adams) (4/5 right)
Geez, I love this category. All five of these ladies are terrific. I think Amy Adams is really a treasure; I adore and congratulate her. I'm glad that the academy had sense enough not to fall for putting Kate Winslet in this category for her lead performance in The Reader; again, nomination-wise, the Oscars almost always get things correct. I once thought that Penelope Cruz had the heat in this category, but I find myself leaning more and more towards who I think will be THE WINNER: Viola Davis, for her powerhouse, one-scene performance in Doubt.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
GOT WRONG: Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino (instead of Brad Pitt) (4/5 right)
I'm not too upset Clint got overlooked. His performance in Gran Torino was good, but perhaps a little self-reverential. Hell, he was better in In The Line of Fire, and he wasn't even nominated for that. He's got four Oscars, so I think he's okay. This is the first Best Actor nod for Pitt, and while I don't think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread, he has displayed consistently adventurous choices from Thelma and Louise to Seven to Babel and Twelve Monkeys. So good for him. But he doesn't have a shot. Neither does veteran character actor Richard Jenkins for his excellent showing in The Visitor (so glad for him; I've liked him ever since he stole the show in 1996's Flirting With Disaster). I think it's becoming clearer and clearer that that THE WINNER is going to be Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler. It's just too committed a performance, and plus he's a sentimental favorite. That's a combo that can't be beat.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, The Reader
GOT WRONG: Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky and Kate Winslet for Revolutionary Road (instead of Jolie and Winslet for The Reader) (3/5 right)
Very disappointed that the amazing Sally Hawkins didn't get in here--Angelina's showboating in Changeling doomed the British actress. Too bad, because I thought hers (along with Michelle Williams in Wendy and Lucy) was the best of the year. I suppose the Academy just couldn't ignore the opportunity to nominate Brad and his paramour both in the same year. Ah, well. Glad to see Melissa Leo in here; I've liked her ever since her years on Homicide: Life on the Streets (still the best TV cop show ever). How 'bout that Meryl Streep? Her fifteenth nomination!!! Wow--and she ain't anywhere near done! I'd prefer that Anne Hathaway win for Rachel Getting Married, but I don't see that happening. This is a tough category to call, but I'd say the odds are that THE WINNER is going to be Kate Winslet; though Streep could step in as a spoiler, I don't see the Academy allowing Winslet to lose her seventh nomination. Plus, she delivered TWO great performances this year, which they DO take into account, no matter what anybody says.
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Finscher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Gus Van Sant, Milk
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
GOT WRONG: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky (instead of Howard and Daldry) (3/5 right)
Sad about Leigh (at least he got a script nom, which now seems like a given every time he releases a movie, even though he'd be the first to say his movies don't hail from a traditional screenplay). Otherwise, I have nothing to say, except THE WINNER will be Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Milk, Dustin Lance Black
Wall-E, original story by Pete Docter & Andrew Stanton; screenplay by Jim Reardon & Andrew Stanton
Frozen River, Courtney Hunt
Happy-Go-Lucky, Mike Leigh
In Bruges, Martin McDonagh
GOT WRONG: Rachel Getting Married, Jenny Lumet
Synecdoche, NY, Charlie Kaufman
Vicki Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen (instead of Frozen River, Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges) (2/5 right)
Lots of surprises here, including a massive one: no nomination for Woody Allen, who delivered his most acclaimed movie in years with VCB. But I'm happy that newcomers Hunt, McDonagh, and Black got in there. I really wanted to see a nom for Kaufman, but that movie is just TOO challenging, even for the normally adventurous Writing Branch. Anyway, the battle here is between Black's Milk and Pixar's Wall-E. THE WINNER? Hard to say, but I'm landing tentatively on the Milk side. But it would not surprise me if Mike Leigh snuck in there somehow...he's gotta win one sooner or later.
BEST SCREENPLAY ADAPTED FROM ANOTHER MEDIUM
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Screenplay by Eric Roth; Screen Story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
Doubt, John Patrick Shanley
Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan
The Reader, David Hare
GOT WRONG: Revolutionary Road, Justin Haythe (instead of The Reader) (4/5 right)
No feelings one way or another here. THE WINNER: Slumdog Millionaire
BEST ANIMATED FILM
Kung Fu Panda
GOT WRONG: Waltz With Bashir (instead of Bolt) (2/3 right)
Only mildly surprised by the exclusion of Waltz With Bashir. THE WINNER: Do I have to say it? Okay, Wall-E.
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)
The Class (France)
Waltz with Bashir (Israel)
GOT WRONG: Everlasting Moments (Sweden)
Three Monkeys (Turkey) (instead of Departures and Revanche) (3/5 right)
THE WINNER: Waltz with Bashir
BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
GOT WRONG: The Dark Knight (4/5 right)
I have been having a heated debate with Kris Tapley over at In Contention all year long. See, he's a Batman fan. And like a lot of fans, Batman fans think that because they cream all over something, and that something was actually halfway good, that every good thing should then come their way...all the money, all they awards, all the everything.
For months, I've been saying that TDK didn't have a chance for Best Pic. It was only after it got a WGA, PGA, and DGA nomination that I began to think differently. I even changed my predictions--something I vowed I would not do (you can see my original predictions here).
But I unwisely wavered from my convictions. So I paid the price. Ahh, I woulda missed one anyway. NO ONE really thought The Reader was gonna make it into the top five. Anyway, THE WINNER will be Slumdog Millionaire, of course, which is sort of amazing and brave, considering it's a movie that was dumped by Warner Brothers, and just barely survived being given a mere direct-to-video release. Just goes to show you what a little enthusiastic film festival support can do for a little movie like that.
The other winners will be:
CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Reader (4/5 right)
ART DIRECTION: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2/5 right)
COSTUME DESIGN: The Duchess (3/5 right)
SOUND (mixing): Wall-E (3/5 right)
SOUND EFFECTS (editing): Wall-E (3/5 right)
EDITING: Slumdog Millionaire (5/5 right)
MAKEUP: The Dark Knight (1/3 right)
VISUAL EFFECTS: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (3/3 right)
SCORE: Slumdog Millionaire (3/5 right)
SONG: "Down to Earth" from Wall-E (2/3 right)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Man on Wire (yay for Werner Herzog here, nommed for Encounters at the End of the Earth. He could surprise.) (3/5 right)
So I correctly predicted 69/70 (the Winslet nod complicates things) out of 102 nominations. Not great but not bad. We'll see how I do come awards day one month from today on February 22nd. That is, if angry Dark Knight fans in sinister Joker makeup don't burn the Kodak Theater to cinders.