Sunday, February 22, 2009

My Oscar Predictions

The 81st Annual Academy Awards show is on tonight...the ultimate awards show. Get an Oscar and get respect for life. As a big fan of film, I always enjoy watching the Oscars but often times, I've only seen one or two of the films. This year, I've seen many of the nominations and intend to watch the ones that I've missed. It's been another great year in film and the nominees reflect that.

I wanted to claim my predictions for tonight and I should note that I'm making these predictions before reading those of anyone else (including that psychic)...

Actor in a Leading Role: Sean Penn. I've seen all of these roles and they were all excellent but I think Sean Penn and Frank Langella had the most difficult roles. I really loved The Wrestler and Mickey Rourke definitely made the movie, but I don't really see him winning tonight. Richard Jenkins was also great in The Visitor but I don't think his role was as demanding as Penn or Langella. Penn deserves this one.

Actor in a Supporting Role: I haven't seen Revolutionary Road but I think most people expect Heath Ledger to win this one. It's hard to imagine what the circumstances would be with the release of The Dark Knight and the subsequent nomination had Ledger not unfortunately died. Personally, I think it would not have been as hyped, but noone can deny that Heath Ledger was amazing as The Joker. If he had not passed away, I think Philip Seymour Hoffman might take it, but Ledger should get this one.

Actress in a Leading Role: I have not seen Changeling or Frozen River yet, so I can not judge Angelina Jolie or Melissa Leo. From the limited hype that I have taken in, however, it seems that Kate Winslet is favored for this win. From seeing her versus Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep, I definitely do not think Winslet is a hands down win. I think Streep and Hathaway had more complex roles. Streep may already have a couple wins under her belt but this is probably her most warranted nomination in years. Winslet might take it due to politics but I'm going to go out on a limb and pick Streep.

Actress in a Supporting Role: I think this will come down to either Amy Adams or Penelope Cruz. My expectations were definitely not met in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Viola Davis in Doubt had a powerful performance, but she only appeared in about 10 minutes of the film. And Marisa Tomei has her third nomination but I really don't think she's going to take this one for being a stripper. I think Penelope Cruz will take this one.

Animated Feature Film: All 3 were very entertaining, but this one is going to Wall-E without a doubt.

Best Director: I think Gus Van Sant should probably take this one for Milk. He was nominated before for Good Will Hunting against freakin' James Cameron for Titanic. I wouldn't mind seeing Danny Boyle take this for Slumdog Millionaire, but I think it will go to Gus Van Sant.

Makeup: The one thing that you have to hand to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the hype surrounding how the hell they made Brad Pitt into a short old man, which is why it should win for both Makeup and Visual Effects.

Best Picture: If this doesn't go to Slumdog Millionaire, I'll be disappointed. I saw all of these nominees and Slumdog Millionaire was by far the most entertaining film from start to finish, gripping you in from the start and not letting you go until you find out what happens at the very end.

I'll leave out the other categories but am very interested in seeing all of the awards tonight. For those who have not seen any of the nominees, I strongly suggest seeing as many of them as you can.


Mike said...

Kevin, I just wanted to elaborate on our twitter discussion. (More aptly put, the defense of my original tweet.)

It strikes me as somewhat annoying that actors impersonating real-life characters are being nominated and winning at such a high rate this decade. I understand that impersonation is a form of acting, but it seems like anyone that can do a good impression of a colorful character gets a nod; in the last 4 out of 5 years, also the award. I think this is woefully misguided.

Is the Academy giving the awards based on the characters the actors played or how the actors played the characters? Or does it matter?

Let's look at this decade's nominees and winners who were based on real-life persons (winners marked with a star):

* Harvey Milk
Richard Nixon

* Idi Amin
Chris Gardner

* Truman Capote
Johnny Cash
Edward R. Murrow

* Ray Charles
Howard Hughes

Charlie / Donald Kaufman - though this is kind of a weird one.

John Nash
Muhammad Ali

Jackson Pollock

Hurricane Carter

If you notice, and go back further, this insane trend of picking biopic actors as best actor began around 2004. Here's more:

9 real life characters
0 winners Best Actor

6 real life characters
1 winner Best Actor

7 real life characters
1 winner Best Actor

For brevity's sake, I'll stop at the 70s. The facts are there: 4 out of 5 Best Actors since 2004 have been people doing impersonations of other people. 2 out of 34 years prior, Best Actors were not. I think this is not a mistake.

Also, the Academy definitely has its favorites and plays political games. I did not see the Wrestler, but I DID see Mickey Rourke's acceptance speeches and knew immediately he would not win. Likewise, Sean Penn is a "golden boy" to the Academy, so he had a better than decent chance of winning. Keith Fletcher's performance as the Joker was over-the-top to the point of hysterical to watch (though the movie was enjoyable), but he clearly won because he died. Jack Nicholson was a better Joker, but he didn't get an Academy nod because, well, he was alive and he was - THE JOKER. It's not exactly a serious acting role.

Anyway, that's my 2/100 of a dollar. I'm probably full of it, though I'd like to say otherwise. :)

KW said...

Mike, I know what you're trying to say, but you also have to consider that the in the dates that you are pointing out, there has been a big movement of biopic films because of their popularity. Don't try to get all Nic Cage conspiracy theory on me. Not that they're new, but studios are backing them more and putting more money into them because people are interested in seeing how well an actor/actress can portray someone in real life because it gives them expectations. Many of these real life portrayals are based on recent public figures...figures that, since being in the public recently, have spent a lot of time in the media, which obviously has expanded its reach in recent times. Because it's become more popular, bigger name actors are stepping up to the challenge and putting out some serious performances. I don't think that JUST BECAUSE it's a respected figure that's being portrayed, it's given more consideration. Colin Farrell played John Smith in The New World a few years back but critics ripped it apart...Josh Brolin played the most popular guy in the country, George W. Bush, in W, but he wasn't nominated (just kidding), but my point is that there are plenty of biopics that aren't as recognized.

That said, I definitely agree that there are a LOT of politics with the Academy. Mickey Rourke talked about his publicist telling him who to F*#^ at his other acceptance speeches, so I know what you mean. I did see The Wrestler and he did an amazing job, but it wasn't the type of role to win over the competition, regardless of his careless attitude. (Side Note: Mickey Rourke is the f'in man) I think that Kate Winslet won because of my mind, she didn't put forth a better performance than everyone else and I only saw 2 of the other nominees. Sean Penn, I think, did, and I saw ALL of the Best Actor nominees.

Heath Ledger would have gotten an academy nod regardless of his circumstances...look at the other nominees. Robert Downey got nominated for a comedy. Michael Shannon got nominated...who the hell is he? He played a KKK member in Bad Boys 2 a few years back. Now if Ledger was still alive, Philip Seymour Hoffman probably would have taken it. But the fact that you think Nicholson did a better job? Cmon dude...I know you have to pay dues to originals and all but here's the thing. The first time, it was Jack Nicholson as The Joker...the second time, it was The Joker played by Heath Ledger. Simple as that. Ask any comic book geek and they'll tell you the same thing.

KW said...

Also...dude, I'm disappointed that you forgot to mention...since you're a huge fan and all...Bob Dylan inspired a nominated performance last year...oh wait, nevermind, that was an actress portraying him.