I’m giddier than Jeremy Piven on a fishing expedition or David Duchovny in the middle of a nudist resort since it’s the day before the 2009 Oscar nominations are announced! I’ve been Oscar prognosticating with my buddy the divine Ms. Jennifer M for close to ten years now, yet, I’m still as breathless, as hotflashy, as woozy with anticipation as an Arizona Cardinals fan will be at the Super Bowl, to find out who gets nominated, who doesn’t, and what kind of jaw-dropping, coffee-spilling, croissant-spitting surprises the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can come up with tomorrow. Mark my ominous words though: Brangelina, despite nominations from most of the precursor awards for their turns in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Changeling, respectively, will be snubbed! The Academy, as they have demonstrated in the past, is an extremely political, backstabbing, envy-filled, grudge-carrying group (oh, just like a lot of the co-workers we know and love!), and I think the two most beautiful people in the world have bullseye targets painted on their backs (or at least on their headshots in aging, decrepit, desperately-looking-for-work Academy members’ home-based shrines to revenge and the eradication of beauty in the world!). I have mixed feelings about this since I think it’s going to be a shame if Pitt doesn’t get nominated for his solid, luminous Ben Button. But I really don’t need to see HER and HER SMIRK, floating around the Kodak Theater like a Fijian Goddess, as if she is above us ordinary mortals! (well, she kinda is, with her money, her causes, her perfect man, and her multi-cultural children!) Here then are my predictions for Oscar nomination morning. I have seen most of the films that are being buzzed about this year, but my predictions do not match up completely with my own personal preferences. I take pride in my Oscarwatching skills, so these nominations are the one that I think the Academy will make, given its history, its tendencies and leanings, its preferences over the years. I have also indicated my “No Guts, No Glory” pick for each of the categories (in some categories, it’s more than one), since I have a strong sense that there’ll be a lot of surprises coming!
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Ben Button, Milk, and Slumdog Millionaire have always been shoo-ins since the beginning of Oscar season. It’s been a precarious climb for The Dark Knight, but I’m pretty positive it’s going to get in, given the fact that it is an extremely well-made genre movie with a legendary performance at its core (and the fact that its $600 million dollar take isn’t chump change for the industry). Everyone’s been talking about Frost/Nixonas the fifth nominee, but to be honest, I thought Campbell Brown’s coverage of the Inaugural Balls were more interesting than this snoozer! I think the greater crime though is that no one seems to have seen it. So in comes The Reader, a different, critically-acclaimed take on the Holocaust with a buzzed about performance from Kate Winslet- the type of movie that appeals to the Academy’s smug sense of cultural arbiter self. I think it’s in – my “No Guts, No Glory” pick for the Best Picture category.
Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Gus van Sant, Milk
The Best Director nominees traditionally do not match-up 100% with the Best Picture nominees, so someone’s going to be left out in the cold. There is a small, artsy block in the Academy’s Directors Branch that allows independent film auteurs or foreign directors into the magic 5. This year, I think it’s The Reader‘ s Stephen Daldry (who doesn’t have a Director’s Guild nomination) who will be shut out, which will allow visionary, maverick wunderkind Aronofsky, my “No Guts, No Glory” pick, the chance to get in. I mean anyone who can get Mickey Rourke to don green tights in one scene and then stuff chicken salad into plastic containers while wearing a hairnet in another, deserves some form of recognition!
Leonardi DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
I never thought I would say Leonardo DiCaprio, golden boy, acting hero, superstar, would be my “No Guts, No Glory” pick for Best Actor since the Academy is quick to nominate him for anything other than standing still. But his sensitive, haunting, well-calibrated performance as the young suburban husband in Revolutionary Road has been overlooked in this extremely competitive acting year. My other “No Guts, No Glory” prediction is a lack of a nomination for Clint Eastwood, who supposedly has had a surge of support for the late-opening Gran Torino. Eastwood needs another Oscar as much as I need a typhoid vaccination shot in the ass – like, not. What’s next for the Academy, kissing his feet and venerating him like a living saint? People, get a hold of yourselves!
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Kristin Scott Thomas, I’ve Loved You for So Long
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Michelle Williams, Wendy and Lucy
Kate Winslet, The Reader
I think this whole list is a “No Guts, No Glory” prediction. Ok, Hathaway, Streep, and Winslet have won precursor acclaim. But I really think that despite what the intimidating Harvey Weinstein says, Kate Winslet will not be nominated in Supporting Actress for what is clearly a lead role in The Reader. Which is fine, but it will supplant a nomination for her superlative performance in Revolutionary Road. And I think the Academy wants to give her an Oscar for Best Actress, not for Best Supporting Actress. Scott Thomas’s precursor nominations have been spotty, but she’s a previous nominee for The English Patient, she’s British (and there’s a BIG contingent of Brits in the Academy, just ask Tilda Swinton) performing in French, and she just came off an acclaimed performance in The Seagullon Broadway, so those New York-based Academy members would have her on their minds. But I think the gutsiest prediction of this list or of anyone’s is Michelle Williams in a movie that maybe five people saw. It was a much buzzed about performance during the Toronto film festival but hasn’t gotten a lot of traction since. However, I think there’s a Heath Ledger factor working here – as the Actors Branch filled out their ballots for Best Supporting Actor, I think they may have remembered his widow, and how much of a classy, terrific, low-key actress she was, and penciled her name in too.
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, Milk
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
Despite how cute Dev Patel is, this is Best Supporting Actor, not Cutest Twink in a Movie. I mean I, and everyone who hangs out at my neighborhood coffeeshop, including the City of Chicago crossing guard, could have played his role! But I am resigned to the inevitability of his nomination (which is by the way egregious category fraud, since he is the lead performer in the film) given the immense popularity of Slumdog Millionaire. My “No Guts No Glory” pick, though, is forever Chicagoan Michael Shannon, who I have had the pleasure of working with through my Red Orchid Theater (where he is an ensemble member) volunteer activities. He is a terrific actor, although his Revolutionary Road role is the type that gets nominated in the supporting categories: loony, slightly menacing, scene-stealing, scenery-chewing (exhibit A: Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys).
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Without a Kate Winslet double nomination, one slot opens up in the Supporting Actress race, and I think it will go to one of those unheralded, precursor-ignored, but totally deserving performances. Anne Hathaway’s work, despite how good it was, would have been nothing without Rosemarie DeWitt’s multi-dimensional, lived-in performance as the title character. If the Academy nominates her, I can forgive them for all the other wacky nominations that will come out tomorrow (Miley Cyrus for the Bolt Theme Song as Original Song, anyone?)
Let’s see how I do tomorrow morning!
The 2009 Oscar nominations will be announced by Academy President Sid Ganis and Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker tomorrow morning at 5:30 am Pacific, 7:30 am Cental, and 8:30 am Eastern. The announcement is usually carried by the networks’ morning shows, CNN, and E!
Tags: Academy Awards