The 81st Academy Awards are being held in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 22, and since your editors were too lazy and/or broke to actually review a new film for this week’s Record, we decided to make uneducated guesses about the Academy’s choices (or simply record or own feelings about the nominees) instead. And to raise the stakes, we decided that the editor with the best pick will get to choose whatever food we will order down to Ames basement for publication night next Wednesday. That’s right, we dine in style. Without further adieu, the Oscar please…
The Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire
ALK: Slumdog Millionaire-is that my final answer? HAHAHAHAHA. Yes, it is.
MWH: The Reader – First, I could never endorse as best picture a film that rides on a performance by Brad Pitt. Second, what could possibly be more of a lock than a film about a German feeling remorse for Jews killed in the Holocaust? In fact, this was a touching and well-made film with really hot sex scenes.
CJS: Button is about a man who ages in reverse and picks up both a massive fortune and Cate Blanchett along the way. Slumdog is about poverty-stricken children who stand to fall into a free pile of massive money. Which will resonate more with the gray-haired members of the Academy? Probably Button. Which will be the favorite among a general public clamoring for stimulus checks? As New York Times columnist Frank Rich said, “we’re all Slumdogs now”.
The Nominees: Danny Boyle (Slumdog), Stephen Daldry (The Reader), David Fincher (Benjamin Button), Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon), Gus Van Sant (Milk)
ALK: Danny Boyle-you wanna bet he thanks “the children of India” for the award? Yeah, and then he will count his millions at home after a night of partying that would make Dionysus cringe.
MWH: Stephen Daldry. No offense to high-intensity film making, but I wish more directors would just try to make a great film and not worry about making a particular type of film.
CJS: Danny Boyle will probably take it, but I’m on the bus for Gus, too. The Academy still needs to make up for Crash-ing Brokeback Mountain‘s party a few years back.
The Nominees: Richard Jenkins (The Visitor), Frank Langhella (Frost/Nixon), Sean Penn (Milk), Brad Pitt (Benjamin Button), Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
ALK: Sean Penn-The Academy loves Gay Movies…except when they are up against Gangster films…
MWH: Mickey Rourke! – I didn’t see the film, but who doesn’t like an underdog whose face looks like hamburger meat?
CJS: Sean Penn should be estopped from competing in a category where quiet gems like Jenkins have no chance
The Nominees: Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Angelina Jolie (Changeling), Melissa Leo (Frozen River), Meryl Streep (Doubt), Kate Winslet (The Reader)
ALK: Kate Winslet-She’s British and she showed her breasts tastefully…should be good for an Oscar.
MWH: Kate Winslet – An illiterate German who takes the fall for an atrocity against Jews… What better role could there be for someone who has been passed over too many times?
CJS: Will likely be a duel between an uncommonly crass Hathaway and an unsurprisingly sentimental Winslet, but I’d give it to Leo.
Best Supporting Actor
The Nominees: Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey, Jr. (Tropic Thunder), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt), Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)
ALK: Josh Brolin-His portrayal of Dan Brown reminded me of many HLS students…except he was less neurotic.
MWH: Robert Downey, Jr. is nominated for playing a black man in a comedy. Need I say more? If the Academy cannot bring themselves to hand away a precious golden statue to a comedy star, then Hoffman deserves to set one on his mantelpiece.
CJS: Will pity or populism be a greater driving choice toward handing the envelope to the ghost of Heath Ledger? Hopefully, the Academy will pick Brolin or Hoffman, though the latter should be nominated for the ethereal Synecdoche, New York instead.
Best Supporting Actress
The Nominees: Amy Adams (Doubt), Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Viola Davis (Doubt), Taraji B. Henson (Benjamin Button), Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)
ALK: Marisa Tomei – see showing breasts (above).
MWH: Vicky, like Woody Allen himself, is at times halting and awkward, at times overly intellectual. Penelope Cruz is a dynamo of sensual energy, and her presence energized the entire film. Winner!
CJS: Some actresses take one’s breath away. In Vicky, Penelope Cruz looked like she was about to take away Scarlett Johansen’s – by force. This award is hers, whether or not it’s given under duress.
Best Original Screenplay
The Nominees: WALL-E, Happy Go Lucky, Frozen River, In Bruges, Milk
ALK: WALL-E – the cartoon before the feature film was better than the rest of the competitors in this category.
MWH: Having failed to see Milk, I nod to In Bruges, which I found to be much more complex and introspective than I though any film with Colin Farrell could ever be.
CJS: Happy Go Lucky is just a simple hippie film, but WALL-E is the most family-friendly hyper-environmentalist flick Hollywood has ever produced. Still, I would tip my hat to the Academy for handing the envelope to the politically riskier Milk – or the much more resonant, if less pleasant, F
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Nominees: Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, Slumdog, Doubt
ALK: Slumdog. This just in…the Academy has no idea what this award is for…better give it to Slumdog
MWH: After consulting many experts, including a coin and a pair of dice, the winner is…
CJS: My college lit professor and New Yorker film critic David Denby agree – The Reader, both in print and on screen, is middlebrow shlock. So if faithfulness to the book is what this category is all about, it’s the clear winner.
Best Animated Feature
The Nominees: WALL-E, Bolt, Kung Fu Panda
ALK: WALL-E. The world is fucked and WALL-E hopes to get…well…you know.
MWH: WALL-E. Challenge: Show people images that focus on garbage, decay, and dirt for half a film and use no words whatsoever to tell a story which will make people laugh and cry. This movie delivers the visual goods on so many levels, and succeeds in being a little more than a cartoon without looking cartoonish.
CJS: Kung Fu Panda packs a strong punch, but neither it nor reality TV sendup Bolt will beat WALL-E‘s Obama-besting bipartisan feat – forging a Disney-Greenpeace alliance.
Best Foreign Language Film
The Nominees: Revanche, The Class, The Baader Meinhof Complex, Departures, Waltz With Bashir
ALK: Revanche. Um. Yes….Stunning, Artistic, European!
MWH: The Baader Meinhof Complex sounds like a place where WMD’s were manufactured in the 40s. I am embarrassed to say that the only one of these I saw was Bashir, which I don’t think should win.
CJS: If you see only one animated documentary of a painful Israeli dream sequence this year, see Waltz With Bashir.