Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Oscars: My Predictions for Best Picture

As an aspiring writer/director and a huge movie geek, its only right that I should be hugely into the Oscars. And believe me, I am. I've been watching the races carefully since September, and have been trying to see as many awards-contention movies as possible (and I've seen a good number over the past year). And so, based on the races as I have seen them, here are my predictions for who will be nominated next week, along with an explanation for why. Each day I will post a new race, starting today with Best Picture. BEST PICTURE The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - I haven't actually seen this one (yet; I want to), but it has all of the hallmarks of a Best Picture nominee: epic scope, timeless story, based on a book (well, short story, but still), a brave performance by a well-known actor, peak work by an underrated director. I'd be surprised to not see it on this list. Doubt - A lot of people have already counted this one out, but after it's recent Best Cast nomination at the SAGs, I think it stands a real chance at a nomination. Again, I have not yet seen this one, but from what I can tell it looks to have just the kind of moral ambiguity that Oscar loves so much (see last year's Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, and No Country For Old Men). Plus, the gifted cast should help elevate John Patrick Shanley's supposedly mediocre direction. Milk - Another Oscar favorite: the biopic. I intend on seeing this one tomorrow night, so I will post my thoughts and reflections on it then. However, led by Gus van Sant's direction comeback and star two of the best actors in Hollywood (Sean Penn and the horribly underappreciated Josh Brolin), its hard for me to imagine this film getting shafted, especially considering the relevance of the film in light of the Prop 8 ordeal. Slumdog Millionaire - I saw this last night, and I can now say that I fall in with the crowd that is hailing this one of the year's best films. A great screenplay that could have gone horribly awry works wonderfully in the hands of director Danny Boyle, who infuses the film with the kind of inspirational get-up-and-cheer energy that has been sorely missing from recent Best Picture nominees (Juno was the only upbeat film in last year's set, and it was about teen pregnancy). A wonderful set of actors, led by Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto (where are her awards?), bring the type of honesty to the roles that makes you want to know more about these characters. Like Jamal Malik, the film is an underdog who is surprising everyone, and it deserves every bit of that success. The Dark Knight - Overrated? Not even close. This was my second-favorite movie of 2008 (I'll be sure to post my Top 10 list soon, along with my favorite performances of the year), and it was so much more than just a Batman movie. TDK went into territory that is usually reserved for awards movies, not summer superhero flicks; in exploring the dark side of all of the characters' souls, the movie asked us: how different is this from our own reality? It also produced the most frightening character of the last decade: The Joker, a terrorist who has no plan, no intentions other than to cause as much chaos as possible, irregardless of the consequences. It was bold, dark, and most importantly, incredible, and it deserves to be the first superhero movie to be a Best Picture nominee. These are my picks. Enjoy and comment. Tomorrow I'll post my Best Director choices.

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