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My Predictions for the 2009 Oscar Nominations

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Overall, 2008 had fewer standout American films than a rich year like 2007 and thus did not offer quite as much diversity. As a result, the Oscars may perhaps be a little easier to predict this time around compared to last year’s.

Slumdog Millionaire seems to be the front runner right now for Best Picture and other major categories, perhaps because the Academy might be looking to honor a bit more of a crowd pleaser as opposed to more downbeat or even nihilistic films like the last two year’s Best Picture winners, The Departed and No Country for Old Men. The Dark Knight also seems to have gained enough momentum from the DGA and PGA nods to secure nominations to become the first comic book movie nominated for Best Picture (and also Director for Christopher Nolan). And having the most popular film of the year as one of the nominees will probably help increase viewership of the ceremony telecast this year compared to recent years.

Another major player will likely be the Oscar-friendly The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which will pick up numerous technical award nominations in addition to Picture, Director for David Fincher (although I think it really deserves only the technical nominations). Then, filling in the Best Picture category will be politically themed movies, Gus Van Sant's Milk and Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon. I am guessing that this year all of the directors of the movies nominated for Best Picture will be identically nominated as well.

The acting categories, however, will probably be more interesting to watch this year than Picture or Director. There will, of course, be well-known A-list stars like Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Kate Winslet (who will likely receive a double nod for Revolutionary Road and The Reader in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, respectively). But there will also be several character actors competing in the lead roles, a couple of others who will make great comeback stories and, of course, a bittersweet one around a late accomplished actor.

The bittersweet one, of course, belongs to Heath Ledger who, at this point, seems to pretty much have a straight shot to winning Best Supporting Actor this year. As for the character actors, look for Richard Jenkins in The Visitor and Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon for nominations in the Best Actor category and Melissa Leo in Frozen River in the Best Actress category. Then there is Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler whom everybody seems to be rooting to complete his comeback in the Best Actor category and people should also look for Robert Downey Jr. to earn his first nomination in 16 years for his comedic turn critiquing and lampooning method acting in Tropic Thunder.

So, taking all of that into consideration, here is my complete list of my predictions for the nominations for select categories as well as my personal preferences of who I predict will be left out but would like to see mentioned in each category. (Note: As much as I would like to, I am not making predictions for the Best Foreign Language Film and Documentary categories, as I feel I have sadly not seen enough of the films on the Academy shortlist.)

Best Picture:

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • Slumdog Millionaire

Would like to see:

  • WALL·E – It certainly may have a chance at getting a nod but I think the fact that there is the separate Animated Category will likely hinder this, which, considering the increasing quality of Pixar films, may instead be a solid argument to turn the Best Picture category to one strictly as Best Live Action Picture if they do not want to choose animated films.
  • The Wrestler

Best Director:

  • Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
  • David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
  • Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
  • Gus Van Sant, Milk

Would like to see:

  • Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler
  • Andrew Stanton, WALL·E – Yes, people should start recognizing that animated films are directed, too.

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
  • Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
  • Sean Penn, Milk
  • Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Would like to see:

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Revolutionary Road

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

  • Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
  • Angelina Jolie, Changeling
  • Melissa Leo, Frozen River
  • Meryl Streep, Doubt
  • Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

Would like to see:

  • Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
  • Kristin Scott-Thomas, I’ve Loved You So Long

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Josh Brolin, Milk
  • Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
  • Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
  • Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire

Would like to see:

  • Eddie Marsan, Happy-Go-Lucky

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

  • Amy Adams, Doubt
  • Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Viola Davis, Doubt
  • Kate Winslet, The Reader
  • Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

Would like to see:

  • Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  • Dustin Lance Black, Milk
  • Tom McCarthy, The Visitor
  • Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Jim Reardon, WALL-E
  • Robert D. Siegel, The Wrestler

Would like to see:

  • Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky
  • Ari Folman, Waltz with Bashir

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • John Patrick Shanley, Doubt
  • Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon
  • David Hare, The Reader
  • Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire

Would like to see:

  • Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer, The Dark Knight
  • John Ajvide Lindqvist, Let the Right One In

Best Animated Feature:

  • WALL·E
  • Waltz with Bashir
  • Kung Fu Panda

Best Film Editing:

  • Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Lee Smith, The Dark Knight
  • Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill, Frost/Nixon
  • Elliot Graham, Milk
  • Chris Dickens, Slumdog Millionaire

Would like to see:

  • Stephen Schaeffer, WALL·E

Best Cinematography:

  • Roger Deakins, Revolutionary Road
  • Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
  • Claudio Miranda, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight
  • Mandy Walker, Australia

Best Original Score:

  • Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Danny Elfman, Milk
  • James Newton Howard & Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight
  • Thomas Newman, WALL-E
  • A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire

Best Original Song:

  • Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Michael Stevens and Kyle Eastwood – “Gran Torino,” Gran Torino
  • Thomas Newman and Peter Gabriel – “Down to Earth,” WALL-E
  • Miley Cyrus – “I Thought I Lost You,” Bolt
  • A.R. Rahman and Gulzar – “Jai Ho,” Slumdog Millionaire
  • Bruce Springsteen – “The Wrestler,” The Wrestler

Best Costume Design:

  • Australia
  • Changeling
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Duchess
  • Revolutionary Road

Best Art Direction:

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Changeling
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Duchess
  • Revolutionary Road

Best Makeup:

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  • The Reader

Best Sound Mixing:

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • WALL-E

Best Sound Editing:

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
  • Quantum of Solace
  • WALL-E

Best Visual Effects:

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
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