Today on Blogcritics
Home » My Reactions to the 2009 Oscar Nominations

My Reactions to the 2009 Oscar Nominations

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

So the Academy Award nominations are finally out and there were some surprises and even greater disappointments. Here are the comparisons between my predictions and the actual nominations as well as my personal reactions to the latter by category. For the five that I did not predict: Foreign Language Film, Feature Documentary, Documentary Short, Live Action Short Film and Animated Short Film, I have just listed the actual nominees.

BEST PICTURE

Predicted: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; Frost/Nixon; Milk; Slumdog Millionaire.

Actual: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Frost/Nixon; Milk; Slumdog Millionaire; The Reader.

I did not predict the Academy to get past their bias against animated films to nominate the best film of the year, Pixar’s WALL·E, but I thought they would at least honor a distinguished summer blockbuster for the first time with The Dark Knight. I was wrong and very disappointed. When is the Academy going to wake up and get over their recurrent condescension towards great summer entertainment? Do they think that movies like Spider-Man 2, Batman Begins, and now The Dark Knight are not worthy because they create pyrotechnic fury on top of a strong beating heart and manage to become accessible to mass audiences? Well, I think the low ceremony viewership within the last few years might go even lower because of this unfair snub.

Passing over that one, the Academy caved into their inclination towards Holocaust-themed movies and gave a nod The Reader. The nod may also partly be a sentimental vote for the movie’s late producers, Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella (interestingly, as of now, they are still determining the actual people to nominate). Milk and Frost/Nixon, of course, got in as the political issue films, as did the Oscar-friendly The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and the likely frontrunner, Slumdog Millionaire. Seriously though, considering how stellar Pixar movies have been getting lately, I think the Academy should think about explicitly changing this Best Picture to Best Live Action Picture if they are going to continue ignoring animated films for general competition.

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted: 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.

Actual: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire; Stephen Daldry, The Reader; David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon; and Gus Van Sant, Milk.

The nominated movies are the same as Best Picture here and so my complaints from Best Picture spill over here more or less. Or maybe they are actually a little stronger because Christopher Nolan has had such a consistent track record of efficiently directing good to great small to big films and he really should have gotten recognition for pouring his visionary artistic and commercial sensibilities into The Dark Knight. That is more than you can say for David Fincher who, even though I predicted it, should not have been nominated over Nolan for a technically superb but emotionally hollow film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And I guess the Academy really loves nominating Stephen Daldry because he is 3/3 including his past films from Billy Elliot and The Hours. Well, at least it is nice that directors of usually “smaller” gems like Danny Boyle and Gus Van Sant are up there. It would have been really something if, besides Nolan, the Academy showed some reach to nominate Darren Aronofsky for The Wrestler.

BEST ACTOR

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

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

No surprises here, even if I wished Leonardo DiCaprio should have been nominated over Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Sean Penn is deservedly up here, too, again for giving a performance unlike any other he has given, which the Academy always loves. But it is really the work of Richard Jenkins, Frank Langella and, of course, Mickey Rourke that turns this into the underdog category that I will be paying closest attention to.

BEST ACTRESS

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

Actual: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married; Angelina Jolie, Changeling; Melissa Leo, Frozen River; Meryl Streep, Doubt; Kate Winslet, The Reader.

Despite that I still do not like the fact that Anne Hathaway was nominated over Sally Hawkins or Kristin Scott-Thomas (even though I saw it coming as the Academy always tries to boost at least one young actress’s career with a nomination), this is a category for which I am happier with the actual lineup as opposed to my predicted one. Kate Winslet indeed gave a leading performance in The Reader and at least the Academy did not make the same silly mistake that the Golden Globes and SAG did. Since the performance she gave in The Reader was more memorable than the one she gave in Revolutionary Road, I think it has become a more worthwhile race. I am also happy to see Melissa Leo get her nod for her wrenching work in Frozen River while Meryl Streep surpassed her own record with a 15th nod for Doubt. It also looks like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will finally be able to walk down the red carpet together as fellow nominees this year.

One humorous footnote: There was an episode in the TV series Extras (starring Ricky Gervais) in which Winslet played herself and was starring in a Holocaust movie within the show because she felt that it was the only way she could finally get the Oscar she badly wants. I wonder if she will make a reference to that in her speech if she wins.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted: Josh Brolin, Milk; Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight; Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire.

Actual: Josh Brolin, Milk; Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight; Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road.

Somehow I feel I should have seen this coming. The supporting categories tend to throw in their curveball by choosing a small, scene-stealing performance and there was no one who fit the bill more than Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road. Well, they had to give that movie at least one acting nomination, right? Anyway, it is nice to see Robert Downey, Jr. back and see Josh Brolin finally get his due. Philip Seymour Hoffman is becoming a regular at the Oscars but, of course, this category is the late, great Heath Ledger’s to lose.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted: Amy Adams, Doubt; Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Viola Davis, Doubt; Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler; Kate Winslet, The Reader.

Actual: Amy Adams, Doubt; Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona; Viola Davis, Doubt; Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler.

It looks like Kate Winslet’s appropriate vacating left it open for Taraji P. Henson to sneak in for her surrogate motherly role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It also might leave Penelope Cruz as the front-runner, although I really would like to see the attention shift to some of the other performers who play greater emotional notes. As expected, there are two nominations from Doubt for two performances from Amy Adams and Viola Davis that could not be more different. Marisa Tomei’s role was also crucial to the power and meaning of The Wrestler so it is nice to see the Academy saw that.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

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

Actual: Courtney Hunt, Frozen River; Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky; Martin McDonagh, In Bruges; Dustin Lance Black, Milk; Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter and Jim Reardon, WALL-E.

This is the category that was most wide open and I did not do so well. I am a little bummed that the strength of Mickey Rourke’s or Richard Jenkins’ performances has strayed the attention away from how great the screenplays for The Wrestler and The Visitor were to respectively give them such memorable roles. But at least the Academy chose to nominate far worthier nominees than Woody Allen such as first-time writers, Courtney Hunt for Frozen River and Martin McDonagh for In Bruges. Of course, WALL-E­ had to get a nomination here and a screenplay honor almost always goes hand in hand with the Best Picture nod for Milk.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted: 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.

Actual: 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.

No left-field nominations here, although I almost guessed that The Dark Knight might sneak in here, too, but then decided at the last minute they would go for the period novel adaptation. Four of the five nominees are also Best Picture nominees so no surprises that they received screenplay nominations, too (although, of course, almost no one expected The Reader to turn up so big). I would have been happy and relieved to be wrong in my prediction of Eric Roth and Robin Swicord getting recognized for their screenplay, which was the core problem with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Predicted: Kung Fu Panda; Waltz with Bashir; WALL-E.

Actual: Bolt; Kung Fu Panda; WALL-E.

This year was a particularly good year for animation, although this category would have been even stronger with the inclusion of Waltz with Bashir, which is really a very close second to WALL-E. I should have suspected that they would think the Best Foreign Language category would suffice. In any case, this one has a triple-lock padded door for WALL-E to enter the winner circle and no one else, I would say.

BEST FILM EDITING

Predicted: 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.

Actual: 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.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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

Actual: Tom Stern, Changeling; Claudio Miranda, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight; Chris Menges and Roger Deakins, The Reader; Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

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

Actual: Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Danny Elfman, Milk; Thomas Newman, WALL-E; A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire; James Newton Howard, Defiance.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

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

Actual: A.R. Rahman and Gulzar – “Jai Ho,” Slumdog Millionaire; A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam – “O Saya,” Slumdog Millionaire; Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman – “Down to Earth,” WALL-E.

The Academy only chose three nominees this year and two of them went to Slumdog Millionaire. The third went deservedly to WALL-E for the song, “Down to Earth” but I wonder why they decided to shut out Bruce Springsteen’s title song, “The Wrestler” and Clint Eastwood et al’s “Gran Torino” though, as both songs were rather crucial to the final effect of the respective movies. Well, maybe they only chose three this time around so as to lower the chance of Miley Cyrus would sneak in.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Predicted: Australia; Changeling; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Duchess; Revolutionary Road.

Actual: Australia; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Duchess; Milk; Revolutionary Road.

BEST ART DIRECTION

Predicted: Changeling; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; The Duchess; Revolutionary Road.

Actual: Changeling, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; The Duchess; Revolutionary Road.

BEST MAKEUP

Predicted: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Hellboy II: The Golden Army; The Reader.

Actual: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

BEST SOUND MIXING

Predicted: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; Iron Man; Slumdog Millionaire; WALL-E.

Actual: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; Slumdog Millionaire; WALL-E; Wanted.

BEST SOUND EDITING

Predicted: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; Iron Man; Quantum of Solace; WALL-E.

Actual: The Dark Knight; Iron Man; Slumdog Millionaire; WALL-E; Wanted.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Predicted: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; Iron Man.

Actual: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; The Dark Knight; Iron Man.

NOMINEES IN CATEGORIES I DIDN'T PREDICT

Best Foreign Language Film: The Baader-Meinhof Complex; The Class; Departures; Revanche; Waltz with Bashir.

Best Documentary, Features: The Betrayal – Nerakhoon; Encounters at the End of the World; The Garden; Man on Wire; Trouble the Water.

Best Documentary, Short Subjects: The Conscience of Nhem En; The Final Inch; Smile Pinki; The Witness from the Balcony of Room 386.

Best Short Film, Animated: La Maison en Petits Cubes; Ubornaya istoriya – lyubovnaya istoriya; Oktapodi; Presto; This Way Up.

Best Short Film, Live Action: Auf der Strecke; Manon sur le bitumen; New Boy; Grisen; Spielzeugland.

 

All in all, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button got the most number of nominations at 13 followed by Slumdog Millionaire with ten. The Dark Knight took eight just with the technical nods and Heath Ledger’s for Supporting Actor, which could have meant that the Academy did not want to have two mainstream movies vying toe-to-toe for the major AND technical categories so they picked the one friendlier to them. Milk is up for seven nominations, WALL-E received six, and Frost/Nixon and The Reader each received five.

Powered by

About John Lee

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Good, thorough write-up.

    I don’t see why Slumdog is a likely front runner. It was made outside of Hollywood. If you take into consideration the voting body and some of the aspects you mention, The Reader has much more going for it, and I would put CCoBB ahead as well. The Oscars are not much different from high school and the voters are going to pick friends over strangers. Milk was good but certainly not Top Five of the year.

    “at least the Academy did not make the same silly mistake that the Golden Globes and SAG did.”

    The organizations do not decide what category an actor gets nominated in. That’s determined by the producers who submit them.

    “I wonder if she will make a reference to that in her speech if she wins.”

    Considering Gervais already did this at the Golden Globes, I doubt it.

    “this category would have been even stronger with the inclusion of Waltz with Bashir”

    It’s not that it sufficed, but then it couldn’t have competed in the Best Foreign Language category. It’s a silly rule, but it is what it is.

    I would be curious about why the Song was limited to three. People would tune in for Miley and Bruce.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    According to AP, “An academy spokeswoman says songs need to earn a score of at least 8 and a-quarter out of ten to be nominated and the songs by Cyrus and Springsteen scored less than that.”

    Ouch.

  • http://whalertly.blogspot.com Robert M. Barga

    your entire post is simply a fanboy of dark night
    it was a good movie, and Heath was a good actor. The only thing it was worthy of is best supporting actor (heath) but he is dead, so he doesn’t really deserve it

  • http://www.moviejohn.com John

    Hmm, I would be careful with the wording of “but he is dead, so he doesn’t really deserve it.” Could be open to misconstruing.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “he is dead, so he doesn’t really deserve it”

    All else can you take it other than uninformed? Did Peter Finch not deserve his Oscar? Should they disqualify The Reader sine two of the producers have died? How exactly does someone ‘deserve’ an Oscar?