Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tis the Season: The 81st Academy Awards


I said yesterday that if the Oscar people knew what was good for them, they would nominate THE DARK KNIGHT for Best Picture, Director and Screenplay. Having the biggest box office hit of the year nominated so prominently would give the Academy a ratings boost that they desperately need. Instead, and despite THE DARK KNIGHT earning nominations from the Producer's Guild, Director's Guild and Writer's Guild, they ignored it completely in all the major categories, except of course when it came to Heath Ledger in the Supporting Actor category. Instead the nominations went a little something like this ... THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON leads with 13 nominations. That is one less than I predicted yesterday. Oh, and I should mention here that my predictions in the major categories were 80% accurate. Not too shabby, I think. Anyway, moving on ... while SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is the favorite to win the top prize, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON is certainly the bigger picture and capable of scoring nods in many more of the technical categories. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE finished with 10 nominations, including two in the Best Original Song category. MILK and THE DARK KNIGHT are next with eight nods each and rounding out the Top 5 nomination leaders is that lovable little robot, WALL-E, with six nominations. I should point out that WALL-E did better overall than other Best Picture nominees, FROST/NIXON and THE READER.

SURPRISES ... While I fully expected Viola Davis to grab a nomination for her minimal performance in DOUBT, I did not expect for Amy Adams to join her in the same category for the same film. Including Adams meant excluding Kate Winslet for THE READER, a role which she just won the Golden Globe for. The Academy does not allow actors to earn multiple nominations in the same category in the same year so Winslet's role in THE READER was promoted throughout the campaign season as a supporting role. The push was apparently unconvincing as she actually went on to earn her expected Best Actress nomination for THE READER and not for REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. I think I may have cried a little when that was announced. Joining Winslet in the Best Actress category unexpectedly was Melissa Leo in FROZEN RIVER. The film earned some very early awards season support and it has paid off as FROZEN RIVER managed a Best Original Screenplay nomination as well. That particular category had a few unexpected entries. HAPPY-GO-LUCKY was a long shot in this category but made it anyway. This was its only nomination, which means Sally Hawkins' Golden Globe winning performance in the film was passed over. I believe though that the inclusion of IN BRUGES was certainly the least expected. And while Winslet did not see love come her way for REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, Michael Shannon did. Most had expected that the critic's tepid reaction to the film made this nearly impossible. The film earned no love for its leads but he managed overcome.

SNUBS ... THE DARK KNIGHT, duh. This is a technical marvel and was rewarded for all its technical achievements but it was also one of the most engaging blockbusters in recent history and a genre defining epic. The Academy should have noticed what everyone else did. With three surprises in the Original Screenplay category, this meant that exceptional works like RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, THE VISITOR and VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA went overlooked. Oh, and Bruce Springsteen for THE WRESTLER! What gives with that? Springsteen won the Golden Globe for this beautiful song and the Academy decided to only nominate three songs in a year they could have easily nominated this one and that Miley Cyrus/John Travolta track from BOLT as well. I demand an explanation. I doubt I will get one though. Aside from that, I can't think of too many omissions. I'm still pretty much stuck on Christopher Nolan.

The full list of Academy Award nominations are ...

BEST PICTURE
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
FROST/NIXON
MILK
THE READER
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

BEST DIRECTOR
David Fincher, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
Ron Howard, FROST/NIXON
Gus Van Sant, MILK
Stephen Daldry, THE READER
Danny Boyle, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BOLT
KUNG FU PANDA
WALL-E

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
THE BAADAR MEINHOF COMPLEX
ENTRE LES MURS (THE CLASS)
DEPARTURES
REVANCHE
WALTZ WITH BASHIR

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Josh Brolin, MILK
Robert Downey Jr., TROPIC THUNDER
Philip Seymour Hoffman, DOUBT
Heath Ledger, THE DARK KNIGHT
Michael Shannon, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, DOUBT
Penelope Cruz, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA
Viola Davis, DOUBT
Taraji P. Henson, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
Marisa Tomei, THE WRESTLER

BEST ACTOR
Richard Jenkins, THE VISITOR
Frank Langella, FROST/NIXON
Sean Penn, MILK
Brad Pitt, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
Mickey Rourke, THE WRESTLER

BEST ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED
Angelina Jolie, CHANGELING
Melissa Leo, FROZEN RIVER
Meryl Streep, DOUBT
Kate Winslet, THE READER

ART DIRECTION
CHANGELING
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE DARK KNIGHT
THE DUCHESS
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD

CINEMATOGRAPHY
CHANGELING
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE DARK KNIGHT
THE READER
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

COSTUME DESIGN
AUSTRALIA
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE DUCHESS
MILK
REVOLUTIONARY ROAD

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
THE BETRAYAL
ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD
THE GARDEN
MAN ON WIRE
TROUBLE THE WATER

DOCUMENTARY SHORT
THE CONSCIOUS OF NEHM EN
THE FINAL INCH
SMILE PINKI
THE WITNESS

FILM EDITING
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE DARK KNIGHT
FROST/NIXON
MILK
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

MAKEUP
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE DARK KNIGHT
HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY

MUSIC SCORE
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
DEFIANCE
MILK
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
WALL-E

MUSIC ORIGINAL SONG
Down to Earth, WALL-E
Jai Ho, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
O Sava, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

SHORT FILM ANIMATED
LA MAISON EN PETITES CUBES
LAVATORY - LOVESTORY
OKTAPODI
PRESTO
THIS WAY UP

SHORT FILM LIVE ACTION
ON THE LINE
MANON ON THE ASPHALT
NEW BOY
THE PIG
TOYLAND

SOUND EDITING
THE DARK KNIGHT
IRON MAN
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
WALL-E
WANTED

SOUND MIXING
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE DARK KNIGHT
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
WALL-E
WANTED

VISUAL EFFECTS
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
THE DARK KNIGHT
IRON MAN

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
FROZEN RIVER
HAPPY-GO-LUCKY
IN BRUGES
MILK
WALL-E

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
DOUBT
FROST/NIXON
THE READER
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

For more information on how the Academy Award nominations are decided, check out this article from Variety.com. The 81st Annual Academy Awards will be announced February 22 and Black Sheep Reviews will be bringing you in depth looks at the nominees between now and then.

3 comments:

Little Oregon Bug said...

I was so mad at the Academy for snubbing The Dark Knight. I'm glad Heath Ledger was nominated, but it was worth so much more than one nomination.

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Black Sheep said...

To be fair, TDK earned a lot more than 1 nomination. It was essentially shut out from all the major categories though, except for Heath's nod. The Producer's Guild, Director's Guild and Writer's Guild all threw their support behind TDK. I'm glad you said something because I've been getting into a lot of debate online with people who are pleased not to see it nominated and pleased to know that the supposed fanboys out there must be losing sleep over it. I am not a fanboy; I am a lover of film and I loved TDK. I enjoyed The Reader as well but including it in the Best Picture and Director categories is a waste of time. It has no chance. Including TDK would have made for a larger Oscar audience and a much more interesting race.