So the Academy Award nominees were announced this week and it’s easily one of the more predictable years in memory. There’s actually not too much to actually complain about, mind you, it’s just that there were no real stunners. I’m a bit surpised at the complete shutout of Gran Torino; since Eastwood hinted that it would be his last time in front of the camera I was sure the Academy would have thrown him the acting Oscar he’s never won. He wasn’t even nominated for Best Song, which was just as big a head-scratcher. Best Song is one of the odd categories where there isn’t a mandatory number of nominees, and this year there’s a grand total of three, two from Slumdog Millionaire and the Peter Gabriel number from Wall-E, any of which would be worthy winners, but “Gran Torino” definitely should have made the cut. The Eastwood flick was one of the better surprises of the year, especially coming from a director who’s spent more than a decade cranking out ponderous solemnities based on the kinds of novels that businessmen buy at airports (I mean, really, Bridges of Madison County was the last masterpiece he directed) and one could say that it was just a year of oddly dense quality that shuffled some worthy entries off the edge of the bench, but that doesn’t explain the Best Picture nod for The Reader. Nor does it explain the passing over of Rosemary DeWitt, Bill Irwin and Debra Winger for Rachel Getting Married; of Colin Farrell for In Bruges; or in the most egregious oversight of all, of Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky, mere weeks after she won the Golden Globe.
Anyway, I could rant, but instead of descending into my annual pissing and moaning I’ll instead refer you to the best online discussion I’ve come across so far, between Troy Patterson and Dana Stevens on Slate. Stevens is rapidly becoming my favorite film critic since David Edelstein decamped for New York Magazine and his postings became oddly sporadic and truncated, and this year’s Movie Club was terrific as well under her leadership.
So my predictions for the main categories:
Should win: Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Will win: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Should win: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Will win: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Supporting Actor
Should win: Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Will win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress
Should win: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Will win: Viola Davis, Doubt
Should win: Danny Boyle
Will win: Danny Boyle
Should win: Slumdog Millionaire
Will win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
We’ll find out in four weeks.