Thursday, January 22, 2009

Movies: 2008 Oscar Nominations

For my predictions, made in December, click here.

Here's the list of the finalists in the eight major categories:


  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  • Frost/Nixon

  • Milk

  • The Reader

  • Slumdog Millionaire


  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, David Fincher

  • Frost/Nixon, Ron Howard

  • Milk, Gus Van Sant

  • The Reader, Stephen Daldry

  • Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle


  • Frozen River, Courtney Hunt

  • Happy-Go-Lucky, Mike Leigh

  • In Bruges, Martin McDonagh

  • Milk, Dustin Lance Black

  • WALL-E, Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, and Pete Docter


  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Eric Roth

  • Doubt, John Patrick Shanley

  • Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan

  • The Reader, David Hare

  • Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy


  • Richard Jenkins, The Visitor

  • Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon

  • Sean Penn, Milk

  • Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  • Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler


  • Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

  • Angelina Jolie, Changeling

  • Melissa Leo, Frozen River

  • Meryl Streep, Doubt

  • Kate Winslet, The Reader


  • Josh Brolin, Milk

  • Robert Downey, Jr., Tropic Thunder

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt

  • Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

  • Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road


  • Amy Adams, Doubt

  • Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

  • Viola Davis, Doubt

  • Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

  • Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

Forty nominations, and I picked 29 1/2 right. The major shocker here was how well The Reader did, picking up nominations for Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay, which I don't think anyone anticipated. Many thought Winslet would get nominated for her performance, but she was being promoted for Supporting Actress, probably because the releasing company felt she had a better shot in the leading-actress category for Revolutionary Road, and they didn't want the performances cancelling each other out in the voting. Best-laid plans and all that, although it turned out even better than they anticipated. When in doubt, it seems the Academy always goes with the movie with the Holocaust theme.

Other surprises: The Sundance favorites Frozen River and In Bruges picking up screenplay nominations, and Michael Shannon's supporting-actor nod for Revolutionary Road. I'm also surprised to not see Clint Eastwood and Sally Hawkins in the final five in the leading-actor categories. Hawkins won every other major award, so perhaps her fellow actors felt she'd been honored enough, given the difficulty in finding a theater that was showing the film. Also, Woody Allen was denied an expected screenplay nomination. It's probably the first time that's ever happened, but, as the saying goes, there's a first time for everything

As for the other discrepancies between my predictions and the final list, well, I'm not that surprised. The Dark Knight was always the weakest candidate in the picture and screenplay categories, and I didn't think Happy-Go-Lucky was looking at a picture nod, so a directing nomination for Mike Leigh only had an outside chance at best. Beyond Michael Shannon, everybody in the acting categories that I didn't anticipate for the final five were considered possible spoilers. My big disappointment was that Rosemarie DeWitt didn't get a supporting-actress nod for Rachel Getting Married; her performance was the foundation the entire film was built around.

Yeesh. Now I'm going to have to put The Reader near the top of my to-see list. It's a story about a fellow who, as a teenager, has his first affair with Kate Winslet and grows up to be Ralph Fiennes. It just stretches credibility, you know?
(That was Anthony Lane's joke, but it's worth repeating.)

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