Dale’s 2009 Oscar Roundup

oscar statue Reference: Roger Ebert’s 09 Oscar Page | Official Oscars Website | IMDb Oscar 09 Page | Wikipedia 81st Academy Awards Page

Here are my thoughts/picks for the major categories of the 81st annual Annual Academy Awards show- to be held on February 22, 2009. Links in this post are to my reviews of each on The Daleisphere. The rating I gave each to each appears in (parenthesis). Movies where I indicate [RCS ] indicate a ‘review coming soon’

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has 13 nominations, Slumdog Millionaire has 10, The Dark Knight and Milk each have 8 nominations, Wall-E has 6 and each of Doubt, Frost/Nixon and The Reader have 5.

Best Picture

Slumdog Millionaire should win Best Picture and I predict it will win. It was the best picture of 2008.

I rated each of the following movies 5 out of 5 in my reviews. In my opinion, each were better overall movies than those nominated other than Slumdog Millionaire:

Still, I would give the Best Picture Oscar to Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Director

Best Director is a much tougher choice. All of the nominated films were beautifully directed. Gus Van Sant’s Milk was unique, given how it intertwined real-world footage from the 70s/80s within the movie footage. Ron Howard’s directing, as usual, was very good in Frost/Nixon. Co-directors, Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan beautifully filmed the enormous contrasts between Indian slums and modernizing India in a disturbingly compelling way – like nothing I’ve ever seen before. David Fincher covered new ground by convincingly portraying an old man in a young boy’s body. Between those nominated, I’d pick Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan for Slumdog Millionaire by a hair.

But among all the movies made in 2008, I would give the Best Directing award to Christopher Nolan for the The Dark Knight. It was a stunning directorial achievement that should have been nominated and should have won.

Best Actor

Aside from Jenkin’s one-note performance, this is a tough choice. Sean Penn has terrific – his performance was the best. But he has won before – thereby lowering his chances. Brad Pitt was as good as he gets but did not measure up to the others. Rourke played Rourke terrifically well. Frank Langella was gripping as Nixon. I believe Rourke will win given his successes at the Golden Globes and the buzz around his come-back performance. But any of  Rourke, Penn or Langella are deserving. Each were fantastic in their own ways.

  • Best Actress

    Angelina has previously won a Best Supporting Actress Award for Girl, Interrupted (1999) which lowers her chance of winning. As you can read, I had a hard time getting past the preposterous plot of Changeling to properly consider her performance. Both Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep are in my list of top 5 actresses of all time (Jodie Foster, Kathryn Hepburn being two others). While Meryl Streep was wonderful in Doubt , Kate Winslet has never won despite 5 prior nominations. Her performance was fantastic in the The Reader. I hope she wins and, as is common at the Academy Awards, I believe she’ll win because ‘she is due’.

    Best Supporting Actor

    Heath Ledger should win and will win! This one is a lock! I haven’t yet seen Revolutionary Road. Josh Brolin was good in Milk but not good enough for an Oscar nomination. Philip Seymour Hoffman was his usual brilliant self with another terrific performance. In any other year Robert Downey Jr. would/should have won in this category. His performance in Tropic Thunder was magnificent. This year, however, Heath’s performance was the best and he deserves to win.

    Best Supporting Actress

    This is a tough one. Neither of Marisa Tomei nor Taraji P. Henson’s performance seemed Oscar worthy. Viola Davis’ performance was outstanding but she was on screen for only 10 minutes or so. Amy Adams is type cast as a pure-as-the driven-snow, bubbly, naive girl – which she plays, yet again, in this movie. Nonetheless my fingers will be crossed for Amy Adams  based on her terrific earlier work (the Academy works this way sometimes) in Enchanted (2007) and June Bug (2005) though, of the four I’ve seen, Viola Davis’ performance, short as it was, was probably the best and most deserving of a win.

    Best Animated Feature

    I believe Kung Fu Panda was not only the best animated feature, but one of the best pictures of the year. Unfortunately the prevailing wisdom seems to be that Wall-E was the best and I predict it will win. Bolt was a fun, family story – quite similar in style to The Incredibles (2004).

    Best Visual Effects

    All three of these deserve their nominations and all three deserve to win. I’m giving a slight edge to The Dark Knight because I believe it deserves the win here and because it was pretty much slighted in other categories where it deserved a nomination.

    ALL 2008 Movies Reviewed on the Daleisphere


      1. // Reply

        Great reviews cous. I have not yet seen some of the flicks yet myself, so will be busy this week. I agree with your best 2008 pictures. I wanted Dark Knight to get the nomination for best picture. It was my favourite movie of 2008. I really liked slumdog and am hoping it wins Best Picture, but Dark Knight had everything in that movie (even withoug the Ledger hype).

        Heath is hands down, and I' m voting for Amy Adams in Doubt as well. Meryl Streep was excellent though (haven't seen the reader yet).

        My real disappointment for this year, is the Song Category….why isn't Springstein nominated for the Wrestler?

        I'm sure we will chat before the Oscars. Looking forward to your last reviews.

      2. // Reply

        Indeed Springsteen's not being nominated was quite odd – especially given he won in that category at the Golden Globes. I will be going to Doubt later today if all works well. I hope to have a review of it up tomorrow.

      3. // Reply

        Great writeup Dale,
        I have a serious amount a movie catching-up to do between now and the Oscars. So if someone hadn't seen any of these movies (except for Dark Knight) what would you recommend first? Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, the Reader or Gran Torino?

        Love the movie reviews by the way.

      4. // Reply

        Hey Brent,

        In the past when I was rushing to catch up to 'participate' on Oscar night I'd look to see which movies had the most nominations and watch those. In this years Osars they are:

        – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with 13 nominations,
        – Slumdog Millionaire with 10,
        – The Dark Knight and Milk with 8 nominations,
        – Wall-E with 6 and
        – each of Doubt, Frost/Nixon and The Reader with 5

        Another approach is to just watch all the Best Picture Nominees.

        Otherwise, the movies that I gave 5 out of 5 to are the one's I liked the best and recommend the most to people with similar tastes. But, what's 5 out of 5 for me might be something others hate. As you can see I always include a link to Roger Ebert's review in every review I give because of all the reviewers over all the years, his tastes line up with my tastes the most. Though I sometimes disagree with him. I agree way more often than disagree.

        No matter what, you've got to see Slumdog Millionaire! I'd be enormously surprised if it doesn't win. I don't know anyone who has seen it that didn't like it a lot.

        Also, I have since seen Doubt – I'll be adding a review of it later today (and linking to it here). It was WAY better than I had expected. I'm thinking it will get a 4 out of 5, maybe a 4.5. I still have to think on it. Once again Meryl Streep shows why she is the Queen of actresses. But all four of the major actors were wonderful and the writing/script was top notch.


      5. // Reply

        I'm interested in seeing your Doubt review. I liked Kate Winslet in The Reader, but once again Meryl Streep was superb. I really liked Philip Seymour and if it wasn't for Heath Ledger, he would be my obvious choice.

        I saw The Reader last night and was surprised the young Mike was not nominated as a supporting actor. He was much better than Josh Brolin and Robert Downey Jr. As well Ralph Fiennes was Fantastic. They were extremely powerful in this movie. I think Kate Winslet deserved a best supporting actress but not Actress nomination. The movie was about Mike not her (in my opinion)….

      6. // Reply

        My Doubt review has been posted since the roundup was completed, as has my reviews of Tropic Thunder and The Visitor (all linked into the post above). If I get the time, reviews for 'The Changeling' and Bolt are coming tomorrow or the next day. Check back when you can – the reviews will be linked to the main post when done.

        I did enjoy David Kross a lot as I mentioned in 'The Reader' review. However I thought Downy Jr. was spectacular and better than Kross. Fiennes was his usual terrific self in both The Reader and In Bruges.

        You make a good point about Winslet … though I wouldn't say she was supporting. Both here and Kross were co-leads, though Kross probably had more screen time – not sure, Fiennes played him in the older years – Winslet played her part in all years.

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