I wish I had more to say about the now 13-days-away event. Other than it's probably the least excited I've been about the actual ceremony in a long while (though the fact that I'll actually be in LA for them for the first time makes them the most exciting in another way). Sure, I'm curious what the show's producer Bill Condon and his supposed overhaul of the awards plays out, from Judd Apatow's short to Baz Luhrmann's choreography to how tight Condon gets Hugh Jackman to wear his clothes. A big fear in this regard is the possibility that they will end the last year's acting winners-give this year's acting winners tradition. Because this year is ripe for such such classy scenarios: Daniel Day-Lewis announcing Kate Winslet's name. Tilda Swinton being the one to say Heath Ledger. And, best of all, Javier Bardem giving an Oscar to (his girlfriend?) Penelope Cruz.
But as those last three sentences suggest, the best part of the Oscars - race-to-the-finish categories - are few and far between. Anyone who suggests that Slumdog Millionaire isn't winning picture, director, adapted screenplay and likely a good 3-5 more is begging for attention. Same goes for Heath Ledger's win for best supporting actor and Kate Winslet's for best actress. And I'd probably be more interested to see both of those events happen if I hadn't already seen them at the Golden Globes, SAGs and BAFTAs.
The two categories we are left to watch out for are best actor, and best supporting actress.
Supporting actress is definitely no done deal. But I wish it was. Penelope Cruz, who is certainly the favorite, is the only person I really want to see win this (other than maybe Marisa Tomei, if only to see her do what she would have to do: show everyone the inside of the envelope and say "See, it has my name on it!) So I really fear for a wacky, "let's honor the film with something decision" on the part of the Academy on behalf of Doubt or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Because Viola Davis and Taraji P. Hensen (and Amy Adams for that matter, but that ain't happening) do not deserve this award over Penelope.
The favourite to win actor has been flip flopping between Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn for weeks now. And its nice to have a year when there's a true two-horse race between the two most deserving lead actors of the year. I fear for Penn, though, with his horrible SAG acceptance speech, previous win, and questionable likability within voting circles (cough, Into The Wild). And Rourke has been campaigning hard for this, on every talk show and with entertaining (if a bit rowdy for the Academy's tastes) speeches at the Globes and BAFTAs. I'm saying Rourke at this point, but its definitely the one category where there is no real favourite.
So at this point, here's my predictions, subject to some last minute switches next week:
Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Best Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Animated Film: WALL-E
Best Foreign Language Film: Waltz With Bashir
Best Documentary Feature: Man on Wire
Best Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Costume Design: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Original Score: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Original Song: "Jai Ho" (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Sound Editing: WALL-E
Best Sound Mixing: The Dark Knight
Best Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Documentary Short: Smile Pinki
Best Animated Short: Presto
Best Live Action Short: Toyland