It’s time for the Oscars (airing Sunday, February 22 at 5PM on ABC hosted by Hugh Jackman) and for us living out here that means don’t go anywhere near the traffic congestion on Hollywood Boulevard this Sunday night. If, that is, you care. The way the Academy Award schedule works these days—with the ceremony pushed up from March to February, and most of the nomination-worthy films being pushed back to as late in December as possible—there’s only a small window of time to even see the films that are nominated. This year, none of the Best Picture nominees, and very few of any of the nominated films are out on DVD yet. (If you want to catch up, visit the AMC Ontario Mills this Saturday at 10:30AM to watch all five “Best Picture” flicks for a mere $30 . . . includes a refillable large popcorn!) But just in case you do care, here’s a rundown of who we here at the Inland Empire Weekly think will come out golden (Asterisks indicate films available on DVD):
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog, a charming fairy tale set in modern day Mumbai, is the frontrunner here, with Milk the distant second. It’d be nice to see a movie with a happy ending win, but if Milk takes home the prize check your “YES ON PROP 8” neighbors to see if they’ve had strokes.
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
Gus Van Sant, Milk
It’s a bet that Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) will take home the stature to match the Best Picture win. Care about the controversy that his Indian co-director, Loveleen Tandan, didn’t get to share the nom (the Academy doesn’t split Director nominations)? His co-director doesn’t, but you can watch and see if he thanks her properly.
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Call it revenge against Prop. 8, Sean Penn will probably win for his turn as Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official, but one can’t help but think Mickey Rourke deserves it for his amazing comeback performance in The Wrestler.
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie, Changeling *
Melissa Leo, Frozen River *
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, The Reader
This race is neck and neck between Meryl Streep (nominated for 15 Oscars, but hasn’t won since 1983’s Sophie’s Choice) and Kate Winslet (nominated for 6 Oscars, but never won). We think Winslet will make her hilarious turn in Ricky Gervais’ Extras prophetic: “Do a film about the Holocaust, guaranteed an Oscar.”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Josh Brolin, Milk
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight *
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder *
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
It seems like Heath Ledger’s had this one in the bag since the day of his tragic death, long before The Dark Knight even came out. Nice to see Robert Downey Jr. nominated though…
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, Doubt
Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona *
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Penelope Cruz is the favorite in this race for her role in Woody Allen’s ode to Spain. If Tomei wins, it would prove her win for 1993’s My Cousin Vinny was no mistake (as has often been rumored).
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Frozen River, Courtney Hunt *
Happy-Go-Lucky, Mike Leigh
In Bruges, Martin McDonagh *
Milk, Dustin Lance Black
WALL-E, Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter *
Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges was a marvelous piece of writing but seems like it came out last century, so this one will probably go to Dustin Lance Black’s Milk.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Eric Roth
Doubt, John Patrick Shanley
Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan
The Reader, David Hare
Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy
Although I haven’t read Q&A, the Vikas Swarup novel on which Slumdog was based, I’ve heard that in adapting it Beaufoy not only added the love story that gives the moves its sweetness, but also rearranged the timeline to keep us guessing til the end. Those are big changes and worked great in the film, yet Swarup approved of the final outcome, so if there’s a prize for adaptation (which there is) Beaufoy should win it.