It’s one of my favourite parts of the film year – the moment that the Academy Award nominations are revealed. They were announced just moments ago and here’s a look at the nominees in the major categories with my personal thoughts…
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Wow, a big surprise here. Everyone thought the top 5 films were locked in but we did have one upset – The Dark Knight, the second highest grossing film in U.S. history, was overlooked for a nomination. I’m not too fussed. Stealing the nomination was The Reader which I haven’t seen yet and is due for release in Australia in February. Slumdog Millionaire has this won – I’ve no doubt about that.
Achievement in directing
David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant for Milk
Stephen Daldry for The Reader
Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire
Usually, there’s one film which doesn’t match up in the best picture and best director categories. That didn’t happen this year. They went 5 for 5. So again, the upset was Stephen Daldry being nominated for The Reader over Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight. I think it’s a fantastic achievement for Daldry. He has made only 3 feature films and he’s been nominated for an Oscar every time – for Billy Elliot (my all time favourite movie), for The Hours and now for The Reader. Well done indeed.
Performance by an actor in a leading role
Richard Jenkins in The Visitor
Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn in Milk
Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
There weren’t any major surprises here. This is a two horse race – Sean Penn v. Mickey Rourke. Rourke has the edge right now and I think he can win it. The two most high profile actors to miss out were Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road). It’s nice to see Richard Jenkins and Frank Langella both earn their first nominations. They’re veterans actors who were well overdue.
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie in Changeling
Melissa Leo in Frozen River
Meryl Streep in Doubt
Kate Winslet in The Reader
I saw this coming but not a lot of other people had the guts to predict it. The Academy has deemed that Kate Winslet’s role in The Reader is NOT in the supporting category (as was the case at the Golden Globes). Given that you can only be nominated once within a single category, one of her great performances had to miss out. It turns out she’s been nominated for The Reader as opposed to Revolutionary Road. She’ll now be the frontrunner in this category given that’s she’s due (she’s now got 6 nominations without a win). Melissa Leo caused quite a boilover being nominated for the small independent film, Frozen River. She’s won a few critics awards but most people didn’t see this coming. The unlucky victim in this category was the wonderful Sally Hawkins who has missed out for her beautiful performance in Happy-Go-Lucky. That’s a real shame.
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Josh Brolin in Milk
Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Doubt
Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road
Heath Ledger has this one in the bag. The only nice surprise was seeing Michael Shannon nominated for Revolutionary Road (see my full length review this week). Robert Downey Jr. completes his comeback with his first nomination since Chaplin in 1993. He’s career has gone full circle in between. Another first for Josh Brolin who earned his first nomination ever.
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Amy Adams in Doubt
Penelope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis in Doubt
Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler
This category is now wide open with the disappearance of Kate Winslet. Penelope Cruz will be the early favourite but she’s vulnerable. Anyone could win this and I’ll be following the lead up awards closely over the next month.
Screenplay written directly for the screen
This will be an interesting category as only one of the best picture nominees this year (Milk) is an original screenplay. I’m very “happy” with the Happy-Go-Lucky nomination. I know of at least someone who will be just as happy with the In Bruges nomination.
Screenplay based on material previously produced or published
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
This is a very strong category this year. Doubt is the only film which wasn’t nominated for best picture and yet it still picked up 4 acting nominations (more than any other film). Slumdog is the favourite given that it will be crowned best picture.
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button picked up a whopping 13 nominations. Only two films (All About Eve and Titanic) have earned more. This is a little surprise but it was always going to perform well in the technical categories (make up and special effects in particular).
Australia earned just one nomination – best costume design. I was hoping that it’d perform a little better.
The winners will be announced on Monday, 23 February 2009 (Brisbane time). I’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date with the latest happenings and my Oscars gambling in the meantime.
Have a great weekend!