Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oscar Predictions from MC RoboChrist

Tomorrow's the big night and I just got MC RoboChrist's picks, so here they are.

Before I get to the predictions for some of the least dramatic races in years, quick reviews on two movies I saw this past week...

Revolutionary Road *** - Solid film, horribly depressing. Kate Winslet, while very good in The Reader, is actually better in this film. Odd that she got the nom for The Reader - and that could cost her. Leo is good - he's really one of the few great pretty boy actors. And they both get to ham it up suburban angst-style, a la Liz Taylor and Richard Burton in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. There are bits of this movie that are fascinating. Winslet's character - a June Cleaver mom miserable in suburban New York - descends slowly into quiet madness, scene by scene. It's really a great performance. Just as unsettling are her arguments with hubby Leo, which are frighteningly reflective of REAL marital dust-ups. And Michael Shannon is great as the institutionalized son of Leo and Kate's neighbors. He pops up in two scenes visiting Leo and Kate while on a day pass from the nut house. He instantly pegs just how miserable they are in the burbs - and being nuts, he isn't afraid to say it in brutal fashion. Best parts of the movie, actually, and an interesting ploy by the writer - personifying the crux of their unspoken anger so it can in fact be spoken. We also get to see the nice boobs on Leo's mistress - played by Elia Kazan's granddaughter! I'm sure he's proud. In the end, though, the fact that the suburbs weren't all Happy Days and Father Knows Best just isn't all that original. Cutting half an hour might have helped.

Man on Wire ** - I usually dig documentaries. But I kept waiting for this one to say more, and it never delivered. It's the story of Phillipe Petit, a tightrope walker who got his 15 minutes back in the mid-70s by setting up a wire between the WTC towers (with many accomplices) and doing a 45-minute circus act 101 stories high. That in itself is cool - and probably warrants a 30-minute piece on History Channel. But the filmmakers instead make Petit out as some sort of counter-revolutionary hero ... and it just bothered the fuck out of me. I'm not a law-and-order guy by any means, but I just did not like the guy. He was - and is - the kind of egotistical dick who manages to surround himself with people so enthralled by his charm that they'll do anything to make him happy, including putting their lives on hold for months to pull off an admittedly cool stunt (and get no thanks at all - he in fact broke up immediately with his girlfriend and stopped speaking to his best friend). The other problem - besides the movie's horrid pacing (again, there were really 30 minutes of good material here) - is that there is no mention of 9/11. Would seem to me that if you're going to do a movie about the guy that pulled this stunt, you need at least five minutes of what he and his team were thinking watching the towers fall - even if it's kind the self-indulgent bullshit I expect. "I was sad to see my greatest canvas go away forever" ... or something like that. Who knows - maybe the fact that I hated the guy by the end of the film was the point. But I was left bored and angry.

Okay, now for the picks. Again, I don't see much drama here, other than the Best Actor category. There will be a surprise somewhere - there always is - but this could be the year where the surprise is that there are NO surprises. On top of all this, Hugh Jackman is hosting. That ought to be a drag. Count on 2-3 useless musical numbers and a few jokes about how bad Australia was. Jon Stewart, he's not. Heck, I'd be happy with Whoopi or Billy Crystal. Oh well.

Best Picture: There is virtually no drama here, despite some recent momentum PR-wise for Milk. Hollywood wants to thank Bollywood for reminding us all we can be happy. And in a year of no great films - and in which the best film, Gran Torino, was overlooked - it's as much a lock as a movie has been since Lord of the Rings.
Who Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire
Who Should Win: Gran Torino
Who Should Win Among the Nominees: Frost/Nixon

Best Director: No drama here, either. And I can deal with Danny Boyle winning. I just think he's going to win for what is, at best, his third best film. Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary were great movies. Slumdog tries to be great and fails, largely because it's trying. Plus, I get the sense this film is good despite the direction. The story and editing really make it stand up.
Who Will Win: Danny Boyle, Slumdog
Who Should Win: Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
Who Should Win Among the Nominees: Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon

Best Actor: There are two horse races in the major categories, and this is the tightest by far. Early on, everyone figured Mickey Rourke was a lock for The Wrestler. And he is very good. But the successful PR for Milk has been shifting the race toward Sean Penn for some time. In the end, I'm going with the notion that the Academy queens will not be able to stop themselves from writing the story - and reward Rourke's "career-redeeming performance" - rather that vote for the hammier, politically charged role (Penn) by an actor who has won before, and who would undoubtedly provide "the industry" with a satisfying FUCK YOU coda to the Bush presidency in his acceptance rant. In either case, I hope they both lose. I thought Richard Jenkins was great in The Visitor - he just didn't play the kind of ham role that wins Best Actor Oscars. Plus,he was great as the dad in Six Feet Under.
Who Will Win: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Who Should Win: Richard Jenkins, The Visitor

Best Actress: Slight horse race here between Kate Winslet (The Reader) and Meryl Streep (Doubt). Streep could genuinely win an Oscar every time she acts. She's that good. (This is her record 15th nom.) And if she won, it probably wouldn't be a tremendous surprise, particularly since the Academy seems to have set Winslet up for another disappointment by a) shifting her role in The Reader to the leading category even though every other awards jag put it in the supporting category and b) nominating her for the lesser of two great performances. In the end, Streep has been suffering from "she's won before" syndrome for almost 30 years. And Winslet had a great year. Still, much as I lust for Ms. Winslet, I think the one who's really getting screwed is Melissa Leo, for her performance as the trailer park mom turned border smuggler in Frozen River.
Who Will Win: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Who Should Win: Melissa Leo, Frozen River

Best Supporting Actor: This is such a lock I'm not going to spend more than a couple lines on it. Heath Ledger was FANTASTIC in Dark Knight. He took on a role that a three-time Oscar winner mailed in 20 years ago and delivered a classic. Add in the maudlin sentimentality of his death and it's impossible for the Academy not to vote for him. Again, they LOVE to write the story. (They never release the final vote, but if they did, I'd bet this will be the most lopsided of the major categories.)
Who Will Win: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Who Should Win: Ledger

Best Supporting Actress: This is a mess since Winslet wasn't nominated here. I wouldn't be surprised by any of the nominees winning, but the prevailing wisdom (or lack thereof) is that Penelope Cruz is going to essentially get a Lifetime Achievement Award for playing the lunatic ex in Vicky Christina Barcelona. (Plus, remember that Hollywood's fave pedophile isn't Roman Polanski - it's Woody.) I'm cool with that. She's a good actress and has tremendous cans, to boot.
Who Will Win: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Who Should Win: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Who Should Win Among the Nominees: Cruz (there are just no stand-out performances here)

Best Original Screenplay: I really loved the writing for In Bruges (Martin McDonagh). His script is certainly the all-time leader for the most gratuitous uses of the word 'cunt' in a movie - award-worthy on its own. Interestingly, McDonagh won an Oscar for best short film three years ago. If voters remember that, he has no chance. As it is, with the PR for Milk really striking a chord, this is where the voters will DEFINITELY reward the film. Also, it's the only Best Pic nominee in this category.
Who Will Win: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Who Should Win: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges

Best Adapted Screenplay: The best thing about Slumdog was the writing, whether you loved the movie, as most people did, or just kinda liked it - like me.
Who Will Win: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog
Who Should Win: Beaufoy

Enjoy the boring show, all you pricks.


Anonymously Snide said...

Your movie reviewer is a 'orrible cunt.

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