2009 Oscar Predictions

I don’t think that last year I did a full Oscars prediction list. Or did I? Oh, I did. Well, last year I did pretty bad. This list is actually compiled a lot quicker than I did last year. I told myself that I wouldn’t try predicting again because I felt so bad by how poorly I had predicted. At the same time, I felt that I learned a little bit about my mistakes. Plus my previous roommate requested that I do this, so I felt like I could take the challenge. Here we go:

1. Best Picture: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
2. Best Leading Actor: Sean Penn, for ‘Milk’
3. Best Leading Actress: Kate Winslet, for ‘The Reader’
4. Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, for ‘The Dark Knight’
5. Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, for ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’
6. Best Director: Danny Boyle, for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
7. Best Original Screenplay: ‘Milk’
8. Best Adapted Screenplay: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
9. Best Cinematography: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
10. Best Editing: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
11. Best Art Direction: ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
12. Best Costume Design: ‘The Duchess’
13. Best Makeup: ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
14. Best Original Score (Music): ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
15. Best Original Song: “Jai Ho” from ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
16. Best Sound Mixing: ‘Wall-E’
17. Best Sound Editing: ‘Wall-E’
18. Best Visual Effects: ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
19. Best Animated Film: ‘Wall-E’
20. Best Foreign Language Film: ‘Waltz with Bashir’
21. Best Documentary : ‘Man on Wire’
22. Best Short Documentary: ‘The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306′
23. Best Short Animated Film: ‘Presto’
24. Best Short (Live Action) Film: ‘Toyland’

Like last year, I want to discuss a few of my choices. Each number below corresponds to the category number above.

2: I’m thinking that despite how close everyone thinks this race will be, it makes sense for Sean Penn to win. He won for Mystic River, but his performance in Milk (a movie I haven’t seen yet) seems to be one in which he could win. The subject matter and my experience seeing Sean Penn movies leads me to believe he’ll walk home with this one. This is the fifth time he’ll be nominated with Best Actor in a Leading Role, and I don’t see why he can’t win again this year. Unless of course Rourke wins.

3 and 5: Ah, yes-the Best Actress categories again. Every year, these two categories seems to be very tough to predict. Like many of my other predictions, I am going with the two favorites, that being Kate Winslet for Leading Actress and Penelope Cruz for Supporting Actress. It would seem that Anne Hathaway would win based on a couple other awards she won for her acting in ‘Rachel Getting Married’, but at the same time, Kate Winslet is the strong favorite. What is troubling is that when I say that it would seem likely for her to win because she’s been nominated 5 times prior without winning, one would think that the 4th or 5th time she was nominated, one would say the same thing. So, she may pull what Scorsese did and go another year without winning, but I’ll still bet that she will win.

6: I thought that Christopher Nolan’s directing was superb in ‘The Dark Knight’, but apparently not good enough for an Oscar nomination this year. Even if he was nominated, I still think Danny Boyle has this one for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, which is also a superbly directed film. I think this win comes from having done ’28 Days Later’, a surprisingly popular zombie/horror movie that I personally didn’t care for, but nonetheless has great directing.

7: Best Original Screenplay seems like a tough one to predict simply because I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them won. ‘In Bruges’ seems the most likely to pull a win over my prediction, ‘Milk’. However, usually a film that wins Original Screenplay was also nominated for Best Picture. There have been exceptions like the unlikely, ‘Talk to Her’ several years back or even ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. But being able to pull off a movie that is nominated for Best Picture on a subject that apparently was kind of forgotten for a while makes this the frontrunner.

9: Cinematography can also be a tough one to predict, too. Having now seen ‘The Dark Knight’ three times, I must say, I have grown fond of the way it was filmed. However, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ seems to be the popular choice here. I haven’t seen ‘The Reader’, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wins, having seen footage from the trailer.

10: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ has some really sharp editing. I just loved the way it cut from the real-life stories back to the game show. It was also well paced in general. I think editing partially ties into directing, to some extent. The scene near the beginning (and for a trivia plug, features the nominated song “O Saya”, which I love) alone demonstrates the sharp editing this film has.

14: I think for the same reason that ‘Babel’ won two years ago for Best Original Score, so will ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Neither film uses sweeping orchestras or the like, and both films rely a lot on source material. However, both films included enough original material to be nominated. I really admire James Newton Howard’s work, and he seems to get nominated quite a bit (even just last year with ‘Michael Clayton’, believe it or not). I follow a website called FilmTracks.com, and they liked the score for ‘Defiance’. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the steam for ‘Slumdog’ will probably get this one a win.

I suppose one more thing I would add is that I personally liked Babel’s score and thought it was actually memorable enough to garner the win, despite FilmTrack’s disagreement that the score was near atrocious. The other nominees seem somewhat possible, so let’s take a quick look. Some of Pixar’s past work has been nominated, but I again don’t think the music in ‘Wall-E’ will be good enough. I don’t know what Desplat’s score for ‘Button’ sounds like and I don’t think Milk’s music would be memorable enough in a film that doesn’t really need to draw attention to the music. So we’ll see.

15: Here’s another year where the only category in which I’ve seen all the nominated films involved is the Best Original Song. Last year, I had a strong love for “That’s How You Know” from the movie ‘Enchanted’. I think my love for that song clouded my idea that “Falling Slowly” would win, which it did. It seems obvious in hindsight, of course. This year, despite my love for “O Saya”, I think “Jai Ho” will win. It’s going to be far more memorable of a song that “O Saya” simply because of where it was in the film. And “Down to Earth” is okay, but nothing too special.

16 and 17: Here’s another category that I was upset and ashamed at not correctly predicting. This year I think is going to be very interesting. As I had said last year, it has been 40 years that if a movie wins Best Sound Mixing and was nominated for Best Sound Editing, then the movie wins both. Last year, what I didn’t mention in my little blurb was that I really thought that ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ was going to win Sound Editing. But because of this little formula, and my idea that ‘Transformers’ would win Sound Mixing, I put my money on ‘Transformers’. I regret that, being that sound editing is my specialty. I had even correctly predicted ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ two years back, which I think was one that wasn’t completely expected.

So here’s the issue-and it’s the same as last year-I think ‘Wall-E’ will win Best Sound Editing, but I think ‘The Dark Knight’ will win Best Sound Mixing. If ‘The Dark Knight’ wins Mixing, then it should win Editing. But I’m going to go out on a big limb this year and predict that ‘Wall-E’ wins both. I feel very strongly that I am wrong, and perhaps this year the mold will be broken and ‘The Dark Knight’ wins only Mixing while ‘Wall-E’ pulls a win for Editing like it deserves. But I’ll try the mold once more, which forces me to predict ‘Wall-E’ for Mixing as well. And then there’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ as a dark horse for either. Good luck to me and my prediciton, I guess!

18: I think this is a tough category-Best Visual Effects. Last year, I incorrectly predicted ‘Transformers’ when ‘The Golden Compass’ won. So while I want to predict ‘Iron Man’ for its impressive effects, I have a feeling that the work done in ‘Button’ is probably polished and more impressive than another comic-book movie’s effects. I don’t think there was antyhing too special in ‘The Dark Knight’, but you never know. Having not seen one of the films, that being ‘Benjamin Button’, hurts my prediction because I personally want to see how good or bad the effects are in the movie. Usually, my personal choice for winner in this category doesn’t win (‘War of the Worlds’ lost to a bigger production a few years back, which was the expensively-made and lengthy ‘King Kong’).

20: The final category I’ll talk about is Best Foreign Film. Oh, how I want ‘Departures’ from Japan to win. I haven’t even seen the film yet, but I have an obvious bias toward the film because I love seeing good Japanese cinema. The fact that it was nominated gives me hope, especially considering that the competition seems fierce-I think there were 67 countries who entered. ‘Deaprtures’ made the top 9 a bit before the final 5 Oscar noms were announced for this category, and it was still there. The LA Times writes an article that boldly argues why ‘Departures’ will win, and it makes sense (a must-read here).

I want to believe it will win, but the fact is that critics are vying for either ‘The Class’ or ‘Waltz with Bashir’. The latter seems like a more obvious winner, so that gets my prediction. If I’m not mistaken, Japan has only won once for Best Foreign Film, so I would love for it to win. At the Honolulu International Film Festival, I missed my chance to see ‘Departures’-opting to see more of a popcorn flick-‘Hana Yori Dango’. ‘Departures’ ending up winning the audience award. Forcing Academy members to see all 5 nominated films increases the chances of ‘Depatures’ winning because one cannot use the argument that few Americans have seen ‘Departures’. That doesn’t matter because it’s the Academy members voting.

And despite all of that, and the interesting argument LA Times presents for ‘Departures’, I’m going to bank for ‘Waltz with Bashir’ and hope that I’m right if only for the sake of correctly predicting this category. But I would still be very happy if ‘Departures’ won.

21: I will say for Best Documentary, I think that ‘Man on Wire’ is the more popular choice while ‘Trouble the Water’ seems more relevant and the film that would “hit home” more than a film about an event that happened much farther back in history than the events of Hurricane Katrina. I’m going with popularity here. I predicted ‘No End in Sight’, which is also a more recent topic than the film that ended up winning (‘The Tazi to the Dark Side’). But you never know here.

I’m not going to go into detail on the last three categories; I voted based on some critics’ opinions and the subject matter. I am feeling better about my predictions this year because I think there are some really obvious categories, and I guess those would be the ones that I didn’t comment on. Do I have every prediction correct? Almost nobody does. I usually get 2 out of the last 3 categories, which are always a challenge to predict. That right there would eliminate me from prediciting 100% correct. But I can always try, I suppose. I may not be able to watch it live due to previous obligations and the way they air it in Hawaii (at least last year; it wasn’t live, but delayed by a few hours). But I look forward to commenting again once I see how everything did.