Predicting the Oscar nominations is, in a way, easier than ever this year. Pretty much every pundit has determined most of the nominations already, and eliminated so many films and actors that were supposed to be contenders. In fact, Best Picture alone has pretty much only six movies left to get five spots, if you can believe most people. Even though many people are upset that this year has a less prestigious crop of movies than last year’s Oscar race – it makes it easier for them to win Oscar nomination pools.
In the six major Oscar categories, most of the slots seem to be filled, with only a select few surprises possible. Here is the most likely way they can go.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
The biggest Oscar race of all got thinned out very fast, with Revolutionary Road, Gran Torino, Australia, Changeling and many more films going by the wayside this fall. By all accounts, all that’s left is four movies that are locks to get in, with two fighting for the last Oscar spot. Slumdog Millionaire, Benjamin Button, Milk and Frost/Nixon seem to be those locks, with The Dark Knight and Doubt fighting for the last bid. Momentum has swung towards The Dark Knight, and most are happy for it. But although Doubt had mixed write ups and its actors are starting to fade from the Oscar race, having mixed reviews didn’t stop other past Best Picture nominees – or even winners. The Dark Knight won’t be safe until its name is read January 22.
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Gus Van Sant, Milk
Alternate: Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
Another Oscar race largely locked in. Usually, at least four of the five Best Picture nominees get their directors in anyway. Even if The Dark Knight can’t get in, Nolan is likely safe, with John Patrick Shanley unlikely to squeak in for Doubt.
Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Alternate: Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Penn, Rourke and Langella were locked in months ago, for all intents and purposes. The final two spots are the ones up for grabs, between a select few actors. Even though reactions to Gran Torino, and Clint Eastwood’s performance, were divided, the Academy won’t resist the “last acting role for Eastwood?” storyline. For the final spot, Best Actor often includes at least one token character actor from a small film, so that would put critics favorite Richard Jenkins in. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are likely the outsiders here.
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
Alternate: Angelina Jolie, Changeling
The most wide open Oscar category in terms of who will win, and who will get nominated. Streep, Hathaway and Winslet are tightening up on top by the day. Hawkins has had a slew of critical wins that may have put her in. The last spot is likely going to either Angelina Jolie, or either two acclaimed indie performances: Melissa Leo’s or Kristen Scott Thomas in I’ve Loved You So Long. Jolie had a two hour Oscar clip reel of crying in Changeling, but by the slimmest of margins, one of the indie women may beat her out – and Leo has slightly more momentum at this point.
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr, Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire
Alternate: Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
Another Oscar category with about four slots locked up – and a winner locked up, in the eyes of many people. While Ledger rolls on to an Oscar beyond the grave, Brolin and Downey Jr get their long awaited Oscar recognition, and Hoffman gets a nod mainly due to being Hoffman. In the final slot, Slumdog Millionaire needs Patel to get in, or else they will be a rare Oscar favorite without one acting nominee. But Slumdog Millionaire is on such a roll that Patel should slip in over Revolutionary Road’s ferocious Shannon.
Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Kate Winslet, The Reader
Alternate: Rosemarie DeWitt, Rachel Getting Married
Woody Allen used to have actresses win this category all the time, with Cruz perhaps as the next in line. Davis and her 12 minute showcase is the best bet to unseat her. Henson and Tomei have tentative grips on a nomination, but should hang on. Winslet, leaving aside the controversy that she was a lead in The Reader, should round out the category. Also, the Academy can give Winslet a win here if they don’t pick her for Revolutionary Road, sparing her from going 0-7 lifetime at the Oscars.
In Contention- “Oscar Prediction Charts” www.incontention.com/