With the Academy Awards taking place this Sunday, the online predictions are whirling about in a year with several movies in contention, and only a couple of the huge buzz movies that have dominated Oscar week talk in the past. Here are my predictions for the five major awards, starting with Best Supporting Actor.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Josh Brolin, “Milk”; Robert Downey Jr, “Tropic Thunder”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”; Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”; Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”
Let’s start with the easy one. There’s been a landslide of support throughout the awards season for Heath Ledger’s startling final appearance as The Joker. Particularly with the publicity over the Oscars’ snub of “The Dark Knight” for Best Picture, it seems highly unlikely that they’ll go with anything other than the posthumous Oscar. Downey Jr. could be a factor, but the Oscars often look down their nose at comic performances.
Prediction: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams, “Doubt”; Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”; Viola Davis, “Doubt”; Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”
This is quite a group of performances, and made particularly difficult to predict since the other supporting actress awards throughout the season went to Kate Winslet, who is instead nominated in the Best Actress category for the Oscars. Either of the actresses from Doubt wouldn’t be a huge upset, but expect them to cancel each other out in the Oscar voting, and allow Penelope Cruz to break through and grab the Oscar.
Prediction: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Nominees: Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”; Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”; Sean Penn, “Milk”; Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”
This is going to be an interesting test of the Oscar voting block. You have a mix of comeback actors and Academy stalwarts. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” has the most nominations, but Brad Pitt has mostly been ignored throughout. Langella could be a factor for his portrayal of Richard Nixon, but I expect the battle will come down to the resurgent Mickey Rourke and annual nominee Sean Penn. Whenever you have a close battle between two nominees, you always look to see if the Academy can make a political point. This year, that gives the advantage to “Milk”.
Prediction: Sean Penn, “Milk”
Nominees: Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”; Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”; Melissa Leo, “Frozen Leo”; Meryl Streep, “Doubt”; Kate Winslet, “The Reader”
Another battle between two big names emerges in the Best Actress category. While you can’t rule out Anne Hathaway’s excellent performance in “Rachel Getting Married”, her youth probably works against her in a battle against the two big performances by Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet. Both have taken home awards during the past month for these performances, and either could earn the golden statuette on Sunday. In this battle, I look for Academy voters to be sympathetic to the currently winless Winslet over the two-time Oscar winner Streep. Also, you can never count out the Academy’s soft spot for Holocaust films.
Prediction: Kate Winslet, “The Reader”
Nominees: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Frost/Nixon”, “Milk”, “The Reader”, “Slumdog Millionaire”
This category is going to be an interesting test for the Oscar voters. “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” looks to be one of those high-nominee, low-victory films. “The Reader” was widely considered the fifth nominee, added to the list since they needed five nominees. Both “Frost/Nixon” and “Milk” could be swept to victory by an outpouring of political interest. However, I think it most likely that the Academy follows the wave of support and interest in Mumbai and christens “Slumdog Millionaire” its Best Picture.
Prediction: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Nominees courtesy of the official Oscars website at http://www.oscars.com