Everybody else is doing it so why the hell not?
Going into the season, when I hadn't seen anything, I personally thought that despite all the Ben Button hype, Sam Mendes would prove he's truly The King of the World and Revolutionary Road would win Best Picture in the end.
Of course, I had no idea what Revolutionary Road was about because I hadn't read the book yet and the truth is, it's a small miracle this movie even got made. It's very good, don't get me wrong, but it softens the characters and their attitudes towards each other, losing a penetrating brutality that doesn't scar so much as bruise.
Kate and Leo were both excellent but the truth of the matter is that I was a little underwhelmed by Revolutionary Road. The end in particular did not sit very well with me. There were a couple missed opportunities in my mind.
Is it one of the top 25 films of the year? Absolutely. But do I think it's one of the top 5? No. To be fair, I think one would appreciate the film more if they've ever been married. But ultimately, while I thought DiCaprio was actually better, or at least more consistent than Winslet (although that may just be the characters), I don't think it was a character/performance he'll be remembered for. Winslet may be more memorable if only because you're not likely to forget one of the scenes toward the end of the film (a gorgeous sweeping shot across a living room). But you can't argue that it's not a career best performance from either DiCaprio or Winslet, and I'm just not hearing the passion out there for Leo this year, at least certainly not as loud as The Aviator or The Departed.
There are plenty of other questions to be sure. Will voters embrace Clint Eastwood like they have in the past? Will voters feel Frank Langella's Tony Award is enough? And will they snub the yin to Nixon's yang, Michael Sheen's David Frost. Will Sheen accept supporting status, despite the fact that both roles are clearly both leads. Of course, that line is getting blurrier each year. Heath Ledger, lead or supporting? Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder, lead or supporting? Could The Reader's Kate Winslet be nominated in the supporting actress category since she's a lock for a lead nom for Revolutionary Road? Will the dual nomination help or hurt her Oscar chances? Could Milk earn dual supporting actor nominations for its impressive trio of Josh Brolin, James Franco and Emile Hirsch?
I 'doubt' Miramax will push Philip Seymour Hoffman for lead even though he most definitely is a co-lead with Streep. The acting in the scene where they're without a third party in Sister Aloysius' office is the stuff movies are made of. Hoffman's performance walks an incredibly fine line and I feel it registers as one of the best of the year and his career. There's such focus and restraint in every scene. He's so careful to 'control the look on his face' as Sister Aloysius puts it. The way his eyes dart back and forth as Streep applies pressure. It's like watching two boxers in the ring, throwing acting punches at each other. And believe it or not, Amy Adams holds her own with them. Of course everyone will be talking about Viola Davis and deservedly so. She's fantastic. Lock her up on the chart cuz she ain't goin' nowhere!
I'm still waiting to see Australia, Valkyrie and I'm holding off on Button to hopefully save the best for last. I don't want to watch it during some week filled with screenings. I don't want Button to be an awards season casualty, a statistic, another notch on my moviegoing belt. I want it to be special and so it shall, on Christmas Day, so long as it's not sold out.
Meanwhile, I still have no idea what to make of The Dark Knight. Is it Best Picture material? Does that even matter? Who knows? Nobody. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button remains a giant Question Mark for me right now. Without further adieu...
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
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
Leonardo DiCaprio - Revolutionary Road
Richard Jenkins - The Visitor
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn – Milk
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
Sally Hawkins - Happy-Go-Lucky
Melissa Leo - Frozen River
Meryl Streep - Doubt
Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Josh Brolin - Milk
Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Dev Patel - Slumdog Millionaire
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams - Doubt
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis - Doubt
Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Woody Allen - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Dustin Lance Black - Milk
Jenny Lumet - Rachel Getting Married
Robert Siegel - The Wrestler
Andrew Stanton - Wall-E
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Simon Beaufoy - Slumdog Millionaire
David Hare - The Reader
Peter Morgan - Frost/Nixon
Eric Roth - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley – Doubt
Encounters at the End of the World
Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts
Man on Wire
Standard Operating Procedure
Trouble the Water
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Waltz With Bashir
Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Death threats? Let's hear 'em below.