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The 81st Academy Awards

Gold Standard 2008

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

JANUARY 22, 2009: After several years in which the Academy appeared to be growing more daring, they have reverted back to their old habits. The nominations came in this morning with some of the year's best films snubbed, notably The Dark Knight, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Gran Torino. I knew that Eastwood's and Allen's films were more marginal choices, but The Dark Knight is the true movie of the moment, the film that practically defined 2008. In its place, we get The Reader, a bland piece of fluff that looks as if it were cranked out by a computer designed to make Oscar nominees. Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky was also snubbed, notably in the case of actress Sally Hawkins, who won practically every critics award on the planet. David Fincher received his first Best Director nomination for his worst film (where was his nod for Fight Club?) The Curious Case of Benjamin Button earned the most nominations, 13, which is pretty standard for the longest film in the batch. Slumdog Millionaire earned ten, while Milk earned eight. All in all, it was a year of great popcorn movies and funny comedies, neither of which particularly appeal to the Academy.

Of the twenty nominated actors, five (Penn, Streep, Hoffman, Jolie and Tomei) are former winners. Five others, Pitt, Downey Jr., Ledger, Adams and Cruz, are receiving their second nomination. Kate Winslet has received her sixth nomination. The other nine actors are being nominated for the first time. Incidentally, this is the 15th nomination for Streep.

As for the directors, Van Sant is receiving his second nomination; his first was for Good Will Hunting. Howard is likewise receiving his second nomination, though he won for A Beautiful Mind. Somehow, this is the third nomination for Daldry, after Billy Elliot and The Hours. (Huh?) Finall, these are the first nominations for both Boyle and Fincher.

Sunday, February 15. All my predictions are in now. The winners will be announced Sunday, February 22, 2009. Let the games begin.

Sunday, February 22: Winners announced. I got 16 out of 23, or about 70%. (I did not make a prediction for Best Documentary Short.) The totals break down like this: Slumdog Millionaire with eight, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with three, The Dark Knight and Milk with two apiece, and The Reader, Man on Wire, The Duchess, WALL-E and Vicky Cristina Barcelona with one each. Then we have Departures for Foreign Language -- which nobody has seen yet -- and the three short films for a total of 24. Frost/Nixon came away empty-handed. Thanks for checking in; we'll see you next year!

Nominees Jeff's Take & Results
Best Picture
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
    My Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire
    My Vote: Frost/Nixon
    Unfairly Overlooked: The Dark Knight
    Best Director
  • Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
  • Stephen Daldry, The Reader
  • David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
  • Gus Van Sant, Milk
  • The Winner: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
    My Prediction: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
    My Vote: Gus Van Sant, Milk
    Unfairly Overlooked: Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight)
    Best Actor
  • Richard Jenkins, The Visitor
  • Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
  • Sean Penn, Milk
  • Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
  • The Winner: Sean Penn, Milk
    My Prediction: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
    My Vote: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
    Unfairly Overlooked: Benicio Del Toro (Che), Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man)
    Best Actress
  • Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
  • Angelina Jolie, Changeling
  • Melissa Leo, Frozen River
  • Meryl Streep, Doubt
  • Kate Winslet, The Reader
  • The Winner: Kate Winslet, The Reader
    My Prediction: Kate Winslet, The Reader
    My Vote: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
    Unfairly Overlooked: Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky), Michelle Williams (Wendy & Lucy), Juliette Binoche (Flight of the Red Balloon), Penelope Cruz (Elegy)
    Best Supporting Actor
  • Josh Brolin, Milk
  • Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
  • Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
  • Michael Shannon, Revolutionary Road
  • The Winner: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
    My Prediction: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
    My Vote: Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
    Unfairly Overlooked: Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky)
    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
  • The Winner: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
    My Prediction: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
    My Vote: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
    Unfairly Overlooked: Rosemarie DeWitt & Debra Winger (Rachel Getting Married)
    Foreign Language Film
  • The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany)
  • The Class (France)
  • Revanche (Austria)
  • Okuribito (Departures) (Japan)
  • Waltz with Bashir (Israel)
  • The Winner: Okuribito (Departures)
    My Prediction: Waltz with Bashir
    My Vote: Waltz with Bashir
    Unfairly Overlooked: Let the Right One In (Sweden), Gommorah (Italy), A Christmas Tale (France), JCVD (Belgium)
    Adapted Screenplay
  • Eric Roth, Robin Swicord, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • John Patrick Shanley, Doubt
  • Peter Morgan, Frost/Nixon
  • David Hare, The Reader
  • Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Winner: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
    My Prediction: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
    My Vote: John Patrick Shanley, Doubt
    Unfairly Overlooked: Simon Beaufoy (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), Jonathan & Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), Clark Gregg (Choke)
    Original Screenplay
  • Courtney Hunt, Frozen River
  • Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky
  • Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
  • Dustin Lance Black, Milk
  • Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Jim Reardon, WALL-E
  • The Winner: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
    My Prediction: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
    My Vote: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
    Unfairly Overlooked: Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married), Thomas McCarthy (The Visitor), Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Burn After Reading)
    Animated Feature Film
  • Bolt
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • WALL-E
  • The Winner: WALL-E
    My Prediction: WALL-E
    My Vote: WALL-E
    Unfairly Overlooked: Waltz with Bashir, Horton Hears a Who!
    Cinematography
  • Tom Stern, Changeling
  • Claudio Miranda, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight
  • Roger Deakins, Chris Menges, The Reader
  • Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Winner: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
    My Prediction: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
    My Vote: Wally Pfister, The Dark Knight
    Unfairly Overlooked: Roger Deakins (Doubt), Jody Shapiro (My Winnipeg), Lik Wai Yu (Still Life)
    Art Direction
  • Changeling
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Duchess
  • Revolutionary Road
  • The Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    My Prediction: The Dark Knight
    My Vote: The Dark Knight
    Unfairly Overlooked: Hellboy II: The Golden Army
    Sound Mixing
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • WALL-E
  • Wanted
  • The Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
    My Prediction: The Dark Knight
    My Vote: The Dark Knight
    Unfairly Overlooked: Iron Man, Hellboy II: The Golden Army
    Sound Editing
  • Iron Man
  • The Dark Knight
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • WALL-E
  • Wanted
  • The Winner: The Dark Knight
    My Prediction: The Dark Knight
    My Vote: Iron Man
    Unfairly Overlooked: Hellboy II: The Golden Army
    Original Score
  • Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • James Newton Howard, Defiance
  • Danny Elfman, Milk
  • A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
  • Thomas Newman, WALL-E
  • The Winner: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
    My Prediction: A.R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
    My Vote: Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    Unfairly Overlooked: James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight), Clint Eastwood (Changeling)
    Original Song
  • "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire, A.R. Rahman, Gulzar
  • "O Saya" from Slumdog Millionaire, A.R. Rahman, Maya Arulpragasam (M.I.A.)
  • "Down to Earth" from WALL-E, Peter Gabriel, Thomas Newman
  • The Winner: "Jai Ho" (Slumdog Millionaire)
    My Prediction: "Jai Ho" (Slumdog Millionaire)
    My Vote: "O Saya" (Slumdog Millionaire)
    Unfairly Overlooked: "Another Way to Die," Jack White & Alicia Keys (Quantum of Solace); "Love Me Sexy" (Semi-Pro)
    Costume
  • Australia
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Duchess
  • Milk
  • Revolutionary Road
  • The Winner: The Duchess
    My Prediction: Milk
    My Vote: Milk
    Unfairly Overlooked: The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Hellboy II: The Golden Army
    Documentary Feature
  • The Betrayal - Nerakhoon
  • Encounters at the End of the World
  • The Garden
  • Man on Wire
  • Trouble the Water
  • The Winner: Man on Wire
    My Prediction: Man on Wire
    My Vote: Encounters at the End of the World
    Unfairly Overlooked: Young @ Heart
    Documentary Short
  • The Conscience of Nhem En
  • The Final Inch
  • Smile Pinki
  • The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306
  • The Winner: Smile Pinki
    My Prediction: n/a
    My Vote: n/a
    Unfairly Overlooked: n/a
    Film Editing
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
    My Prediction: Slumdog Millionaire
    My Vote: The Dark Knight
    Unfairly Overlooked: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Burn After Reading
    Makeup
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Dark Knight
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  • The Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    My Prediction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    My Vote: The Dark Knight
    Unfairly Overlooked: Diary of the Dead, Let the Right One In, The Wrestler
    Animated Short
  • La Maison en Petits Cubes
  • Lavatory Lovestory
  • Oktapodi
  • Presto
  • This Way Up
  • The Winner: La Maison en Petits Cubes
    My Prediction: This Way Up
    My Vote: La Maison en Petits Cubes
    Unfairly Overlooked: n/a
    Live Action Short
  • Manon on the Asphalt
  • New Boy
  • On the Line
  • The Pig
  • Toyland
  • The Winner: Toyland
    My Prediction: Toyland
    My Vote: The Pig
    Unfairly Overlooked: n/a
    Visual Effects
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Iron Man
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    My Prediction: The Dark Knight
    My Vote: The Dark Knight
    Unfairly Overlooked: Hellboy II, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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