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Oscar Predictions Best Film, Best Foreign Language Film

Dev Patel in Slumdog Millionaire

Best Film

Slumdog Millionaire

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button may have garnered the most Academy Award nominations – thirteen in all – but the romantic-fantasy film apparently has as many fans as it has detractors, while Frost/Nixon and The Reader, despite the latter's World War II/Holocaust subject matter and the fact that Oscar-miracle worker Harvey Weinstein is behind it, are two dark horses.

Had it been nominated, The Dark Knight would have been a strong Oscar contender, but since it wasn't included on the Academy's shortlist then that's the end of that.

Like Brokeback Mountain three years ago, Slumdog Millionaire has become this year's Oscar favorite as a result of a mixture of numerous critics' awards and solid box office receipts. However, like Brokeback Mountain, Slumdog Millionaire may end up suffering from too much early positive buzz.

In case Academy voters decide that the hyperkinetic drama about a poor young man who wants both to become a millionaire and find the love of his life in modern India isn't all that good, I'd say that Milk, about slain gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, would be choice #2. After all, let's not forget last year's close-to-home (for most Academy members – who reside in California) gay marriage debacle, which made lots of people realize that anti-gay bigotry remains as alive and as ugly as ever.

Nonetheless, for the time being I'm betting on Slumdog Millionaire.


Waltz with Bashir by Ari Folman

Best Foreign Language Film

Waltz with Bashir

The best foreign-language film category is always difficult to predict because only a small percentage of (usually much older) Academy members vote for the nominees and winners.

My guess would be Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir (Israel) simply because it revolves around Jewish issues, always a favorite theme among those who vote in that category. Also weighing in its favor are the recent headlines about the war in Gaza, which make Waltz with Bashir, though set in the early 1980s, a timely entry. As a plus, Waltz with Bashir has received excellent reviews and has already collected several awards in the US, including a Golden Globe for best foreign-language film, the National Society of Film Critics best film award, and the Los Angeles Film Critics' best animated film prize.

The only other major competitor is Laurent Cantet's The Class, France's entry and last year's Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner.

The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany), Departures (Japan), and Revanche (Austria) are all dark horses.


Man on Wire by James Marsh

Best Documentary Feature

Man on Wire

James Marsh's Man on Wire is the odds-son favorite to win the best documentary feature award, as the Sundance winner has been one of the most widely acclaimed films of 2008 and has already amassed about a couple of dozen awards and mentions from US-based critics' groups.

Encounters at the End of the World, Trouble the Water, The Garden, and The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), no matter how good, have little chance of winning.


WALL-E by Andrew Stanton

Best Animated Feature


Despite its flabbergasting loss at the Annie Awards (to fellow Oscar nominee Kung Fu Panda), WALL-E is the hands-down winner.

Bolt is the third nominee.


Danny Boyle directing Slumdog Millionaire

Best Director

Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

The fast-paced Slumdog Millionaire will earn Danny Boyle his first Academy Award. Whether there'll be a second or a third somewhere in the future, I have no idea.

In another year, David Fincher could have been a strong contender for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but again, the film has a number of detractors.

Ron Howard, Gus Van Sant, and Stephen Daldry are the other nominees.

Danny Boyle photo: Ishika Mohan/Courtesy of Fox Searchlight


Milk by Gus Van Sant
Dustin Lance Black
Courtesy of Focus Features

Best Original Screenplay

Dustin Lance Black, Milk

The best original screenplay will be a battle between the gay activist and the lonely robot. Because live-action films tend to be taken more seriously by Academy members, my bet is on Dustin Lance Black (above, lower photo) for Milk.

In Bruges, Happy-Go-Lucky, and Frozen River are the other nominees.


Dev Patel in Slumdog Millionaire

Best Adapted Screenplay

Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire

Simon BeaufoyWith a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy (right) adapted from Vikas Swarup's novel, Slumdog Millionaire should come out on top in this category as, generally speaking, the best film winner also takes a best screenplay award.

If there is an upset in this category, I'd say that it would be David Hare's screenplay for The Reader.

Frost/Nixon, Doubt, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button are the other nominees.

Beaufoy photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

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37 Comments to Oscar Predictions Best Film, Best Foreign Language Film

  1. Andre

    I probably should have changed my Streep prediction a while back…

  2. Hpar

    hey i got all my predictions right!

    i knew sean penn would win, and i'm glad he did

  3. Hpar

    Last minute predictions: for me, Slumdog Millionaire with 4 awards at least (picture, director, screenplay, score) although I would love it if there could be some suprises…

    Slumdog Millionaire

    Sean Penn, Milk

    Kate Winslet, The Reader

    Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

    Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

    Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire


    Slumdog Millionaire

    Slumdog Millionaire

  4. Hpar

    Fair enough but its because more people respond emotionally to real drama rather than an *easy going* movie like VCB.

    Randie did you like Cassandra's dream as well?

    It got really bad reviews but i thought it was good

  5. Ernest

    I agree, anything but “The Reader.”

  6. Randie

    Hello, Hpar:

    Yes, I did like VCB very much. I know I'm in the minority, but I do think it's one of the best Woody Allen films ever.

    It moved me and made me laugh in a way that Slumdog or Milk weren't able to.

    I may be the only one who thinks so, but …

  7. Hpar

    Randie, Vicky Cristina Barcelona best picture?

    I mean Cruz is great, the movie is all right, but come on! Its a movie to watch on a monday night when you're lying on the sofa after work.

    Do you really put it on the same level as Slumdog Millionaire or Milk?

  8. Hpar

    Well in my opinion Benjamin Button doesnt really deserve a major oscar.

    With all the hype I was expecting much better.
    I was disappointed by Brad Pitt's performance which, although not a bad performance, I thought should have had much more life flowing through its veins. His style of acting in this movie is one of restraint, obviously, but I was not moved at all, which is as shame considering the material.
    There's some great cinematography and special effects.
    But for me, the screenplay was the biggest failure. I cannot really explain it but I was bored, I did not feel involved…
    Even if I did not dislike it, it was one of my biggest disappointments of the year considering all the fuss about this movie.

    To sum up, I think it does NOT stand a chance at best picture, actor, supporting actress or screenplay.
    Surely it will be rewarded for the technical achievements, and I believe rightly so.

  9. orelse

    am i the only one who thinks that the button deserves the oscar?

  10. Randie

    Slumdog will win, of course, but my pick would have been Vicky Cristina Barcelona which wasn't even nominated.
    Despite of what everybody says, I think Woody Allen remains as clever and as astute an observer of human nature as ever.
    Of course, I also want Penelope Cruz to win best supporting actress. Too bad Javier Bardem didn't get a best actor nomination, but his role was less showy than hers. That always makes a difference.
    And I also hope that “Waltz with Bashir” will win as best foreign film. I can't understand why it didn't get a nomination for best animation as well.
    And I agree that The Reader shouldn't win anything. At best a mediocre effort.

  11. Hpar

    I hope THE READER doesnt win anything. I mean its so inferior to all the other movies on every level. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, MILK and FROST/NIXON are way out of its league in terms of picture quality and screenplay, even CCBB is much better.

  12. Huntz

    I also think that THE READER has a good chance to win the screenplay Oscar. Like The Pianist a few years ago. I don't think many people were expecting Adrien Brody and Roman Polansky to win. But Holocaust or Holocaust related films tend to be popular with the Academy.

  13. Charles

    What suspense………
    Slumdog will win by a yawn.
    But David Hare may get the screenplay award.

  14. jno

    Man on Wire should have been nominated in the best picture category. It was better than most fiction films out there.

  15. Tom O'Halloran

    Iron Man would be one of my top five. It got great reviews, but didn't have much buzz for yearend awards. I find that too bad. Critics forget as quickly as audiences.

    best film
    Iron Man
    Body of Lifes
    The Dark Knight
    Slumdog Millionaire

    I know that most of my picks are very commercial, but they're also very good.

  16. Hpar

    My choices:

    - Gran Torino
    - Frost/Nixon
    - Milk
    - Changeling
    - The Dark Knight

    with, for me, GRAN TORINO winner cos im a big fan of eastwood's direction and i thought he was the second best actor this year after sean penn…

  17. Hpar

    Its great to see you putting Frozen River and I've Loved You So Long in there.
    These two movies are minor ones and therefore dont get the credit they deserve.
    But god they are good. Kristin Scott Thomas and Melissa Leo are my two favorite actresses for this year.

    Also, I really think GRAN TORINO should be in there as well most definitely.

  18. I watched Kung Fu Panda after it swept the Annies, then looked up the history of the Annies. I can see why it won as the Annies is grounded in first hand-drawn animation and traditional art, while the Oscars has more elements of new technologies, storyline with political or social impact, etc. If you look at Kung Fu Panda from the point of view of animation-I thought the art direction/cinematography, expression of emotions and animated motions were great. However, I don't think the storyline resonates socially or politically like Wall-E and still think Wall-E will win. Kind of like the SAG awards often award different actors than the Oscars-has to do with different traditions and cultures and judging criteria, etc.

  19. celso

    My top five:

    Slumdog Millionaire
    Gran Torino
    The Dark Knight
    The Wrestler

  20. UVRAY


  21. JohnX

    No it does not stand a chance at creating an upset. Apart from best actress, which is no recognition of the quality of a movie, what do you think its going to win?

    best picture? best director?
    against the likes of slumdog millionaire, CCBB or milk, it doesnt have the slightest chance

  22. Centinela

    I was at an Academy screening of The Reader and it was VERY well received. Lots of people applauded at the end. That film does have a chance to create an upset come Oscar night.

  23. Hpar

    If anyone is interested, I would like to share opinions.

    What are YOUR PERSONAL 5 BEST PICTURE NOMINEES for 2008 if it was your job and only yours to nominate?

  24. dyosa

    dark knight should had been nominated and eventually win! they shut out the movie so that slumdog will be assured of its golden oscar coz dark knight would have really be a strong threat to every nominee.

  25. Hpar

    I really want FROZEN RIVER to win best original screenplay.
    It would be a worthy recognition for a brilliant piece of filmmaking on a very low budget.

  26. ballard

    Here I agree with you in every category except that I'd say that The Reader has as good a chance of winning the screenplay award as Slumdog. I'm sure the Academy will want to give “The Reader” something so the screenplay award would be a good way to recognize the film. Besides Kate Winslet's best actress.

  27. Hpar

    How can you say that The Reader has a chance at best picture!
    Thats just a joke!
    I havent seen Benjamin Button yet but i can GUARANTEE everyone that if there is an upset it will be either Milk or Benjamin Button, The Reader and Frost/Nixon dont have the slightest chance of winning best picture.
    Its not even about what the academy likes (holocaust etc), you just have to look at the film to realise that its simply not good enough to win.

  28. Jeremy

    KFP won the annie not because it was the superior film, but because dreamworks was a much valued sponsor. There's no way Wall-E will lose in the Oscars. As for Best Picture, I think Slumdog will win it.

  29. Netbug

    WALL-E'd better win. After the ridiculousness at the Annies, we need something bigger than a small critic's award.

    No offence to KFP, mind you. I enjoyed the film a lot. I've seen it like, 3 times. But the Annies… that was just rediculous.

  30. Corey

    Kung Fun Panda is now a contender…

  31. yesorno

    slumdog has already won…

  32. soulemain

    Slumdog will win. There's no way around it. The Reader would have had a chance in another year. But this is the Year of the Dog.

  33. darkeddie

    The Reader DOES have a chance. It may even win. Especially now that there are reports that the Slumndog people and their film aren't well liked in Mumbai, in the very slums where the film was shot. I don't know if the reports are true or not, but that won't matter to the moron members of the Academy.

  34. Carlo

    Slumdog Millionaire will win unless there's a backlash. If there is, then it's a toss up between The Reader and Benjamin Button. Both have a chance as well. I think Danny Boyle will definitely get the best director Oscar.
    The best foreign film wasn't nominated: Gomorrah.

  35. yoyoba

    The Reader has no chance despite Harvey Weinstein. It may win best actress but that's about it. Slumdog Millionaire will win the best picture Oscar. The runner up will be Benjamin Button, I'm sure. The movie got 13 nominations. It's obvious that Academy members really digged it.

  36. Anne T.

    I believe that Slumdog will win, but I also believe that The Reader is a strong contender. I agree with your comment.

  37. Luke

    Personally, I think that “The Reader” has a good chance of getting the Oscar. It'll be like “The Pianist” back in 02, when it won both actor and director. But this time the director award will go to Danny Boyle, but the best film and best screenplay awards will go to “The Reader”.