Academy Award Predictions: Cinderella Tale + Slain Gay Politician & Veteran Jan Troell Returns

Slumdog Millionaire Freida Pinto. Year's cinematic Cinderella tale is Oscar faveSlumdog Millionaire with Freida Pinto. Academy Award Predictions: The cinematic Cinderella tale of 2008, Danny Boyle's Bollywood-inspired entry is the odds-on favorite for the Best Picture Academy Award. In the cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Anil Kapoor, and Irrfan Khan.

Academy Award Predictions: Best Picture shortlist includes sleeper hits, studio blockbusters & arthouse fare

(See previous post: “Academy Award Predictions: Meryl Streep & Clint Eastwood + Posthumous Best Supporting Actor Award?”) Academy Award Predictions 2009: Below is an eclectic array of likely 2009 Best Picture Oscar nominees, ranging from audience-friendly studio blockbusters and sleeper hits to undeniable arthouse fare.

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
  • The Dark Knight.
  • Frost/Nixon.
  • Milk.
  • Slumdog Millionaire.

Slumdog Millionaire has to be there. Danny Boyle's Bollywood-inspired sleeper hit has been winning nearly every single U.S. critics groups' Best Film award and it has received two 2008 SAG Award nominations: Best Cast and a surprising Best Supporting Actor nod for Dev Patel (who just happens to be the film's lead).

Frost/Nixon is a prestige production based on a prestige play. The sort of stuff prestige-hungry Academy members tend to go for even when reviewers haven't been all that kind. As a plus, Frost/Nixon is an actors' showcase, and actors comprise the – by far – largest contingent among Academy members.

Starring Sean Penn as San Francisco Board of Supervisors' openly gay member Harvey Milk, Gus Van Sant's Milk received the New York Film Critics' Best Film award, in addition to three SAG Award nods, including Best Cast. Besides, the sociopolitical biopic has generally been greeted with highly positive reviews and, just as importantly, it's a “relevant” motion picture, what with California's recent gay marriage debacle.

Superhero blockbuster for the Oscars?

The Academy tends to snub huge box office hits, partly because most of them are unadulterated garbage, partly because Academy members may feel that blockbusters don't need any awards. That said, Peter Jackson's three Lord of the Rings films did receive Best Picture nominations, and the same will likely happen in the case of the critically acclaimed The Dark Knight.

As for the curious case of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: until today (Jan. 19), we had the unusual David Fincher-Brad Pitt collaboration in the Best Picture runner-up list, while John Patrick Shanley's Doubt was one of our top five picks.

Their positions have now been switched; after all, even though The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has received mixed reviews, it is doing quite well at the U.S. box office and last week it received 11 nominations from the British Academy of Film.

More Best Picture possibilities

Here are our Best Picture Oscar runners-up:

  • Doubt, in case the actors decide to go for an acting piece with a Broadway pedigree and a well-regarded cast (Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Viola Davis).
  • Disney/Pixar's Andrew Stanton-directed blockbuster WALL-E, which will most likely be relegated to the Best Animated Feature category.
  • Gran Torino, a Clint Eastwood film – one with a Message of Tolerance – in which the idolized actor-filmmaker also stars.

Best Picture long shots include the following:

Everlasting Moments Maria Heiskanen. Veteran Jan Troell 4th Best Foreign Language Film nomination?Everlasting Moments with Maria Heiskanen. Academy Award Predictions: Everlasting Moments may turn out to be veteran Swedish filmmaker Jan Troell's fourth film to be shortlisted in the Best Foreign Language Film category. The previous three: The Emigrants (1971), The New Land (1972), and The Flight of the Eagle (1982). Troell himself was a Best Director nominee for The Emigrants at the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony, which also featured his period drama starring Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow as a Best Picture nominee and The New Land in the running for Best Foreign Language Film.

Academy Award Predictions: Best Foreign Language Film

  • The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany).
  • The Class (France).
  • Departures (Japan).
  • Everlasting Moments (Sweden).
  • Waltz with Bashir (Israel).

The Academy Awards' Best Foreign Language Film category has usually been difficult to predict because submission and voting procedures tend to be complex – and ultimately ineffectual in terms of guaranteeing either fairness or quality.

In order to be eligible to vote for the nine semi-finalists in that category, one needs to watch (at least 20 or 30 minutes of) only 20 or so of the approximately 65 annual submissions. Then a second group of about 20 Academy members steps in to select the five nominees.

'Gomorrah' departs

This year, an Academy committee will handpick three films among the semi-finalists to ensure that no Volver or 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days is left off of the roster. We'll eventually find out whether this new process will make that much of a difference when it comes to the final results.

Update: It didn't make much of a difference. Matteo Garrone's widely praised 2008 European Film Award winner Gomorrah was left out of the list of nine semi-finalists.

As a result, we've had to remove it from our list. In its place, we've added the Japanese drama Departures, which has also been garnering much praise. Besides, unlike Gomorrah, Departures deals with death in a more audience- and Academy-friendly manner.

The return of Jan Troell?

As for the others on the Best Foreign Language Film shortlist … Three of veteran Jan Troell's films have been nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category (The Emigrants, 1971; The New Land, 1972; The Flight of the Eagle, 1982), while Troell himself received a Best Director nod for The Emigrants, which, back in early 1973, became only the third non-English-language film to get an Oscar nomination in the Best Picture category. (Its predecessors: Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion, 1938; Costa-Gavras' Z, 1969.)

All that bodes quite well for Everlasting Moments. Especially when one considers that many – most? nearly all? – Academy members who vote in the Best Foreign Language Film category have been around for decades, if not centuries.

Teachers & terrorists

Directed by Laurent Cantet, The Class arrives with a Palme d'Or pedigree, excellent notices, lots of underprivileged kids, and no dead fetuses. In other words, Academy members who watch this film should feel good, which will probably make them more inclined to give this particular Cannes winner their vote.

Directed by Uli Edel, The Baader Meinhof Complex mixes action with the politics of terrorism. The real-life-based thriller has received a 2008 Golden Globe nod, which brings in publicity, which should bring in more butts to seats when it is screened for Academy members.

Waltz with Bashir may suffer the fate of Persepolis – which last year failed to get a Best Foreign Language Film nod, but ended up listed among the three Best Animated Film contenders. Nonetheless, for the time being we're willing to bet that this animated anti-war documentary with an Israeli setting – especially when taking into account the current Gaza situation – will be included among the five Best Foreign Language Film nominees.

From Chile to Iran

Below is our list of Best Foreign Language Film Oscar runners-up:

  • Tony Manero (Chile), which has a character who's crazy about John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever – lots of Academy members probably can relate.
  • The Home of Dark Butterflies (Finland) and Captain Abu Raed (Jordan), two among a number of submitted films that focus on boys and their problems – a theme that's dear to the hearts of Academy voters in this particular category.
  • The Song of Sparrows (Iran) by Majid Majidi, whose Children of Heaven – about boys and their problems – received a Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the 1998 Oscars.
Milk Sean Penn as Harvey Milk. Gay politician shot dead + justice did not prevailMilk with Sean Penn as Harvey Milk. Academy Award Predictions: Dustin Lance Black will surely receive an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for his depiction of the life and times of San Francisco Board of Supervisors' openly gay member Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant's Milk. Harvey Milk (1930–1978) became a “gay martyr” after being shot dead, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, by a demented Board member, Dan White – who, as the U.S. justice system would have it, received a slap on the wrist by way of a manslaughter sentence. Best Actor Oscar winner Sean Penn (Mystic River, 2003) is also expected to get shortlisted.

Academy Award Predictions: Best Original Screenplay

Below is our list of the five likely Best Original Screenplay Oscar finalists:

  • Dustin Lance Black, Milk.
  • Mike Leigh, Happy-Go-Lucky.
  • Jenny Lumet, Rachel Getting Married.
  • Nick Schenck, Gran Torino.
  • Andrew Stanton, WALL-E.

Runners-up: Woody Allen (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Robert D. Siegel (The Wrestler), or Courtney Hunt (Frozen River) may end up taking Mike Leigh's place.

Best Original Screenplay long shots:

  • Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York.
  • J. Michael Straczynski, Changeling.
  • Thomas McCarthy, The Visitor.
  • Lance Hammer, Ballast.
  • Martin McDonagh, In Bruges.

Academy Award Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay

Below are our Best Adapted Screenplay predictions:

Best Adapted Screenplay runners-up: Either David Hare (The Reader) or Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road) may end up getting shortlisted instead of the Nolan brothers.

Long shot: John Ajvide Lindqvist (Let the Right One In).

Academy Award Predictions: Best Documentary shortlist to include Werner Herzog effort?

Below is our list of likely Best Documentary Feature Oscar contenders.

  • Encounters at the End of the World.
  • I.O.U.S.A.
  • Man on Wire.
  • Standard Operating Procedure.
  • Trouble the Water.

Best Documentary Feature is another specialty Oscar category, which makes it difficult to hazard a guess. So, why these picks?

  • The critically acclaimed 2008 Sundance winner Man on Wire is the only shoo-in, unless there's another Hoop Dreams or The Thin Blue Line upset.
  • Patrick Creadon's I.O.U.S.A. couldn't be more relevant to this day and age. The title says it all.
  • Standard Operating Procedure comes from the hands of Errol Morris, whose The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara won the 2003 Oscar in this category.
  • Trouble the Water has been greeted with solid reviews and has been included in various Top Ten lists.
  • Encounters at the End of the World could be the Academy's way of saying sorry to Werner Herzog, whose widely praised Grizzly Man failed to be nominated in 2005.

Nazis, 'The Betrayal' & Philip Glass

Best Documentary Feature Oscar runners-up:

  • Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh, about Jews, Nazis, and World War II – the Best Documentary voters' favorite theme.
  • The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), Ellen Kuras' look at an immigrant family's experience in the United States.
  • Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts, a strong possibility as Philip Glass (Kundun, The Hours, Cassandra's Dream) is, to some extent, an industry “insider.”
WALL-E Academy Award Predictions: Blockbuster shoo-in Best Animated Feature winnerWALL-E. Academy Award Predictions: A box office blockbuster and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's Best Picture winner – a first for an animated film – Andrew Stanton's WALL-E is the odds-on favorite to take home the 2009 Best Animated Feature Oscar. In addition, WALL-E will likely get a Best Original Screenplay nomination (also Andrew Stanton) and, less likely, it's a possibility in the Best Picture category.

Academy Award Predictions: Best Animated Feature

Barring a major upset, the three films listed below will be found on the Academy's shortlist. The only other possibility is Bolt, which could take the Kung Fu Panda spot.

  • Kung Fu Panda.
  • WALL-E.
  • Waltz with Bashir.

Andrew Stanton's WALL-E, the big favorite, even made history by becoming the first animated film to win the Los Angeles Film Critics' Best Picture award.

Waltz with Bashir would have to be very unlucky to be shut out of both the Best Foreign Language Film and the Best Animated Feature categories. It's more likely that it'll be very lucky, getting shortlisted in both.

Academy Award Predictions: Other categories

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Australia.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The Dark Knight.
The Reader.
Slumdog Millionaire.

BEST EDITING
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The Dark Knight.
Iron Man.
Slumdog Millionaire.
WALL-E.

BEST ART DIRECTION
Australia.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The Dark Knight.
The Duchess.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Changeling.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The Dark Knight.
The Duchess.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Australia.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
The Dark Knight.
The Reader.
Slumdog Millionaire.

BEST SONG
“Another Way to Die” from Quantum of Solace.
“Down to Earth” from WALL-E.
“Jai Ho” from Slumdog Millionaire.
“Once in a Lifetime” from Cadillac Records.
“The Wrestler” from The Wrestler.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
The Dark Knight.
Iron Man.
Journey to the Center of the Earth.

BEST SOUND
Australia.
The Dark Knight.
Iron Man.
Quantum of Solace.
WALL-E.

BEST SOUND EFFECTS
The Dark Knight.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Iron Man.

BEST MAKE-UP
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
The Incredible Hulk.

 

Freida Pinto Slumdog Millionaire image: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Maria Heiskanen Everlasting Moments image: IFC Films.

Sean Penn Milk: Focus Features.

WALL-E image: Pixar Animation Studios / Walt Disney Pictures.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website.

“Academy Award Predictions: Cinderella Tale + Slain Gay Politician & Veteran Jan Troell Returns” last updated in March 2018.

Academy Award Predictions: Cinderella Tale + Slain Gay Politician & Veteran Jan Troell Returns © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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