Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mimi Picks Some Oscar® Favorites

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First of all, I am sorry that my coverage of the Oscar race is a bust this year. The great ice storm of 2009 hit the last week of January and I was without electricity for three weeks, not to mention I had only minimum heat. Therefore, the best I can do now is to make this post, a rather long one at that. Again, sorry!

Harvey Weinstein (The Weinstein Company), has bet his farm and then some on THE READER. He has, by all accounts, pulled out all the stops for his entry this year. How effective was his campaign? According to what I have been reading and have heard, Harvey's kingmaker days in Hollywood may be over because of two young lovers from an Indian slum. Then, on the other hand . . . . .

Performance by an actor in a leading role:

Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor” (Overture Films);
Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” (Universal);
Sean Penn in “Milk” (Focus Features);
Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.);
Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight).

MIMI PICKS: I think this is Sean Penn's best chance to win in the best actor category, but will the Academy members be more inclined to vote for the comeback of a loser (Mickey Rourke)?
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Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Josh Brolin in “Milk” (Focus Features);
Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount);
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt” (Miramax);
Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.);
Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage).

MIMI PICKS: Josh Brolin deserved the Oscar in this category last year for NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, and the Academy has, on rare occasions, honored an actor or actress for a performance the previous year. It might work for Brolin, except this time he plays a guy who murdered a city supervisor who was gay and took out the mayor who supported gay initiatives. However, a real dead guy, Heath Ledger, who was first nominated for playing a gay guy (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN), seems to have a lock on the category. The question is why? Will winning give Ledger a "bump" for his career?
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Performance by an actress in a leading role

Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married” (Sony Pictures Classics);
Angelina Jolie in “Changeling” (Universal);
Melissa Leo in “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics);
Meryl Streep in “Doubt” (Miramax);
Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company).

MIMI PICKS: Hathaway is a first-time nominee and "Academy darling." This nomination is mainly to recognize her transition to adult actress, now she must prove it for another nomination. Streep is the Grand Dame in this category while Jolie is beautiful, but her movie basically tanked. So, that leaves Leo, a first time nominee, and Winslet a five-time nominee loser. Who would benefit most from the "bump"? My money is on Melissa Leo. In other words, and like it or not, I see the best actress and best supporting actor Oscars going to a dark horse and a dark knight in that order.
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Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Amy Adams in “Doubt” (Miramax);
Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (The Weinstein Company)
Viola Davis in “Doubt” (Miramax);
Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.);Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight).

MIMI PICKS: I love Penélope Cruz, but I fear she will once again be shut out, especially since the Weinstein Company, which has both VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA and THE READER in their distribution stable is putting all their energy toward THE READER and Kate Winslet. Tomei was not as good as she could have been, and Adams gave a superb performance, but it was a low-key one. That leaves Viola Davis for DOUBT and Taraji P. Henson for BENJAMIN BUTTON. I mostly miss in this category, so I will simply say that it will either be Davis or Henson.
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Best animated feature film of the year

BOLT (Walt Disney);
KUNG FU PANDA (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount);
WALL-E (Walt Disney).

MIMI PICKS: WALL-E! Enough said.
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Best documentary feature

THE BETRAYAL (Nerakhoon) (Cinema Guild);
THE GARDEN (A Black Valley Films Production);
MAN ON WIRE (Magnolia Pictures).

MIMI PICKS: MAN ON WIRE. I was riveted, and it has won more awards than any film in this category.
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Best foreign language film of the year

THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX (A Constantin Film Production), Germany;
THE CLASS (Sony Pictures Classics), France;
DEPARTURES (Regent Releasing),Japan;
REVANCHE (Revenge, Janus Films), Austria
WALTZ WITH BASHIR (Sony Pictures Classics), A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production, Israel.

MIMI PICKS: THE CLASS. Why? It won at Cannes, and it is a sentimental thing with me. This movie reminds me of the work of the late French director, François Truffaut, who was my friend. I miss him and his movies.
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Adapted screenplay

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJHAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord;
DOUBT (Miramax), Written by John Patrick Shanley;
FROST/NIXON (Universal), Screenplay by Peter Morgan;
THE READER (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Hare;
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy.

MIMI PICKS: All of these adaptations presented challenges, and all movies are nominated for best picture. Oh, dear. Oh, dear. I'm going with Simon Beufoy (THE FULL MONTY) for SLUMDOG.
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Original screenplay

FROZEN RIVER (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt;
HAPPY-GO-LUCKY (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh;
IN BRUGES (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh;
MILK (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black;
WALL-E (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter.

MIMI PICKS: MILK gets the nod here for being the sensitive subject and I think it would be a splendid pick in this category, but WALL-E blew me away with its intricacies and beautiful heart, and I'm going to say, WALL-E.
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MIMI PICKS: Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score) - SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song) - “Down to Earth” from WALL-E (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel.
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Achievement in directing

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Fincher;
FROST/NIXON (Universal), Ron Howard;
MILK (Focus Features), Gus Van Sant;
THE READER (The Weinstein Company), Stephen Daldry;
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle.

MIMI PICKS: First, I am delighted that the Academy members did not pick any director out of left field for this category as they did last year. This year they nominated directors of movies nominated for best picture. Well done! Who will win? I pick, Danny Boyle (TRAINSPOTTING, 1996 and SUNSHINE, 2007) for SLUMDOG.
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Best motion picture of the year

FROST/NIXON (Universal);
MILK (Focus Features);
THE READER (The Weinstein Company);

MIMI PICKS: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. I first learned of this film at the Toronto Film Festival where it won the 2008 Cadillac People's Choice Award this past September. After that, this U.K. production shot in Mumbai, and Maharashtra, India, has won award after award, after award, after . . . well, you get the picture.

Good luck, everyone and party hardy!

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