Nominees for the 81st Academy Awards were announced recently, and there don’t seem to be many surprises to anyone who has watched or read about the Critics Choice awards or the Golden Globes. For those of you who do not know about the results of those awards ceremonies, you can view the winners of the Critics Choice awards here and the winners of the Golden Globes here. The Oscar nominees are mainly made up of the same nominees in the previously mentioned ceremonies. You can view the complete list of nominees for this year’s Academy Awards here. But I would like to focus on the things that I have found to be most interesting among this year’s nominees.
The usual suspects are all here: Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Doubt, Milk, and The Wrestler. The big blockbusters are also represented, as The Dark Knight and Iron Man have been nominated multiple times. Even the comedy genre is represented, as Robert Downey Jr is nominated for his work in Tropic Thunder. There are some intriguing things to look out for at this year’s ceremony.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has once again been nominated for a slew of categories (13 to be precise) Ben Button was also nominated for a bunch of categories at the Critics Choice and the Golden Globes, but the film did not have much to show for the nominations it received. Will the Oscar’s be any different? It’s hard to believe that the film could be nominated so many times and not win a couple. Ben Button was one of those films that was very hyped leading up to it’s release, perhaps all the buzz before awards season caused a lot of people to have high expectations. Perhaps they were not met, and maybe that is the biggest issue for the film this time of year.
The biggest film of the year, at least in terms of box office success, was The Dark Knight. There has been a lot of talk since the film ended it’s first theatrical run about whether or not it would receive any attention come awards season. Surely the film was a huge hit, but does that really warrant awards season nominations? Well, the film was nominated for eight Oscars this year. But the bigger categories, like Best Director, Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, nearly shut out TDK. The film received one nomination in those categories, Heath Ledger as the Joker was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Surely this is no surprise. Realistically, Best Actor shouldn’t really be considered as a category that TDK could have been nominated for. But Best Director and Best Picture? One could argue that TDK could have been nominated for both of them. Ledger posthumously won in the best supporting actor category for both the Globes and the Critics Choice. So there is no reason to believe Ledger wouldn’t win at the Oscar’s. It would be a feel good story for sure. The other categories TDK was nominated in include: Art Direction, Cinematography, Film Editing, Makeup, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects.
Another interesting story involves the best film that mainstream, “middle America” has probably never seen, Slumdog Millionaire. It has been nominated 10 times. Considering how the film fared at the other two big awards ceremonies, it is a strong possibility that Slumdog could end up winning in multiple categories. The film is being praised by critics everywhere, yet it’s limited theatrical release has prevented many movie fans all over the country from seeing it. Still, it was very successful in the awards ceremonies, so it could take home multiple Oscars.
The biggest story to watch, in my opinion, is the showdown in the Best Actor category. There are five nominees, but there are three realistic contenders. The performances by Frank Langella as Nixon, Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, and Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, are the ones with the best shot at winning. A winner in this category that is not from this group of three men would have to be considered a shocking upset, even though all of the men nominated are accomplished actors. Sean Penn would have to be considered the favorite at this point, likely a result of the subject matter addressed in his film. The nature of the role lends itself to nomination very well. But how can anyone root against Mickey Rourke? Personally, I am pulling for him to take it home. Rourke’s story has always been a sad one, when you think of all that he has been through in his career. The Wrestler was a truly fantastic film, if you haven’t seen it, you should. You can check out our review of The Wrestler here. Staff writer 790 suggested Rourke’s performance will net him the Oscar this year. Now that he has been nominated (this is his first nomination) we are one step closer. I will be rooting for Rourke in this one. That’s actually a good slogan… Root for Rourke!
The Oscar’s this year may have a lot of the same things you’ve already seen from Critics Choice or the Globes, but there are enough stories here to warrant a watch. Tune in to the Oscars on February 22nd, live at 8 ET/5PT on ABC!