Well, here we are again, folks. It’s Oscar time. It was a big year in 2008 for movies, no doubt about it. So much so, that I wonder if some of the summer blockbusters will have a chance at nominations. Let’s see who might show up in the Academy’s sights for consideration this year.
The Usual Suspects:
Generally, the Academy likes their Oscar films to be dramatic, often dark or serious in tone and content, with a heavy message and sometimes period pieces. This year has no shortage of those, with films like “Frost/Nixon”, “Revolutionary Road”, “The Duchess”, “Seven Pounds”, “Doubt”, “Miracle At St. Anna”, Rachel Getting Married”, “Changeling”, “The Reader”, and “Milk”, “Australia”, “The Wrestler”, “Valkyrie”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, and late arrival, “Defiance”.
All these films have the elements that the Academy usually likes. There are a lot of strong performances this year by both men and women. Best Actor nods could go to many, including Frank Langella for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in “Frost/Nixon”, or maybe another shot for Leonardo DiCaprio in “Revolutionary Road”. Clint Eastwood might get a nom seeing as the talk about town is that “Gran Torino” is likely to be his acting swan song. Brad Pitt could get a nom for his Benjamin Button, and certainly both Sean Penn for “Milk” and the remarkable turn of Mickey Roarke in “The Wrestler”.
And indeed, the Best Actress category is well populated this time around, with possible nods going to Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightly, Michelle Williams, or even Anne Hathaway, if the buzz around town has any worth, and we know how random Hollywood can be about such things.
It could really go any way at all, and that has been the case sometimes at Oscar time. Hey, sometimes it’s really obvious, sometimes it’s just predictable, sometimes they throw us a curve ball or two (Hi, Marisa Tomei!). And sometimes it’s a WTF? Hey “Shakespeare In Love”, do you even know how lucky you were?
But this year, something’s a little different. Turns out, this past years’ summer movies were pretty damn good, too.
The Surprise Summer Blockbusters:
This past year we had some pretty amazing summer movies. Could we see some surprise nominations this Oscar season that are not just effects or animated feature?
There’s talk of “The Dark Knight” possibly getting a Best Picture nomination. And we certainly are all aware of Heath Ledger’s VERY potential nomination for at least Best Supporting Actor, which he certainly deserves.
But what of Iron Man’s Robert Downey, Jr.? He hasn’t woken up drunk in a stranger’s kid’s bed in a while. He might have a chance at a nod. People like him when he’s not missing call times because of drugs or booze. I know I do. That guy is talented. And Hell, there’s even talk of a nomination for his role in “Tropic Thunder”, which is kinda cool seeing as the Academy is usually grossly negligent of comedies at the Oscars.
There’s certainly no way to know any of this for sure, though we could probably make a few general educated guesses. My guess is that only “The Dark Knight” has any chance of garnering any Oscar notice out of all the summer movies. Well, maybe “Wall-E”, but it’s a Pixar movie and we know their track record. Though let’s not forget “Kung-Fu Panda”, the only other animated film that has a chance at beating “Wall-E”. In fact, it has a really good chance of beating it. I think it will take Best Animated film this year.
The Lesser Knowns:
There are some small and smallish films out there that might not be as well-known as most, but were good and have the attention of the Academy. Such films as “Wendy and Lucy”, “Frozen River”, “I’ve loved You So Long”, “Happy Go Lucky”, all have some potential nominations for Best Actress in particular. So you never know who’s going to turn up on that list.
The Ones That Shouldn’t Get Their Hopes Up:
Some movies you definitely won’t be seeing on the nomination list are, “Max Payne”, “Lakeview Terrace”, Eagle Eye”, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, “W.”, “Saw V”, “High School Musical 3 : Senior Year”, “Soul Men”, “The Day The Earth Stood Still”, and my favorite, “Bangkok Dangerous”.
And if you do see any of them on a nomination list, it will be the Raspberry Awards. If it’s any other list, kill me, and then yourself, because that will mean the Academy has finally truly lost its mind and the end of the world will shortly follow. Don’t bother to duck and cover. That won’t help you when the Universe collapses in on itself and all of existence is snuffed out in a brief but soundless blink of light.
Let’s hope the Academy at least makes some logical decisions about who to award for their exceptional level of filmmaking. You know, like at least great films and performers get recognized this year instead of things like “Crash” or Rene Zellweger for “Cold Mountain”. Don’t give me that look. You know what I’m talking about.
–Neil T. Weakley, average movie-goer not ready to be imploded with the Universe just because the Academy fucks up.