Saturday, February 21, 2009
Meh. Not since 1995's ceremony - where, after winning 5 other awards, Forrest Gump won the Best Picture award competing against both Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption - have I been so unexcited about an Oscars show. I mean, somehow Gump is back again... er, wait... I mean Benjamin Button... competing against some equally slight films. And it seems like it's a foregone conclusion that one of my least favorite movies of the year, the extremely overrated Slumdog Millionaire, will win a slew of awards (probably even the Best Picture award). So what's in it for me this year? Why bother picking any of the races, if I can't even muster the interest in the proceedings this year? Like I said... meh! So I'll skip the races I'm bored with and just bring up a couple of points of interest, so to speak. Best Actor looks like the most interesting one with Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke being the front-runners. While personally, my heart's with fellow Miami boy, Mickey Rourke, I fear that his overexposure this awards season may have worked against this man of mystique. So Sean Penn may run out with this one, which wouldn't be all bad since he gave a hell of a performance in Milk. And karmically speaking, maybe this is a reward for being one of the few directors to keep Rourke working during his low period in 2001's The Pledge. Kate Winslet should win for The Reader, only who knows why she was even nominated for that. Penelope Cruz and Viola Davis are another interesting race to look at for Best Supporting Actress (Taraji P. Henson, I loved you in Hustle and Flow, but I don't see what merited the nomination this year). Wall·E is a shoo-in for Best Animated feature. But honestly, it should have competed in the Best Picture category where it could have, and should have, easily won. The only upset of the night would occur if for some mysterious Academy-related reason, Heath Ledger would lose the Supporting Actor award. Posthumous nominations have a bad record at the Oscars. The technical awards this year? This one gets a "Who REALLY cares?" from me. When you have The Dark Knight - a movie that has a near-unintelligible third act - up for Film Editing, and Benjamin Button up for Best Makeup - when in fact, most of its makeup achievements are perked up by CGI - then what really comes to mind is how much the nomination process, and even the categories, are in need of an overhaul. With Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) named executive producer this year, the actual Oscar ceremony might prove to be the most interesting aspect of the evening. Hugh Jackman (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), a pretty talented showman when performing live, is the evening's host. Michael Giacchino (Lost) is conducting the orchestra. And they've even tried to spice things up a bit by keeping its roster of presenters secret. I'm hoping this all adds up to a surprisingly exciting evening. I usually make a day of this. Despite disagreeing with most of what is usually awarded, as a movie lover it still excites me to see a day in which my passion for movies is shared in celebration by others. But expect Slumdog Millionaire to sweep most of its nominations, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - though slight, still a bit of an underrated film - to lose most of its noms. If this happens, then predictability will still reign on another stale awards night. The 81st Academy Awards airs Sunday night on ABC at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.