Justin: Why don’t we just get Best Picture out of the way? Of all the “major awards” this year, it’s the least exciting.
Sam: I actually think we can predict Best Picture and Director in one fell swoop.
Justin: Sure, because in both cases “Slumdog Millionaire,” directed by Danny Boyle, will win. Agreed ?
Sam: Unfortunately. I mean, “Slumdog” is a great movie; it’s inventive; it’s clever, it’s emotionally compelling. But, like “Juno,” for example, it’s really not “Best Picture” quality for me. I’m not sure how it so easily became the clear favorite. As thoroughly as it succeeds as a love story, it fails as being anything more than that.
Justin: The comparison with “Juno” is apt. Of what’s nominated, what should win? I’d love to see “Milk” get it.
Sam: Anything but “Slumdog.” I’m a huge “Benjamin Button” supporter. For all the haters, no movie has captivated me quite like it has this year.
Justin: The hip thing to do now is to hate “Button.” I, too, was captivated by “Button,” but it has lost buzz and failed to pick up any major pre-Oscar awards. It won’t win Best Picture.
Sam: Best Actor, on the other hand, is the only major category still up in the air.
Justin: It’s a close contest between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke. I think Penn deserves it, and I bet he will win. Did you see “The Wrestler”?
Sam: I did. As captivating as I found “Button,” that’s how disgusting I found “The Wrestler.” I’ve kind of been shocked by the general critical acclaim of the film. I’m all for a nice redemption story, but I’m not sure how in-your-face grit and violent realism got confused for fine acting or cinema. Not to mention, I found the themes of the movie rather trite. I was sick of having the stripping/wrestling analogy slammed down my throat when I understood what they were going for in Marissa Tomei’s first scene.
Justin: I’m less shocked by the general acclaim for “The Wrestler.” In fact, I liked the film all the way up to the last 20 minutes. What I’m not ga-ga over is Rourke’s performance. But everyone does love a “comeback.”
Sam: It’s interesting to see Frank Langella’s performance as Nixon get largely ignored this awards season. He made that movie for me. As transformative an impersonation as Penn’s, I thought — though I would give the edge to Penn, as well.
Justin: Yes, I believe Langella is highly deserving. I wish I had seen “The Visitor,” because I really like Richard Jenkins, but no one saw that movie.
Sam: I was pretty content with the five nominees. Although, I must say I was shocked by the snub of Zac Efron’s tour de force in “High School Musical 3.”
Justin: On to my favorite category: Best Actress.
Sam: It’s one of the stronger categories I can remember. I think Winslet will take home the trophy — I wish it was for “Revolutionary Road” rather than “The Reader.” But Hathaway and Streep could’ve won any other year.
Justin: Oh God. I think Winslet was nominated for the better role, even if it decreases her chances of winning. Still, I think neither “The Reader” nor “Revolutionary Road” gives us her best work, and I would much rather see Streep or Hathaway win. I hope it’s Streep. She always wins the minor awards but, let’s face it, Hillary Swank has more Best Actress Oscars, and that ain’t right. I haven’t seen “Frozen River” but I want to. I haven’t seen “The Changeling” and DON’T want to.
Sam: I saw “Changeling.” Angelina deserves the nomination, if only because she managed to pull of the role while wearing makeup that make her look like the bastard child of Michael Jackson and an ape. I know you aren’t much of a fan of “Revolutionary,” but I think Winslet’s work in the last 45 minutes of the film rival anything I’ve ever seen in film.
Justin: In all likelihood, she’ll win this year, though for the other film.
Sam: Indeed. It was such a strong year for actresses though. Cate Blanchett was pretty awesome in “Button,” but somehow I can’t imagine a set of five nominees I’d be happy with that includes her.
Justin: Blanchett’s definitely done better work.
Sam: As have Winslet and Streep. I guess by that measure, perhaps it should go to Hathaway. It’s certainly been said enough times, but her rehearsal dinner speech is the stuff Oscar reels are made of.
Justin: I love that you can tell how desperately Hathaway wants an Oscar, and somehow that doesn’t bother me. I thought “Rachel” discovered a side of Hathaway that no one had ever seen before. And while you’re right to pinpoint the flashier moment in the film (the rehearsal speech), it was the angstier, more comedic parts of “Rachel” that I really appreciated. But having seen her acceptance speech at the Critics Choice Awards, I’m afraid she’ll explode if she wins.
Sam: I feel like Winslet has replaced Kate Hudson in a real life “Bride Wars” situation with Hathaway. They both want “Best Actress” so badly — their respective acceptance speeches this year have been borderline psychotic.
Justin: You’re right, which is why I’m rooting for Meryl. Her acceptance speeches are always hilarious.
So we’ve covered the Big 4. Quick thoughts on supporting acting categories? Cruz and Ledger, all the way.
Sam: Yeah — I think both should and will win, pretty clearly. I would say though that the only thing more egregious than the selection of Hugh Jackman as the host is that ROSEMARIE DEWITT WAS NOT NOMINATED FOR “RACHEL GETTING MARRIED”. Thinking about it gets me angrier than Chris Brown.
Justin: Final thoughts? Did you think 2008 was a good year for movies, relative to previous years?
Sam: I think it was quite a strong one. Some of my favorite Oscar contending performances of all time— “Doubt,” “Benjamin Button,” Anne Hathaway, Heath. But there were also some of my favorite films in other spheres: action (“Dark Knight”), animated (“WALL-E”), romantic comedy (“27 Dresses”), horror (“Cloverfield”), and, well, pure escapism (“Twilight”… which I’ve seen twice).
Justin: Yes, I thought 2008 beat 2007 hands-down. I don’t know how exciting the awards ceremony will be (and I agree Hugh Jackman as host is bizarre, to say the least), but as always my biggest wish is to be surprised. Do you think Christian Bale will be there? And more importantly, do you think he’ll get angry when they make fun of him?
Sam: The only way is if he were going to do some SNL style PR and parody himself by freaking out at Jackman in the middle of the show or something. Otherwise, I’d imagine he’ll be watching Heath win from home, where nobody’s going to walk in front of the light.