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Oscars 2009: Predictions for Best Picture

BEST
PICTURE

       

Predictions: The Five Noms:

Australia (20th Century Fox) Prod: G. Mac Brown, Catherine Knapman, Baz Luhrmann
The Curious Case of Benjamin
Button
(Warner Bros) Prod: Ceán Chaffin, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall
Frost/Nixon (Universal Pictures) Prod: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard
Milk (Focus Features) Prod: Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks and Michael London
Revolutionary Road (Paramount Vantage) Prod: Bobby Cohen, John Hart, Sam Mendes, Scott Rudin

From the sure bets to dark horse possibilities, for the Best Picture noms, I’ve broken down my predictions into three groups – making for a huge family of films, that as the year comes to an end, will be easily interchangeable. By the looks of it, the 2008 film year should see both studio and
specialty films share top billing on Oscar night. Among the heavyweights, my grouping of three includes two regulars and as last year confirmed, a major underdog.

I’ll be curious to see how Baz Luhrmann Australia is received. Much time has passed since his long awaited follow-up to his
Oscar nominated Moulin Rouge – and Nicole Kidman’s stock has dropped. This is one of those pricey, sweeping epics that the Academy might gawk at in a Gone with the Wind kind of manner.

Universal Pictures will have a mini dilemma on their hands…which
film are they going to promote more – Ron Howard or Clint Eastwood? The
answer will come from whoever the critics prefer most. Howard’s Dick
Nixon adaptation might be steal the slot from Eastwood this year –
with a smaller in scope picture and though it is receiving a summer
release – I have the feeling that it won’t receive a cold Cinderella Man type of reception.

Voters will get to the option to retract from their non-support of David Fincher’s Zodiac, by getting behind The Curious Case of Benjamin
Button
. Pitt’s performance will ultimately decide whether this stands a fighting chance.

Like its parent company Universal, Focus Features might have a difficult time in deciding which leading man to support in the Sean Penn’s Milk versus Benicio Del Toro’s Che. After being bruised by the Oscar treatment that Atonement got, expect the mini major to get behind Milk. Look for the buzz to build after a showing at Venice.

My fifth and final pick, comes in the form of Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road – a period piece drama that re-pairs Titanic co-stars Leo and Kate. Paramount Pictures recently traded the film to the Paramount Vantage brand – the same one that was very successful at the last Oscars.

 

If these 5 noms don’t make it into the top five I expect to see:…

The Contenders:

The Argentine
Dir. Steven Soderbergh. At this point I’m not even sure that without a studio attached that there is indeed a strategy to
implement for the Che films. Pitting both films in the same year
could be deadly in terms of focus, attention and prospects – but if del Toro “stronger” in part II? If not, then they will so want for The Argentine to stick out, so perhaps the spotlight ill only be on one film and the votes will go one way.

Body of Lies
(Warner Bros. Pictures) Dir. Ridley Scott. Leo DiCaprio will once again have one of those years where he excels in
a pair of roles – especially in Ridley Scott’s film where the actor is
teamed with Russell Crowe. Despite the sense that we’ve been placed in
this predicament before, expect Body of Lies to go places.

Burn After
Reading

(Focus Features) Dir. Joel and Ethan Coen. When Focus announced that they were placing the Coen’s latest in the
month of September it was like stating that “we have many items in the
pipeline” and a hoilday release will be reserved to the project with a
better shot. So for Burn After
Reading
, it’s a question of preferring dramatic fair over.

The Changeling
(Universal Pictures) Dir. Clint Eastwood. After two Best Picture wins, many would predict a hat trick for
Eastwood. Naturally this makes sense considering the era in which this
is pulled from and the leading lady that headlines the picture. If I
had a top 6 noms – The Changeling would be the number 6 pick.

Defiance
(Paramount Vantage) Dir. Edward Zwick. A this point I’m not sure which war-themed film has the edge (the other being Spike Lee’s European shot film).
Scenes from a concentration camp, an ensemble cast of players and a
director who is liked by the Academy does help Defiance‘s chances.

Doubt
(Miramax Films) Dir. John Patrick Shanley. This may be Miramax’s only way into the Oscar party and much depends on
how Hoffman Streep and Adams play off one another. The weighty issues
of Doubt certainly help.

Miracle at St.
Anna

(Walt Disney) Dir. Spike Lee. A Disney film in a non-animated category going for Oscar gold? Spike Lee’s Miracle at St.
Anna
has the subject matter going for it – and a production value.

The Reader
(The Weinstein Company) Dir. Stephen Daldry. Just like Leo has two big roles uinveilin this year, so might Kate Winslet whenall is said and done. The maker behind The Hours finally comes back with this intriguing storyline that might stand a better chance than the Eastwood film.

Synecdoche, New
York

(TBA) Dir. Charlie Kaufman. Apart from the Coen bros’ next, this year is heavy in the serious stuff and therefore Kaufman’s debut stands a better chance. Critical response from Cannes and the studio that ends up picking up the rights to the project will determine if we see Synecdoche, New
York
in the upper crust.

The Long Shots:
Adventureland (Miramax Films) Dir.Greg Mottola
Blindness (Miramax Films) Dir.Fernando Meirelles
Happy-Go-Lucky (Miramax Films) Dir.Mike Leigh
The Lucky Ones (Lionsgate Films) Dir.Neil Burger

Towelhead (Warner Independent
Pictures
) Dir.Alan Ball
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (The Weinstein Company) Dir.Woody Allen
The Wrestler (TBA) Dir.Darren Aronofsky
The Young
Victoria
(TBA) Dir. Jean-Marc Vallée
Youth in Revolt (Dimension Films) Dir. Miguel Arteta

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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