Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ Frost/Nixon ~ Milk ~ Slumdog Millionaire ~ The Reader
Who will win: Slumdog Millionaire. It's an underdog that's not under anything anymore. It's got 10 nominations overall, and has largely swept the awards circuit, getting major awards from BAFTA, the Golden Globes, the National Board of Review, the Producers Guild, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Writers Guild, among others. Plus, it's a great flick. This won't break my heart.
Who should win: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Despite everything I just said, Benjamin Button was the film that captured my heart this year. I've heard a lot of people deride this movie as slow, weird, the second Forrest Gump... whatever. It was beautiful, and it touched me. That plus Cate Blanchett is all I need for a Best Picture. Besides, it didn't end with jazz hands. WTF, Slumdog?
Nominees: David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon ~ Gus Van Sant for Milk ~ Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire ~ Stephen Daldry for The Reader
Who will win: Danny Boyle. Besides the fact that Oscar likes to give Best Director and Best Picture to the same film, Boyle really did do a fantastic job with this one. On the other hand, it's cool that Stephen Daldry has gotten his third nomination...for his third film! No other director of at least three films has ever been nominated by the Academy for his entire body of work. Even so, Daldry will have to be happy with that. The Oscar goes to Boyle.
Who should win: David Fincher. Everything fit so well together in this movie: the flow of the story, the performance of the actors, the special effects, the overall feel. It was seamless, and for that I give credit to Fincher.
Nominees: Richard Jenkins for The Visitor ~ Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon ~ Sean Penn for Milk ~ Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler
Who will win: Mickey Rourke. Everyone loves a comeback. And I'm thinking a lot of people just want to see what he'll do at the podium when he wins.
Who should win: Sean Penn. In all honesty, I think Sean Penn is kind of a tool. He's one of those people who takes himself way too seriously. But he can act. And he did a great job acquainting us with the flawed, brilliant, trailblazing Harvey Milk. Though I'm not a fan of his, Sean Penn did his job, and he deserves to be rewarded for it.
Nominees: Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married ~ Angelina Jolie for Changeling ~ Melissa Leo for Frozen River ~ Meryl Streep for Doubt ~ Kate Winslet for The Reader
Who will win: Kate Winslet. She's been previously nominated for her acting five times, and has yet to win an Oscar. Besides, her performance was brilliant, conflicted, and moving. I'll be happy for her.
Who should win: Angelina Jolie. I have similar feelings for Ms. Jolie as I do for Sean Penn: not a big fan of her personally, but I can't deny her acting ability. She knocked me on my ass in Changeling. By the way, I'd also be thrilled if Anne Hathaway took this one home. Her performance was powerful, touching, and (it may seem weird to say this about an Oscar nominee) underrated.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Josh Brolin for Milk ~ Robert Downey, Jr. for Tropic Thunder ~ Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt ~ Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight ~ Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road
Who will win: Heath Ledger. It was an astounding, buzzed-about performance before Ledger's tragic death, and when he passed on, it became legendary. Voters will want to give him the Oscar he should have received for Brokeback Mountain.
Who should win: Heath Ledger. OK, I'll go along with that.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams for Doubt ~ Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona ~ Viola Davis for Doubt ~ Taraji P. Henson for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler
Who will win: Viola Davis. She's a long-respected theater actress, and she blew our minds with just one scene. She managed to take a position which was unthinkable and make it relatable.
Who should win: Amy Adams. Same movie, not as flashy... but perfect. Plus, I gotta root for my hometown girl.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Courtney Hunt for Frozen River ~ Mike Leigh for Happy-Go-Lucky ~ Martin McDonagh for In Bruges ~ Dustin Lance Black for Milk ~ Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, and Pete Docter for WALL-E
Who will win: Dustin Lance Black. The Academy won't want Milk to go home empty-handed, and Best Actor is not necessarily a lock for Sean Penn.
Who should win: Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, and Pete Docter. A story almost without dialogue that moved audiences so profoundly; this hasn't happened since The Red Balloon.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: Eric Roth and Robin Swicord for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~ John Patrick Shanley for Doubt ~ Peter Morgan for Frost/Nixon ~ David Hare for The Reader ~ Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire
Who will win: Simon Beaufoy. Slumdog'll sweep it.
Who should win: David Hare. I was a fan of the book, The Reader, and Hare didn't make me hate the film. It's a rare achievement (adapted screenwriting is harder than anything most of us will ever do), and it should be rewarded.
Best Animated Film
Nominees: Bolt ~ Kung Fu Panda ~ WALL-E
Who will win: WALL-E. Pixar has never made a bad film; in fact, they seem to get better and better. This romantic, touching fable deserves an Oscar sweep.
Who should win: WALL-E.
So, there you have it. Tune in Sunday night to see how it all unfolds... and then come back here next week to see me gloat... or, more likely, take my lumps.