Jonathan Melville: Slumdogging it on the Academy Awards carpet
THIS Sunday sees the red carpet rolled out for Hollywood's finest as they gather in Los Angeles to find out whether the movie gods have smiled on them at the Academy Awards.
From Bombay's slums to the White House, suburban America to the wrestling ring, the competition is stiff: but who's going to win on the night?
Best Film: Although 'serious' is the word that has typified the winner of this category in recent years, with both The Reader and Milk fitting the bill nicely in 2009, the current global economic crisis could lead to the Academy to decide that what the world needs now is love sweet love, meaning The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire rise to the top of the pile.
While Button is more style over substance, a three hour ode to CGI, Slumdog at least has some life to it and I've a feeling it might take top place on the night.
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke's performance in The Wrestler was one of the strongest of the year, showing what he can do with a decent script and director. Elsewhere Brad Pitt is up for his role of Benjamin Button, however one-note it may have been, while Frank Langella as Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon is a definite maybe, in turns intimidating and vulnerable. While I have a feeling the Academy will go with Brad, I'm hoping Mickey will be going home with the statuette
Best Actress: There's a scene in an episode of Ricky Gervais' Extras where Kate Winslet, playing herself, claims that, 'If you do a film about the Holocaust, you're guaranteed an Oscar'. Prophetically, Winslet's is now nominated for her role as an ex-SS prison guard in The Reader. Meryl Streep, up for her role in Doubt, may be an Academy favourite, but it's probably between Winslet and Angelina Jolie (nominated for The Changeling) for Best Actress. I'm plumping for Kate.
Best Supporting Actor: Anyone who saw Michael Shannon steal scene after scene in Revolutionary Road or Robert Downey Jr go nicely OTT in Tropic Thunder knows they must both be in with a good chance of winning this category. Rightly or wrongly, I'd say there's more chance of the award going to the late Heath Ledger, his performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight worthy of some recognition.
Best Supporting Actress: With two actresses nominated for Doubt, the odds are stacked in its favour in this category, however I'm going to go for Marisa Tomei for her performance as Cassidy The Wrestler, one of the best of 2008.
Best Director: David Fincher may have the generation-spanning Benjamin Button under his belt, but I'll go with Danny Boyle for his work on Slumdog Millionaire which saw him weave humour in with the darkness, providing an ultimately rewarding ending, something Button lacked.
Best Animated Feature Film: Pandas, robots and a super dog vie for supremacy here, but for me there's no competition: with its stunning silent opening sequence and a hero with more humanity than many humans, WALL-E is my choice for best animation.
All I have to do now is wait to see if the Academy agree.
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