Duncan's Oscar Nominee Predictions

Plenty of people predict the Oscars. I predict the nominees. With the exception of categories in which I’ve seen no entries at all (both shorts, both docs, and foreign language), I’ll do my best to handicap the other 19 categories.

Best Original Score:

Thomas Newman, Wall∙E
Danny Elfman, Milk
James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight
A. R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
Alexandre Desplat, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

These seem like the five to beat to me- some of these composers face upset potential from themselves, however: Newman’s Revolutionary Road work, Howard’s Defiance score, and Zimmer’s Frost/Nixon score could easily take one of the spots.

Sentimental Favorite: I’d be miffed if Newton and Howard’s work on TDK was overlooked after a brief eligibility controversy, but really I’m already sad that Carter Burwell’s fine music from In Bruges won’t come close- hands down my favorite score of the year.

Best Original Song

“Down To Earth” Thomas Newman and Peter Gabriel, Wall∙E
“The Wrestler,” Bruce Springsteen, The Wrestler
“Jai Ho,” A. R. Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
“Once In A Lifetime,” Beyonce (and five others), Cadillac Records
“Something From High School Musical 3,” Some Songwriter, High School Musical 3

Hopefully, with any luck, god willing, good lord please, High School Musical 3 doesn’t get more than one nomination, if any. Please. The others I see as pretty likely- Bruuuuce’s ballad and the song over Wall∙E’s credits are all but locked in, and Slumdog is the reason for the season so far. Plus the Academy likes Beyonce. But then, this category is always the most bonkers one to predict…

Sentimental Favorite(s): There are so many songs on the list of 49 eligible songs I like more but probably won’t make it that I have an alternate five I’d like to see more:

“The Little Things,” Danny Elfman, Wanted- who knew Elfman was a badass? Either this or Jack White’s underrated “Another Way To Die” from Quantum Of Solace.
”O Saya,” A. R. Rahman and M. I. A., Slumdog Millionaire- people are leaning toward the big ending number of Slumdog, but I’d love to have them go with the opener so M. I. A. can perform at the Oscars to cap off her crazy year.
“The Call,” Regina Spektor, The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian- Regina Spektor is one of my dream girls.
“Little Person,” Jon Brion, Synecdoche, New York- Jon Brion, meanwhile, is one of my heroes.
“Dracula’s Lament,” Jason Segel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall- Just watch.

Best Visual Effects:

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Iron Man
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Of the seven finalists, these seem like clear favorites: Button for innovation, Hellboy for flair, and Iron Man for precision.

Sentimental Favorite: I kind of want to see The Dark Knight lead Button in overall nominations, but I can’t justify a nod here over the above. Personally I’m sad The Fall didn’t land in this category for originality alone.

Best Makeup:

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Again, these run the table of impressively complete (Button), creatively elaborate (Hellboy), and downright memorable (TDK).

Sentimental Favorite: You’d hope Tropic Thunder could get some recognition for actually very impressive blackface. But, you know, maybe not.

Best Costume Design:

The Duchess
Revolutionary Road
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight

Somehow I nearly forgot this category.

Best Sound Editing:

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Quantum Of Solace

Loud noises!

Sentimental Favorite: Shrug.

Best Sound Mixing:

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Slumdog Millionaire

The sound categories never match five for five. Otherwise, you got me.

Sentimental Favorite: Buh?

Best Art Direction:

The Dark Knight
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire
Revolutionary Road
The Duchess

Sentimental Favorite: The Fall should really get a bunch of art noms, in my mind.

Best Editing

The Dark Knight
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire

I think Wall∙E sneaks in to this all-important indicator of BP.

Sentimental Favorite: I think Revolutionary Road was a well-put together film that’ll mostly get forgotten about in the technical categories.

Best Cinematography:

The Dark Knight, Wally Pfister
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Claudio Miranda
Revolutionary Road, Roger Deakins
Milk, Harry Savides
The Reader, Deakins and Chris Menges

Deakins for the consecutive double nominations! Hopefully Milk gets a few smaller award nominations, and I see TDK and Button continuing to roll.

Sentimental Favorite: The Fall, again- beautiful film. Also I think it’d be cool if Deakins pulled a hat trick with his work for Doubt.

Best Animated Feature:

Waltz With Bashir
Kung Fu Panda

Like we even need to waste time announcing the other nominees, come presentation time.

Sentimental Favorite: Actually, beyond Bolt (which I haven’t seen), I can’t think of any other animated features this year? Something about a mouse?

Best Original Screenplay:

Milk, Dustin Lance Black
The Wrestler, Robert Siegel
Rachel Getting Married, Jenny Lumet
Wall∙E, Andrew Stanton
Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen

Unfortunately Allen’s terribly overrated VCB will take a spot, and maybe even the Cohen’s ho-hum script for Burn After Reading, just because they are who they are. Milk and The Wrestler are locked in, and I say the Lumet name plus the warm feelings for Rachel Getting Married puts it over the bubble.

Sentimental Favorite: It’ll be a crying shame if/when Martin McDonagh’s flawless script for In Bruges gets left out. And I haven’t seen The Visitor, but I’m a big Todd McCarthy fan- he knows how to craft a tale.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

The Dark Knight, Christopher & Jonathan Nolan
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Eric Roth
Doubt, John Patrick Shanley
Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan
Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy

A boring category dominated by contenders. Although, how hard can it be for Shanley and Morgan to adapt their own plays?

Sentimental Favorite: I think the team behind Iron Man did a great job making a tight story out of a less thematically clear mythology than the Batman people.

Best Supporting Actress:

Kate Winslet, The Reader
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler
Taraji Henson, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

I gotta say, it gets pretty locked down from this point on. Tomei is probably the weakest link here.

Sentimental Favorite: How can everyone forget about Rosmarie Dewitt, the Rachel that’s Getting Married and also holding the film together while Hathaway has Oscar scenes.

Best Supporting Actor:

Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire

Probably the most open acting category- Emile Hirsch or James Franco could be the one in for Milk, who knows? Michael Shannon in Revolutionary Road remains a dark horse.

Sentimental Favorite: Ralph Fiennes in In Bruges is a villain for the ages. Mostly I’m just glad we avoided a token little kid this year.

Best Actress:

Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky

I think Melissa Leo got attention too long ago to be remember next week. The top three are all in a dead heat for the statue, with the edge to Winslet because she’s overdue (while Hathaway hasn’t put in her dues, and Meryl has two).

Sentimental Favorite: Rebecca Hall is my favorite part of Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and long overdue for mainstream attention (and bigger roles).

Best Actor:

Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Sean Penn, Milk
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino

After the late-breaking box office of Gran Torino, I say Eastwood knocks DiCaprio out of contention for Road.

Sentimental Favorite: Golden Globe winner Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleason should both be nominated for In Bruges (which isn’t just a comedy, HFPA. Come on.)

Best Director:

Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Darren Arnofsky, The Wrestler

Arnofsky pushes Gus Van Sant (Milk) out of the power five. I’d rather it was Howard missing the cut, but that’s not what my gut says.

Sentimental Favorite: Can’t Andrew Stanton get some props for coordinating a picture (Wall∙E) that you essentially have to film in your head years beforehand?

Best Picture:

The Dark Knight
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire

Boring, I know- the big five that have won all the early plaudits. For the record, this in order of most to least favorite (Slumdog is great, but overrated. Frost/Nixon continues to mystify me in it’s acclaim, not that it was terrible).

Sentimental Favorite: Have I mentioned In Bruges and The Fall enough yet? You should Netflix these films.


The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button- 14
The Dark Knight- 12
Slumdog Millionaire- 9
Wall∙E- 7
Milk- 6
Frost/Nixon- 5
The Wrestler- 5
Revolutionary Road- 4
Iron Man- 3
Doubt- 4
Hellboy II: The Golden Army- 2
The Reader- 2
Rachel Getting Married- 2
Vicky Cristina Barcelona- 2
The Duchess- 2
Changeling- 2
Cadillac Records, High School Musical 3, The Duchess, Quantum Of Solace, Waltz With Bashir*, Kung Fu Panda, Tropic Thunder, Happy-Go-Lucky, Gran Torino- 1

*Waltz With Bashir is also a lock for the Best Foreign Language category. Also, while we're here, I do know that Man On Wire is a lock for best documentary and Pixar's Presto is a shoe-in for Animated Short, but that's all I got.

We'll see how I did Thursday morning.

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