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The 2008 Oscar® Eye (with Erik Childress) (UPDATED 1/5/09 - Top 8 Category Rankings)

by Erik Childress

Does anyone know anything about the 2008 race? Not really. Films are falling off the schedule and out of the race on a weekly basis, proving semi-final guesses to be, as always, premature and generally undefined. That’s why the mission of The Oscar Eye is not to make an ass out of you and me, but to only consider films that yours truly has seen. I’ll always have a bit of speculation over what screenings are pending, but I’ll never include those final day releases on a semi-final list until I have been invited to a screening and able to judge for myself whether its chances are legitimate, hopeful or nearly dead in the water. More and more its looking like a post-Thanksgiving year. Chicago is scheduled to have all the players screened by Dec. 2 and then its time for the critics to push the race to the next level, which believe it or not, they do. More on that later though. Let’s get to the early lists.






Jan. 5, 2009
So here we are with the Producer’s Guild Nominations - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire.

Most folks look to these nods as a clear indicator of what the Best Picture nominees will eventually be. But its not that clear cut. Since 1998, the PGA noms have matched the Oscars only 37-of-52 times (67.3%). Not a bad percentage, but still pretty average and really only guarantees 3 or 4 of their choices. At this point the locks for Best Picture are probably Slumdog, Ben Button and Milk. That leaves two of possibly three films (The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon or WALL-E) to fill out the list.

Things will look a little more clear once the Director’s Guild announce their nominees this week. As opposed to the PGA’s choices over the past decade, the directors receiving DGA nods see their films go on to a Best Picture opportunity 42 of the last 50 times (84%). Heck, even the Writer’s Guild nominations have a better success rate than the PGA with 34-of-50 (68%) of the Originals and 37-of-50 for the Adapted.

Both the PGA and the WGA will form the last few pieces of the indefinite puzzle. There’s a good chance that the five PGA nominees will receive at least a DGA or a WGA nomination. It will be something to watch out for since in the seven times a PGA nominee received nothing from the other top guilds, it resulted in no Best Picture nomination. A single nod from the Writer’s Guild proves rather fruitless too since only 2 of the last 55 nominees got nominated for the top prize. 5 of the last 6 solo DGA nods without the others though did get a Best Picture nod. Naturally the five PGA hopefuls are looking for recognition from both the DGA and the WGA since getting the trifecta has seen 28 of the last 31 films (90.3%) to receive it get a shot at the top.





**********************BEST PICTURE**********************


1. Slumdog MillionaireLeading the year in awards so far.
2. The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonIt really is the perfect Oscar machine. Except it not being good and all.
3. MilkLooking more and more like a genuine candidate.
4. The Dark KnightSecond only to Slumdog in year-end awards.
5. WALL•EL.A., Chicago, Boston have awarded it. Frost/Nixon to date has Las Vegas.
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6. Frost/NixonGot the precious PGA nod. May need DGA and WGA to push it in for good.
7. The WrestlerBack into the top ten and then some.
8. The ReaderA good film, but maybe in the Miramax days, a better shot.
9 ChangelingThree of Clint Eastwood’s last four films have been nominated for Best Picture but this one isn’t nearly as good.
10. DoubtLikely way too stagy to get massive support here.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN
AustraliaCould prove how whorish voters are for big, bloated epics no matter how bad. Although there’s only room for one Benjamin Button.
Gran TorinoLooks like I owe Changeling an apology.
Happy-Go-LuckyOnly Leigh’s Secrets and Lies got a top nod.
Rachel Getting MarriedDemme’s best film since Something Wild. Period. But seems to have lost traction at the top.
Revolutionary RoadTake away the pedigree and this is just an average domestic period drama.
Synecdoche, New YorkToo many people hate the film for this to have a fighting chance. But its still one of the year’s best despite what they say.
The VisitorEveryone’s early 2008 arthouse favorite will be getting a nice push from Overture in categories.
W.It’s a good enough film to give consideration to, but probably not great enough to mount a serious challenge here.



********************BEST DIRECTOR********************


1. Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) – Way out in front. 8 of last 10 Chicago picks have been nominated.
2. David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) – When the BFCA, Globes and Chicago nominate they have an 86% success rate for a nod since ’98.
3. Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon) – When his film is nominated for Best Picture, he’s 1-for-2 in nods here. No guarantees for the top prize though.
4. Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) – Even if it doesn’t get the Picture nod, they may reward him here since it’s just too good.
5. Gus Van Sant (Milk) – Only a single nod to his credit for Good Will Hunting. This looking like his second.
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6. Andrew Stanton (WALL•E) – His film may get the Best Picture nod it deserves. And he could still be left on the outside here.
7. Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) – Slowly creeping up with a win from Kansas City and nod from the Online Film Critics Society.
8. Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky) – NY Crix have an 80% success rate since 1998. National Society of Film Critics – 60%
9. Stephen Daldry (The Reader) – The whore groups are certainly embracing it.
10. Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road) – His actors act up a storm. But is it to his credit?

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN

Jonathan Demme (Rachel Getting Married) – Nearly every review calls it Demme’s return to form.
Clint Eastwood (Changeling) – Gets a push now with Gran Torino about to shuffle away.
Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) – Is he working on another film telling the story from the gang’s point of view? There’s still time before Dec. 31.
Charlie Kaufman (Synecdoche, New York) – An incredible juggling act for a debut.
Kurt Kuenne (Dear Zachary) – Snubbed by the documentary short list. It’s a better piece of filmmaking than 95% of the directors this year.
Baz Luhrmann (Australia) – Sorry, this is a category for directors.
John Patrick Shanley (Doubt) – Doesn’t open the film up enough from its stage roots to be given a whole lot of credit in the directing department.
Steven Soderbergh (Che) – Could be this year’s David Lynch nomination.
Oliver Stone (W.) – Not in the same league as the films he’s been nominated for in the past. But points for speediness.
Edward Zwick (Defiance) – For all his big-scale productions, he’s never been nominated as director. The streak shall continue.



**********************BEST ACTOR**********************


1. Sean Penn (Milk) – Maybe the biggest lock for a nomination next to Heath Ledger.
2. Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) – Penn is getting more awards right now, but this is still almost a certainty.
3. Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) – These top three looking like easy locks.
4. Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) – Just barely ahead of Pitt at this point.
5. Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) – BFCA, Chicago and the National Board of Review only ones showing love so far.
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6. Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) – Groups seem to be nominating him just by osmosis. Could still happen.
7. Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road) – He was nominated for the wrong movie in ’06 nor in ’97 with Winslet. Could this be the right one?
8. Benicio Del Toro (Che) – Soderbergh got him an Oscar last time. Just got first nod from the Online Film Critics Society.
9. Josh Brolin (W.) – People seem to forgot how great he was in this.
10. Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) – Should have been nominated for The Queen. Will his co-star overshadow him again?

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN
Javier Bardem (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) – A smooth performance in the rare good Woody Allen film this decade.
Adrien Brody (The Brothers Bloom) – Easily his most interesting work since winning the Oscar in 2002. But seems almost forgotten even before it hits theaters.
Dustin Hoffman (Last Chance Harvey) – A nice performance in a nice little movie. Could be last year’s Frank Langella. Not this year’s.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Synecdoche, New York) – A performance of aging and tremendous depth. But all eyes now on Doubt.
Ben Kingsley (Elegy) – The August arthouse performance everyone liked to jump on as an early contender.
Greg Kinnear (Flash of Genius) – Larry King already gave him the Oscar. Pretty difficult when he hasn’t (and won’t) be nominated.
Sam Rockwell (Snow Angels or Choke) – Like Christian Bale, a guy who could get nominated every year.
Will Smith (Seven Pounds) – Critics were being excluded left and right from the film.



**********************BEST ACTRESS**********************


1. Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) – Really taking the strong position as the most likely nominee.
2. Meryl Streep (Doubt) – Could the 15th nomination be celebrated with an eventual win?
3. Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) – Won N.Y., L.A. and the National Society of Film Critics
4. Melissa Leo (Frozen River) – When the Globes snub, but the BFCA, Chicago and SAG don’t – 100% success rate since 2001.
5. Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road) – Could be a double-dip year for her. Looking good for The Reader. That would give her 7 nominations at age 33. Meryl Streep got hers at 39.
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6. Angelina Jolie (Changeling) – Snubbed last year for A Mighty Heart. Could Ben Lyons be wrong? Again. Looking more likely.
7. Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) – Her seduction scene alone will get some votes, but its far off from best work.
8. Michelle Williams (Wendy and Lucy) – Leo may have the better chance at a surprise indie nod.
8. Kate Beckinsale (Nothing But the Truth) – She’s better in Snow Angels, but she gets to go to prison AND fight for journalistic integrity.
10. Kristin Scott-Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long) – Early support surprisingly hasn’t been there. Shows you can’t always frown your way to an Oscar nod.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN
Keira Knightley (The Duchess) – She’ll fall off soon enough, particularly with the odds of less-than-expert “critics” quoting her as a contender.
Frances McDormand (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) – A little March gem that deserves a little rediscovery.
Samantha Morton (Synecdoche, New York) – A beautiful little performance that may get usurped by the debate over the material.
Emma Thompson (Last Chance Harvey) – She’s quite good in a film that’s mainly Hoffman’s.



*****************BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR*****************


1. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) – Who is going to vote against easily the most electrifying performance of the year?
2. Robert Downey, Jr. (Tropic Thunder) – The heat is rising. Did I actually call it back in August?
3. Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt) – His chances have improved considerable with him going supporting here when he’s more of a co-lead.
4. Josh Brolin (Milk) – Only 5 of the last 10 NY Crix Picks got nominated. But 9 of the last 10 National Board of Review have.
5. Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky) – Getting a late surge.
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6. Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) – He has two scenes and blows the doors off them. More love shall come.
7. James Franco (Milk) – His BFCA nod has him up the charts. That turn in Pineapple Express won’t hurt his chances. But will Milk double-dip?
8. Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) – SAG has a 76% rate since ’98. And he looks the most likely to be left off the list.
9. Ralph Fiennes (The Reader) – Plays more notes here than in The Duchess and is very good, especially in the final act.
10. Bill Irwin (Rachel Getting Married – Finally some love from the Chicago Film Critics Association

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN
Alan Alda (Nothing But the Truth) – Two great scenes in Flash of Genius plus little seen Diminished Capacity and this make this a solid year for him.
Kevin Bacon (Frost/Nixon) – A subtle, perfect performance about protecting one’s admiration that is almost destined to be overlooked.
James Cromwell (W.) – Will be battling Jeffrey Wright over who has the most heartfelt moments amongst the supporting players.
Tom Cruise (Tropic Thunder) – Golden Globes have a decent success rate for their nominees. Downey will get more of the focus though.
Richard Dreyfuss (W.) – Has a few chilling moments but probably not enough time for a nomination.
Ralph Fiennes (The Duchess) – The best thing in an otherwise familiar and forgettable film.
Emile Hirsch (Milk) – A lot of actors competing from this film.
Ben Kingsley (The Wackness) – A wacky Kingsley performance critics actually got behind.
Brad Pitt (Burn After Reading) – Keep hyping him Ben Lyons, you “Oscar expert” you.
Jeffrey Wright (W.) – Has the single best monologue in the film.
Jeffrey Wright (Cadillac Records) – Word is he’s great as always. Too bad Sony decided to keep most of Chicago away from it and tell us they weren’t screening it…on the day that they screened it.



****************BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS****************


1. Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona) – Way out in front here for a nomination.
2. Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler) – Only Tomei could get us to look beyond the frequent nudity.
3. Viola Davis (Doubt) – Is she the queen of single scene performances? Has the best one in the film.
4. Kate Winslet (The Reader) – “If you do a Holocaust film, you’re guaranteed an Oscar.”
5. Amy Adams (Doubt) –Even though she’s better in Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, she’s picking up steam.
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6. RoseMarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married) – Goes toe-to-toe with every dramatic moment but is being forgotten about.
7. Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) – Doesn’t even have a Sally Field moment out of Forrest Gump.
8. Vera Farmiga (Nothing But the Truth) – Plays the character we wish the movie were about.
9. Debra Winger (Rachel Getting Married) – Does she have enough screen time to scrounge up votes?
10. Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler) – This film is just a trifecta of terrific performances. But the focus is on Tomei.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN
Kathy Bates ( Revolutionary Road) – Not feeling enough screen time
Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading) – Lyons & Mankiewicz like her for a nomination, so that doesn’t bode well.
Anjelica Huston (Choke) – In a year this weak, even her underwritten role will get consideration.
Tilda Swinton (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ) – Will they go back to her so quickly after last year’s surprise win.
Emma Thompson (Brideshead Revisited) – An adaptation that missed the point except when her character was around.



**************BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY**************


1. Milk (by Dustin Lance Black) – Have you seen how BIG his name is in the trailer? Even if its not extraordinary, it will garner attention.
2. Rachel Getting Married (by Jenny Lumet) – Her dad was nominated for his first feature.
3. WALL•E (by Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon) – 3 of the last 4 Pixar films got an Original Screenplay nomination. This is by far the best of the last 5.
4. Happy-Go-Lucky (by Mike Leigh) – Three nods here since 1997 make it hard to bet against, especially when the National Society of Film Critics are perfect here since 1997.
5. In Bruges (by Martin McDonagh) – Chicago and Phoenix showing it the love.
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6. Synecdoche, New York (by Charlie Kaufman) – Chicago nominates it and show best success rate for a nomination in the screenplay categories.
7. The Wrestler (by Robert D. Siegel) – Not the most original, but its coming up fast.
8. Gran Torino (by Nick Schenk) – From the writer of The Best of Dr. Sphincter. Really people?
9. The Visitor (by Thomas McCarthy) – Snubbed entirely for The Station Agent and this was the critical darling of the first half of the year.
10. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (by Woody Allen) – When the rare Woody flick is good, you can’t keep him off the shortlist. Except the script hasn’t been mentioned this season once.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN
Australia (by Baz Luhrmann, Stuart Beattie, Ronald Harwood & Richard Flanagan) – Forget it.
Changeling (by J. Michael Straczynski) – A writer for Babylon 5, The Real Ghostbusters and He-Man botches a rich story. Will need a Best Picture slot for a nod here.
Seven Pounds (by Grant Nieporte) – Ads may hide the secret. But you’ll know a half-hour in.
W. (by Stanley Weiser) – Probably needed another rewrite and 60 more pages.



****************BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY****************


1. Slumdog Millionaire (by Simon Beaufoy) – A magnificent crowd-pleaser of a script. Just like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine.
2. Frost/Nixon (by Peter Morgan) – If the film fails to reach Picture heights, it likely will warrant a consolation prize here.
3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (by Eric Roth) – More Robin Swicord than Eric Roth. That’s not a good thing when making 23 pages into 167 minutes.
4. Doubt (by John Patrick Shanley) – Shanley’s first big-screen credit since adapting Congo? Seriously?
5. The Dark Knight (by Jonathan Nolan & Christopher Nolan) – This might be the only script nominated here to open before November.
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6. The Reader (by David Hare) – Gives audiences more to think about than Doubt.
7. Let the Right One In (by John Ajvide Lindqvist ) – The Online Film Critics Society just nominated it. Could it sneak in?
8. Revolutionary Road (by Justin Haythe) – Some have criticized elements have been lost in the translation. What else is new with adaptations?
9. Snow Angels (by David Gordon Green) – One of the first screeners received this year. People need to be reminded.
10. Elegy (by Nicholas Meyer) – A triumph when you consider how bad The Human Stain was.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN
Appaloosa (by Robert Knott & Ed Harris) – Just different enough to consider it. But we’re starting to reach.
Choke (by Clark Gregg) – A good movie I’m told made better by its adaptation.
Defiance (by Clayton Frohman & Edward Zwick) – Never add a deus ex machina even if your film is about waiting for an act from God.
The Duchess (by Jeffrey Hatcher, Anders Thomas Jensen & Saul Dibb) – Good thing it didn’t have to be Original.
Flash of Genius (by Philip Railsback) – The reaching was just getting warmed up with Appaloosa.
Iron Man (by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum & Matt Holloway) – If you saw the rest of the list, you’d know this wasn’t so screwy.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (by Lorene Scafaria) – Probably considered too cute to be taken seriously.
Tell No One (by Guillaume Canet & Philippe Lefebvre) – If you thought it couldn’t get any wilder, just wait, there’s more.




*******************BEST ANIMATED FEATURE*******************


1. WALL•EPixar 5-for-5 in nominations here. Nothing even comes close this year.
2. Kung Fu PandaYou can lock this one in too. Good with $200 mil in the bank.
3. Waltz With BashirThis year’s Persepolis. In style, not quality.
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4. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a WhoMaybe the only other film with even a chance of cracking the Top 3.
5. Madagascar: Escape 2 AfricaFirst one stunk. Second one no better.
6. The Sky CrawlersFrom the creator of Ghost in the Shell.
7. Dragon HuntersLooks pretty cool. Too bad it hasn’t been released here yet.
8. $9.99Australian stop-motion somewhat dismissed at Toronto this year.
9. IgorIt’s Weinstein. They won’t care enough.
10. DelgoVoiced with the stars of I Know (and Still Know) What You Did Last Summer.
11. Sword of the StrangerMore anime barely heard of.
12. Fly Me to the MoonWhen will the maggots get their fair shake?

SIGHTS UNSEEN
1. Bolt – Disney’s last 3-D November release was Chicken Little.
2. The Tale of Despereaux – Co-director Sam Fell’s last project was the terrific Flushed Away.

OUT OF THE RUNNING
Chicago 10, Fear(s) Of The Dark, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie, Space Chimps, Star Wars: The Clone Wars





********************BEST DOCUMENTARY********************
(The committee failed to nominate Kurt Kuenne’s Dear Zachary to its qualifying short list, proving that they have less credibility than the MPAA.)


1. Man On WireEveryone but me loved this supreme jackass’ story.
2. I.O.U.S.A.Can you think of a more prescient doc to nominate these days?
3. Trouble the WaterSorry, didn’t Spike Lee do Katrina bigger and better?
4. Standard Operation ProcedureEven mediocre Errol Morris the committee can’t resist.
5. The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)One family’s non-erotic journey from Laos to the U.S.
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6. Pray the Devil Back to HellLiberian women and politics. Yadda Yadda.
7. They Killed Sister DorothyA solid doc that probably isn’t “American” enough to get a nomination. Like Zachary was too “Canadian.”
8. Encounters at the End of the WorldBut Grizzly Man wasn’t nominated?
9. At the Death House DoorStarts out interesting only to become the prison equivalent of Young@Heart
10. Made In AmericaCrips and Bloods, not Whoopi and Danson.
11. FuelGas prices are going down. Coincidence? Still another pressing global discussion
12. Blessed Is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah SeneshHere’s your Holocaust qualifier for the year.
13. The GardenPolitics and saving a garden. Another L.A. story. Big surprise.
14. Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve PartsYes, because Philip Glass is more interesting and important than the events of Dear Zachary. Morons.
15. In A DreamSeriously, the Mosaic Zagar artists? Better than Dear Zachary? This list is a farce.


DOCS SCREWED BY THE SHORT-SIGHTED COMMITTEE
American Teen, Bigger, Stronger, Faster, Dear Zachary: a letter to a son about his father , Religulous, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, Stranded: I've Come From A Plane That Crashed On The Mountains

OTHER NOTABLES
Allah Made Me Funny, America Betrayed, America the Beautiful, Anita O’Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer, Battle for Haditha, Beautiful Losers, Blindsight, Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, Bra Boys, The Business of Being Born, Constantine's Sword, CSNY Déjà vu, Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Expired, FrontRunners, Full Battle Rattle, Girls Rock!, Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson, Google Me, Gunnin' For That #1 Spot, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, Lou Reed's Berlin, Obscene, On Broadway, On The Rumba River, Operation Filmmaker, The Order of Myths, Patti Smith: Dream Of Life, Planet B-Boy, Quantum Hoops: The Caltech Basketball Story, Saving Marriage, Shine a Light, Spirit of the Marathon, Stealing America: Vote By Vote, Super High Me, Surfwise, To The Limit, Trumbo, Twisted: A Balloonamentary, U2-3D, The Unforeseen, Up The Yangtze, A Very British Gangster, Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show, Virtual JFK: Vietnam if Kennedy Had Lived, War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, We Are Together, Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Rock Club, Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?, Young @ Heart


******************BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY******************



1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Claudio Miranda) – Well, it DOES look nice.
2. Slumdog Millionaire (Anthony Dod Mantle) – Should have his nomination locked once voters see the good-time travel montage.
3. The Dark Knight (Wally Pfister) – Easily the best cinematography of the year.
4. Australia (Mandy Walker) – Is that real or is it CGI? You make the call!
5. The Fall (Colin Watkinson) – No denying this is a stunning looking film.
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6. Revolutionary Road (Roger Deakins) – Mendes first two films won this award.
7. Changeling (Tom Stern) – Shot the last half dozen of Eastwood’s films, including three Best Picture nominees and has zero nods himself.
8. Frost/Nixon (Salvatore Totino) – Nice, subtle work in the interviews and Nixon’s moments of silence. Not to mention the drink-and-dial.
9. Milk (Harris Savides) – Goes pretty heavy on the period filters.
10. The Reader (Chris Menges & Roger Deakins) – Two big-time DP’s sharing credit, but maybe not as memorable as some of the bigger-scale films.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN
Appaloosa (Dean Semler) – One nomination. One win. For Dances In Wolves in 1990.
Defiance (Eduardo Serra) – Zwick’s Glory (1989) and Legends of the Fall (1994) won here. No nominations since.
Doubt (Roger Deakins) – More Deakins for you.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Janusz Kaminski) – Been nominated for only three of his ten Spielberg collaborations. Won twice but only Raiders got a nod here.
My Blueberry Nights (Darius Khondji) – The Weinsteins are apparently pushing it with award groups. At least they were.
Snow Angels (Tim Orr) – White hasn’t looked so bleak since Fargo, which was nominated.
Frozen River (Reed Morano) – Or did I speak too soon?
The Life Before Her Eyes (Pawel Edelman) – The cinematography may be the only thing anyone remembers about the film.



***********************BEST EDITING***********************


1. The Dark Knight (Lee Smith) – Was there better editing in a fictional film this year?
2. Slumdog Millionaire (Chris Dickens) – Lots of montages and fast-paced intercutting stories.
3. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall) – Could have used a third editor.
4. Iron Man (Dan Lebental) – The big action success always seems to get nominated, but will that slot be filled by The Dark Knight?
5. WALL•E (Stephen Schaffer) – Could it be the first animated film since Who Framed Roger Rabbit to be nominated here?
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6. Milk (Elliot Graham) – Lots of archival footage mixed in.
7. Changeling (Joel Cox & Gary Roach) – Have two chances with this and Gran Torino
8. Frost/Nixon (Daniel P. Hanley & Mike Hill) – Might need a Best Picture nod to confirm this. And vice versa.
9. Australia (Dody Dorn & Michael McCusker) – Typical Baz editing only reveals its poor filmmaking more.
10. Revolutionary Road (Tariq Anwar) – Not really the editing award type.

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN
Che (Pablo Zumárraga) – Yeah. Four hours plus.
Dear Zachary: a letter to a son about his father (Kurt Kuenne) – Maybe the best edited true crime story since JFK.
Defiance (Steven Rosenblum) – Just not feeling it.
Doubt (Dylan Tichenor) – Not much basically editing a stage play.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Michael Kahn) – Won for Raiders. Not nominated for the others.
Quantum of Solace (Tim Squyres) – There’s certainly ENOUGH cutting during the action scenes. Enough to draw criticism.
Synecdoche, New York (Robert Frazen) – Masterful editing to keep us in Kaufman’s game.
W. (Julie Monroe) – If it was more like Oliver Stone’s other films it may have had a shot.



*******************BEST ORIGINAL SCORE*******************


1. WALL•E (Thomas Newman)
2. The Dark Knight (by Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard)
3. Milk (Danny Elfman)
4. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Alexandre Desplat)
5. Slumdog Millionaire (A.R. Rahman)
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6. Revolutionary Road (Thomas Newman)
7. Synecdoche, New York (Jon Brion)
8. Burn After Reading (Carter Burwell) - (also: In Bruges)
9. Frost/Nixon (Hans Zimmer)
10. The Reader (Nico Muhly)

DROPPED OFF THE TOP TEN
Australia (David Hirschfelder), Changeling (Clint Eastwood), Cloverfield (Michael Giacchino) – (also: Speed Racer), Defiance (James Newton Howard), Doubt (Howard Shore), The Duchess (Rachel Portman), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (John Williams), Kung Fu Panda (Hans Zimmer & John Powell), Man On Wire (J. Ralph)



*******************BEST ORIGINAL SONG*******************


1. “Down to Earth” (WALL•E) – The other lead singer from Genesis got an Oscar for doing a Disney song. LISTEN
2. “The Wrestler” (The Wrestler) – You going to bet against Springsteen?
3. “I Thought I Lost You” (Bolt) – The long awaited duet between the Urban Cowboy and the Achy Breaky Hannah Montana LISTEN
4. “Jai Ho” (Slumdog Millionaire) – The big Bollywood number at the end of the film. LISTEN
5. “Once in a Lifetime” (Cadillac Records) – Oh you can just smell them wanting to nominate this crap. LISTEN
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6. “Little Person” (Synecdoche, New York) – Getting play on Facebook. LISTEN
7. “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” (Hamlet 2) – Maybe one of the lamer “clever” songs you’ll ever hear. LISTEN
8. “By the Boab Tree” (Australia) – Really? That’s the name of the song?
9. “Dracula’s Lament” (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) – How many bigger laughs this year than when Segal begins singing this in the voice? LISTEN
10. “Now or Never” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year) – How ‘bout never? LISTEN

OTHERS TO CONSIDER
“Another Way To Die” (Quantum of Solace) – Only three Bond songs ever nominated. Last one – For Your Eyes Only (1981). And this may be worse than Madonna’s. LISTEN
“Barking At the Moon” (Bolt) – Do they want Jenny Lewis performing or John & Miley?
“The Call” (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) – “Try to know who your friends are…as you head off to the war.” LISTEN
”Broken and Bent” (Role Models) – A hilarious joke song about Wings played over the final credits.
“Gran Torino” (Gran Torino) – Apologies to Sarah Marshall, THIS could be the funniest performed song of the year.
“A Night To Remember” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year) – Remember that night we turned ten and didn’t care anymore? LISTEN
“The Story” (My Blueberry Nights) – Surprisingly, Norah Jones’ only contribution to the soundtrack. LISTEN
“Up To Our Nex” (Rachel Getting Married) – The Demme-Knows-Musicians Movie. LISTEN

THE OTHER QUALIFIERS
“The Boys Are Back” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year), “Can I Have This Dance” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year), “Chase the Morning” (Repo! The Genetic Opera), “Chromaggia” (Repo! The Genetic Opera), “The Code of Life” (My Dream), “Code of Silence” (Save Me), “Count on Me” (The Women), “Di Notte” from (The Lodger), “Djoyigbe” (Pray the Devil Back to Hell), “Drive” (Fuel), “Forever” (They Killed Sister Dorothy), “High School Musical” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year), “I Want It All” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year), “In Rodanthe” (Nights in Rodanthe), “It Ain’t Right” (Dark Streets), “Just Getting Started” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year), “Just Wanna Be with You” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year), “The Little Things” (Wanted), “Nothing but the Truth” (Nothing but the Truth), “O Saya” (Slumdog Millionaire), “Right Here Right Now” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)
“Right to Dream” (Tennessee), “Scream” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year), “Sweet Ballad” (Yes Man), “Too Much Juice” (Dark Streets), “The Traveling Song” (Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa), “Trouble the Water” (Trouble the Water), “Walk Away” (High School Musical 3: Senior Year), “Waterline” (Pride and Glory), “Yes Man” (Yes Man), “Zydrate Anatomy” (Repo! The Genetic Opera)



*********************BEST ART DIRECTION*********************


1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2. The Duchess
3. Changeling
4. Australia
5. Brideshead Revisited
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
6. Revolutionary Road
7. Appaloosa
8. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
9. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
10. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

OTHERS TO CONSIDER
City of Ember, Defiance, The Fall, Frost/Nixon, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Reader, Valkyrie



*******************BEST COSTUME DESIGN*******************


1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2. Changeling
3. The Duchess
4. Revolutionary Road
5. Australia
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
6. Iron Man
7. The Dark Knight
8. Brideshead Revisited
9. The Fall
10. The Brothers Bloom

OTHERS TO CONSIDER
Defiance, Frost/Nixon, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, Valkyrie




********************BEST VISUAL EFFECTS********************


1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2. Iron Man
3. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
5. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
6. The Incredible Hulk
7. Cloverfield
8. Journey to the Center of the Earth
9. Hancock
10. The Dark Knight

SIGHTS UNSEEN
1. Bedtime Stories
2. The Day the Earth Stood Still
3. The Spirit

OTHERS TO CONSIDER
Australia, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor



*********************BEST MAKEUP*********************


1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

2. The Dark Knight
3. Synecdoche, New York
----------------------------------------
4. The Reader
5. W.
6. The Fall
7. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
8. Punisher: War Zone
9. Frost/Nixon
10. Milk

SIGHTS UNSEEN
1. Che
2. The Spirit



*********************BEST SOUND*********************


1. The Dark Knight
2. WALL•E
3. Iron Man
4. Changeling
5. Cloverfield
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
6. The Wrestler
7. Quantum of Solace
8. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
9. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
10. Body of Lies

OTHERS TO CONSIDER
Australia, Bedtime Stories, Che, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Defiance, The Incredible Hulk, Valkyrie


*****************BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING*****************


1. The Dark Knight
2. WALL•E
3. Iron Man
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
4. Cloverfield
5. Quantum of Solace
6. The Incredible Hulk
7. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
8. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
9. Hancock
10. Speed Racer

OTHERS TO CONSIDER
Australia, Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Defiance, The Spirit, Valkyrie

CHECK BACK FOR ADDITIONAL CATEGORIES TO BE ADDED AS WELL AS UPDATES TO THE RANKINGS EACH WEEK

11/18/08 - Documentary Committee Snubs Dear Zachary
In one of the most stunning and egregious crimes ever committed during awards season, Kurt Kuenne's heart-shattering documentary, Dear Zachary: a letter to a son about his father, was left off the qualifying short list in favor of Philip Glass, the pretentious Zagar artists and that French jackass on a tightrope. Who is on this committee? Because I would love to get them in a room and have them justify how they didn't find room on this list for Dear Zachary. The only explanation - they all didn't see it. Sorry, but there has to be some logic to that because no one I can find that has seen it hasn't been devastated by it. Shame on you, committee. You now officially have less credibility than the MPAA.

11/12/08 - Leave the Oscars To The Professionals
Criticwatch takes a leap over to The Oscar Eye this week to examine how untrustworthy awards hype are from those using the easy "in" to getting quoted. Read all about it.[br]


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=2595
originally posted: 10/22/08 07:49:16
last updated: 01/06/09 07:46:26
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