Here they are. My final predictions about who will take home the gold man ten days from now. No guts, no glory, as Sasha Stone would say.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Will Win: This category is one of the tougher acting categories to read at this point. Why? Because in this category, there is one person who has swept three of the majors. The Globes, the BFCAs and the SAGs. That person should be the frontrunner, except she's not even nominated (not in this category, at least). With Kate Winslet out of the best supporting actress race, this leaves the category relatively wide open. Truth be told, Amy Adams would be the only winner to truly surprise me. Logic would tip the odds in Penelope Cruz's favor. She has the NBR win, now the BAFTA, plus a slew of other critics awards on her side. But Viola Davis has her own little haul of critics awards. Also, consider this. No film that has ever received four acting nominations has ever walked away with ZERO acting statues. That means that, statistically speaking, someone is winning from Doubt, even if it isn't Davis (more on that later). But, Doubt is also the first film to have more than three acting nominations without a corresponding Best Picture nomination, so it's anyone's game.
Who Should Win: I would be happy with a win for Cruz, Davis or even Marisa Tomei, who isn't on my personal ballot, but whom I love as an actress and enjoyed in The Wrestler. But my heart ultimately has settled on Viola Davis.
Best Supporting Actor:
Who Will Win/Should Win: This is Heath Ledger's. It's a done deal. If there is a spoiler, it's Robert Downey Jr, but that's not happening. It's done. And I feel sorry for the person who beats Ledger in this category, because it will be such a monumental backlash. Even though he's most deserving, I still wish that I could go back in time and give Ledger the Oscar for Brokeback, when he was even more deserving.
Who Will Win: A case can be made for either Hathaway, Streep or Winslet. All three seem to have about an even split of awards between them. However, Kate Winslet bested them at the BAFTAs, which is a huge deal because it was the first time she was competing against them in lead for The Reader. That means that Winslet has won every major award for The Reader that she's been eligible for. Plus, she's overdue and it's a fine performance--the only performance in this category repping a best picture nominee. It's (barely) Winslet's to lose, but it's far from a done deal. The statistic I revealed in supporting actress regarding Doubt and its four acting nominations could easily tip in Meryl Streep's favor. But she already has two. Anne Hathaway shocked those with her brilliant performance who didn't see the hints of greatness in her earlier work. But this is Hathaway's first nomination. Surely, she'll be here again. And since Rachel Getting Married was so phenomenal, yet only managed one nomination, I'm guessing not a lot of people saw it. I could see Melissa Leo winning, since her film also managed a Best Original Screenplay nod. They clearly loved Frozen River. But I still say that this one will go to Winslet.
Should Win: If we're talking about sheer quality, Anne Hathaway's performance is the biggest achievement, I think. She and Melissa Leo are pretty evenly matched in my estimation, believe it or not. And Winslet is also on my ballot. History will look fondly on a win for any of these three performances. This is not the worst ballot in the world, but given the Sally Hawkins snub, it's hard to notice anything else.
Will Win: Yikes. This race is contentious, but it's a good kind of contentious. It's an honest to goodness horserace, with two very worthy competitors (Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke) on about equal footing going into the race. How often does that happen? Usually, it's a media-invented horserace, (ie, Swank vs. Bening: Volume 2), where it isn't really a horserace. Or, it is a horserace, but with one competitor clearly the inferior, (Julie Christie vs. Marion Cotillard). When both are worthy adversaries, it makes things more interesting, less stressful. Weeks ago, I would have said Mickey Rourke, but I honestly don't know. He has the BAFTA now, so that's another check in his column. So here it is. Rourke has the BAFTA and the Globe. Penn has the SAG and the BFCA. There are no statistics to support one's likelihood over the other. So, I'm going to go with my gut and say that Mickey Rourke takes this. Sean Penn would be a lock, had he not won for Mystic River. I know I sound like a broken record, but that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.
Should NOT Win: History will look kindly on a win for Sean Penn or Mickey Rourke. Both were singluar achievements, and I can't decide. I also liked Richard Jenkins. I can't decide who should win at this point, so I'm going to divert and say who shouldn't win. BRAD PITT SHOULD NOT WIN. I am a Pitt fan. I know I failed to mention it on my supporting actor page, but both he and Malkovich were among my finalists in that category for Burn After Reading. I love him, but this nomination just baffles me beyond belief. I don't get it. I don't approve of it and he shouldn't win.
Will Win: This will go to Danny Boyle in a Slumdog sweep. Sorry, Gus Van Sant.
Should Win: This should go to Gus Van Sant.
Best Original Screenplay:
Will Win: This is going to be a tight race between WALL-E and Milk, but I think that Dustin Lance Black and his Milk screenplay will ultimately reign victorious.
Should Win: My least favorite of the five is Frozen River, which I still liked. This is the only category this year in the Oscars that contains five winning nominees. I'd be happy to see any of these screenplays win.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire
Should Win: I guess, The Reader. But it's depressing that they couldn't do better here...
Will Win: I think that betting against anything other than Slumdog Millionaire at this point is wishful thinking. It has the DGA, the PGA, the WGA, the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Drama), the BAFTA, the SAG ensemble, plus a slew of other critics prizes. The last film with this much of a haul was The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (In 2005, Brokeback Mountain almost had this much of a haul, but was missing the SAG ensemble prize. Plus it was, you know, GAY). And I stand by my original stance. I'm not championing the big Indian fairytale by any stretch of the imagination, but if it keeps The Curious Case of Benjamin Button from winning best picture, I triumphantly sing "Jai Ho" until my lungs are sore.
Should Win: Well, Milk should win. I enjoyed The Reader as well, but Milk was definitely the bigger achievement. It just kind of upsets me that this is the best Oscar could do this year. I loved Milk. It's totally in my top five. But that it should be the best among the five nominated films is crazy, given what Oscar had to work with this year. The Wrestler was hardly too esoteric to be embraced by the Academy. Mostly, I don't think I'll ever forgive the AMPAS for the cold shoulder given to Rachel Getting Married. I enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire and Frost/Nixon, but one isn't being unreasonable or crabby in saying that they're both overpraised and rewarded, given their simple executions and meager goals. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a film that should have fallen by the wayside as soon as people saw it, much in the way that Australia did--ie, visually striking and beautiful, but not much more than that. I think it's Fincher's worst film, and I'm including Alien: Resurrection. It baffles.