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Obligatory Oscar Rant

Obligatory Oscar Rant

After two hours of drunken Park City sleep, I woke up this morning to something worse than any hangover: The 81st Annual Academy Award nominations.

This was probably the most infuriating batch of nominees since 2001, which also happened to be the last time Ron Howard was in the running. But this time ol’ Ron wasn’t my dominant piss-off. He wasn’t even close.

The most obvious ridiculousness came care of the picture/director snub of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” in favour of Stephen Daldry’s bland, uninspired “The Reader.” In ten years, or maybe even two, no one will even remember what “The Reader” was. Its bad enough mediocre (“Benjamin Button”) and good-not-great (“Frost/Nixon”) films got expected nods over a bevy of more deserved films, but “The Reader”‘s exclusion was a very unpleasant surprise.

I’ll try and take a step back and find some optimism: On a personal note, my predictions – despite still feeling pretty surprised today – were pretty decent. 72 out of 97 correct.

In regard to the actual nominations, I’m happy “Milk” managed to withstand suggestions it might get snubbed and took a higher-than-expected 8 nods. I’m happy Richard Jenkins and Melissa Leo made it in. I’m happy with “The Class”‘s foreign language nomination and “Trouble The Water”‘s doc nod. And that M.I.A. is now an Oscar nominee for co-writing one of the “Slumdog” songs.

But that’s pretty much where it ends.

Sally Hawkins’ snub for her work in “Happy-Go-Lucky” is definitely my largest annoyance, especially considering Angelina Jolie’s extremely undeserved nomination. A close second is “The Dark Knight”‘s original score snub after all that drama about its un-disqualification. The “Rachel Getting Married” omissions, both expected (Rosemarie DeWitt) and un (Jenny Lumet) are a shame, as is Woody Allen being left out of the best original screenplay category (in my opinion the most surprising snub of all). The fact that Kate Winslet is going to finally get that Oscar for “The Reader” and not “Revolutionary Road” is lame. “Bolt”‘s animated nod over “Waltz With Bashir” is equally so.

There’s a ton of stuff that I fully expected would happen – nothing for “Synecdoche, New York” or “Wendy & Lucy” or “Let The Right One In” – but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Eddie Marsan, Leonardo diCaprio, Kristin Scott Thomas, Michelle Williams (along with Hawkins and DeWitt) gave some of the greatest performances of the year and got shafted for the Jolies and the Pitts.

But whatever, I guess. It is what it is. I’ll try and just move on and renew my inner awards geek by taking a first official stab at the winners, which mostly look pretty boring:

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
Best Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Best Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Best Animated Film: WALL-E
Best Foreign Language Film: Waltz With Bashir
Best Documentary Feature: Man on Wire
Best Editing: Slumdog Millionaire
Best Cinematography: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Art Direction: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Costume Design: Revolutionary Road
Best Original Score: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Original Song: “Jai Ho” (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Visual Effects: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Best Sound Editing: The Dark Knight
Best Sound Mixing: WALL-E
Best Makeup: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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