Predictions, predictions, predictions...
Here's how I'm expecting the SAG races to shape up:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Rachel Getting Married
This is far from final, but I think at least 4 of these 5 will be nominated. Which 4 is still unclear. The only one I'm totally confident in is Milk, globe snub or no. It's the only best picture frontrunner that's being touted for its ensemble acting, and has abundant stars. Button I think will show up, too, due to its combo of best picture frontrunner status and the mixture of established and rising stars. Doubt is a bit iffy, as its best picture stock is falling, but the ensemble cast is the film's main draw, and with all four of them waking up to globe nods this morning, I think it's safe to say they're in (and could even win). The Dark Knight is another film with lots of stars all doing good work, that's also in the thick of the best pic race. That leaves one spot open, which I'm hoping against hope will go to Rachel Getting Married simply because it's so deserving. They've nominated quirky indies out of nowhere here before - remember The Station Agent? - so I'm thinking this truly great ensemble might have a chance this year.
Frost/Nixon, though looking good for a best pic nom, is clearly a duet, rather than an ensemble, and I think that'll doom its chances here. Revolutionary Road is certainly a threat, but I think general mixed feelings toward the film, combined with the fact that it seems to be registering only as the Kate & Leo show, will cause it to miss here (but just barely). Slumdog Millionaire could certainly show up as well, but I think the fact that everyone in it is unknown, and that even its most diehard fans wouldn't claim that it's an acting showcase, will shut it out of this particular race. And finally, The Wrestler could surface here, but I think voters will think of it mostly as Rourke's show, and so it won't be able to slip ahead of any of the five titles above.
Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road)
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
Sean Penn (Milk)
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
I have a lot of confidence in this lineup. Unless Clint manages to rebound with this group (unlikely, if he couldn't get the globes to notice him), this is probably the list. I doubt the actors will go for Brad, since they usually prefer to recognize lesser-known character actors like Jenkins when they can, instead of super-famous stars.
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky)
Melissa Leo (Frozen River)
Meryl Streep (Doubt)
Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road)
This is a tough one. I have a strong feeling Melissa Leo will resurface here. She's the kind of under-the-radar gem, like Jenkins, that they love to throw a bone to (most of the voters are unknown actors, after all). But Kristin Scott Thomas' globe nod indicates that she does have support, and isn't going away. It's either/or for the 5th spot, I think. Blanchett will have to sit this one out, I'd wager, as will Jolie.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Josh Brolin (Milk)
James Franco (Milk)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)
On this one, I'm really torn. As I said, I think Rev Road is registering mostly as the Kate & Leo show, and this is hurting Shannon. But he's also the kind of lesser-known, acclaimed actor that the SAGs love (see Jenkins & Melissa Leo). So I think he'll make it, even if the film misses ensemble (but I'm less than confident). I also think Milk will rebound here big-time, with both its supporting contenders getting in. Fiennes, I think, will suffer from vote-splitting and be left out. But Downey Jr. will be right on the heels of these five and could easily replace someone, most likely Shannon or Franco. Of course, this is also the lineup I predicted for the globes, and I was very wrong. So we'll see.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Viola Davis (Doubt)
Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married)
Taraji P Henson (Benjamin Button)
Kate Winslet (The Reader)
This is a toughie; this race is still very fluid. I would not be surprised in the least if Amy Adams got in again here, though I'm betting they'll think the ensemble award is honor enough for her. Marisa Tomei could of course make it, too. But I think the SAG preference for lesser-knowns gives DeWitt and Henson the edge. Look for Kate Winslet or Viola Davis to upset Cruz here... I just have a feeling.
I've also been thinking about the best picture race relative to the best picture races of the recent past, and I keep coming back to this feeling that Slumdog Millionaire will win it all. Maybe I'm just being pessimistic, but I really think it will. The two races that seem most analogous to this year are 2004 and 2005. Here are the parallels:
If 2008 = 2004 (which thankfully it doesn't, at least in politics)...
Benjamin Button = The Aviator (big, tech-heavy period epic with Cate Blanchett billed second to a Hollywood heartthrob; helmed by a respected, overdue auteur; early anointed frontrunner with double-digit nomination total; turns out to be "cold" and inaccessible to some)
Slumdog Millionaire = Million Dollar Baby (very emotional, somewhat facile, late entry that takes the awards race by storm; about competition with an underdog protagonist and hence has that scrappy "underdog" feel; has "million" in title to give it extra zing)
Milk = Ray OR Sideways (prestige biopic about eponymous famous man, with a central performance that lifts the whole film to oscar glory OR slightly prickly critical favorite, with strong ensemble acting along with an acclaimed central performance... take your pick, though it's really a combo of the two)
Of course, if this is the scenario, Slumdog wins, though there'll be suspense to the very end. For the record, that's what I think will happen. Not convinced? Here's exhibit B:
If 2008 = 2005...
Benjamin Button = Brokeback Mountain (big, beautiful tragic romance; helmed by a respected, overdue auteur; nabs the most nominations of all films, but some thing it "cold", "inaccessible" or "slow"; no emotional hand-holding)
Slumdog Millionaire = Crash (very emotional, somewhat facile, smaller film; feel-good entry that didn't seem awardsy until people declared it "the underdog" and then it became cool to vote for; doesn't require much thought; the kind of film people like to root for)
Milk = Capote OR Good Night and Good Luck (unconventional biopic about eponymous famous gay man, with a central performance that lifts the whole film to oscar glory OR small, overtly political film about recent historical events... take your pick, though it's really a combo of the two)
In this scenario, again, Slumdog comes out on top, though it's more of a shocking upset in this case.
Regardless, I'm starting to think it's Slumdog's year. It just feels right (even if it feels wrong). Then again, I could be wrong. After all, Benjamin Button IS an epic romance and is NOT gay. Plus, Slumdog has no stars attached (M$B and Crash definitely did). That counts for a lot. Then again, Button IS about a man who ages backwards, and it DOES show Brad Pitt as an elderly baby. That shit weirds people out.
Anyway, while The Curious Case of Benjamin Button may look like the frontrunner now, that's precisely why I think it'll end up losing. We'll see.
Labels: awards season 2008