Oscar Contenders: Scott’s Predictions

This past weekend, I finally did it. After driving all over Massachusetts and watching over a full 24 hours worth of film, I’ve finally seen all the major contenders up for awards at the most prestigious movie event of the year, the 2009 Academy Awards. As one of Phillips Academy’s resident cinephiles, here are my picks for who should win at the Oscars this coming Sunday.??Best Picture Who Will Win: With an awesome soundtrack, some beautiful direction and a story that leaves audiences cheering through the credits, “Slumdog Millionaire” seems practically unstoppable. A few months ago, no one would have guessed that this little film with unknown actors and subtitles would capture the hearts of everyday Americans around the nation. Now, the fervor that “Slumdog Millionaire” instills in its audiences is nothing short of fanaticism, making this the most likely candidate for the Oscars’ most coveted award, Best Picture. Who Should Win: I know I’m in the minority here, but I didn’t love “Slumdog Millionaire.” Sure, it’s a fun movie, but fun doesn’t always mean good. With some character development issues and an ending that shamelessly panders toward the audience, “Slumdog Millionaire” left me feeling let down, especially after all of the positive hype. Instead, my pick goes to “Milk.” I’d much prefer that the Best Picture Oscar go to a film that could enact some real change on the world. To this day, the message of acceptance in “Milk” has stuck with me. In terms of technical aspects, “Milk” is a near flawless movie. This, coupled with the unbelievable story, makes “Milk” a movie that will be celebrated for years to come.??Best Actor Who Will Win: As we come closer to Oscar Sunday, it looks like Sean Penn from “Milk” and Mickey Rourke from “The Wrestler” are in an all out brawl for the golden statuette. With a Golden Globe already under his belt, I would say Rourke has a slight advantage. No matter what, this is a category to watch. Who Should Win: This year’s contenders are amazingly strong, but I’d have to give this one to Penn. In an utterly mesmerizing performance, Penn embodies gay politician Harvey Milk, capturing every mannerism and quirk that defined the social advocate. A win for Penn would also be a strong sign of support from the Academy for gay rights, especially in a post-Proposition 8 world.??Best Actress Who Will Win: Kate Winslet, with six previous Oscar nominations and no wins, is surely due for her piece of Oscar gold. There isn’t much of an argument coming from anyone as to whether or not the star of “The Reader” will finally take home the Best Actress award. Seventh time’s a charm, Kate. Who Should Win: Sorry Ms. Winslet, but I’m going with the underdog, Anne Hathaway. In the phenomenal “Rachel Getting Married,” Hathaway proves that that she isn’t just a teen star doomed to be overshadowed by “The Princess Diaries.” Her performance as a drug addict struggling to make things right was layered and incredibly powerful. After this level of acting, Hathaway deserves to win her first Oscar. ?Best Supporting Actor Who Will Win: Back in July when “The Dark Knight” was the biggest piece of pop culture news in town, people were already talking about a posthumous Oscar win for the film’s true star, Heath Ledger. Seven months later, that buzz continues, almost ensuring The Joker’s win as Best Supporting Actor. Who Should Win: I’m not going to argue this one. Ledger deserves this win. In a category that is comparatively weak against the other acting categories, Ledger stands out with his twisted, terrifying performance. This Sunday night, I’m hoping to see Ledger end his career with a little Oscar gold. ?Best Supporting Actress Who Will Win: When Kate Winslet was surprisingly left out of this category, Best Supporting Actress suddenly became the race to watch. Even now, the award could swing in many different directions. Standing at the top of this unsteady heap is Penélope Cruz from “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” But, Viola Davis from “Doubt” is looking to put up a strong fight. Either way, Best Supporting Actress is looking to be the most surprising category of the year. Who Should Win: Without a doubt, Viola Davis deserves this award. With a meager two scenes in the entire film, Davis steals the show. Her acting is, in a word, heartbreaking. When a relatively unknown actress manages to steal the spotlight from co-stars including Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams, you know that she’s earned an Academy Award. ?Best Director Who Will Win: Rounding out the major awards, Best Director is strongly looking like it will go to Danny Boyle for the crowd pleasing “Slumdog Millionaire.” With awards already won from the BAFTA, Golden Globes, DGA and the Broadcast Critics, can anything stop Boyle? Probably not. Expect to see Boyle delivering an acceptance speech this Sunday night. Who Should Win: The choice between Gus Van Sant and Danny Boyle was a hard one for me. On the one hand, Van Sant brought 1970s San Francisco to life in his deeply moving movie, “Milk.” On the other hand, Boyle brought Indian culture to American audiences and gave a truthful portrayal of the pulsating city of Mumbai. As tough of a choice as it is, Best Director should go to Boyle. The biggest accomplishment in “Slumdog Millionaire” was not the acting or the touching story; it was Boyle’s ability to show Mumbai accurately in all of its glory, both good and bad. The culture that pervades every aspect of “Slumdog Millionaire” could have so easily been a cheap caricature of Indian life. Boyle did justice to his material and for that he deserves an Academy Award.