2009 Academy Award Analysis
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Acting Film Type Audio Visual Other
Leading Actor Picture x Sound Cinematography x Direction x
Leading Actress x Foreign Film Sound Editing Art Direction x Original Screenplay x
Supporting Actor x Animated Feature x Song Visual Effects x Adapted Screenplay x
Supporting Actress x Short, Animation Score x Costume Design x Editing
Feature Documentary x Makeup x
Short, Documentary
Short, Live Action x


  • i got 16/24 this year, one worse than last year. not too bad, but not great. a little mad at myself with the original screenplay and best actor picks as i went out on a limb or hedged my bets a bit there. i knew better. oh well.
  • a couple surprises this year, the big one for me was the best foreign picture winner which wasn't on my radar at all.
  • best animated short was a bit of a surprise, but an expected one, if that makes sense. i called the winner as a potential upset so that's almost as good as getting it right, i guess.
  • got all the visual categories which was nice. the audio categories were tough this year.
  • liked the new element of having old winners present this year's award. didn't mind the length increase. thought hugh jackman was so-so, would like to see jon stewart come back.
  • did really well at watching the nominated films. other than foreign, documentary and the short categories i watched all but 4.5 of the films (i watched about half of defiance). missed happy go lucky, duchess, australia and hellboy 2. and only one of those had more than one nomination (duchess for costume design and art direction, both of which i guessed correctly).




  • my pick
  • my prediction
  • if i've seen it, film titles will link to my review of that film.

  • Best Motion Picture of the Year Nominees:
    Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
    Slumdog Millionaire

  • slumdog millionaire is the only one i really appreciated and it's got a lot of hype and momentum on its side right now. there have been surprises in the past, but i think slumdog will take the prize in spite of the fact that it has zero acting nominations. something like 90% of best picture winners have some acting nominations. however, a decent number of the films (network, doubt - not even nominated, bonnie and clyde, peyton place, etc.) with the most acting nominations didn't win for best director/picture. so, it certainly helps to get those nominations, but it's not unprecedented to win the big prize without the acting noms.

  • Best Achievement in Directing Nominees:
    Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
    Stephen Daldry - The Reader (2008)
    David Fincher - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008)
    Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon (2008)
    Gus Van Sant - Milk (2008)

  • slumdog millionaire was the best film of the year and had plenty of directorial touches to garner the victory for boyle.

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Nominees:
    Richard Jenkins - The Visitor (2007)
    Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon (2008)
    Sean Penn - Milk (2008)
    Brad Pitt - Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008)
    Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler (2008)

  • it's a three horse race here. penn and rourke have been getting awards from the SAG and golden globes, but there are plenty of people pulling for langella and his rendition of nixon. if it were me i'd vote for rourke because his performance didn't miss a beat at all. rourke is a smart choice because of the momentum and hype and exposure and personal story. penn is the smart choice because of the role (it's topical and the academy loves to be topical) and they love penn. will they pass on him because he won for mystic river? my mind says i should go with penn, but my gut says rourke is going to win this one.

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Nominees:
    Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married (2008)
    Angelina Jolie - Changeling (2008)
    Melissa Leo - Frozen River (2008)
    Meryl Streep - Doubt (2008)
    Kate Winslet - The Reader (2008)

  • hathaway got ugly and got the nomination, big surprise. that's like penn and hoffman playing retards, it's the easy play. jolie cried for a couple hours, and streep did what she always does - nail it. i didn't see leo, but she could be a dark horse here like cotillard last year. winslet, though, is where the smart money is. she has the momentum, she hasn't gotten an oscar yet (6 nominations) and this one is as good as any of her previous nominations. liked her more in revolutionary road, but it wasn't nominated. for that reason alone picking her is smart - revolutionary road voters will pick her just because.

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Nominees:
    Josh Brolin - Milk (2008)
    Robert Downey Jr. - Tropic Thunder (2008)
    Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt (2008)
    Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight (2008)
    Michael Shannon - Revolutionary Road (2008)

  • if everything goes as planned i will have agree with all the academy's picks up to and including this pick. i loved downey in tropic thunder and shannon in revolutionary road, but ledger is the obvious pick here. not only was he brilliant, but now he's dead and a hollywood martyr. it'll be a landslide.

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Nominees:
    Amy Adams - Doubt (2008)
    Penélope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
    Viola Davis - Doubt (2008)
    Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008)
    Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler (2008)

  • i haven't seen vicky cristina yet, but it's in the mail so i reserve the right to change my choice on this one. adams was good in doubt and davis's performance was notable if not for the simple reason that i can't forget the snot dripping into her mouth. henson was a nice presence in an otherwise boring film. that said, tomei is the only one who showed us her butthole so she's my pick. in all seriousness, she provided most of the sympathy i had for rourke's character so that film owes her performance a great debt. she should win, but i think that cruz will probably take the prize because of the hype i'm hearing and the fact that tomei already has her statue for my cousin vinny.

  • Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen Nominees:
    Frozen River (2008) - Courtney Hunt
    Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) - Mike Leigh
    In Bruges (2008) - Martin McDonagh
    Milk (2008/I) - Dustin Lance Black
    WALL·E (2008) - Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Jim Reardon

  • haven't seen the first two so i can't comment. milk shouldn't be on the list because it's based on material previously occurring. yeah, i know what the rules say, but writing a film based upon historical record can't be as difficult. wall-e was a good idea and had the social commentary to be considered a "real film." it would be a big deal if it won here because it would be a first (animated picture beating out live action film in one of the big four categories). i wouldn't have a problem with wall-e winning, but i'd probably pick in bruges myself. i'm going to go out on a limb and pick wall-e to win it over the others.

  • Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published Nominees:
    The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) - Eric Roth, Robin Swicord
    Doubt (2008/I) - John Patrick Shanley
    Frost/Nixon (2008) - Peter Morgan
    The Reader (2008) - David Hare
    Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - Simon Beaufoy

  • even though i didn't like the film i could see curious case winning here because of the scale of the story and the original premise of the film. doubt was a bit too constructed for my taste. slumdog millionaire is a likely winner if i'm right about the best pic/director wins, but it's hard for me to imagine curious case getting 13 noms without winning some major category. tough call.

  • Best Achievement in Cinematography Nominees:
    Changeling (2008) - Tom Stern
    The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) - Claudio Miranda
    The Dark Knight (2008) - Wally Pfister
    The Reader (2008) - Roger Deakins, Chris Menges
    Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - Anthony Dod Mantle

  • any time you see roger deakins you know that film is in the running. that said, i don't remember the cinematography in that picture being all that noteworthy. the same could be said of changeling. the remaining three films all had strong visual personalities, which is what i always fall back on as the benchmark of a good job by the cinematographer. it's really a toss up for me here. personally i would probably pick dark knight. i think there's usually a tie between cinematography and art direction, direction, and editing. unfortunately that doesn't really help me narrow it down. it generally goes to a big picture with either a lot of action, movement, or colors. again, that doesn't narrow it down between my top three. i'll guess slumdog will get another win here.

  • Best Achievement in Editing Nominees:
    The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) - Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter
    The Dark Knight (2008) - Lee Smith
    Frost/Nixon (2008) - Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill
    Milk (2008) - Elliot Graham
    Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - Chris Dickens

  • slumdog is a solid pick here because editing usually goes to the best picture winner and slumdog also has a story structure that lends itself to awareness of its editing. like the cinematography award, though, this could easily go to curious case or dark knight because of the action and grand scope of those films. i actually didn't think the final showdown in the dark knight was very well put together. i'll give this one to curious case to sort of hedge my bets.

  • Best Achievement in Art Direction Nominees:
    Changeling (2008 - James J. Murakami, Gary Fettis
    The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) - Donald Graham Burt, Victor J. Zolfo
    The Dark Knight (2008) - Nathan Crowley, Peter Lando
    The Duchess (2008) - Michael Carlin, Rebecca Alleway
    Revolutionary Road (2008) - Kristi Zea, Debra Schutt

  • duchess and curious case are solid picks here. they both got noms in costume design which is a good indicator and both fit the profile of past winners. personally i'd probably go with dark knight a nudging out revolutionary road. i think the academy liked the visual element of curious case and will give it the award.

  • Best Achievement in Costume Design Nominees:
    Australia (2008) - Catherine Martin
    The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) - Jacqueline West
    The Duchess (2008) - Michael O'Connor
    Milk (2008) - Danny Glicker
    Revolutionary Road (2008) - Albert Wolsky

  • none of these really begs me to give it the award, but i'd probably vote for revolutionary road if i had a vote. it fit the era well. this one goes to period pieces (obviously), but i find that the older is usually better. duchess would get the statue by that rationale. curious case and revolutionary road are also solid contenders with australia being the dark horse. baz luhrman's moulin rouge did win in the past so don't be surprised to see that one get the nod. i'll make the safe bet here and pick duchess as the winner.

  • Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score Nominees:
    The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) - Alexandre Desplat
    Defiance (2008) - James Newton Howard
    Milk (2008) - Danny Elfman
    Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - A.R. Rahman
    WALL·E (2008) - Thomas Newman

  • a.r. rahman has been a big deal for years, but he hasn't made it mainstream until now. while the score to slumdog was good, i actually remember feeling it could have been even better. that said, i don't think the other scores were in the same league. defiance, which i saw almost half of, had what i considered an average score. curious case didn't stand out and milk had some moments, but not much more. wall-e relied upon its score more than any of the other films which may help its cause. i'm thinking slumdog millionaire is going to be the big winner of the night.

  • Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song Nominees:
    Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - A.R. Rahman, Sampooran Singh Gulzar ("Jai Ho")
    Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - A.R. Rahman, Maya Arulpragasam ("O Saya")
    WALL·E (2008) - Peter Gabriel, Thomas Newman ("Down to Earth")

  • can i even remember the difference between the two slumdog songs? perhaps the voters get a cd and can choose that way, if not then wall-e will add a notch here.

  • Best Achievement in Makeup Nominees:
    The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) - Greg Cannom
    The Dark Knight (2008) - John Caglione Jr., Conor O'Sullivan
    Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) - Mike Elizalde, Thomas Floutz

  • easily the best part of curiouscase was the makeup. hellboy looked good in the previews, but curious case brought the makeup to another level. this one should be a cinch.

  • Best Achievement in Sound Nominees:
    The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) - David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Mark Weingarten
    The Dark Knight (2008) - Ed Novick, Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo
    Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Resul Pookutty
    WALL·E (2008) - Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, Ben Burtt
    Wanted (2008) - Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño, Petr Forejt

  • wall-e relied the most on its sounds and sound design which is why both the academy and i are going to pick it for best sound and sound editing.

  • Best Achievement in Sound Editing Nominees:
    The Dark Knight (2008) - Richard King
    Iron Man (2008) - Frank E. Eulner, Christopher Boyes
    Slumdog Millionaire (2008) - Tom Sayers
    WALL·E (2008) - Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood
    Wanted (2008) - Wylie Stateman

  • wall-e.

  • Best Achievement in Visual Effects Nominees:
    The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008) - Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton, Craig Barron
    The Dark Knight (2008) - Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Timothy Webber, Paul J. Franklin
    Iron Man (2008) - John Nelson, Ben Snow, Daniel Sudick, Shane Mahan

  • all three are worthy in one way or another. iron man is an easy one to pick because you can see where the visual effects are and you can see that they're well done. curious case, though, is tougher to see where the visual effects begin and the makeup and or basic tricks of the camera end. since this is a category voted on by experts in the field i think they'll appreciate the work done with curious case and give it the award.

  • Best Animated Feature Film of the Year Nominees:
    Bolt (2008) - Chris Williams, Byron Howard
    Kung Fu Panda (2008) - John Stevenson, Mark Osborne
    WALL·E (2008) - Andrew Stanton

  • no contest here. have heard nothing but bad things about the other two and didn't think much of kung fu panda myself either. wall-e.

  • Best Foreign Language Film of the Year Nominees:
    Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (2008) (Germany)
    Entre les murs (2008) (France)
    Revanche (2008) (Austria)
    Okuribito (2008) (Japan)
    Vals Im Bashir (2008) (Israel)

  • waltz with bashir had the exposure and themes to win. sadly i didn't see any of these. the class also had good hype around it. i'm guessing waltz with bashir will take the prize.

  • Best Documentary, Features Nominees:
    The Betrayal - Nerakhoon (2008) - Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath
    Encounters at the End of the World (2007) - Werner Herzog, Henry Kaiser
    The Garden (2008) - Scott Hamilton Kennedy
    Man on Wire (2008) - James Marsh, Simon Chinn
    Trouble the Water (2008) - Tia Lessin, Carl Deal

  • man on wire.

  • Best Documentary, Short Subjects Nominees:
    The Conscience of Nhem En (2008) - Steven Okazaki
    The Final Inch (2009) - Irene Taylor Brodsky, Tom Grant
    Smile Pinki (2008) - Megan Mylan
    The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306 (2008) - Adam Pertofsky, Margaret Hyde

  • The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306

  • Best Short Film, Animated Nominees:
    Maison en petits cubes, La (2008) - Kunio Katô
    Ubornaya istoriya - lyubovnaya istoriya (2007) - Konstantin Bronzit
    Oktapodi (2007) - Emud Mokhberi, Thierry Marchand
    Presto (2008) - Doug Sweetland
    This Way Up (2008) - Alan Smith, Adam Foulkes

  • Presto has the exposure. Maison en petits cubes could be a dark horse winner here though.

  • Best Short Film, Live Action Nominees:
    Auf der Strecke (2007) - Reto Caffi
    Manon sur le bitume (2007) - Elizabeth Marre, Olivier Pont
    New Boy (2007) - Steph Green, Tamara Anghie
    Grisen (2008) - Tivi Magnusson, Dorthe Warnø Høgh
    Spielzeugland (2007) - Jochen Alexander Freydank

  • Spielzeugland has the themes to take the prize.