Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Snooch to the Nooch! Well, there’s not much left to say that the title doesn’t already say. On Thursday, Oscar nominations for this year will be announced. Here are my personal picks for what (and who) I’d like to see nominated this year, as well as some personal observations (when appropriate). This is not, mind you, what I think will get nominated, although a lot of my picks stand pretty good chances of doing so. And if some possibilities are missing (“Revolutionary Road,” “The Wrestler,” “Che,” “Gran Torino,” “Frost/Nixon”), it’s because I still haven’t seen them. All in good time, however.

Viva La Resistance!

Brian Skutle

2008 Oscars: Brian’s Picks (in order of preference)
Best Picture
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”
“Man on Wire”

Best Director
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Gus Van Sant, “Milk”
Cristian Mungiu, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”
Kimberly Pierce, “Stop-Loss”
Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight”

Other Top Choices: Guy Maddin, “My Winnipeg”; David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; Charlie Kaufman, “Synecdoche New York”; Jonathan Demme, “Rachel Getting Married”; Jon Favreau, “Iron Man”; Oliver Stone, “W.”; Martin McDonagh, “In Bruges”; Ben Stiller, “Tropic Thunder”; Guillermo Del Toro, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”; Tom McCarthy, “The Visitor”; Clint Eastwood, “Changeling”; Joel & Ethan Coen, “Burn After Reading”; Stephen Daldry, “The Reader”; Andy & Larry Wachowski, “Speed Racer”

Best Actor
Sean Penn, “Milk”
Josh Brolin, “W.”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Synecdoche New York”
Ryan Phillippe, “Stop-Loss”
Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”

Other Top Choices: Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; Will Smith, “Seven Pounds”; Colin Farrell, “In Bruges”; Dev Patel, “Slumdog Millionaire”; Robert Downey Jr., “Iron Man”; George Clooney, “Burn After Reading”; Luke Wilson, “Henry Poole is Here”; Jeffrey Wright, “Cadillac Records”; Ben Stiller, “Tropic Thunder”; Chiwetel Ejiofor, “Redbelt”; Bernie Mac, “Soul Men”; Ed Harris, “Appaloosa”; Aaron Eckhart, “Towelhead”; Javier Bardem, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”; Daniel Craig, “Defiance”; Michael Cera, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”; Seth Rogan, “Pineapple Express” & “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”; Dennis Quaid, “Smart People”; Steve Coogan, “Hamlet 2”

Best Actress
Anamaria Marinca, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”
Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Kate Winslet, “The Reader”
Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”
Frances McDormand, “Burn After Reading” & “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”

Other Top Choices: Sarah Jessica Parker, “Sex and the City: The Movie” & “Smart People”; Meryl Streep, “Doubt”; Ines Efron, “XXY”; Julianne Moore, “Savage Grace”; Cate Blanchett, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”; Summer Bishil, “Towelhead”; Rosario Dawson, “Seven Pounds”; Rebecca Hall, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”; Natalie Portman, “The Other Boleyn Girl”; Kat Dennings, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”; Kiera Knightley, “The Duchess”; Elizabeth Banks, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”; Tina Fey, “Baby Mama”

Blogger’s Note- I understand nomination totals being important to tout for individual films, but when it comes to actors, the collective work for the year should be a consideration (see all the performers with great performances in multiple movies this year). What I’m saying is- stop using two slots to honor actors (and the rare director) for two movies and combine votes for the performer into a single nomination.

Blogger’s Note 2- Just out of curiosity, how is Winslet’s performance in “The Reader” being pushed for Supporting Actress? Don’t get me wrong, if that’s what it takes to get her her first Oscar, great, but this is clearly a lead performance, and the critical one in the movie.

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “Stop-Loss”
Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”
Josh Brolin, “Milk”
Omar Benson Miller, “Miracle at St. Anna”

Other Top Choices: Aaron Eckhart, “The Dark Knight”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”; Ricardo Darin, “XXY”; Eddie Redmayne, “Savage Grace”; Viggo Mortensen, “Appaloosa”; Madhur Mittal, “Slumdog Millionaire”; James Franco, “Pineapple Express” & “Milk”; David Kross, “The Reader”; Brad Pitt, “Burn After Reading”; Jack Black, “Tropic Thunder” & “Be Kind Rewind”; Brendon Gleeson, “In Bruges”; Jeremy Irons, “Appaloosa”; Vlad Ivanov, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”; Tom Cruise, “Tropic Thunder”; Ralph Fiennes, “In Bruges” & “The Reader”; Liev Scheiber, “Defiance”; James Cromwell, “W.”; Richard Dreyfuss, “W.”; John Malkovich, “Changeling” and “Burn After Reading”; Gary Oldman, “The Dark Knight”; Doug Jones, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”; Tom Noonan, “Synecdoche New York”; Emile Hirsch, “Milk”; Channing Tatum, “Stop-Loss”; Thomas Hayden Church, “Smart People”; Columbus Short, “Cadillac Records”; Jason Mewes, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”

Blogger’s Note- The day nominations are announced this year- January 22- is exactly one year after Ledger’s tragic death. Seems fitting doesn’t it? And I’m sure it wasn’t coincidental either.

Best Supporting Actress
Laura Vasiliu, “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”
Rosemarie DeWitt, “Rachel Getting Married”
Madeline Carroll, “Swing Vote”
Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Samantha Morton, “Synecdoche New York”

Other Top Choices: Amy Adams, “Doubt” & “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”; Viola Davis, “Doubt”; Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”; Cynthia Nixon, “Sex and the City: The Movie”; Adrianna Barrazza, “Henry Poole is Here”; Ellen Page, “Smart People”; Freida Pinto, “Slumdog Millionaire”; Scarlett Johannson, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” & “The Other Boleyn Girl”; Beyonce Knowles, “Cadillac Records”; Jane Lynch, “Role Models”; Abbie Cornish, “Stop-Loss”; Emily Watson, “Synecdoche New York”; Elizabeth Banks, “W.”; Rachel McAdams, “The Lucky Ones”; Maggie Ghyllenhaal, “The Dark Knight”; Elizabeth Shue, “Hamlet 2”

Best Original Screenplay
“Wall-E” (Pete Doctor, Jim Reardon, Andrew Stanton)
“Synecdoche New York” (Charlie Kaufman)
“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” (Cristian Mungiu)
“Stop-Loss” (Kimberly Pierce, Mark Richard)
“Milk” (Dustin Lance Black)

Other Top Choices: “In Bruges” (Martin McDonagh); “Rachel Getting Married” (Jenny Lumet); “Tropic Thunder” (Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux, Etan Cohen); “Changeling” (J. Michael Straczynski); “W.” (Stanley Weiser); “My Winnipeg” (Guy Maddin, George Toles); “The Visitor” (Tom McCarthy); “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (Woody Allen); “Son of Rambow” (Garth Jennings); “Burn After Reading” (Joel and Ethan Coen); “Henry Poole is Here” (Albert Torres); “Seven Pounds” (Grant Nieporte); “Be Kind Rewind” (Michel Gondry); “Redbelt” (David Mamet); “Happy Holidays” (James Ferguson, Tom Misuraca); “Kung Fu Panda” (Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris); “Bolt” (Dan Fogelman & Chris Williams); “Valkyrie” (Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander); “Pineapple Express” (Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg, Judd Apatow); “…Around” (David Spaltro); “Smart People” (Mark Poirier); “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” (Kevin Smith)

Blogger’s Note- “Wall-E” co-writer Jim Reardon used to be a director on “The Simpsons.” He mentions his work on “Wall-E” by name in one of the commentaries he recorded for the series.

Best Adapted Screenplay
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Simon Beaufoy)
“The Dark Knight” (Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Eric Roth, Robin Swicord)
“Iron Man” (Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway)
“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (Lorene Scafaria)

Other Top Choices: “Appaloosa” (Robert Knott, Ed Harris); “Doubt” (John Patrick Shanley); “Savage Grace” (Howard A. Rodman); “The Reader” (David Hare); “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Guillermo Del Toro, Mike Mignola); “Speed Racer” (Andy and Larry Wachowski); “The Incredible Hulk” (Zak Penn); “Sex and the City: The Movie” (Michael Patrick King); “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” (Frank Spotnitz, Chris Carter); “Towelhead” (Alan Ball); “Defiance” (Edward Zwick, Clayton Frohman); “Miracle at St. Anna” (James McBride); “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (David Koepp, Jeff Nathanson, George Lucas)

Best Original Score
“Wall-E” (Thomas Newman)
“The Dark Knight” (Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard)
“Speed Racer” (Michael Giacchino)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (A.R. Rahman)
“Changeling” (Clint Eastwood)

Other Top Choices: “Burn After Reading” (Carter Burwell); “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Alexandre Desplat); “Standard Operating Procedure” (Danny Elfman); “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (Mark Mothersbaugh); “Stop-Loss” (John Powell); “Milk” (Danny Elfman); “Bolt” (John Powell); “Iron Man” (Ramin Djawadi); “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Danny Elfman); “The Spirit” (David Newman); “Defiance” (James Newton Howard); “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (John Williams); “The Signal” (Ben Lovett); “…Around” (Vita Tanga, Vinny Iannelli); “Synecdoche New York” (Jon Brion); “Valkyrie” (John Ottman); “Leatherheads” (Randy Newman); “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” (Harry Gregson-Williams)

Best Original Song
“The Wrestler” from “The Wrestler” (Bruce Springsteen)
“Down to Earth” from “Wall-E” (Peter Gabriel, Thomas Newman)
“Generic Winter Holiday” from “Happy Holidays” (James C. Ferguson, Molly Beck Ferguson, Zack Hexum)
“I Thought I Lost You” from “Bolt” (Miley Cyrus)
“Rock Me Sexy Jesus” from “Hamlet 2” (Ralph Sall, Pam Brady, Andrew Fleming)

Other Top Choices: “Another Way to Die” from “Quantum of Solace” (Jack White); “Barking at the Moon” from “Bolt” (Jenny Lewis); “Dracula’s Lament” from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (Jason Segel)

Best Animated Feature
“Kung Fu Panda”

Best Foreign Language Film
“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”

Best Documentary Feature
“Man on Wire”
“Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”
“Young @ Heart”
“Standard Operating Procedure”

Best Visual Effects
“Speed Racer”
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Iron Man”

Blogger’s Note- How exactly did “Speed Racer” not make it on Oscar’s short list in this category? Just thinking out loud here folks.

Best Sound
“The Dark Knight”
“Iron Man”
“Tropic Thunder”
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

Best Sound Editing
“Speed Racer”
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

Blogger’s Note- If somehow Ben Burtt does not win here for “Wall-E,” all respect I still have left for the Academy will go down the crapper. I’m just saying folks.

Best Cinematography
“The Dark Knight”
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

Best Film Editing
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“The Dark Knight”
“Iron Man”
“Speed Racer”
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Best Art Direction
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”

Best Makeup
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”
“The Dark Knight”

Best Costume Design
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”

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