Monday, December 29, 2008

No Doubt About It

There’s never a reason to avoid a movie because of what bloggers say. Why? As a general rule, bloggers have the worst tastes a human being can possibly possess. (Witness: the Snakes on a Plane hysteria.)

This awards season, many movies are being released, then immediately skewered by bloggers. One such movie is Doubt, the play-turned-screen drama from John Patrick Shanley starring Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Viola Davis. The movie has done well with critics and awards alike, and is the leading contender at the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards, with 5 total nominations.

However, a number of bloggers who saw early screenings of the flick panned the film, its direction, and Streep’s performance. The negative buzz severely hampered Doubt’s early hype, and might’ve affected early box office performance.

After seeing Doubt yesterday, I can confirm that the movie is an absolute marvel. Streep bests any previous performance of hers save Sophie’s Choice, and should most certainly win the Oscar. Hoffman is a marvel to watch and is the perfect sparring partner for Streep. Davis, though only onscreen for 12 minutes, is a powerhouse. Adams is subtle but excellent. The direction is solid. The script is stellar. But the movie does lack a certain critical element: that oomph necessary to make it a serious Best Picture contender.

However, the movie is still stellar. It will likely get nominations in the Best Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay categories. This calls for some edits to my Oscar predictions.

Best Actor
Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino
Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn, Milk
Brad Pitt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler

Breakdown: For now, Penn's frontrunner status is safe. He should be wary of Langella, though. As "Tricky Dick" Nixon, Langella is a wonder. Eastwood takes DiCaprio's spot, but really, both he and Pitt are nothing but placeholders.

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
Sally Hawkins, Happy-Go-Lucky
Kristin Scott Thomas, I've Loved You So Long
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Kate Winslet, Revolutionary Road

Breakdown: With Winslet's major snubs racking up, and the movie's buzz faltering, it looks like a Hathaway/Streep race. Look now for Streep to take the honor.

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, Milk
Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder
James Franco, Milk
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Doubt
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Breakdown: I underestimated Thunder's appeal, and Downey looks like the man to take the nod for it. Franco and Brolin are stellar complements to Penn. But, as has been stated again and again, it's Ledger's race to lose.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Doubt
Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis, Doubt
Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler

Breakdown: I'm really getting interested in this race, because even though only two of the candidates have any shot at winning, they are both incredibly good. Davis' scene in Doubt is arguably the best scene in the movie. Her role is small, but she burns a hole in the screen. Will her short but oh-so-sweet time onscreen be enough to pull an upset over Cruz?

Best Director
Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry, The Reader
David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard, Frost/Nixon
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight

Breakdown: I have a lot of confidence in Boyle now. Fincher's movie didn't get half the praising critiques it needed, and Nolan's masterpiece is feeling pretty neglected these days with no early awards. Boyle should watch out for Howard, but he should have an easy time getting the gold.

Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire

Breakdown: I'm not confident with Doubt's position on this list, but with Revolutionary Road out, something had to take its place. With The Dark Knight having fallen from grace, it was between Doubt and WALL*E for that final spot. However, it ultimately doesn't matter. Millionaire really has this sewn up.

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