I did these back in March, and now that there's been a smidgen of new information about the movies in play, it's time to re-do them. There isn't much overhauling to be done, which I'm saying speaks well of my original picks. Or else my wrong-headed stubbornness. I prefer the one where I'm brilliant, though.
01 - Milk (Focus)
02 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Paramount)
03 - Changeling (Universal)
04 - Defiance (Paramount Vantage)
05 - Doubt (Miramax)
Next Five: Revolutionary Road (Paramount Vantage); The Reader (Weinstein Co.); Che (Focus); Australia (20th Century Fox); Frost/Nixon (Universal).
I'm holding on to my hope that Milk will live up to its sky-high potential, and since nothing's happened thus far to make me doubt that, on top it remains. Changeling got a boost from Cannes (though not without blemish), and while I'd started to doubt my call on Defiance, its move to December seems to confirm my hunch. I think both Benjamin Button and Australia have tricky tonal issues that make it hard to tell how they'll be received (i.e., will they be deemed "important" enough), Revolutionary Road will have to overcome the frontrunner pressure that hit Atonement so hard, and I'm kind of buckling to the Doubt consensus at this moment.
01 - Gus Van Sant (Milk)
02 - David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
03 - Steven Soderbergh (Che)
04 - Clint Eastwood (Changeling)
05 - Edward Zwick (Defiance)
Next Five: Baz Luhrman (Australia); Stephen Daldry (The Reader); Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road); John Patrick Shanley (Doubt); Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon).
Even with Zwick on that list, it's probably too optimistic to think the Academy will come in with such a visionary-heavy lineup. Still, they nominated Paul Thomas Anderson and the Coens last year, so who knows?
01 - Benicio Del Toro (Che)
02 - Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)
03 - Sean Penn (Milk)
04 - Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt or Synecdoche, NY)
05 - Viggo Mortenson (The Road or Appaloosa)
Next Five: Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road) (or Body of Lies); Brad Pitt (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button); Daniel Craig (Defiance); Ralf Feinnes (The Reader); Jamie Foxx (The Soloist).
Del Toro was probably the person whose Oscar chances were most boosted at Cannes. I figure he's in this for the long haul, along with Langella and (probably) Penn. The other two slots are tough. I should probably have slotted DiCaprio given how much the Academy has gone for him as of late, and Pitt's certainly got that anti-aging hook in his corner. It's a strong talent pool this year.
01 - Meryl Streep (Doubt)
02 - Angelina Jolie (Changeling)
03 - Kate Winslet (The Reader) (or Revolutionary Road)
04 - Rachel McAdams (The Lucky Ones)
05 - Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria)
Next Five: Julianne Moore (Blindness); Michelle Pfeiffer (Cheri); Nicole Kidman (Australia); Anne Hathaway (Dancing With Shiva); Natalie Portman (Brothers).
Streep seems rock-solid and Jolie got great ink at Cannes (and, though it seems we say this every year, the idea of both halves of Brangelina walking the red carpet as nominees would be a pretty great hook). I'm still waiting to hear more about Winslet's roles before I lean either way on her. And I'm sticking with McAdams and Blunt mostly because the other contenders have too many question marks to leapfrog them. The Lucky Ones getting pushed back to late October makes me feel better about McAdams's chances.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
01 - Josh Brolin (Milk)
02 - Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon)
03 - John Malkovich (Changeling)
04 - Liev Schrieber (Defiance)
05 - Robert Downey Jr. (The Soloist)
Next Five: Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road); Demian Bechir (Che); Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight); Jamie Bell (Defiance); Alan Alda (Nothing But The Truth / Diminished Capacity); Tobey Maguire (Brothers).
Another strong, strong lineup. I'm incredibly confident in Brolin and Sheen, Malkovich seems to have a big year ahead of him, Schrieber's got Zwick in his corner (the man gets his actors nominated), and RDJ has a whole lot of Iron Man goodwill going for him. Of course, Bechir's got the plum Castro role, Shannon's an up-and-comer who apparently has a big part, Alda plays Alzheimer's, and Heath Ledger ... well, you know.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
01 - Viola Davis (Doubt)
02 - Kathy Bates (Revolutionary Road)
03 - Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona)
04 - Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)
05 - Amy Adams (Doubt)
Next Five: Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button); Samantha Morton (Synecdoche, NY); Carice Van Houten (House of Lies); Vera Farmiga (Nothing But The Truth); Annette Bening (Dirty Tricks) (or The Women).
I still don't know what the deal is vis-a-vis Viola Davis and Amy Adams and who has the bigger/better role in Doubt (Davis's role was more prominent in the play, but I'd heard Adams's role was beefed up for the movie), so for now I'm picking them both. Buzz has settled around Henson standing out among the Button women (though betting against Blanchett is surely folly), and Cruz got great buzz out of Cannes.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
01 - Milk (Dustin Lance Black)
02 - WALL-E (Andrew Stanton)
03 - Synecdoche, NY (Charlie Kaufman)
04 - Changeling (J. Michael Straczynski)
05 - Hamlet 2 (Pam Brady; Andrew Fleming)
Next Five: The Lucky Ones (Neil Burger; Dirk Wittenborn); Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh); The Soloist (Susannah Grant); Vicky Christina Barcelona (Woody Allen); Nothing But The Truth (Rod Lurie).
Hamlet 2 is poised to be the Fox Searchlight quirky indie darling of the year, Pixar has carved its own niche in this category (as has Charlie Kaufman), and the Milk screenplay is supposed to be genius. Auteurs Mike Leigh and Woody Allen make for formidable outliers, too.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
01 - The Reader (David Hare)
02 - Frost/Nixon (Peter Morgan)
03 - Revolutionary Road (Justin Haythe)
04 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Eric Roth)
05 - Doubt (John Patrick Shanley)
Next Five: Defiance (Clayton Frohman, Edward Zwick); Body of Lies (William Monahan); Cheri (Christopher Hampton); Miracle at St. Anna (James McBride); Blindness (Don McKellar).
Lots of big names on this list, so this could go a whole lot of ways, but I'm hedging with the stage adaptations (Frost/Nixon, Doubt) and the F. Scott Fitzgerald.
01 - Milk (Harris Savides)
02 - The Reader (Chris Menges)
03 - Australia (Mandy Walker)
04 - Blindness (Cesar Charlone)
05 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Claudio Miranda)
Next Five: Changeling (Tom Stern); Defiance (Eduardo Serra); Miracle at St. Anna (Matthew Libatique); Revolutionary Road (Roger Deakins); The Dark Knight (Wally Pfister).
Blindness got roughed up in Cannes, but I have to believe Charlone does some gorgeous (or at least showy) things with the "white sickness."