Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lucky 11 Oscar winners become easy pickins

They’ll be celebrating from Malibu to Mumbai Sunday night when the crowd-pleasing
Slumdog Millionaire” walks away with Best Picture at the 81st annual Academy Awards, hosted by Hugh Jackman at 8 o’clock on ABC-TV.

Director Danny Boyle’s much admired little film has won everything else in its wake – Golden Globe, Critics Choice, SAG Ensemble, Producers Guild, Writers Guild, Directors Guild and even the cheery ol' BAFTA – so why wouldn’t it pick up the Oscar, too?

Certainly none of the other Best Picture nominees can stop it now, making “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (with its 13 nominations), “Frost/Nixon,” “Milk” and “The Reader” just plain also-rans.

Expect Boyle to earn a Best Director nod, and writer Simon Beaufoy to collect a Best Adapted Screenplay statue, too, in a night that will have few surprises.

In fact, only the lead acting categories might offer reasons enough to stay up late to watch. That said, look for Kate Winslet (“The Reader”) to beat out Meryl Streep (“Doubt”) for Best Actress, and comeback kid Mickey Rourke (“The Wrestler”) to edge Sean Penn (“Milk”) et al for Best Actor.

The other acting races seem more clear-cut. It says here that the late Heath Ledger (“The Dark Knight”) wins Best Supporting Actor, and Penelope Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) gets to show off the Best Supporting Actress hardware.

“Man on Wire” might have more of a tightrope walk to win Best Documentary Feature, but relatively easy choices include “Wall-E,” the pick here for Best Animated Feature, and “Waltz With Bashir,“ dancing home as Best Foreign Language Film.
Rounding out the top 11 categories is Best Original Screenplay, but expect young Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”) to emerge from what might be the evening’s strongest field.

By the way, if I could cast votes, your acting winners would be Streep, Rourke, Ledger and Cruz and, in this over hyped list of nominees, “Frost/Nixon” absolutely running away with Best Picture.
Seriously, though, it coulda and probably shoulda been a much "Dark(er) Knight."
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