From ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ to ‘Milk’: HollywoodChicago.com Picks the 2009 Oscar Winners

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CHICAGO – Content director Brian Tallerico and staff writers Dustin Levell and Patrick McDonald have merged their movie-loving minds and come up with the ultimate Oscar preview. Win your office pool, impress your friends and propose a toast to the nominees that should have been when the 81st-annual Academy Awards are broadcast on Feb. 22, 2009 at 7 p.m. CST.

BEST PICTURE

Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
-Paramount; 13 nominations; $123 million gross

Frost/Nixon
-Universal; 5 nominations; $17 million gross

Milk
-Focus; 8 nominations; $27 million gross; winner of New York Critics Award

The Reader
-The Weinstein Company; 5 nominations; $21 million gross

Slumdog Millionaire
-Fox Searchlight; 10 nominations; $89 million gross; winner of BAFTA, Boston Critics, National Board of Review, Producers Guild Award, SAG Ensemble Award, and Golden Globe

Nearly everyone on Earth is predicting a locked-in win for Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” and HollywoodChicago.com is no different. It would be an absolute, jaw-dropping shock to hear “Frost/Nixon” or “The Reader” announced on Oscar night and “Milk” doesn’t have the support needed to get the big win. That leaves the nomination leader - “Button” - and the little movie that could. It’s a Slumdog World, and we only live here.

Dustin thinks the Academy will get it right this year and award the film that deserves the big prize but Patrick and Brian wouldn’t mind seeing a win for “Milk”.

As for the already-notorious snubs of “Wall-E” and “The Dark Knight,” Dustin says, “Twenty years from now, though people will be still be talking about Dark Knight and WALL-E as the great cinematic achievements of 2008 and how they raised the bar for their respective genres.” With no explanation, Patrick throws an interesting film into the ring for what should have been nominated - Neil LaBute’s “Lakeview Terrace”. We love Mr. McDonald and the limb he’s out on with that one.

BEST ACTOR

Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight

Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor
-1st nomination

Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
-1st nomination

Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
-2nd nomination (no wins)

Sean Penn, “Milk”
-5th nomination (one win); won Boston (tie) and LA Critics Awards and Screen Actors Guild Award

Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler
-1st nomination; won BAFTA, Boston (tie) and Chicago Critics Awards and Golden Globe

This may be one of the tightest races in the history of Best Actor. Eliminating the possibility of a shocking split vote letting a third candidate sneak in, it’s going to be one of two ’80s icons - Sean Penn as Harvey Milk or Mickey Rourke as Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson. Langella, Pitt and Jenkins just got picked in the wrong year.

The SAG win for Penn and universal acclaim seems to give him the edge but Rourke has been nearly as lauded during precursor season and won the Golden Globe. It doesn’t hurt Mickey that Sean has won before. It’s a lot harder to get a second prize. But that doesn’t stop Brian from saying Sean’s going to be one of the few and that he deserves it. Dustin and Patrick are going with Mickey and all three think their choice to win is also the one that should.

There may be solid agreement that either Mickey Rourke or Sean Penn will and should win but there’s no consensus pick on the HollywoodChicago.com staff as to who should have been nominated.

Dustin points to the most financially successful film in Clint Eastwood’s history, “Gran Torino,” and what could be the legendary star’s final performance and finds it surprising that the Academy didn’t throw the old man a bone on his last go round as an actor.

Patrick goes back further in the year and picks the underrated Sam Rockwell and his excellent work in David Gordon Green’s “Snow Angels”.

Finally, Brian thinks no one worked as hard or embodied a character quite as completely as Benicio Del Toro in “Che”. Sadly, all three men have as much of a chance of winning an Oscar on Sunday night as you do.

MVP's picture

Mickey Rourke also won BAFTA

You failed to mention in your article that Mickey Rourke also won the BAFTA award for Best Actor. This actually gives Rourke an extra edge over Sean Penn. In the past four years, the four BAFTA acting award winners have also won the Oscars. Winning a SAG award, does not mean Penn will win the Oscar. Penn has never won a SAG award before (this was his 5th nomination) and that is why his peers gave him one this time. I really think that Mickey Rourke will win the Oscar, unless politics win over merit and performance, which is a shame.

BrianTT's picture

BAFTA vs. SAG

Thanks for catching that and it has been corrected, although I’m not sure I agree that it gives Rourke the edge. You say that “in the past four years, the four BAFTA acting winners have also won the Oscars.” But the same holds true for the SAG winner. Going back further than the last four years…

2004 - split with BAFTA picking Bill Murray, SAG Johnny Depp and the Academy Sean Penn.

2003 - both SAG and BAFTA went with Daniel Day-Lewis, the Academy chose Adrien Brody.

2002 - both SAG and BAFTA picked Russell Crowe, the Academy chose Denzel Washington

2001 - BAFTA chose Jamie Bell (!!!!), SAG went with Benicio Del Toro for Traffic (who did win but not in lead), and the Academy picked Crowe.

2000 - all three Spacey.
1999 - all three Benigni.

That’s ten years where BAFTA and SAG were either both right or both wrong. It almost lends credence to the theory that they’ll split the vote and Frank Langella or Richard Jenkins would win. It’s clearly one of the closest Best Actor races in history. I’d love to see the vote totals on this one.

Brian Tallerico
Content Director HollywoodChicago.com

Ryan's picture

Mickey

I really hope to see Mickey Rourke win Best Actor. His performance was amazing. And yet Penn’s was also superb. Seeing who wins will definitely be the most interesting part of the Oscars this year.

“Langella, Penn and Jenkins just got picked in the wrong year.” - I think you meant Pitt, not Penn. :)

pregnancy's picture

Slumdog open my world

I have just seen the movies 2 day ago and i totally fell in love with it. It is open up my world about India because of Slumdog. Everything is fit and perfect.

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