Is it just me or do you see any trends developing over the course of this race?
Meryl Streep, Doubt
Sean Penn, Milk
Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Kate Winslet, The Reader
So...where do we stand?
About the same place we've been standing for the last several weeks.
Slumdog Millionaire seems to be a foregone conclusion. Best Actor is a toss-up between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke. Best Actress is between Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep. If Heath Ledger could be awarded 10 Oscars for his performance, he would be.
People love the Winslet performance in The Reader. I am of the belief that her work in Revolutionary Road is even stronger, even though The Reader is a better film. But the real heat has always surrounded the Reader performance, no matter which category it has landed in. Since the Academy nominated her only once, in the lead category, for The Reader, she is the one major roadblock between Meryl Streep and Oscar number three. The fact that this is her strongest performance in years--and the fact that the Nomination Queen hasn't actually won an Oscar in 26 years--would make her a shoo-in, if not for the love for The Reader, and the fact that Winslet hasn't won an Oscar since...she was born. And that's a crime.
It's tough to gauge the Best Actor race. Rourke won the GG, and then Penn wins the SAG...back and forth we go. One thing that can happen, though--SAG and Oscar can have differing opinions. It happens...and it could happen this year. This applies to both lead acting categories. It's a bigger voting bloc for the Oscars...and a little different. So...big toss-up.
Finally, Slumdog Millionaire is turning into the kind of juggernaut we haven't seen since...well, last year I guess, when No Country swept everything up. But the heat for Slumdog seems even bigger in many ways...it is cruising in a similar way to--dum dum DUM--Brokeback Mountain. And if you recall, Brokeback was such a huge frontrunner...that it lost in the closing seconds. To bullshit like Crash. So...is this a fair comparison?
Yes and no. Brokeback was that rare early favorite that held up all the way until the ceremony...when it lost. This year, the early favorites lost steam way early, and Slumdog became the undeniable, unstoppable movie of love and passion. In Brokeback's year, a lurking turd kept resurfacing to spoil the day. The only turd in this Oscar race is Ben Button, but it is much bigger than Crash, and a lot less sneaky. It is gonna be way harder to steal Slumdog's thunder.
Oh, and by the way, when did Crash first make its move in 2006? At the SAG awards, when it was the upset winner for Best Cast. No such luck for any film over the 'Dog.
It is, in many ways, a foolish comparison. But there is such heat behind The Film of Destiny that it worries me a little bit.