The 81st Academy Awards: If I had been a voter

Happy Independence Day everyone! With the 4th of July being a holiday, today I’m doing something relaxing. About a year or two ago, I stopped a series I had been doing, but today it has officially returned. Yes, once again I’m going to be taking a look back at a recent (or now recent-ish) Oscar lineup and explaining what my vote would have been in each of the big eight categories we all follow so intently each season. I previously mentioned that potentially I could do this once a week with previous Academy Award ceremonies, and while I’m not going to be attempting to do that, time will still tell if it’s something that gets consistent play or not. Again, if nothing else, this continues to give you an interesting look into my cinematic tastes. Over the course of the year you can sort of get a feel for what my current favorites are, but now we can look to the past a bit more.

Alright then, here goes nothing folks…behold my picks for this particular ceremony:

Best Picture – Milk

The nominees here were The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, and Slumdog Millionaire. Obviously, the real winner was of course Slumdog Millionaire, and I was tempted to go with the ambition of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but in the end, I went elsewhere. The emotion and period detail of Milk swayed me. It was close, but that would have been my pick.

Best Director – David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

This field consisted of the five directors of the five Best Picture nominees. Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Stephen Daldry (The Reader), David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon), and Gus Van Sant (Milk) squared off. Boyle took the real prize, though here I’m giving Fincher his first statue. His most Oscar friendly work to date won’t be denied in this redo.

Best Actor – Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler

Here the nominees were Richard Jenkins for The Visitor, Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon, Sean Penn for Milk, Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler. Penn took it at the actual ceremony, and while he’s phenomenal as Harvey Milk, I can’t deny Rourke. His performance is one of the ten best of all time to me, so he’s an easy pick here.

Best Actress – Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married

In this particular category, the battle was between Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married, Angelina Jolie for Changeling, Melissa Leo for Frozen River, Meryl Streep for Doubt, and Kate Winslet for The Reader. Winslet won here (though deserved it instead for Revolutionary Road), but that’s not my pick. I’m going with Hathaway, who gave a career best performance in this character study.

Best Supporting Actor – Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight

The nominees for this category were Josh Brolin for Milk, Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt, Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight, and Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road. Ledger took this one posthumously in real life and here will be the same. He just plain deserves it.

Best Supporting Actress – Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler

Here, the field consisted of Amy Adams for Doubt, Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Viola Davis for Doubt, Taraji P. Henson for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler. I nearly went with actual winner Cruz, but in the end sided with Tomei, who pairs so well with Rourke.

Best Adapted Screenplay – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Eric Roth and Robin Swicord)

The nominees here were The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Eric Roth and Robin Swicord), Doubt (John Patrick Shanley), Frost/Nixon (Peter Morgan), The Reader (David Hare), and Slumdog Millionaire (Simon Beaufoy). Beaufoy took it for Slumdog Millionaire in real life, but here, I narrowly go with Roth and Swicord’s script for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Best Original Screenplay – WALL-E (Pete Doctor, Jim Reardon, and Andrew Stanton)

Finally, this group consisted of Frozen River (Courtney Hunt), Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh), In Bruges (Martin McDonagh), Milk (Dustin Lance Black), and WALL-E (Pete Doctor, Jim Reardon, and Andrew Stanton). Black won at the real show for Milk, and while I almost picked him, and nearly went with McDonagh for In Bruges, ultimately I rewarded ambition and went with Doctor, Reardon, and Stanton for their imaginative screenplay for WALL-E.

Stay tuned, there will once again be another one of these in the next couple of weeks, so be excited. And, one more time, Happy 4th of July!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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