Oscar nominations: Slumdog Button

So Heath Ledger is in for an Oscar nod but the Dark Night gets shut out for both picture and director.

A friend of mine, who just happens to be a film critic, says "if you're a professional Movie Critic calling "The Dark Knight" or "Revolutionary Road" The Best! Movie! Of the Year!, then you need to see more movies."

This lays at the heart of the Academy's identity problem. It wants to award the best films of the year, but nobody ever believes that they go — just look at all the Oscar snubs lists — and all the prognosticators who will list both what should win and what will win.

Of course they wont to be popular, but they don't want to be seen to be pandering to the public. Which makes it so hard when that booze-soaked upstart Golden Globes, which is a critic's group, at least nominally.

My point? The Oscars is chasing ratings and credibility and won't get either.

But then they went and nominated Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder, in black face no less, while Wall-E can't escape the Animated Film ghetto. Looks like this is Slumdog Millionaire's year. Who knows what they are up to?

One positive note Waltz With Bashir gets a Foreign Film nominations — everyone should see this film. A blend of documentary and animation about one soldier trying to reconstruct his memories of Israel's 1982 incursion into Lebanon, Waltz With Bashir has grown on me so much since we saw it at the Toronto Film Festival in September, I'd say it was the best picture of year. So maybe the Academy does get some things right.

But other than that, it was mostly anticlimactic. Here are the major nominations for the 81st Annual Academy Awards:

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon and The Reader

Best Actor: Richard Jenkins “The Visitor”, Sean Penn “Milk”, Frank Langella “Frost/Nixon”, Mickey Rourke “The Wrestler”, Brad Pitt “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Best Actress: Kate Winslet “The Reader”, Meryl Streep “Doubt”, Anne Hathaway “Rachel Getting Married”, Angelina Jolie “Changeling”, Melissa Leo “Frozen River”

Director: Danny Boyle “Slumdog Millionaire”, David Fincher “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, Stephen Daldry “The Reader”, Gus Van Sant “Milk”, Ron Howard “Frost/Nixon”

Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger “The Dark Knight”, Josh Brolin “Milk”, Philip Seymour Hoffman “Doubt”, Robert Downey Jr “Tropic Thunder”, Michael Shannon “Revolutionary Road”

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”, Viola Davis “Doubt”, Marisa Tomei “The Wrestler”, Taraji P. Henson “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, Amy Adams “Doubt”

Best Animated Feature: Bolt, Kung-Fu Panda, Wall-E

Best Original Screenplay: Frozen River, Happy Go Lucky, In Bruges, Milk, Wall-E

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire, The Reader

Best Foreign Language Film: The Class, Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, Revanche, Departures, Waltz with Bashir


My many, many thanks to Pamela Westoby for her stunning tenure at the helm of Popped Culture while I lazed away a week in chilly Florida. She deserves a nomination. And may I also nominate America for Heineken at the 7/11, Denny's Grand Slam breakfast and Target for bringing back desert boots!


  1. 13 For Button? This is an OUTRAGE! Support the Anti-Benjamin Button movement!

  2. Heineken? At 7/11? God bless America.

  3. So not digging Benjamin, Steve? Well, I haven't seen it so I'll just have to take your, umm, Fake Benjamin Button's word for it.

    And yes Pammy, god bless cheap booze.

  4. Well, not having seen a whole lot of movies last year, I'm not going to say The Dark Knight is the best movie of the year, but I think it was probably one of the best. And I think this points to a problem the Academy has besides not wanting to pander to the public but still wanting to be popular--they won't recognise any genre film, no matter how good it is. If it is a superhero movie, a horror movie, a sci-fi movie--even if by some miracle it is better than The Seven Samurai or Citizen Kane--chances are it won't get nominated for Best Picture!

  5. Agreed - which makes me wonder how Lord of the Rings slipped through?