Time Out makes its predictions ahead of the biggest night of the Hollywood year. Do you agree with our choices?
Time Out Dubai staff
This is as predictable as ever: three worthy literary dramas (Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire and The Reader), one rebellious, politically charged biopic (Milk) and one solid, entertaining old-Hollywood epic that’ll probably pull in the undecideds, and win by default (that would be The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).
If the Academy is looking to reward Slumdog without handing over the big kahuna, it seems likely Danny Boyle will carry this one, and perhaps he deserves to: whatever the script’s flaws, his dedication to making the film on the real streets of Mumbai deserves some recognition.
Our money’s on Mickey Rourke to take home Best Actor to complete his meteoric comeback. Fortunately, a more worthy recipient you couldn’t hope to find.
This is an open field, with Kate Winslet the obvious frontrunner, but Angelina Jolie nudging up on the inside. Though Anne Hathaway might just sneak a highly justified upset for her remarkable turn in the otherwise snubbed Rachel Getting Married (not even Original Screenplay, which has to sting).
Heath Ledger has this sewn up, and completely and deservedly so. Tom Huddleston
Rachel’s Getting Married
Nominated for • Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Anne Hathaway) Anne Hathaway’s character in Rachel’s Getting Married, the eponymous Rachel’s troubled little sister, Kym, is the primary focus of director Jonathan Demme’s family- in-crisis drama. No princess getups or Prada accessories here; Kym’s a recovering addict on a weekend furlough from rehab. While everyone else prepares for the festivities, we get first-hand glimpses of both her rocky past and the personal hell she’s still going through.
Hathaway’s refusal to play Kym as a saccharine caricature, while still making you believe this woman is worthy of being loved, gives the part poignancy; it’s a rare portrayal of recovery culture in an American movie that actually seems realistic. ‘I told Jonathan that we weren’t making an American movie at all,’ Hathaway jokes. ‘Addicts are only used as plot conveniences, so I thought, let’s treat Rachel like it was a French film.
Although by the end of the shoot, I felt like we’d drifted more toward Romania.’ She lets out a laugh before suddenly turning serious. ‘But I remember telling a friend of mine who’s a recovering addict about the project. She told me she was so glad this was getting made. When I asked her why, she replied, “Because rehab is only the first step, Anne. The hard work comes once you leave, and nobody ever makes a movie about that.” ’ David Fear Soon to be available on DVD
Nominated for • Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Kate Winslet) • Achievement in Cinematography • Achievement in Directing • Best Motion Picture of the Year • Best Adapted Screenplay Sir David Hare, a British playwright, screenwriter theatre and television director, was knighted in 1998 for his contribution to the arts and is now Oscar-tipped for his latest project, The Reader. The film (and novel) covers love, deception, secrets and lies, guilt and punishment, transcendent art and bestial behaviour, and – not least – the inescapable plutonium-like poisoning of successive generations following humanity’s basest act, the Final Solution.
When complimented on his work, the screenwriter is quick to pass the buck: ‘Well you know, I think Stephen Daldry (the director) has a salt of genius for handling difficult material. And in a way that makes it accessible. I mean, the last film we made, The Hours, was about suicide and took well over US$100 million dollars. At the end of it all, Stephen turned to me and said, “How have we persuaded such a wide audience to look at such matter?” I feel it’s him. I feel he’s got that gift.’
We say, a gift and a sugared pill. Complex as it is, The Reader is really a love story, not a probing art movie. And we see Kate Winslet’s bum. Wally Hammond Release in Dubai TBC
Nominated for • Original Screenplay Martin McDonagh, playwright Do you think viewers might be upset about your character’s jokes about fatness, racism or dwarfs? ‘Probably [laughs]. But hopefully not. I hope the overall tone of the film isn’t that way. You didn’t deliberately set out to provoke? No. I mean I did set out to push the envelope of what a character can or can’t say on film but not in a gratuitous fashion. Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted In Bruges to look like? I wanted it to look beautiful. I didn’t want it to be a grimey, British-Irish kind of gangster thing. The Venice of Don’t Look Now was the template. Wally Hammond Release in Dubai TBC
Nominated for • Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Frank Langella) • Achievement in Directing • Achievement in Film Editing • Best Motion Picture of the Year • Adapted Screenplay Michael Sheen, the British actor who plays David Frost in the multi-nominated Frost/Nixon would seem to have the simpler of the film’s two leading roles. While many viewers , particularly Americans, will critique Frank Langella’s stunning performance as Nixon on how well it compares to the real thing, they can take Sheen’s portrayal of the interrogator at face value. ‘You’d think it’d be easier,’ says Sheen, 39, sitting in his New York hotel suite. ‘But actually, it’s the exact opposite. Playing someone famous is like playing a jazz standard; everyone already knows the refrain, so the fun is riffing around the melody.’ Yet this is difficult when fewer people know that tune. ‘It’s the harder role, but luckily, you don’t need that level of knowingness. Everyone understands the notion of abused power and accountability.’ David Fear Screened in Dubai from February 26
Nominated for • Achievement in Art Direction • Achievement in Costume Design ‘I wasn’t looking to make a costume drama,’ The Duchess director Saul Dibb admits. ‘It didn’t feel like something I’d naturally gravitate towards.’
But The Duchess is a British period film that indulges the beauty of dress, wigs and furnishings while giving equal weight to domestic and emotional realities. His film is an adaptation of Amanda Foreman’s biography of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, whose marriage to William Cavendish was a struggle against indifference and infidelity. While her marriage goes to pot, Georgiana cultivates a role for herself as muse and celebrity clothes-horse, friend to both the adoring crowd and notables such as politician Charles Fox and the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan.
Anyone who’s seen a trailer for The Duchess may have noticed a version that stresses a link between Georgiana and her descendant, Diana, Princess of Wales. The film’s marketing bods are keen we see something of Prince Charles in the duke and Diana in the duchess.
‘In the making of the film we didn’t want to make any parallels whatsoever,’ says Dibb. ‘It didn’t govern the performances – and I can guarantee Diana’s name wasn’t mentioned as a reference. But you’d be naive not to be aware that when Foreman’s book was first published in 1998 the reviews repeatedly mentioned Diana. All that the marketing has done is make that link much more explicit to try to reach out to a wider audience. Dave Calhoun Soon to be available in DVD
It is very unfortunate and unfair that such strong performances last year by Keira Knightley (The Duchess) and both Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johanson in "The Other Boleyn Girl", weren't even nominated.