Friday, February 20, 2009

Oscars this Sunday: Will the Academy be nice to queers this year?

It's Oscar weekend! Here are my predictions for wins in the major categories:

Picture: Slumdog Millionaire
Director: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
Actor: Sean Penn, Milk
(possible spoiler: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler)
Actress: Kate Winslet, The Reader
Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
Supporting Actress: Penélope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
(possible spoiler: Viola Davis, Doubt)
Original Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Adapted Screenplay: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
Animated Film: Wall-E

I tend to rely on Entertainment Weekly's predictions when filling out my Oscar pool ballot. They tend to get at least half of the minor categories right.

I also tend to guess with my heart, despite evidence to the contrary. I have a nagging feeling the Academy is set to reject Sean Penn's portrayal of Harvey Milk in yet another slap against the gay community. Penn has more respect in Hollywood than his main competition, plus he played both a real person who dies, and someone who changes for the better, all of which should guarantee him a win, based on Oscar's voting history. Rarely do actors who play fictitious characters beat out actors who played real ones.

But there's one big obstacle standing in front of a Penn win: Harvey Milk was gay. For the majority of this very conservative group of filmmakers, that's a big turn-off. Hence why a guy who played a Hulk Hogan-type character who doesn't change and doesn't grow and doesn't die is still considered a strong contender to win. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Mickey Rourke does win. I'm certainly not attacking Rourke's talent or performance in The Wrestler; he was incredible. And worse films have won Academy awards in the past.

If Penn loses, that leaves Dustin Lance Black as the only remaining Milk nominee with a decent shot of winning. That would be a nice consolation prize, but I still don't put it past the Academy to snub us altogether.

I'll be watching on Sunday.


Jennifer Smith said...

Sorry sweetie, but there are two other factors working against Penn that have way more to do with it than his playing a gay icon. He's already won before... and Mickey Rourke.

I know - I'd love for him to win too. But we still have the movie.

Mark from Slap said...

I hope Sean Penn wins, too. Not that Mickey Rourke (who I predict will win) didn't give a tremendous performance, but I feel Penn's complete transformation will be remembered and studied in the future, long after Rourke's is forgotten. I hope the Academy sees that too!

I know you're a huge fan of Slumdog, Matt, so I'll tread lightly here ;), but I don't believe it deserves Best Adapted Screenplay---and while I wouldn't say it's necessarily undeserving of Best Picture, I'm not sure it's the most deserving.

I don't think I'm particularly prone to backlash against popular films, but I do feel that, nearing the end of the film, it became formulaic. Eye-rollingly so. Still, the narrative device was unique and gripping and the setting absolutely made the movie---so it wouldn't feel unjust if it won. "Best" anything is always so hard to define, after all. :)

Jennifer Smith said...

Holy crap! You got them all!!

I'm so happy to have been proven wrong :)

Matt Guerin said...

Bless those folks at Entertainment Weekly!