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Well last night was fun, don't you think? There were lots of winners who were really deserving (Mickey Rourke, the Slumdog folks, a handful of TV people from shows I don't watch but are probably great) and a whole slew of great acceptance speeches, led by teary Brits Kate Winslet and Sally Hawkins. And while today is the day that Oscar ballots have to be back at the Academy, meaning no one had time to watch Sally Hawkins' acceptance speech and hastily pencil her in to their Best Actress five, there's definitely potential for these awards to affect the Oscars-- provided these winners actually make it into the nominees next week.
First of all, how about that double Winslet win? In the last few weeks it's seemed entirely possible for both of the actress's Oscar bids to founder, with The Reader's Supporting Actress campaign seeming just too fishy, and Revolutionary Road not gaining necessary traction for her to make it through a crowded Best Actress field. And the crazy thing is, it's still entirely possible that we'll wake up on January 22 and not hear Winslet's name anywhere-- like I said, it was too late for those Globe wins to guarantee her a spot in either category.
But if she makes it into both-- and I'm thinking she probably will-- there's all of a sudden a free-for-all where it previously seemed like a horse race between two other actresses. Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep tied for the Best Actress win at the Critics Choice Awards, which made both of them the frontrunners going into the Globes-- oops. Lets not forget Sally Hawkins, who is a critical darling and was such a delight at the Globes that, if she makes it into the five, she's a real contener. In the supporting category, Penelope Cruz had been sweeping critical awards, with Viola Davis and Marisa Tomei occasionally playing runners-up. I don't think anyone was taking Winslet's supporting bid this seriously until now.
It's clear that the Golden Globes liked The Reader and Revolutionary Road better than much of anyone else, and given that the guilds have snubbed both films, it's unlikely for either to show up as major Oscar nominees. Will that hurt Winslet's support, provided she makes it in for both bids? Or is the consensus coming around that it's just Winslet's turn, and it's time to pick which performance you like best? Suddenly this race is looking a whole lot more exciting.
And speaking of horse races, Mickey Rourke's win last night, and his wonderful acceptance speech, mean that the race has opened up once again to include him against Sean Penn. I was talking to some other people today who were suggesting that Clint Eastwood and Rourke might even be the frontrunners, or that Frank Langella could take it all. I still think it's between Rourke and Penn, and since it's a battle of two guys not known for being the nicest or friendliest, I think the guy who hasn't won an Oscar yet (that'd be Rourke) has the edge here.
As for the rest of the races, there were fewer surprises. Colin Farrell's win for In Bruges was great and all, but he won't be making the Oscar list. And Heath Ledger's win was expected, and will likely carry over to Oscar night. Other than that it was entirely the Slumdog show, a sweep that solidifies the movie as a frontrunner that really and truly probably can't be tangled with. Even if The Dark Knight shows up in Oscar's five next week-- which it probably will-- nothing combines the populist appeal and critical hosannas of this one. I reminded myself last night that, as of July, Slumdog Millionaire didn't have a distributor, and only became a frontrunner when people realized how good it was-- not because it had a studio plugging it as an automatic Oscar nominee (ahem, Frost/Nixon). It still feels weird that Slumdog has become the one movie from this year that anyone wants to reward, but I'm coming around to the notion that it's not the worst idea we've had in years.
There's one more piece of Oscar precursor news left, nominations from a guild that does almost as good a job as predicting the Oscars as the Director's Guild (so says Awards Daily). Handily, the American Cinema Editors selected the same five films as the directors-- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire. Just further evidence that, barring something really bizarre, those will be the five films we see nominated next Thursday.
It's going to be fairly quiet between now and then, actually, as the industry and most of the people who cover it (myself excluded) gear up for the Sundance Film Festival, and the monkeys who count Oscar ballots frantically figure out just who got nominated. Later this week I'll start posting my predictions for nominees-- last year I only did the big six, but this year I think I'll go whole hog and predict 'em all. Like I warned last year, don't take it too seriously-- I don't know any more than anyone else. But if I don't get into predicting, what's the fun in that?
The chart below has been edited to reflect Globe wins, and probably won't be retooled again until the nominees are announced. Time is flying! See y'all later.