Before I get into my super-dooper Oscars form guide, I have to make mention that last Tuesday, I wrote my 1,000th full length review (as opposed to just giving it a standard grade with nothing more). I started writing detailed reviews back in January 2000. When you consider that a standard review is around 600 words in length, we’re talking about 600,000 words in all. What a waste of time and effort. :-)


For the record, review number 1,000 was for He’s Just Not That Into You.


Now, it’s on with the Academy Awards and as I like to do each year, here’s a form guide for all the categories with my picks as to who will win (with some quick commentary).

History has been made this year in Australia in that the ceremony is being televised live for the first time. You can see it on Movie Extra (through Foxtel) or on Channel 9 (if you don’t have pay-tv) starting from 11:30am. The red carpet arrivals are before this.


If you’re looking to do it in style, both the Palace Barracks and Dendy Portside are having a special Oscar bash. At the Palace Barracks, tickets are $25 and include a live screening of the ceremony, light brunch and a glass of champagne on arrival. At the Dendy Portside, tickets are $20 and this includes a champagne brunch, bottomless coffee and unlimited popcorn.


It’s a tragedy that I have to work or else I’d be at one of these functions. If you’re looking to head along, you can get further information from their respective websites or by giving the cinemas a call.


There have been huge changes made to this year’s ceremony but they’re all being kept hush-hush by new producer, Bill Condon. I’m a huge fan of Condon – especially for his 1998 film, Gods & Monsters. Here’s an artist’s drawing of what the stage may look like…


If you’re tuned into 612ABC radio on Monday morning, you can hear my last minute thoughts on how things should pan out.


Also, don’t forget to enter my Pick The Winners competition. All the details are contained in a separate email.


Ok then, let’s get to the form guide…


Best Motion Picture of the Year

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire


I’ve been saying it all along and I’m not changing my tune now. Slumdog Millionaire will win best picture. Period. Matt’s Pick: Slumdog Millionaire.


Best Achievement in Directing

Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire

Stephen Daldry for The Reader

David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon

Gus Van Sant for Milk


The winner of the best director prize almost always win the best picture Oscar. There have been only a handful of exceptions. I can’t find any reason to suggest an upset this year so Danny Boyle should have this one in the bag for Slumdog Millionaire. Matt’s Pick: Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Richard Jenkins for The Visitor

Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon

Sean Penn for Milk

Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler


This is the race that has everyone talking. Who will win? Sean Penn or Mickey Rourke? Behind Penn is the fact that this film has been nominated for best picture, he’s imitating a real life person (always a positive) and he won the Screen Actor’s Guild Award. Behind Rourke is the fact that he’s a Cinderella-like comeback story (which Hollywood loves), he’s never won before (the Academy likes to share their love around) and he won the British Academy Award. I’m sticking with my guns and going with Rourke. I think the fact that Penn won a few years ago (for Mystic River) will hurt him and the Rourke bandwagon has picked up momentum in the last few weeks. Matt’s Pick: Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married

Angelina Jolie for Changeling

Melissa Leo for Frozen River

Meryl Streep for Doubt

Kate Winslet for The Reader


Kate Winslet has gone 0 for 5 at the Academy Awards. She’s arguably the greatest actress never to win. That will probably change on Monday but her big danger comes in the form of Meryl Streep. Meryl has won twice before but her last win was in 1983. Will the Academy choose to honour Meryl over Kate because of all of her great work in the last 25 years? I’m sure she’ll win one again soon but I don’t it’ll be this year. The Academy clearly likes The Reader (by nominating it for best picture) and the fact that Kate has given two great performances this year (also in Revolutionary Road) should give her the edge. Matt’s Pick: Kate Winslet for The Reader.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Josh Brolin for Milk

Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder

Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt

Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight

Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road


And the Oscar goes to Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Matt’s Pick: Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight.


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams for Doubt

Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Viola Davis for Doubt

Taraji P. Henson for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler


Here’s a fun contest. When it comes to the 4 acting categories, the one which throws up the biggest surprises is best supporting actress. Last year for example, Tilda Swinton got up and I had a small bet on her early in the piece at 20-1. Penelope Cruz is this year’s front-runner but she is as vulnerable as the New South Wales Labor party. Her film, Vicky Christina Barcelona, has been nominated in no other categories. That doesn’t show a lot of passion for the film from Academy members. There have been a few whispers that Viola Davis has a big shot at decent odds for her role in Doubt (which earned a total of 5 nominations). I wouldn’t vote for her myself (just wasn’t a big enough role) but I think there’ll be an upset here and Davis is the best chance to cause it. Matt’s Pick: Viola Davis for Doubt.


Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire


This year’s adapted screenplay category is interesting as 4 of the 5 best picture nominees are adapted. The other inclusion is Doubt which has earned 5 nominations of its own accord. With all the hype behind Slumdog, I expect it to win here too as part of its sweep of the picture, director and screenplay categories. Matt’s Pick: Slumdog Millionaire.


Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Frozen River


In Bruges




Milk deserves to be the favourite here as the only best picture nominee of the bunch. This will be a great opportunity for Academy members to give the film an award. There are dangers however. WALL-E was a huge hit at the box-office and will have its supporters. In Bruges won at the British Academy Awards and could also cause a boilover. I’ll stick with Milk. Matt’s Pick: Milk.


Best Achievement in Editing

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight



Slumdog Millionaire


There’s a long running tradition that best picture and best editing go hand in hand. There are a small number of exceptions – usually when a classy action film pops on the scene. So once again, I find myself tipping Slumdog Millionaire in this category. It also won the guild award in this category to add further weight to my prediction. Matt’s Pick: Slumdog Millionaire.


Best Achievement in Cinematography


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Reader

Slumdog Millionaire


Ditto here. I think Slumdog is a certainty here given that it won the guild award and it boasts beautiful cinematography. It doesn’t matter that any of the other films may be more deserving. Wow, I just realised that Slumdog is going to win a lot of awards. Matt’s Pick: Slumdog Millionaire.


Best Achievement in Art Direction


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

The Duchess

Revolutionary Road


Look out! Slumdog Millionaire is not nominated in this category so it can’t win. But which film will? The Academy tends to favour period piece flicks which would give weight to The Duchess. However, Benjamin Button might be a shot with its beautiful setting and many Oscar noms (showing some popularity amongst voters). The Dark Knight also has a shot. Hmmmm. I’m going with Benjamin Button here. Matt’s Pick: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.


Best Achievement in Costume Design


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Duchess


Revolutionary Road


The same applies here which I said above for art direction. The Duchess will be the front-runner with its elaborate costumes and I’m not going to argue here. Matt’s Pick: The Duchess.


Best Achievement in Makeup

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Hellboy II: The Golden Army


This is one of the easiest categories of the night. Benjamin Button’s great make up work was evident to anyone who saw the film and in this weak category, it’ll triumph easily. Matt’s Pick: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



Slumdog Millionaire



One of my favourite categories is best original score. I love movie soundtracks and have a huge collection myself. Thomas Newman is one of my all time favourite composers. He’s now been nominated 10 times and is yet to win. He’s an outside chance here but I think he’ll have better luck in the best song category. The score in Benjamin Button was nice but in keeping with the Slumdog sweep, I think it’ll take this one. Matt’s Pick: Slumdog Millionaire.


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Slumdog Millionaire: "Jai Ho"

Slumdog Millionaire: "O Saya"

WALL·E: "Down to Earth"


There are only 3 nominees for best song this year. Two come from Slumdog Millionaire and the other from WALL-E. I don’t know how Bruce Springsteen wasn’t nominated for his song in The Wrestler. It’s an outrage! In the past, when a film has more than one song nominated, we tend to see a vote split and both songs lose. This is possible this year with Slumdog but Fox has launched a sneaky campaign to promote one song (Jai Ho) at the expense of the other. This is a tricky one. I know conventional wisdom says that WALL-E should win this but something tells me that the music in Slumdog resonated with audiences. I’m tipping Jai Ho from Slumdog. Matt’s Pick: Slumdog Millionaire: “Jai Ho”.


Best Achievement in Sound

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Slumdog Millionaire




Sound can be a tricky category. This is usually where the action films come to shine but you also have be wary of a Slumdog sweep. Slumdog did win the guild award in this category but for both sound and sound editing, I’m going to lean towards The Dark Knight. Matt’s Pick: The Dark Knight.


Best Achievement in Sound Editing

The Dark Knight

Iron Man

Slumdog Millionaire




See comments above for sound. What do I know? Matt’s Pick: The Dark Knight.


Best Achievement in Visual Effects

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight

Iron Man


Here’s another easy one. As much as I criticised Benjamin Button, I can’t fault the wonderful special effects. Matt’s Pick: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.


Best Animated Feature Film of the Year


Kung Fu Panda



WALL-E has won almost every award to date in this category. However, in one of the biggest shocks of this year’s Oscar season, it lost the Annie Award (the big prize of animation) to Kung Fu Panda. I liked that upset because I think both films are equally good. I don’t know people have been going ga-ga over WALL-E to be honest. It’s a good film but not a great film. The promising opening is lost by a sub-par ending (up in space). I’m not brave enough to tip another Kung Fu upset so I’ll go with the feisty little robot. Matt’s Pick: WALL-E.


Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (Germany)

Entre les murs (France)

Revanche (Austria)

Okuribito (Japan)

Vals Im Bashir (Israel)


I’ve only seen two of these films personally – Waltz With Bashir and The Class. I think Waltz is the better of the two films and it’ll pick up the Oscar. It’s won numerous awards in the lead-up and the subject matter is timely given the recent battles between the Israelis and Palestinians. There can be upsets in this category though as the winner is picked by the small group of Academy members who have been to the special screenings of each film. With a smaller pool of voters, anything can happen. Matt’s Pick: Waltz With Bashir (Israel).


Best Documentary, Features

The Betrayal - Nerakhoon

Encounters at the End of the World

The Garden

Man on Wire

Trouble the Water


Man On Wire has been the documentary hit of 2008 and whilst I haven’t seen the other nominees, I’d have no complaints if it won in this category. It’s a great movie. Like the foreign language film category however, only a small group vote on this award so surprises are possible. Matt’s Pick: Man On Wire.


Best Documentary, Short Subjects

The Conscience of Nhem En

The Final Inch

Smile Pinki

The Witness from the Balcony of Room 306


Well this is clearly the most wide open race of the night. Everyone will be glued to their screens to determine the winner. To use the words of Mike Meyers, it’ll “send shockwaves through the industry”. Getting back to reality, virtually no one has seen any of these nominees and so your guess is as good as mine. Matt’s Pick: The Final Inch.


Best Short Film, Animated

Maison en petits cubes, La

Ubornaya istoriya - lyubovnaya istoriya



This Way Up


See comments above re: documentary short subject. This is the part of the ceremony where it’s best to take a toilet break or go out in search of drinks/food. Matt’s Pick: Presto.


Best Short Film, Live Action

Auf der Strecke

Manon sur le bitume

New Boy




Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Matt’s Pick: New Boy.


A full wrap of the Oscars will be included in next week’s Film Pie newsletter. I’ll see you then.