After my marathon movie day yesterday (Australia, Milk, Revolutionary Road) as well as earlier screenings (Doubt, Slumdog Millionaire) I've seen all but a few of the presumed Oscar giants (still waiting on: Frost/Nixon, Benjamin Button and The Reader). And having weighed the contenders I must inform that I'm still rooting for The Wrestler to displace almost any of them in the ring to sweat it out and do bloody theatrical battle for that coveted Best Picture title.
Even if their films aren't "Best Picture"s, Jonathan Demme (Rachel Getting Married) and Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) could be "Best Director"s, couldn't they?
The precursors will be upon us very soon. Each year I pray that the various Oscar Prediction Clubs will return to their founding purposes -- that is honoring the best films and performances of the year -- even if in so doing, they have to ignore the big ticket December films they've just barely screened and vote for things that are far less likely to be honored at the Kodak. But I've also been doing this for a long while now and I know better. The precursor nominations will be a mix of things that these guilds, clubs, associations and circles really do love and things they assume Oscar will love (a dependable percentage of which no one will care about in 2 or 3 years time). Some valiant cinematic efforts will be shoved aside for the latter. That's the way it goes.
But back to The Wrestler --I'm unsure if critics will rally unanimously given the other things they could throw their weight behind. And even if they do, I'm unsure if Oscar will bite given the low key nature of the film and its modest production values. But this is where I'm directing my prayers to the gods of cinema. I've given up hoping that Rachel Getting Married (more divisive than I thought it'd be) can find itself a miracle Best Picture nomination but I am still crossing my fingers that a brave non-predictive precursor body (do any still exist?) will at least honor Jonathan Demme's return to form as a director. It'd be so sweet to see him pull off a Mike Leigh Vera Drake style surprise nomination. But what are the chances of that?
Oscar Nom Predictions are currently being revised. You'll see the results tonight and tomorrow.