The 81st Academy Awards will air Sunday evening on ABC. Which movie will be named Best Picture? Who will win the best acting and Best Director awards? Media commentator Paul Janensch gives us his picks.
Before I make my predictions, here is another question: Will anyone be watching? Well, of course, some people in America, and many people in India, will be watching. But last year, when "No Country for Old Men" won for Best Picture, the U.S. television audience was the smallest ever for the show. The movies that had been nominated were off-beat, not the usual Hollywood fare. And host Jon Stewart, who anchors the satirical "Daily Show" on the Comedy Channel, was not a household name, at least not in most households. This year, the moves that have been nominated are even quirkier, and host Hugh Jackman is even less of a household name. The Australian performer has been the host of several Tony Awards programs. And late last year People magazine named him the Sexiest Man Alive. But frankly I mixed him up with British actor Hugh Grant, who may be even sexier. Anyway, I, for one, will be watching to see if my predictions come true. And here they are.
For Best Picture, "Slumdog Millionaire," in which a young man from the slums of Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, finds himself on India's version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" and digs into his past for the answers. It's a mix of reality and fantasy -- and the biggest money-maker of the five pictures nominated. For Best Actor, Sean Penn in "Milk," in which the usually sullen bad boy of Hollywood portrays the bouyant Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to a high-profile U.S. office. For Best Actress, Kate Winslet in "The Reader," in which she portrays a German woman with secrets. One is that she had been a death-camp guard. The other I won't give away. Winslet has been nominated five times but has yet to take home a statuette. For Best Supporting Actor, Heath Ledger, who plays a troubled Joker in "The Dark Knight," the latest Batman movie. He died last year of an accidental drug overdose. For Best Supporting Actress, Viola Davis, who is seen briefly in "Doubt" as the mother of a troubled boy befriended by a parish priest. For Best Director, Danny Boyle. If "Slumdog Millionaire" wins for "Best Picture," he should win for Best Director because he directed it. Isn't that right? If only the Oscars were that logicial. Media commentator
Paul Janensch is a former newspaper editor who teaches journalism at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.