The Oscars 2009: Predictions in Storytelling

Part III of my Oscar predictions begins… NOW!

Cinematography
This is the blend of lighting and camera choices that come together to set a visual tone for a film beyond the sets and costumes.

Nominees

  • “Changeling” (Universal), Tom Stern
  • “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda
  • “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister
  • “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
  • “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle

Predicted Winner: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda
This was a hard category to call because The Dark Knight was strikingly shot, too. But there some truly beautiful images in Benjamin Button, despite the fact that I thought it was a mediocre film.

Director
In a nutshell, the director is the conduit between what’s on the page and what gets shot.

Nominees

  • “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Fincher
  • “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Ron Howard
  • “Milk” (Focus Features), Gus Van Sant
  • “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Stephen Daldry
  • “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle

Predicted Winner: “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle
Out of the nominees, this was by far the most complex story told. Ron Howard and Gus Van Sant both did great jobs with their respective films, but the stories and the themes were pretty straightforward. Boyle took a story that could have easily derailed into a convoluted mess of threads and turned it into a beautiful tapestry, so he gets the prize in my book.

Film Editing
Film editing involves taking the film that’s shot and determining how to piece it together to achieve a narrative that is both clear and compelling for the audience.

Nominees

  • “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lee Smith
  • “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
  • “Milk” (Focus Features), Elliot Graham
  • “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens

Predicted Winner: “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
How do you take a film about the filming of an interview—basically two talking heads—and make it not only interesting but edge-of-your-seat compelling? I have no idea, but apparently Mike Hill and Dan Hanley do.

Original Screenplay
Best screenplay not based on some other written material.

Nominees

  • “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt
  • “Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh
  • “In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
  • “Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black
  • “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

Predicted Winner: “In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
I haven’t seen the first two nominees (though Frozen River is on its way to my house via Netflix), but In Bruges is so different from any sort of movie I’ve seen in recent memory that I have to throw my support behind it. Thematically, tonally, verbally… It’s just a really interesting piece of work.

Adapted Screenplay
Best screenplay based on other material.

Nominees

  • “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
  • “Doubt” (Miramax), Written by John Patrick Shanley
  • “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Screenplay by Peter Morgan
  • “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Hare
  • “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

Predicted Winner: “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy
The amount of research that went into the writing of the screenplay alone makes it worthy, let alone the sheer talent that goes into weaving a series of short stories into something that hangs together so well. There’s really no contest here in my opinion. Beaufoy’s got to win it, hands down.

I’d love to hear what you all are thinking, too! Coming soon: Predictions in Acting!

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One thought on “The Oscars 2009: Predictions in Storytelling

  1. Sam says:

    I like reading these predictions and learning about what the award is! You better hurry with the rest of them, though…the awards ceremony is tomorrow! 🙂

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