IN THE RUNNING (BUT ONLY JUST)
Director: Baz Luhrmann
UK release date: 26 December 2008
The moment Hugh Jackman was announced as host of the next Academy Awards ceremony, two possible and parallel universe opened up before us. In one, Australia takes every award possible except the Best Actor nod for Jackman. In the second, Australia gets nothing and Jackman isn't even nominated. And Nicole Kidman snaps in two when caught in a revolving door on her way into the event (later stitched back together with her lower half on backwards - no-one notices but it does make her thrice annual visit to the toilet a bit tricky from then on). Only time will tell if the second option comes true, but we're crossing every digit on this one. Plus a few strangers' fingers as well.
As for the film, we'll leave that to guest reviewer and our favourite Twitterer, @MsMarmitelover: "Australia one of worst films ever. Kidman, the baddies, all caricatures. Jokey 1st half, bizarre war-time 2nd half. Lots of tears, esp. Jackman."
Verdict: It will only win if the judging panel is made up exclusively of Nicole Kidman fans. By that, we mean Nicole Kidman and her inverted lower half. Even then, it's not a lock.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
UK release date: 16 January 2009
Mickey Rourke explodes in a metaphor of his life writ large on the silver screen. By which we mean he plays a broken man who gets even more broked as he goes along, meeting with other broken folks who try to salvage their broken little lives through conciliatory sex and a bit of grifting. And then he learns a life lesson by having his face and other body parts smashed into a slick, sweaty wrestling ring canvas floor time and again.
All of this is instead of a more appropriate metaphor, that of Mickey Rourke playing the part of a hugely talented actor with an ego the size of Montana who spent too much time defending his title as a hugely talented actor with his fists and even more time trying to look a bit more like Ivana Trump through the art of cosmetic surgery (or is it Melanie Griffith? Can't be sure, really, until the swelling settles sometime in 2012) , only to crawl his way back to the big stage by playing the same mumbling mumblers he always seems to play (largely because he can't really open his mouth unassisted at this point in his career). Which is all too bad because that would have made a better film.
Verdict: Won't win Best Film. Might take Best Performance by an Overstuffed Comic Action Figure.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Director: Woody Allen
UK release date: 6 February 2009
It's Woody's latest return to non-form. Every year, Woody "The Woodsman" Allen (not to be confused with John Holmes) has another return to non-form but this time, he's really returned to non-form with a film few people have seen but everyone agrees is a return to non-form. This time non-Woody is played by Javier Bardem who is caught between a young woman (
This is another in Woody's European series where he takes beautiful famous young actors to various Old Country locations and lets them play out mediocre versions of his "older, better films". All of which were populated by older less beautiful and far more talented people.
Verdict: Oscar Schmoscar, it'd take a time machine for Woody to pick up diddly from the Academy.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Director: David Fincher
UK release date: 6 February 2009
Every so often, Brad Pitt has to kick back and get away from the Brady Bunch at home, so he decides to makes long, long, long movies. Angelina does the same. Trust us, it's amazing how six screaming kids and a ready supply of nannies can motivate you to get up and out the house to make as many films as possible.
This year, Brad and Angie (or Angelinad, as the tabloids know them) will be going head to head. In TCCOBB, Brad plays a man who ages backwards - a little like my cousin Derek who is 27 but has the brain of a three-year-old or my uncle Dave, who is dead. At last count, the film lasts 17.5 hours, but no-one's quite sure when it begins or ends because the ends are taped together.
Verdict: A strong outsider. Simply because, hey, we need to give working parents a break. And the film kept about 1,000 people in jobs, which is what the Oscars are really about: future job security.
Changeling and Gran Turino
Director: Clint Eastwood
UK release dates: 26 November 2008 and 20 February 2009 respectively
Two films, one squint. Clint does what Clint does best: directs films, squints and wears a t-shirt. Because if you can do all three at his age, that's pretty much all you should ever do. Otherwise you might find yourself sounding like a Conservative old fart with too much time on his hands.
Verdict: The Academy will be so impressed that Clint hasn't died yet, they may give him Best Film for both and just hope he goes away for awhile.
Waltz with Bashir
Director: Ali Forman
UK release date: 21 November 2008
It's animated. Animated things don't win Best Film Oscars. Because if that happened, then what would all those huge complicated multi-layered, many actored EPICS do? They'd fade away, that's what. And from that moment on, every single actor in Hollywood would be perfecting their voiceovers and wearing sweats and baseball hats and not shaving anything anymore. Basically, all of Hollywood would look like Philip Seymour Hoffman. And The Academy won't stand for that, no sir, nuh uh.
Instead, they will continue to nominate the small indies and the worthy performances, but the Big Nod will go to the one that cost the most, hired the most people and generated bucketloads for the industry because THAT's the kind of film
Verdict: The director is Ali Forman. Which was a great fight. And remember Ali didn't win Best Film. Despite Will Smith, looking, sounding and acting nothing like Muhammed Ali. As for Waltz with Bashir, Wall.E will walk it.
Director: John Hillcoat
UK release date: No date announced yet
As the tagline says: In the most depressing time since The Great Depression comes the most depressing film this decade based on the most depressing book you'll ever read. If you want to see the abyss, to actually taste the full salty taste of hopelessness and really understand just what bleak means, then this is for you. We all love a good weep but we're not so sure about a wrist-slitting, bleach-drinking plunge into suicidal misery that only a good dose of smack can bring you out of. Definitely not The Full Monty sequel that Sony ordered.
Verdict: A maybe for Oscar-glory. And I can't wait to see Hugh Jackman's dance interpretation.
The Brothers Bloom
Director: Rian Johnson
UK release date: No date announced yet
It's like Grifters but by the bloke who made Brick. So you'll get loads of made-up words. And Rachel Weisz is in it. We can smell the Oscar. Trust us, this is the big outsider. Weisz, made-up words, Mark "Who? Oh THAT guy" Ruffalo. Watch this space. but don't bother with the film.
Verdict: If you have any money, this is the one. Seriously, we know stuff you don't. Have we ever steered you wrong before? Ok fair enough, we're totally lying.
So WHO will take the Biggest Oscar on the Biggest night of the Biggest Awards Show and Celebrity Ping-Pong Tournament® of the Year?
Stay tuned for The No Show's pick...
[Ed's Note: Most of these images were found on the internets and some are copyright free while others are licensed under Creative Commons or GNU or they're promotional or whatever. Hope that's clear enough for everyone. Also, sorry for the rubbish caption sizes, I'm tired and it's late, so you'll just have to deal with it.]