By Wayne Harada
Oscar season comes full circle with Sunday’s Academy Awards hoopla in Hollywood and on TV.
This means the guesstimation game is in full swing. There are a few shoo-ins this year but surprises emerge each season.
There will be winners beyond the customary awards — who’s wearing the gown to die for, who has the worst gown since singer Bjork appeared in that swan mess, which glamorpuss has which hunk on her arm, and will Down Under’s Hugh Jackson bring up Oscar ratings with his hosting and singing?
But I digress. Here’s my take on this year’s Academy Awards — without the 50-50, ask-the-audience, phone-a-friend and double-dip benefits of being in the hot seat on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”:
Should win: “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Will win: “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Why: The best word-of-mouth campaign going, the best feel-good reel experience amid the feel-bad real-ity of a down economy ... and who doesn’t want to root for the underdog, anyway?
But: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” was easily the most inventive movie with a fascinating plot and spectacular makeup and filming technique with its reverse-aging theme
Should win: Danny Boyle, for “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Will win: Danny Boyle.
Why: Made a personal dream into a universal dream: everybody loves a winner, particularly with such dark and devastating odds — the bleak background of the slums of Mumbai, coming after last year’s real-life downer, the terroristic bombing that took innocent lives in Mumbai. His earlier Directors Guild nod, a precursor of the Academy Awards, galvanizes his win.
Should win: Sean Penn, portraying Harvey Milk in “Milk.”
Will win: Mickey Rourke, playing Randy “The Ram” Robinson in “The Wrestler.”
Why: Real-life backstage drama — a loser, trying to get in the ring of success — puts Rourke in the winner’s column. Think Robert DeNiro in “Raging Bull,” battered and bloodied, like real. Or not.
But: Frank Langella, portraying Nixon in “Frost/Nixon,” was right-on perfection.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Should win: Heath Ledger, as the Joker, in “Dark Night.”
Will win: Heath Ledger.
Why: His death last year may be a sentimental reason, but he owned the film whenever he was on camera; posthumous awards are part of the Oscar tradition.
But: If anyone can be a spoiler, it’s the unpredictable Robert Downey Jr., an ironman of a different color in “Tropic Thunder.”
Should win: Meryl Streep, as Sister Aloysius in “Doubt.”
Will win: Streep in “Doubt.”
Why: Mamma mia, she is the doyenne of Hollywood cinema and this is her 15th nomination, her last Oscar awarded in 1982. Isn’t it time again?
But: Kate Winslet, as April Wheeler in “Revolutionary Road,” and as Hanna Schmitz in “The Reader,” was a double winner in two Golden Globes categories earlier this year. Both roles could ramp her up on the “Reader” radar.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Should win: Penelope Cruz, as Maria Elena in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”
Will win: Viola Davis, as Mrs. Miller in “Doubt.”
Why: Without a doubt, her few minutes on screen were powerful and potent, making every tick of the minute count.
But: Marisa Tomei, as the stripper Cassidy in “The Wrestler,” could finally validate her questionable “My Cousin Vinny” supporting actress win in 1992.
Has "Slumdog Millionaire" already peaked, in terms of popularity, giving another film a wedge of chance to snag the Best Picture award?
Which flick is your pick for Best Picture?
And the rest — director and actors and actresses?
Who — besides Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino"— was snubbed by the Oscars?
Share your thoughts...