At least its not Crash. That was the first thought I had upon seeing the pride of the Garden District, David Finchers The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, rack up 13 Academy Award nominations to lead a suddenly crowded field of top films. Like in 2007, the last two months of 2008 contained more superlative cinema than the 10 that preceded them. While I didnt consider Button among the best it may be movie magic, yall, but its hackneyed structure is also maudlin, mawkish and manipulative plenty of other people did. So if Button spays Slumdog Millionaire as expected, it wont be nearly as bad as 2005, when Paul Haggis skin-deep commentary on race relations bested actually deep competition like Brokeback Mountain, Good Night, And Good Luck, Munich and Capote. (For the record, though, Im all-in on Rourke, Hathaway, Ledger, Henson, Boyle and, of course, his ridiculously rousing Bollywood tribute.)
No Amour For Ive Loved You So Long? Not only did the practically flawless picture and star Kristin Scott Thomas author of the years best performance, male or female, from a nonwrestler not get nominated, the Frenchie isnt even in contention for Best Foreign Language Film after getting shut out altogether. Its the biggest affront to France since freedom fries.
Whither Leonardo? Never thought Id be saying this, but can DiCappuccino please get some love? Brad Pitts pokerfaced Button snatched what many believed was a certain nomination for Leos immeasurably more complex work in Revolutionary Road. And two years ago, his nervy turn as a crossed-up undercover cop in Martin Scorseses The Departed was backburnered in favor of nearly pulling off a South African accent in Blood Diamond. (He lost, predictably, to Forest Whitakers frightening portrayal of Idi Amin.)
Right Actor, Wrong Role? This year, it was Revolutionary Road costar Kate Winslet who got the bait-and-switch, a surprise Best Actress nominee only in that she received it for The Reader (itself a surprise Best Picture nominee, and a film Slate kindly characterized as slow-acting poison). The octogenarian academy is getting to be like that senile aunt at family reunions who shows up wasted, sleeps through the picnic and insists your name is Frankie.