Oscar Roundup: Nov. 26

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Milk and Australia both hit theaters today with the hopes of impressing both critics and audiences. How might they fare with the Academy? Here are their best bets, possibles, and long-shot chances at earning Oscar nominations on Jan. 22.

MILK

Best Bets

Best Picture
It’s quite possibly the best reviewed live-action film of the year. Now it needs to play with audiences who don’t live in New York or California. But it’s already a top contender.

Best Director, Gus Van Sant
The often avant-garde filmmaker will continue to earn kudos for making his most accessible film since Good Will Hunting.

Best Actor, Sean Penn
An absolute lock, and rightly so.

Best Supporting Actor, Josh Brolin
Building on his strong performances in No Country for Old Men and W., the veteran actor is a fascinating and complex villain as Harvey Milk’s city council colleague Dan White.

Best Original Screenplay, Dustin Lance Black
Black’s equally meticulous and moving script could end up winning this category.

Possibles

Best Supporting Actor, James Franco
As Milk’s most steadfast love interest, Franco delivers a solid turn as well. Is there enough room in the race for him and Brolin?

Best Cinematography, Harris Savides
It’s not the showiest work of the year, but Savides effectively adds to the film’s intimate feel.

Best Art Direction, Bill Groom & Barbara Munch
The Academy goes for more elaborate design, but Milk‘s period sets seem effortless in their accuracy.

Best Original Score, Danny Elfman
The last time he teamed with Van Sant (for Good Will Hunting), he scored one of his first Oscar nominations. 

Long shot

Best Makeup
Again, not the most elaborate prosthetics around, but Penn’s physical transformation into Harvey Milk is quite extraordinary.

AUSTRALIA

Best Bets

Best Original Screenplay, Baz Luhrmann, Stuart Beattie, Ronald Harwood, Richard Flanagan
With most of the top Oscar films in the adapted category, Luhrmann & Co. could sneak in here.

Best Costume Design, Catherine Martin
Luhrmann’s wife and collaborator won this category for Moulin Rouge.

Best Art Direction, Catherine Martin
Ditto. And she almost outdoes herself this time.

Possibles

Best Picture
The mixed reviews hurt, but there’s still a significant segment of the Academy that goes for big-scale movies.

Best Director, Baz Luhrmann
Though Moulin Rouge scored a Best Picture nod, he was shut out of the director race. He faces tough competition this year as well. But there’s no denying the pure scope of his achievement.

Best Actor, Hugh Jackman
In a weaker year, his charismatic turn as a leading man would have a better shot. He may have to settle for Sexiest Man Alive.

Best Actress, Nicole Kidman
She very successfully does the old-Hollywood thing, and Luhrmann helped her earn her first career nomination for Moulin Rouge. But if voters hold this role up to her nakedly emotional, Oscar-winning work in The Hours, this will lose out in the comparison.

Best Supporting Actor, Brandon Walters
Oscar has a thing for tykes from Down Under (witness Anna Paquin or Keisha Castle-Hughes). And the impressive 13-year-old rookie is arguably the most memorable aspect of the film.

Best Cinematography, Mandy Walker
Walker’s shots of the Australian outback are more alluring than any travel advertisement could hope to be.

Long shot

Best Editing, Dody Dorn & Michael McCusker
Some critics will say the film could have used a bit more editing.

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Comments (11 total) Add your comment
  • BenG

    To correct Mr.Karger, Anna Paquin is Canadian but spent much of her childhood growing up in New Zealand. Just a point of national pride ;)

  • Glenn

    Castle-Hughes is from New Zealand too. And I think Mandy Walker’s cinematography is a much better bet than the screenplay, which is being hammered in some circles.

  • Drew Williams

    I have to admit, Milk will garner 7 or more nominations , while Australia will have a hard time garnering 4. I would love for Baz and Australia to get nods for director and BP, but my hopes have been dimmed with the split in critical reception. EW and USA Today gave it less than average reviews while Ebert, Variety, Time, and Hollywood Reporter liked it very much. Milk is a lock for many nominations.

  • Bobby

    Have you guys seen the films? I have not, but I’ve seen the trailers and from them I feel like MILK has potential greatness and that AUSTRALIA has potential flopness, and by that I mean that I’ll be curious to see if Baz can actually own a landscape or anything other than a controlled set.
    I also found funny the idea that MILK would possibly get an Oscar for makeup, based on the pic shown. Sean Penn has great, thick hair and to give him a Pat Buchanan come-over, just over his ear w/o hinting hair loss is just theatrical. Should I be looking for spirit gum on beards and neon “X”s on the floor boards?

  • par3182

    Josh Brolin is considered a “veteran actor”? Wow, what does that make James Brolin??

  • K.K.

    Saw Australia yesterday, and boy was it interesting. I can’t believe a movie that has potential greatness falls so flat in the last 2/3. The first hour was great adventure, fun, and drama. However, the second half is just flat both emotionally and in terms of story-telling. If the movie would end before the war, it might actually has a shot at the Oscars. Very disappointed person here:(
    But looking forward to Milk!

  • Chuck

    I saw both these films today and they are not even in the same class. ‘Milk’ totally hits the bullseye with a not very traditional biopic, which the academy always loves. And Sean Penn is absolute magic, as are James Franco, Josh Brolin, and Emile Hirsch. This will definitely get nods for picture, actor, director, supporting actor, script, music, art direction, and maybe even costume design. I think the country will embrace this inspiring story that few outside the gay community probably even know about.
    ‘Australia’ is just a major snooze fest. I love old-fashioned romances just as much as anyone [I am writing one right now] but this is all sweep and pageantry and very little story. I actually wanted to slap the Aboriginal kid and Nicole Kidman most of the time. I don’t think she has the acting chops to convince us she’s anyone other than the ex-Mrs. Cruise in period costume. Art direction is good and cinematography too, but that’s not enough to keep us in the theater.

  • paige

    Milk is also extremely well edited. I definately believe its gonna win best Cast as the SAG awards. What an excellent film this was.

  • K.K.

    forget to mention this….but Dave Karger is the sexiest Oscar blogging person…..:)

  • mrgreen1114

    I watched both Milk and Australia this weekend. Wow. What a difference of experiences!
    As I left the theatre after watching Milk, I found myself overcome with emotion at it’s beauty and sensitivity. This was clearly a labor of love for everyone involved.
    Danny Elfman’s score was surprisingly light and hopeful and completely unobtrusive. Definitely some of his best work to date.
    Harris Savides’ cinematography felt like i was looking at a photographic art/coffee table book right out of the seventies.
    Sean Penn’s acting was so overwhelmingly convincing I forgot I was watching Sean Penn. Every moment was filled with generosity and love.
    Josh Brolin was outstanding and never allowed me to dismiss Dan White as just a villain.
    And James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Diego Luna are pitch perfect.
    If the Oscars were based on films that were made with love, Milk would receive high honors indeed.
    Australia was a different story indeed….

  • NigNaiple

    This really answered my drawback, thanks! I look forward to more here at insidemovies.ew.com!

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