The top 8 Best Picture contenders?

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For this week’s issue of EW (out today) I was asked to put together a status report on this year’s Best Picture race. Now that I’ve seen virtually every contender, I assembled a roughly ranked list of the eight films I thought had a shot of getting nominated on Jan. 22. Here they are:

1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2. Slumdog Millionaire
3. Frost/Nixon
4. Revolutionary Road
5. Doubt
6. Milk
7. The Dark Knight
8. Australia

The story closed this past Monday; now that I’ve seen the fantastic reviews for Milk and the horrible early box office for Australia, I might have amended things a bit. (And for what it’s worth, if I had had room for 10 films, I would have added The Reader and Gran Torino as well.) I know all of you out there will have opinions on my list. So let me have it. And have a great long weekend.

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Comments (41 total) Add your comment
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  • Scott

    I still don’t think Benjamin Button is a lock like everyone else seems to. I will be seeing it next Wednesday so I guess I’ll find out then if it’s any good or not. Out of the movies you listed I’ve only seen The Dark Knight and Australia, I hope TDK gets in the Best Picture race, and I don’t think Australia is good enough for any major Oscar nominations (not even 8th, Torino and The Reader have much better chances)

  • flinka

    I think it will be: “The Dark Knight”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Milk”, “Revolutionary Road”, and “Wall-E”. The eventual winner will be: “Slumdog Millionaire”, very uplifting and memorable. Sean Penn will win Best Actor for “Milk”, and Best Director will be the dude who did “Slumdog”.
    Best Actress will finally go again to Meryl Streep for “Doubt”. Heath Ledger will take Supporting Actor from the grave.

  • dave

    I think that the list is quite good, but what about Wall-e?

  • R Rothchild

    I think Benjamin Button looks quite intriguing. The trailer is really fantastic. Every single shot is impeccable. David Fincher is truly one of the best filmmakers out there and he got completely snubbed for Zodiac.
    I’m completely unenthusiastic about Frost/Nixon, MIlk, Doubt and Australia. Revolutionary Road could be alright but it just looks like yet another sad drama about a broken family.
    I hope the Dark Knight gets the respect it deserves. It certainly warrants Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Director and Screenplay nominations. Personally I think it deserves to win in the Screenplay category (you can read the script online – it’s beautifully written – almost Shakespearian). Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how things pan out.

  • srdailey

    sadly, wall-e will probably be confined to the “best animated picture” ghetto.

  • jacky

    Milk, Slumdog Millionare, Revolutionary Road, The Reader, Doubt… maybe Batman just to get a commericial hit in there. Of course, Batman was the only one I have seen so far. It is not an Academy Award nomination worthy movie.

  • ryan

    Man your list stinks. Anyone could have told you no on Australia based on word of mouth. Do you even work in the business?

  • James

    WALL-E Enough said! No better film this year

  • Jamie

    Let’s face it–the main reason The Dark Knight did as well as it did at the box office was because Heath Ledger died. Big deal. Do you really think it would’ve done as well if Ledger was still alive. It’s the whole James Dean mystique all over again. That hardly makes for a great movie. IMO, I found the story of The Dark Knight to be predictable and way too long (even though Ledger was good in it–for what it’s worth). Plus, the movie was way too serious, considering it was based on a comic book. Couldn’t there have been some humor in it? Doesn’t the word comic derive from the word comedy? For Pete’s sake–you have a character in the movie called the Joker?!! The Dark Knight does NOT deserve to be nominated for Best Picture.

  • Cole

    WHAT HAPPENDED TO WALL-E.you guys were the ones who said that walle was the only movie to even come close to oscar contention and now nobody talks about it

  • Frank J. Avella

    Interesting list Dave.
    I mostly agree although I would change the order a bit and MILK, I believe, is definitely in the top 5.
    Here are my predicts for best pic:
    SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE
    MILK
    CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
    FROST/NIXON
    REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
    with
    THE DARK KNIGHT and DOUBT as possible spoilers.
    I don’t think AUSTRALIA will have what it takes to muscle in. But it will be interesting to see the critical and audience reception to the films that have not opened yet.

  • Clayton

    If The Dark Knight hadn’t been a good film, the box office would’ve dropped off immensely after the first weekend, and subsequent weekends (see: Quantum of Solace). But it didn’t. The word-of-mouth and repeat business were tremendous, as were the reviews (94% positive on Rotten Tomatoes, with an 8.5/10 average). Ledger was fantastic, but he was a first among equals; naturally, the showiest of the performances gets the most attention, but the ensemble was uniformly strong. And the script was as topical, thoughtful, and morally complex as the vast majority of art films in recent years. In a thin year for American films, it absolutely deserves noms for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Supporting Actor (along with a number of technical nominations). I think we’ve seen more than enough campy, lightweight comic book/superhero films in the past decade to allow for a weightier, more emotionally and culturally resonant crime-drama-with-superhero motifs to take the stage.

  • Teresa

    The Dark Knight is because it got a lot of money, right?

  • Clayton

    As for the “James Dean mystique”, let’s see how well Ledger’s final role in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus does (at the box office, and with critics) before we jump to too many conclusions.
    Moving on, Australia is pretty much out of the race at this point. Slumdog Millionaire, being a smart “feel-good” movie, certainly has a shot in the same way that previous nominees like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno made the cut, but I wonder if they’ll nominate a film set mostly in India. Milk is probably a lock for Picture and Actor, as is Frost/Nixon…both topical and well-acted. I have my, um, doubts about Doubt, as it seems a bit too obvious Oscar bait, but that didn’t stop Atonement from getting a nom last year. Benjamin Button…it depends on the reviews. Revolutionary Road could be one of those actor-driven films that only get nominated in the acting categories, as I’ve heard the direction by Mendes is of the point-and-shoot (and not much else) variety.

  • Eric

    I agree with Jamie. Sure, Heath Ledger was really good in the movie and I don’t see why he wouldn’t get nominated for Supporting Actor; but Best Picture? Like Jamie said, it was long and predictable. Plus it came out in the summer, and so did Wall-E, and there are MUCH better films that are coming out this holiday season that deserve to be on the Best Picture list. Sorry Batman Buffs, it just isn’t happening for you at the awards ceremony.
    As for your list, Dave, I almost completely agree, though I say we replace Frost/Nixon with Milk. I’m actually really doubtful about Slumdog Millionaire. When will the general audience see it? Even if it made the list, I can’t see it winning. My winner is Revolutionary Road. Go Winslet!

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