Now, a disclaimer: The Solipsist has seen NONE of this year's Oscar-nominated films. This shouldn't pose too much of a handicap, but you should take this into account when placing your bets.
Herewith, the Solipsist's picks in six major categories:
Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams (Doubt)--The title of the film sums up the Solipsist's opinion of her chances. (Well, who knows, she's probably fine. But it's kind of a clever line, no?)
Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona)--Does the hottest chick ever win? Hmmm. . . .Kim Basinger won. So did Angelina Jolie, but she wasn't all hot in that film. Oh, and of course there was Judi Dench! Maybe.
Viola Davis (Doubt)--The title of the film sums up . . . . You get the point.
Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button--henceforth, "Button")--Well, maybe, if only because the Solipsist is going to go out on a limb and say that "Button" is going to turn out to be an Oscar bust. An award in a prestigious but not huge category like this could be a sort of consolation prize.
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)--She won for "My Cousin Vinny." Somehow the words "Marisa Tomei" and "Multiple Academy Award Winner" don't go together.
Solipsistic pick: Penelope Cruz.
Best Supporting Actor:
Josh Brolin (Milk)--"Milk" is the Solipsist's dark horse pick for a big night, so this could be a possibility.
Robert Downey, Jr. (Tropic Thunder)--An honor to be nominated. And this is one of the few things YNSHC actually saw. Downey WAS hilarious: "I don't read the script! Script reads me!" Still, he won't win.
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt)--The title of the--Oh, stop it already! Seriously, folks, Hoffman is one of YNSHC's favorite actors. He's fantastic. But he's already won once, which might work against him here.
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)--Well, this is the proverbial gorilla in the room for the Oscars. The questions: Was he really THAT good in "The Dark Knight"? Yes, he was. Would he have been nominated if he hadn't died? Maybe, maybe not--but he should have been. Will he get the award because he died? Or will he NOT get the award because he's dead? These questions make this category the most fascinating of the night.
Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)--Ummm. . . .Who?
Solipsistic pick: Heath Ledger
Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)--YNSHC knows NOTHING about this movie and very little about Anne Hathaway. She was the girl in "The Devil Wears Prada," right? Kind of funny that she's up against Meryl Streep, who played her antagonist in that previous film. Then again, considering Oscar history, virtually any woman who's been nominated over the past thirty years or so has been up against Meryl Streep. (And let's not forget 1987, when Streep received all five nominations! But enough about Meryl Streep--well, until we get to Meryl Streep.)
(Digression: Try repeating "Streep" over and over--it's really quite a mantra. End of digression.)
Angelina Jolie (Changeling)--Possibly. She's won before, but it was for supporting actress. This would seem to be a natural progression. And it's always looked on favorably when the hot chick makes herself look frumpy. This year, her performance in "Changeling" is the closest thing we have to that.
Melissa Leo (Frozen River)--Ummm. . . Who? In what?
Meryl Streep (Doubt)--Streep Streep Streep. . . Streepy Streepy Streep. . . Oh! Sorry! YNSHC went away for a moment there. Well, Meryl Streep is the most nominated actress (or actor) in Oscar history, and she's already won a couple. Plus, "Doubt," being an adaptation of a play, has a certain literary cache, and it suggests that this is probably the most "actor-y" part. Even money.
Kate Winslet (The Reader)--Nope! The Solipsist takes it back. Winslet has been around for long enough and been nominated enough times (like, thirty-two or something) without winning. This is her year.
Solipsistic pick: Kate Winslet
Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)--See Melissa Leo
Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon)--Langella is a veteran. A Tony Award winner. A proverbial actor's actor. Plus, this role has the same stage-play, actor-y cache as Streep's. . . .Streep Streep Streep. . . Streepy Streepy Streep. . . Gah! Sorry! A solid pick.
Sean Penn (Milk)--From everything the Solipsist has heard, Penn won the award before the film was even released. Another solid pick.
Brad Pitt (Button)--No. His nomination, though, does raise the question about whether the "actress" rule mentioned above (the award goes to the hottest woman who makes herself look the most unattractive) goes for men, too. (It worked for George Clooney in "Syriana.") Not that Pitt looks BAD in the movie, but he does have to look pretty ancient for awhile. Then again, if this rule were in place, he would've won for "Twelve Monkeys." Not that the Solipsist thinks this will happen, but what happens if "Brange" wins an award but "Gelina" doesn't? Or vice versa? Trouble in paradise? Or will they just go on a shopping binge for Ghanaian orphans to soothe their feelings?
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)--The sentimental pick.
Solipsistic pick: Tough call, but Sean Penn.
Best Director: The Solipsist will simply cop out and choose the Director of the Best Picture (See below.)
Button--It's generally considered a safe bet to pick the movie with the most nominations, which this year is "Button." But the Solipsist doesn't think it's going to work out that way. He's heard too much snarkiness around it.
Frost/Nixon--Come on! While the acting is probably solid, this is basically just a filmed version of a stage play which was basically just the transcripts of an interview! This is cinema? This gets nominated over "The Dark Knight"?!?
Milk--The dark horse. Nobody has anything bad to say about this movie, and, at least here in the Bay Area, you would think it's the second coming of "Citizen Kane."
The Reader--Well, it's a Holocaust movie and, by law, there has to be a Holocaust movie nominated for best picture every year. But that's about all this has going for it.
Slumdog Millionaire--The feel-good movie of the year! You'll stand up and cheer! It's like Rocky! Well, except with a skinny Indian kid. . . . And, y'know, not about boxing so much as, well, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" The Indian version. . . . No, YNSHC just can't go for all this "feeling good" nonsense. Who needs that?!?
Solipsistic pick: Go with the dark horse, "Milk." (And, by default, Gus Van Sant for Director.)