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An Animated Best Picture Race

We’re calling it: Slumdog Millionaire will get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. But what of the other four slots? This year’s hopefuls include some quirky choices—but not so quirky that there aren’t precedents.


The Movie The Pitch The Problem The Precedent
The Dark Knight The Academy has 528,000,000 reasons to nominate the biggest hit of the year. Heath Ledger’s tragic death aside, is the Academy really going to nominate a comic-book movie for Best Picture? It’s not just a comic- book movie: It’s a dense, urban crime thriller with a devilish supporting turn. It’s 2008’s The Departed.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Brad Pitt stars in a sweeping historical epic with a twist: The eponymous hero ages backwards. Heavy special effects, two-and-a-half-hour running time, and a damaged hero making his way through the twentieth century. Could be a disaster... ...or could be another Forrest Gump.
Milk Gus Van Sant’s biopic, starring Sean Penn, focuses on the gay-rights movement in seventies San Francisco. Brokeback Mountain proved that gay sex isn’t a disqualifier with the normally risk-averse Academy. But what about gay pride? Fresh-faced scribe (hottie-turned- screenwriter Dustin Lance Black), slightly outré social issue, and tube socks. It’s Juno redux!
Revolutionary Road Leo and Kate together again—only this time it’s the fifties and their sinking ship is married life in suburbia. Is the story, based on a Richard Yates novel about a couple tearing each other apart, a little too dark and tragic to bear? Yates’ exposé of suburbia was American Beauty before American Beauty was American Beauty.
Doubt The Pulitzer-winning play about faith and sin, starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams. Sounds awfully stagy and intimate. Is it really a movie? A literary chamber piece. Three Oscar- approved actors. No coincidence that producer Scott Rudin was the man behind The Hours.
Frost/Nixon A serious movie about the intersection of television news, celebrity, and politics, based on the Tony-winning play. Is it too small, too irrelevant, and too eggheady? A movie that delivers history in miniature for smarties can succeed if it preaches to Hollywood’s lefty choir, à la Good Night, and Good Luck.
The Wrestler Mickey Rourke’s career-reviving, jaw-dropping performance drives director Darren Aronofsky’s gritty drama. Do Oscar voters really care enough about wrestling to grant a Best Picture nod to a movie that’s a tiny showcase for one great performance? They didn’t care that much about the British monarchy, but they nominated The Queen.
Wall-E A box-office hit, a legitimate work of art, and the crowning achievement of the animation geniuses at Pixar. It’s a half-silent cartoon about a robot trash compactor, not to mention an anti-consumerist screed. A lonely clown with a social conscience. Uh.... The Great Dictator?

The Oscar Movie Graveyard
Five movies whose early Best Picture buzz has been laid to rest.


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