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Will the Academy
of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences
(AMPAS) get it right this year?  A lot
has been discussed about last year’s lackluster Oscar viewership.  Truth be told, the films honored last year
were the best I’ve seen since 1999 (although, I would have substituted Atonement
with SweeneyTodd), but that is coming from an unabashed film geek.  To the general public, the nominees and
especially the winners were quite alien.

 

So that is why, this year, there was a shakeup regarding the
upcoming Oscar telecast; new producers behind the scenes (including an Oscar
winner) and an interesting new host in the form of Hugh Jackman.  Should be interesting to see how this pans
out. 

 

But… curiosity does not a successful Oscar telecast
make.  This year, more than ever, I hope
the AMPAS choose the right five films to be honored with a nomination for Best
Picture.  Films that were not only
successful critically, but also struck a chord with moviegoers all over the
world. 

 

The critical darling of 2008, Slumdog Millionaire is the
clear frontrunner; not because of its Golden Globe Best Picture win, but
because of how well it’s being accepted worldwide.  It’s a film that is building incredibly
strong word-of-mouth which, in Hollywood,
is the Holy Grail of marketing.  It’s a
film that has a little something for everyone and it truly brings to light the
changes happening in the world today.

 

For a film that’s dividing viewers more than anything else, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button deserves to be in the top five.  While it’s not quite clear as to whether or
not it will or should win, Benjamin Button was, for me, one of the most
moving works of pure cinema of 2008.  If
nothing else, it already owns every single technical award it will be nominated
for. 

 

Even though I haven’t seen it yet, there is a strong
possibility that Milk will find its way into the top five based solely on the
reportedly strong performance of its lead, Sean Penn, and the script (which I
adored) by Dustin Lance Black.  While a
Best Actor award may be the only clear win, Milk is one of the most important
films released in 2008 due to the fact that it is literally ripped from today’s
headlines.  For that reason alone, Milk
deserves a place in the most honored films of 2008.

 

With two spots remaining, this is where it gets a little
tricky.  Of course, we can say Doubt
deserves a spot, or even Frost/Nixon (both worthy films).  But if the AMPAS want to really kick up their
viewership, they should include not one but two widely loved successful films
in the top five.  The most obvious choice
would be to nominate The Dark Knight. 
By nominating Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga, I have no doubt that the
viewership for the Oscars would go through the roof.  Think about it… people want to root for a
film that they not only adore, but one that is genuinely deserving of the
praise.  It’s not every year where we
come across a film such as The Dark Knight, so if the AMPAS truly wanted to
make a statement, while remaining relevant to the film community, Bob Kane’s
creation is who they should focus their sights on.  I say that it will be in the top five come
Thursday morning.

 

That leaves one last spot. 
How about the AMPAS make history one more time by nominating an animated
film in the Best Picture category?  I
recently watched Wall-E again on Blu-ray and I completely fell in love with
it more than I did the first time.  It
truly is a film that captures the beauty of life and love… told through the
experience of two robots!  Quite possibly
Andrew Stanton’s masterpiece, Wall-E is the only animated film in recent
memory that deserves to stand next to “Beauty and the Beast” in the history
books.

 

Or, if Wall-E doesn’t fly, I would love to see Darren
Aronofsky’s The Wrestler battle its way into the top five.  While there are rumors swirling around that
the only nomination the film deserves is one for Mickey Rourke, I truly believe
that the film is this generation’s On the Waterfront, Marty and Rocky.  Everyone loves an underdog,
especially the Academy, so I don’t see why The Wrestler can’t become the
darkhorse in the running.

 

In any case, on Thursday morning, all the guessing will come
to an end.  And after the nominees are
announced, we’ll know for sure whether or not the Academy made the right
choice.  Besides, when the Academy gets
it right… they get it very right (The Silence of the Lambs anyone?).