Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES I, II, III & IV • February 18, 2009 Movie critic predicts this year’s Oscar Winners by Dennis Seuling On Sunday, Feb. 22, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will present its 81st Annual Awards. Known as the Oscars, they are the final major movie awards of this crowded season, following the Golden Globes, SAG, and Directors Guild honors. The oldest of the film awards, the Oscar is the one that can add enormous prestige and millions of dollars to box office grosses. This year is unusual in that so many indie-style films dominate the awards and the second-biggest money maker of all time, “The Dark Knight,” did not receive a Best Picture nomination. Following are this critic’s picks for the nominees I think should win in the major categories, along with those I predict the Academy will choose. For Best Supporting Actress, two contenders can be eliminated right away. Amy Adams gave a fine performance in “Doubt,” but hardly one worthy of an Oscar, let alone a nomination. Taraji P. Henson, who played the surrogate mother in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” has some touching scenes, but they do not hold up in competition with the other nominees. Marisa Tomei is excellent as the stripper friend of Randy “The Ram” Robinson (Mickey Rourke) in “The Wrestler,” but Rourke is so dominant that Tomei’s performance is overshadowed. That leaves Viola down-on-her-luck mother whose husband recently ran off with the down payment on a trailer home. To support her kids, she reluctantly turns to smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States. Hathaway plays Kym, a difficult young woman who returns home for her sister’s wedding bringing a dark cloud with her as she dredges up old, unpleasant family history. Winslet plays Hanna Schmitz, a middle-aged German woman who engages in a torrid, summer-long love affair with 15-year-old Michael Berg. While a law student years later, Michael discovers that Hanna is on trial for war crimes. This is a tough category, since all five actresses have turned in sensational performances, but it is Winslet who rises to the top. Her portrayal of the haunted Hanna stays with the viewer long after seeing the picture. Her performance is erotic, melodramatic, and sympathetic, and her on-screen aging believable. This seems to be Winslet’s season, with two major pictures (the other is “Revolutionary Road”) in release and several awards, including the Golden Globe, already won. She is my choice for Best Actress, and the Academy voters will make her the Oscar winner. The dark horse nominee for Best Actor is Richard Jenkins for “The Visitor.” Jenkins is a familiar face in movies and on TV, but this is his first starring role. He plays Richard Vale, a college professor who discovers illegal aliens living in his apartment and gets involved in their plight. Other nominees are Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon”), Sean Penn (“Milk”), Brad Pitt (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), and Mickey Rourke (“The Wrestler”). Pitt is good, but just that. It’s the film’s gimmick, computer generated effects, and makeup that dominate. Langella is superb, recreating the role of our 37th President that he originated on Broadway. Rourke plays an aging fighter who has blown any kind of human relationship and goes through life doing only what he knows -- abusing his body in small-arena wrestling gigs. It is an extraordinary performance from an actor whose career in many ways parallels that of Rourke’s Randy Robinson. Sean Penn plays the reallife Harvey Milk, an openly gay San Francisco supervisor who was murdered by a disgruntled politician. Penn sinks his teeth into the role and provides some of the best acting of the year. My personal choice for Best Actor is Langella, who manages to channel Richard Nixon through his speech, mannerisms, posture, and inflections. His Nixon is a master class in acting. The Academy, however, loves a comeback, and they will likely give Best Actor Oscar to Mickey Rourke. The Best Director Oscar frequently goes to the person who directed the Best Picture winner, which makes sense, but that is not always the case. In 1973, “The Godfather” won Best Picture, but Bob Fosse won Best Director for “Cabaret.” In 1999, “Shakespeare in Love” won Best Picture, but Steven Spielberg won Best Director for “Saving (continued on Crossword page) Academy Award nominees Josh Brolin (left) and Sean Penn in a scene from ‘Milk.’ State Line 375 State Highway 17 North, Mahwah Open 24 Hours, 7 Days Join Us For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner The Best Got Better! Diner - Restaurant 201-529-3353 Now Serving Cocktails, Espresso & Cappuccino $ 00 On $10.00 and over. With this coupon only. One Coupon per table. 5:00 to 9:00 pm only. Off 1 $ 00 VT On $20.00 and over. With this coupon only. One Coupon per table. 5:00 to 9:00 pm only. Off 2 VT Davis in “Doubt” and Penelope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” Davis is simply extraordinary in a brief but wrenching showcase role as a mother dealing with the possible abuse of her son by a priest. Her performance is real, raw, and heart rending. Davis is my choice to take home the Oscar, but I think the Academy will smile upon Cruz, who plays the ex-wife of artist Javier Bardem under the direction of Woody Allen. She has done consistently good work in film, and I believe the Academy voters will honor her this year. The only real lock among this year’s awards is in the Best Supporting Actor category. The nominees are Josh Brolin (“Milk”), Robert Downey, Jr. (“Tropic Thunder”), Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Doubt”), Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road”) and the hands-down winner, Heath Ledger (“The Dark Knight”). There is some controversy about the category in which Ledger was nominated. The role is so large, it could easily have been chosen for a Best Actor nomination, but the voters determine the category. There is a precedent for posthumous Oscar wins (Peter Finch won Best Actor for “Network” in 1977). Ledger was so extraordinary in “The Dark Knight” that bestowing the Oscar upon him will not be a sympathy vote, but a vote based squarely on talent and dramatic impact. The Best Actress nominees are Anne Hathaway (“Rachel Getting Married”), Angelina Jolie (“Changeling”), Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”), Meryl Streep (“Doubt”), and Kate Winslet (“The Reader”). Streep has been nominated for Oscars 15 times and won twice (“Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Sophie’s Choice”). Her appearance among the yearly nominees is almost assured. She is excellent as the nun who suspects a priest of child abuse and dedicates herself to getting rid of him despite a lack of definitive evidence. Jolie plays a mother whose child goes missing. Weeks later, police tell her he has been found, but a different child is returned to her. The authorities want to close the case, but Jolie’s Christine Collins perseveres, rallying a muckraking reverend and the press to expose the cover-up. Leo plays a #1 German Restaurant in Bergen & Passaic Counties! TAKE TIME OUT FOR LUNCH NEW KIRKERS Businessmen’s & Senior Lunch Special ������ �������� ������ Includes Soup or Salad, Vegetable, Enjoy our Popular Choice of Entree and Coffee/Tea Country Lunch Over 23 Entrees from $895 - $1395 •Served Noon - 3 pm Daily $ 95 ���������� 4 Jr. Entree or Sandwich ���������� ������������ with a cup of Soup 237 Diamond Bridge Ave, Hawthorne • 973-427-7700 SPECIALS Thursday – Saturday • All Major Credit Cards Accepted • Open Mon - Sat • Noon til 11:30 pm