Hi, I'm alive. And as such, I will make my usual outrageous Oscar predictions. I have a hunch that Benjamin Button is facing a major turnabout and might see snubs in high places, but I'm not confident enough to remove it from my best pic shortlist. Here are the highlights of my predix:
1. The Dark Knight and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will both get 11 nominations -- including picture, director, and adapted screenplay -- although Brad Pitt will be snubbed.
2. Two of the director slots will not match up with the best picture slots. Darren Aronofsky and Gus Van Sant will be cited, while The Wrestler and Milk will be bested for best pic slots by Wall*E and Frost/Nixon.
3. Actors nominated: Leonardo DiCaprio, Melissa Leo, Richard Jenkins, Clint Eastwood, Dev Patel.
4. Actors snubbed: Sally Hawkins, Kristin Scott Thomas, Rosemarie Dewitt, Pitt, James Franco, Taraji P. Henson.
5. Slumdog Millionaire will have 10 nominations, keeping itself in underdog status (technically). Noms will include original song for "Jai Ho."
6. Only 21 films will fill 19 categories, with Slumdog, Dark Knight and Benjamin Button hogging almost all of the technical categories. Few surprises will sneak in; the surprises will come in the shuffling of films already in the mix. The only "surprise" I can foresee is a nomination for the screenplay of The Visitor and "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" from Hamlet 2 for original song.
7. Clint Eastwood, in addition to best actor, will be nominated twice more: as composer of the original score for Changeling and as co-writer for Gran Torino's titular song.