If I had a ballot

Posted by · 9:26 am · December 17th, 2008

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Synecdoche New York(Note: Because I’ve been getting some correspondence of confusion, let it be known that categories such as Best Foreign Language Film and Best Documentary contain films released in the U.S. in 2008 that I consider the best of those fields, regardless of Academy rules and regulations regarding country submissions and peripheral qualifications.  This is more of an AMPAS/critics ballot hybrid.  Hopefully that clears it up.)

As the year continues to wind down, I’ve come to an annual post here at In Contention that proves to be a lot of fun, no matter the quality of the year’s product. If I were a member of the 6,000-strong, what would my Oscar ballot look like?

Of course, I’m cheating a bit here.  The way AMPAS balloting works is each branch votes for nominees in their representative categories, while everyone gets a crack at nominating the Best Picture field.  I’m acting as lord of all, super-duper Academy member extraordinaire with nominations in each of the categories we’ll see contended on February 22.  I subtract the short film fields, because I just can’t comment with any expertise, and as always, I add the category I annually plead for acceptance in the Academy’s proceedings: Best Ensemble.

So with that, I give you my list of the year’s best in an array of categories.   The first five you know.  More after the jump.  (Check back Friday for a year-end list of superlatives.  And in case you missed it, my top 10 and “best of the year” column here).

Best Picture
“Bolt” (Walt Disney Pictures)
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
“Pineapple Express” (Columbia Pictures)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“Synecdoche, New York” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Director
Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight”
Matteo Garone, “Gomorrah”
Steve McQueen, “Hunger”
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Charlie Kaufman, “Synecdoche, New York”

Best Actor
Robert Downey Jr., “Iron Man”
Michael Fassbender, “Hunger”
Sean Penn, “Milk”
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”
Mark Ruffalo, “What Doesn’t Kill You”

Best Actress
Kate Beckinsale, “Nothing But the Truth”
Cate Blanchett, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Sally Hawkins, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, “Milk”
Gianfelice Imparato, “Gomorrah”
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Eddie Marsan, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Gary Oldman, “The Dark Knight”

Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Rosario Dawson, “Seven Pounds”
Rosemarie DeWitt, “Rachel Getting Married”
Rebecca Hall, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Samantha Morton, “Synecdoche, New York”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Eric Roth)
“The Dark Knight” (Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan)
“Gomorrah” (Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Gianni Di Gregorio, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso, Roberto Saviano)
“Let the Right One In” (John Ajvide Lindqvist)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Simon Beaufoy)

Best Original Screenplay
“Bolt” (Dan Fogelman, Chris Williams)
“Pineapple Express” (Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen)
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (Woody Allen)
“The Wrestler” (Robert D. Siegel)
“Synecdoche, New York” (Charlie Kaufman)

Best Animated Film
“Waltz with Bashir”

Best Art Direction
“Appaloosa” (Waldemar Kalinowski; Linda Lee Sutton)
“Cloverfield” (Martin Whist; Robert Greenfield)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Donald Graham Burt; Victor J. Zolfo)
“The Fall” (Ged Clarke; Riccardo Pugliese, Cynthia Sleiter)
“Synecdoche, New York” (Mark Friedberg; Lydia Marks)

Best Cinematography
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Claudio Miranda)
“The Dark Knight” (Wally Pfister)
“Hunger” (Sean Bobbit)
“Let the Right One In” (Hoyte Van Hoytema)
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (Javier Aguirresarobe)

Best Costume Design
“Appaloosa” (David C. Robinson)
“Changeling” (Deborah Hopper)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Jacqueline West)
“The Dark Knight” (Lindy Hemming)
“The Fall” (Eiko Ishioka)

Best Film Editing
“The Dark Knight” (Lee Smith)
“Milk” (Graham Elliot)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Chris Dickens)
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (Alisa Lepselter)
“Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father” (Kurt Kuenne)

Best Makeup
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”
“Synecdoche, New York”

Best Music (Original Score)
“Appaloosa” (Jeff Beal)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Alexandre Desplat)
“The Dark Knight” (James Newton Howard, Hans Zimmer)
“The Reader” (Nico Muhly)
“The Wrestler” (Clint Mansell)

Best Music (Original Song)
“O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (M.I.A., A.R. Rahman)
“Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Peter Gabriel)
“The Wrestler” from “The Wrestler” (Bruce Springsteen)

Best Sound Editing
“The Dark Knight”
“Iron Man”

Best Sound Mixing
“The Dark Knight”
“Let the Right One In”

Best Visual Effects
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Incredible Hulk”
“Iron Man”

Best Ensemble Performance
“The Dark Knight”
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“Synecdoche, New York”

Best Documentary Feature
“Bigger, Stronger, Faster”
“Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father”
“Man on Wire”
“Song Sung Blue”
“Taxi to the Dark Side”

Best Foreign Film
“The Baader Meinhof Complex”
“Let the Right One In”
“Waltz with Bashir”


“The Dark Knight” — 13
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” — 8
“Synecdoche, New York” — 7
“Slumdog Millionaire” — 6
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona” — 5
“Gomorrah” — 4
“Let the Right One In” — 4
“WALL-E” — 4
“The Wrestler” — 4
“Bolt” — 3
“Cloverfield” — 3
“Defiance” — 3
“Hunger” — 3
“Iron Man” — 3
“Milk” — 3
“Appaloosa” — 2
“Changeling” — 2
“Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father” — 2
“The Fall” — 2
“Happy-Go-Lucky” — 2
“Pineapple Express” — 2
“Rachel Getting Married” — 2
“Waltz with Bashir” — 2
“The Baader Meinhof Complex” — 1
“Bigger, Stronger, Faster” — 1
“Che” — 1
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” — 1
“The Incredible Hulk” — 1
“Man on Wire” — 1
“Mongol” — 1
“The Reader” — 1
“Song Sung Blue” — 1
“Taxi to the Dark Side” — 1
“Nothing But the Truth” — 1
“Seven Pounds” — 1
“What Doesn’t Kill You” — 1

→ 43 Comments Tags: | Filed in: Daily · Featured

43 responses so far

  • 1 12-17-2008 at 9:36 am

    Drew Roddy said...

    lol Bolt

  • 2 12-17-2008 at 9:40 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    GREAT call on Gianfelice Imparato.

    The Academy should just send you a ballot already.

  • 3 12-17-2008 at 9:44 am

    The InSneider said...

    Was Mongol eligible last year?

  • 4 12-17-2008 at 9:45 am

    The InSneider said...

    Oh yeah, I like the Woody Allen, Mark Ruffallo and Rosario Dawson shout outs. Would Rebecca Hall be lead or supporting. You could make a case either way…

  • 5 12-17-2008 at 9:47 am

    Matthew Lucas said...

    YES to Michael Fassbender!

    He should be getting so much more attention than he is. What an extraordinary performance.

  • 6 12-17-2008 at 9:57 am

    Rob said...

    Haha. I guess we should be greatful you don’t have a ballot then!

  • 7 12-17-2008 at 9:57 am

    mike said...

    You need to find a new film for the Best Foreign Film award.

    Mongol was a nom in last years Oscar’s even though it was finally release in the US this year (it was great, def deserved the nom last year).

  • 8 12-17-2008 at 10:02 am

    G said...

    I love it. Synecdoche was also one of my favorites. I agree with Samantha Morton and Gary Oldman, two of the most memorable performances of the year. I was really curious about your Rosario Dawson inclusion. I guess there’s something in Seven Pounds worth checking out.
    I don’t know about you, but I truly think Best Picture should go to Dark Knight. That movie is just brilliant on so many levels (Writing, Cinematography, Sound, Acting). Slumdog is probably a very very close second, which I would then give Danny Boyle the director award.

  • 9 12-17-2008 at 10:03 am

    Pat said...

    Yes! Finally someone who noticed Gary Oldman in “The Dark Knight.” It was his career best work and gave the film as much heart as it deserved.

  • 10 12-17-2008 at 10:12 am

    Matthew said...

    Definitely agree with all of your wishes, except for the Bolt thing. Really bizarre. Love the inclusion of Pineapple Express and Gary Oldman.

  • 11 12-17-2008 at 10:19 am

    Average Joe said...

    Love the mentions for Gary Oldman, Che, and especially Rebecca Hall, though I would argue that she is lead. I would actually have nominated her in 2006 for The Prestige.

  • 12 12-17-2008 at 10:30 am

    N8 said...

    While I still have some issues with your BP lineup, there are some inspired choices in the craft categories; Bobbit and Aguirresarobe for cinematography, Muhly for score, and “Cloverfield” for mixing are all sharp calls.

    Ditto for the acting categories. Oldman and Marsan will certainly be on my year-end list for supporting actor as well, and all hail Rebecca Hall, one of the year’s most underated performances.

  • 13 12-17-2008 at 10:45 am

    Chris said...

    I’m a bit surprised that “Revolutionary Road” didn’t score a single nomination, especially since I thought you liked the acting.

    My favourite inclusions? Gianfelice Imparato and Eddie Marsan.

  • 14 12-17-2008 at 10:51 am

    Silencio said...

    I think I need to see Bolt. The furor over your high support is funny, and I want to have my own opinion. I want to see if it’s as good as Kung Fu Panda.

  • 15 12-17-2008 at 10:56 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Regarding Mongol: I’m not going by the Academy’s stupid foreign rules. I’m going by US release dates (which is why, for instance, the NYFCC went with 4 Months for its foreign pick). So no, I don’t “need another foreign pick.”

  • 16 12-17-2008 at 10:57 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    As for Rev. Road, it’s hovering around #6 on a lot of my categories. I can’t help but wonder if the Academy would feel the same way.

  • 17 12-17-2008 at 11:06 am

    Ziyad Abul Hawa said...

    Kirstopher, Waltz with Bashir got 2 nominations, but it doesn’t appear in the tally.

    I just saw today Pineapple Express, I mean its just OK, I thought it lasted centuries though, too long.

  • 18 12-17-2008 at 11:21 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Fixed it. Thanks, Ziyad.

  • 19 12-17-2008 at 11:36 am

    Chad said...

    I am shocked that you think the effects in The Incredible Hulk are better than The Dark Knight.

  • 20 12-17-2008 at 11:39 am

    Chris said...

    Haha, The Dark Knight got 14 nominations and there’s still complaints… I think the film’s fans are probably even more entertaining than the film itself.

  • 21 12-17-2008 at 11:40 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I went back and forth on it, Chad. I think there is a lot to be said for the work on “The Incredible Hulk,” a film many seemed simply eager to bash but one that was, I felt, quite good. And the effects work are obviously a different breed than those in TDK, which I can’t argue with either, blending reality into the CGI, especially in the Two-Face work. But ultimately, I settled on the Hulk stuff.

  • 22 12-17-2008 at 12:11 pm

    Mike said...

    That’s fine to include Mongol on your list. I made that comment becuase you said if you had a ballot for this year, in that case Mongol didn’t make sense to me. I just thought you may have made a simple mistake.

    How about the effects and makeup in Hellboy 2?

  • 23 12-17-2008 at 1:01 pm

    Speaking English said...

    NO Viola Davis?

    The lack of “Australia,” however much you didn’t like it, is also disconcerting. The cinematography is absoultely breathtakingly beautiful, as well as the stunning art direction and costumes. Beautiful, beautiful technicals.

    And you left off the two best original screenplays of the year: “Milk” and “Burn After Reading.”

    Our tastes differed quite a lot this year, I must say. ;)

  • 24 12-17-2008 at 1:06 pm

    D. said...

    Taxi to the Dark Side — not only eligible, but won last year. Perchance you believe it deserves two Oscars?

    And Bolt and Pineapple Express, Picture but no Director? Why so?

  • 25 12-17-2008 at 1:40 pm

    Mr. Gittes said...

    Goldman and Ledger. Nice. And I wouldn’t be surprised. Not anymore.

  • 26 12-17-2008 at 2:45 pm

    Raw Shark said...

    I am so glad you do not have a ballot. Lol, Bolt?

  • 27 12-17-2008 at 2:49 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    D: Released this year. Same response I gave regarding Mongol. I don’t go by the Academy rules here, just by what got a U.S. release this year. As for Bolt and Pineapple being absent in the Best Director category, Im not of the mind that because a film is considered a “best picture” that it immediately means it must be considered the “best directed,” so I brought in helmers I felt had more distinctive visions of their films. But to me, the medium is collaborative, and therefore, not entirely dependent on one person for its overall success.

  • 28 12-17-2008 at 2:51 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Mike, you know what, you reminded me of “Hellboy II” here, a film I definitely did not like but it had miraculous makeup effects. I’m going to boot “The Dark Knight” in its favor. Thanks.

  • 29 12-17-2008 at 2:51 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    English: You’ll see Davis pop up Friday in a separate category.

  • 30 12-17-2008 at 2:56 pm

    D. said...

    Kris: I definitely agree. But, and this I say at the expense of sounding an asshole for criticising someone’s personal preferences, the discrepancy between your director and picture lists just screams to me: Bolt over Gomorrah? Pineapple Express over Hunger?

  • 31 12-17-2008 at 3:34 pm

    Mike said...

    I for one loved Hellboy 2, but I’m a huge del Toro fan (it was def better than the first movie, more his style). Glad you reconized the makeup it was great work in there.

    I really loved the puppets and costumes he made for it. Saw them live at ny comic con and they where stunning, esp the one with the baby (or tumor) and the angel of death.

  • 32 12-17-2008 at 3:39 pm

    AdamL said...

    You’ve not seen I’ve Love You So Long then?

  • 33 12-17-2008 at 3:52 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    D: Not an asshole at all. It’s just hard to answer you because, yeah, those two films simple gelled for me as more complete units than the ones you mention, for various reasons. Can’t be helped, what can I say. Though Green was very close to being on my list, because I thought he handled that film in a refreshingly unique way.

    Adam: Yeah, I saw it. It…didn’t speak to me.

  • 34 12-17-2008 at 4:21 pm

    Simone said...

    Thank you Kristopher for your respect for Michael Fassbender/Hunger. It’s my hope that its one-week theatrical release in LA last week was enough to get AMPAS voters looking at it and give it the proper nominations it deserves. If only Michael were nominated for Best Actor, then he might have a chance to win.

    Best Actor
    Robert Downey Jr., “Iron Man”
    Michael Fassbender, “Hunger”
    Sean Penn, “Milk”
    Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”
    Mark Ruffalo, “What Doesn’t Kill You”


  • 35 12-17-2008 at 7:27 pm

    JAB said...

    Kris, i completely agree about I’ve Loved You So Long.

  • 36 12-18-2008 at 4:03 am

    AdamL said...

    Very surprised that Scott Thomas couldn’t find a top 5 spot in your Best Actress ballot and astonished that anyone could think The Baader Meinhof Complex is better than I’ve Loved You So Long, hence why I assumed you’d not seen it.

    Should have know though since you pretty much see everything!

  • 37 12-18-2008 at 4:38 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Remember that most of the Kristin Scott Thomas gushing on this site has come from me, Adam! We’re a diverse bunch around here.

  • 38 12-21-2008 at 6:30 pm

    Chad said...

    What about 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days? Did you see that?

  • 39 12-21-2008 at 6:33 pm

    Matthew Lucas said...

    Even though “4 Months” was technically released in 2008, it was submitted to the Academy in 2007. It would be totally ineligible for consideration this year.

  • 40 12-21-2008 at 6:34 pm

    Matthew Lucas said...

    Oops…sorry I just saw Kris’ disclaimer at the top, disregard my last post.

  • 41 12-21-2008 at 6:40 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I saw it and I’ve never been a fan, aside from that fulcrum scene.