I'm usually pretty excited in Oscar Season, but not this year. My friendly neighborhood video store isn't being very friendly, having discontinued its annual Academy Awards contest. Times are tough all over, I guess, but without the prospect of winning an armload of free credits, I'm not mustering much enthusiasm.
I've actually seen three out of the five Best Picture nominees, so I'm better informed than usual. But I don't feel a personal stake in any of them, and I find the conventional wisdom about who will win to closely match my own guesswork.
Best Supporting Actress -- Penelope Cruz. Woody Allen has an excellent track record for directing the women who take home this award, so she gets my vote. Viola Davis is pretty amazing in "Doubt," but I think that voting block will be split.
Best Supporting Actor -- Heath Ledger. I think he'd be the top contender even without having met a tragically early death.
Best Actor -- Sean Penn. I'm not a big Penn fan, but I thought he was truly outstanding in "Milk." I'm even less of a Mickey Rourke enthusiast, so while I wish him and his freaky chihuahuas well, I'm not rooting for him.
Best Actress -- Kate Winslet. You couldn't pay me enough to sit through "The Reader," but everybody seems to like Winslet on general principles and feel it's past time she got an Oscar.
Best Director -- Danny Boyle. "Slumdog Millionaire" won me over against my better judgment, and it took a sure and inventive hand to pull that off.
Best Picture -- Slumdog Millionaire. See above.
Yeah, no surprises or dazzling insights there. But I've at least made my choices known.