My choice for Best Picture would be The Reader. I think it’s a magnificent film about little people with big experiences. It’s a movie that, at a time when movies are not about much of anything, is a very important film about how one generation pays the price for the sins of an older generation. And the generations meld through these intimate experiences. This is certainly true of America’s involvement in Vietnam. It’s true of all the things the Germans are asking of their elders: “What did you do in the war, Daddy?” I was very, very moved by it. There were two movies that moved me to tears and they were The Reader and Revolutionary Road, which is not nominated. But of the five films nominated, The Reader was the only one that really moved me to tears.
The Curious Case of
Benjamin Button is the most imaginative of all five nominated films. It’s the film that best utilizes all aspects of filmmaking: color, sound, special effects, acting, directing, script, cinematography—they all blend in that movie. With most movies you remember one performance and you don’t remember anything else. Or you think the script is really good but the movie was not up to the demands of the script. In Benjamin Button, everything works.
I think Milk is a movie you can admire without feeling really passionate about. It’s more like a newsreel but with a central performance by Sean Penn that keeps you interested. He’s wonderful in it. But the word is respectable. … I don’t feel anything about this film like how I do about The Reader and how I do about Revolutionary Road. … I will never ever understand why that was not nominated.
Slumdog Millionaire is the film that will probably win, although I think it’s popular for all the wrong reasons—in any other year it would get swept under the carpet. This is the year that new, younger members of the Academy want to prove that less is more. They want little films with nobody anybody has ever heard of to win prizes. And preferably inexpensive films. And I love the way everybody thinks this is a happy movie. I was so depressed by it that I wanted to kill myself. I’m happy about the game show aspect of it, but the life that it depicts is miserable and the solution to making it better is preposterous. There’s no way that little boy would ever win that show! I mean, it’s a miserable world that they depict in that film, and everyone feels just great because it’s just so positive and he wins—he would never win. I didn’t believe that for one minute. Plus, there were people out to kill him! That’s not a happy movie … and that poor girl, what a life she has. … It’s awful for all of them. But I liked the film, I’m not saying I didn’t like it. I liked it because it was fresh.
That is a great example of opening up a play and making a claustrophobic subject bigger than it really is … with two central performances that make a perfect tennis match, you know? But is it a movie that I will remember years from now? No. I won’t remember it any more than I remember JFK or any of those movies about controversial people. I’m surprised it’s nominated. I would much rather have seen Revolutionary Road nominated than Frost/Nixon. Or even Wall-E! I mean … Frost/Nixon is not a best movie of the year. It’s a perfectly honorable attempt to open up a well-written play. Although I don’t think any of these movies are a disgrace. … Usually I just think they are out of their minds. I don’t think that this year. I think these are five worthy nominees. They are worthy; I just don’t think they are all equally great.
I would give it to the man who directed Benjamin Button, David Fincher. I love David Fincher’s work—I always have. I’ve loved all of his movies, I think … unless he did Fight Club. He did? I hated that! That I didn’t like. Well, with the exception of Fight Club, I’ve liked his work … I’m crazy about Se7en.
It should be a tie between Brad Pitt and Mickey Rourke, though I think Sean Penn will probably win. I don’t know why, but he will. I certainly think as far as stretching body, mind, soul and intellectual capacity, Benjamin Button did that more for Brad Pitt than Milk did for Sean Penn. I think Mickey Rourke’s performance might be my choice even over Brad Pitt. But if ever there was a tie, it should be with Brad Pitt and Mickey Rourke.
I think Kate Winslet should win for two movies, but she’s only nominated for one. I’d give it to her for The Reader. As for the others, there’s nobody even on the same planet as Kate Winslet. I hated Meryl Streep in Doubt. And I don’t know what happened with Cate Blanchett. She really was wonderful in Benjamin Button. I think they got all their Kates mixed up. Too many Kates. They got her mixed up with Kate Winslet, who was every bit as good in Revolutionary Road as she was in The Reader. But it would be a very bad thing to put her in a supporting category for either film because she didn’t support anybody. Leonardo DiCaprio deserved a nomination for doing the best work of his career. He was really good; it was his best work since What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
[Revolutionary Road’s Michael Shannon] was very good. But I think this might be the posthumous award. I don’t think Heath Ledger deserves it at all. I think it was one of the most outrageously cornball performances I’ve ever seen. He chewed all the scenery and if he hadn’t died of what he died of, he would have died of asbestos poisoning—I mean that is truly a stupid performance. Overwrought and badly directed. I hated the movie and I didn’t like the performance at all. Josh Brolin in Milk was wonderful.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
I would probably give it to Viola Davis in Doubt, although it’s such a tiny part it almost seems ridiculous. I also liked Amy Adams. I thought she was the best person in Doubt. Penélope Cruz will win, but she’s not my choice.