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Exceptional films, actors highlight 81st Oscars

for Voice
In a year of many great films and performances, the most outstanding have been nominated for this year’s Academy Awards.
­•Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor.”
“The Visitor” stars Richard Jenkins as Walter Vale, a college professor and widower. Vale is disturbed to find a pair of illegal aliens in his New York apartment, but, in the tune of true drama, he harvests a friendship with them. Jenkins has a strong chance of winning, as he has already conquered the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
•Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon.”
“Frost/Nixon” was a pretty ballsy move for Universal. The task: translate President Richard Nixon’s (Langella) Watergate confessions, as told to David Frost (Michael Sheen) on T.V. – and make it good. Mission accomplished. However, I still can’t cut Nixon a break, even if he is played by the same guy who was Count Dracula in 1970.
•Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler.”
Mickey Rourke has one thing going for him with this nomination: a comeback. The cool part is that not only has Rourke made a return to the screen, but his character, Randy Robinson, makes a return to wrestling. It’s a huge redemption story meriting an Oscar win.
•Sean Penn in “Milk.”
“Milk” is Sean Penn’s fifth Oscar nomination in this category. This time around, he plays Harvey Milk, a gay politician and gay rights activist. 
Time has predicted Rourke but prefers Penn to win the award. He allows Milk’s character to completely take over. The other nominees in this category can’t quite say the same.
•Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
Adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” tells the story of a man (Pitt) who ages backwards. He is mortal, though, just like everyone else. Unfortunately, Button can’t stop time, and Pitt can’t win this Oscar. However, watch for a win in make-up.
•Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married.”
It’s nice to see that Anne Hathaway has decided to be a grown-up. She plays Kym, a woman who comes home from rehab for her sister’s wedding. Sure, Hathaway deserves the nomination, but just because it’s time for her to take on a more serious role.
•Angelina Jolie in “Changeling.”
As usual, Jolie’s performance is stunning, but her character, Christine has a bit too much Angelina in her. Although it’s a dramatic part, Jolie overacts it.
•Melissa Leo in “Frozen River.”
“Frozen River” presents the trials and tribulations of smuggling money from the United States to Canada during the holiday season. 
Leo plays her role fabulously, as the partner in crime to a Mohawk woman, but her costar, Misty Upham, would have been a better nominee for the award.
•Meryl Streep in “Doubt.”
Meryl Streep can do no wrong, especially when playing a fierce nun intent on discipline and instilling fear. Her character is amazingly captivating, and her Oscar speeches are historically flawless.
•Kate Winslet in “The Reader.”
Across the board, all bets are on Winslet in “The Reader.” However, her portrayal of an illiterate German woman who joins the SS to avoid a real job is less than stellar.
•“Slumdog Millionaire.”
Slumdog will win in every category it is nominated, without a doubt. 
This is the film of 2008 that has captured the hearts of every person who sees it.
Everyone wants to see an 18-year-old Indian kid win again, and it’s sure to happen, as it looks to beat out “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Milk” and “The Reader.”
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