In Touch caught up with film critic Ben Lyons to dish the dirt on the upcoming Academy Awards. Get your Oscar ballots out! Here's what you need to know before the award show airs on Sunday, February 22.
What was your favorite film of the year?
Ben: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But, my second fave, Slumdog Millionaire, is my pick to win best picture. The film just grabs a hold of you. Nobody expected such a tidal wave of momentum for a movie that was originally supposed to come out only on DVD!
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Do you think Benjamin Button will win anything?
Ben: The chances of it going 0 for 13 is unlikely, especially since it is such a benchmark in cinema in terms of makeup. It also has a good chance in costume design and special effects. Also, we might just see a huge upset in the best supporting actress category. Penelope Cruz is the frontrunner thanks to her sizzling role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but Button's Taraji P. Henson could very well walk away the big winner.
Wow, good to know. So, let's talk about Heath Ledger.
Ben: Heath's locked in. And he deserves to win. His portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight was physical and humorous and obviously terrifying. Heath took it to a dark and special place. It's just such a shame and so sad that he can't be there.
Who would you like to see accept his Oscar?
Ben: I'd like to see Heath up at the podium. But all things considered, I think it's appropriate that his family be the ones to accept his award.
The other man getting a lot of attention this year is Mickey Rourke.
Ben: I'm really rooting for Mickey to win best actor. He deserves it for his work in The Wrestler. But I'm going to predict that Sean Penn will win for Milk.
Ben: I do. Milk is the kind of movie that the Oscars adore. I was astonished about how Sean could just lose himself in that role.
In your opinion, who's going home with the best Actress statuette?
Ben: This is the year for Kate Winslet. She delivers a devastatingly powerful performance in The Reader. She's been nominated five times in the past and it's finally her time. But when you're up against Meryl Streep, anything can happen.
Were there any films that you think totally got overlooked this year?
Ben: Yeah. Let the Right One In is at the top of my list. It's a Swedish film and should be in the foreign film category because it's hands down the best vampire movie of the year. Don't let Robert Pattinson's staring off into space fool you!
Any other major upsets?
Ben: I don't understand how M.I.A. didn't get nominated for her work on the Slumdog soundtrack. And Bruce Springsteen not being nominated for The Wrestler is just a joke.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are both nominated so they'll be there. And rumor has it that Jennifer Aniston is going to present. Do you think there will be some sparks on the red carpet?
Ben: The red carpet is always exciting, and the E! channel will be all over it. Ryan Seacrest, Giuliana DePandi and myself will be there. I've heard that Tom Cruise is going to be in the house and might present the best picture award, so I think that should be interesting. You never know what's going to happen in Hollywood!
That's true. And I have to ask, how do you know so much about the movies?
Ben: I've been playing this game for the Xbox 360 called Scene It? Box Office Smash. It's not just for film critics, it's for everyone that loves movies. It really keeps me up to date on my movie trivia, which is great, since I get stopped all the time by people who throw random movie trivia at me!