Thursday, January 31, 2008


So, at last, here are my musings on the Oscar nominees. I know it's belated, but I got really emotionally sidetracked by Heath Ledger's death. I still don't feel prepared to write my tribute to him. Instead, I'm throwing myself into the hundred or so other blog entry ideas I've got stockpiled. I can't believe the nominees were announced on the same day that he died. January 22, 2008. It feels like forever ago. I was so excited, in my silly way, about the Oscar nominees. I got up at 7:30 a.m. to watch the nominations live. I talked about them on the phone for almost an hour immediately following the announcements. Then, exhausted, I fell asleep and woke up to an unrelated phone call, blissfully clueless, in a world without Heath Ledger, not knowing...with no way of knowing the news I was going to find out within 10 minutes. Sigh.

But this is about the Oscars, right? Awards seem so trivial at the moment, but alas, the show must go on. If the WGA allows it to go on, that is. Anyway, I'm just going to ramble my thoughts off category by category, but only if the category is especially interesting. Don't worry, you won't hear my thoughts on Best Documentary Short, because they don't exist.

Best Actor:
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises

Ugh, I am so sick of George Clooney. It's ridiculous to put him in the same category as Daniel Day-Lewis. I like that Tommy Lee Jones got nominated - I didn't see Elah, but I thought he was outstanding in No Country for Old Men, so he deserved something. Viggo Mortensen? Blah. I hear he only got this for fighting in the nude for 10 minutes. And no, that doesn't particularly entice me. I don't get the fascination with him. Also, I've seen clips from Eastern Promises, and he sounds like the Godfather with about 50% more cotton. Good for Johnny Depp, but what about Emile Hirsch for Into the Wild? He's more deserving than Depp, Clooney, or Mortensen. Daniel Day-Lewis has this locked, and he should. He's a champ.

Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away From Her
Marion Cotillard - La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney - The Savages
Ellen Page - Juno

Cate Blanchett? Buh? What about Amy Adams for Enchanted? Cate Blanchett could get a parking ticket and get an Oscar nomination for it. I love her, and I'm sure she's great in it, but I hear the movie sucks. I think the Oscar voters need to be a little more discriminating. All right, Julie Christie is wonderful, but come ON, this is NOT a lead role. It's supporting. Supporting! As in, she supports Gordon Pinsent, who is the tragically overlooked lead of the film. If she wins, it'll be one of those nostalgic things, and I can't stand it when that happens and it's undeserved. I said it. She doesn't deserve it. I hate that she's getting all these other awards. Marion Cotillard was a shoo-in for a nomination, but I have to admit I was still nervous she wouldn't get it. I haven't seen The Savages, so I don't have an opinion on Laura Linney. It rocks that Ellen Page got nominated. I think I've changed my mind again. Marion Cotillard should win. Ellen Page's nomination IS her win. She'll have more chances. Marion Cotillard, I'm sorry for fluctuating on you!

Best Supporting Actor:
Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

I've heard Casey Affleck's performance isn't really supporting. It's the opposite of Julie Christie, and maybe equally unfair. I haven't seen it yet, so the jury is still out. If Javier Bardem wasn't so awesome, I'd be rooting for Hal Holbrook. As it stands, Javier is the man!

Best Supporting Actress:
Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
Ruby Dee - American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

I haven't seen American Gangster, but this Ruby Dee nonsense seems like a nostalgic nomination. Cate Blanchett at least seems to deserve this one. I'm so happy for Saoirse Ronan, and a bit shocked. They got something right! She's the only one I've seen, so I obviously want her to win.

Best Animated Film:
Surf's Up

Pixar usually has this sewn up, but Marjane Satrapi is serving up some real competition. I can't wait to see Persepolis. I'm sort of thinking it deserves it more than Ratatouille, but we'll see. Surf's Up doesn't even warrant this sentence.

Best Art Direction:
American Gangster
The Golden Compass
Sweeney Todd
There Will Be Blood

I've seen 3 out of the 5, and Atonement should win for having the most sumptuous, delicious-looking art direction of the year.

Best Cinematography:
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Strong category, strong nominees. All worthy. But no one can touch Janusz Kaminski for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Go, Columbia College alum! Woo!

Best Costume Design:
Across the Universe
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
La Vie en Rose
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Hmm, well, as crazy historically extreme as Cate Blanchett's costumes look, I have a soft spot for La Vie en Rose. I think the costumes are deceptively simple, but they're integral to telling the story of Edith Piaf's life. Then again, there's some great stuff in Sweeney Todd, although I'm still not sure how I feel about Alan Rickman's pants being that tight in front. I'm not sure how he feels about it either. This is a toss-up.

Best Director:
Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Jason Reitman - Juno
Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton
Joel and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood

I'm excited that The Diving Bell and the Butterfly got at least some recognition. It deserves a lot more, but it's better than nothing. Few directors did better work than Schnabel, so I'm thrilled for him. The Coens - obviously. But well deserved, which is more important. Tony Gilroy - meh, we'll see. Jason Reitman was a shocker. But I've seen Juno 4 times now, and I'm appreciating his direction more every time. There's a definite visual style that is really quirky and impressive. Paul Thomas Anderson FINALLY got a nomination! Celebrate good times. Yay! That he got it for THIS film is especially poignant. He's like, "Hey, Academy, fuck off!" And the Academy is all, "Brilliant! Here's your nomination!" My pick? I think it has to be the Coens.

Best Documentary:
No End in Sight
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
Taxi to the Dark Side

I hadn't heard of contestants two, four, and five before this. Sicko is awesome, but I hear No End in Sight is extraordinary. I still need to see it. But, I just saw The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, and I'm flabbergasted that it wasn't nominated. Total injustice.

Best Documentary Short: Just kidding.

Best Editing:
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into the Wild
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

The Bourne Ultimatum? I guess lots of stuff goes boom, so that probably takes some swift editing. I've seen the other four, and while I'm ecstatic to see The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Into the Wild be nominated for anything, I can't say I really remember the editing in either of them. Other aspects just stood out more. Between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, that's a tough one, but I have to give the edge to No Country for Old Men.

Best Make-Up:
La Vie en Rose
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Blechh. Please. Norbit versus La Vie en Rose? Gee, I wonder. How insulting.

Best Original Score:
The Kite Runner

Michael Clayton
3:10 to Yuma

Bogus nominees. Atonement is great, so that should be there. The only other film I've seen is Ratatouille, and I can't for the life of me remember a single note of that score. Ridiculous. The other three don't seem special. Those are some lame rules that kept Once, Into the Wild, and There Will Be Blood out of the running. Quel awful.

Best Original Song:
"Falling Slowly" - Once
"Happy Working Song" - Enchanted
"Raise It Up" - August Rush
"So Close" - Enchanted
"That's How You Know" - Enchanted

3 songs from Enchanted?? I love that movie, but that's insane. How about 3 songs from Once? Or even one from Into the Wild? The only deserving Enchanted song is "That's How You Know." I really hope I get to see Amy Adams perform, but still, 3 songs from that movie is overboard. "Falling Slowly" is the obvious choice. Best song of the year.

Best Sound Editing:
The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

It seems to always be between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. I think I might give the sound awards to There Will Be Blood. I don't think any director working today utilizes sound more effectively than Paul Thomas Anderson.

Best Sound Mixing:
The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men
3:10 to Yuma

What? No There Will Be Blood? When I was talking about Sound Editing, I assumed There Will Be Blood would be nominated in both. It should be. Well, for this one, No Country for Old Men.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Away From Her
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Another awesomely strong category. I'm surprised Sarah Polley got a nomination for Away From Her. Even though I'm not totally in love with that film, I'm happy for her. Atonement and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly are wonderful, but again, we're left with two. I'm over the moon for Paul Thomas Anderson, but the Coens, the great underrated screenwriters, do it again.

Best Original Screenplay:
Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
The Savages

This category isn't all that impressive. See the blog of my own nominees for better choices. Diablo Cody runs away with it. Good for her.

Best Foreign Film:
The Counterfeiters

This is the most inexplicable and baffling category. What on earth happened here? I don't know the rules, and I don't care to know them. But someone messed up big time. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly should win this category, and it's not even nominated. I've also heard nothing but rave reviews of 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, and that's nowhere to be found either. Maybe that should be the winner - I have yet to see it. It's currently crawling its way to Chicago. Anyway, I haven't heard of any of these films. What's up with this? I'm sure they're probably wonderful, but seriously, why? None of them have even been released in the U.S. yet, and most never will. This is appalling.

Best Picture:
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

This is pretty unsurprising, but good. I don't know about Michael Clayton, but I sort of resent it being there. But I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong if I'm blown away by it. Again, I'm excited for Paul Thomas Anderson and There Will Be Blood. It is certainly a towering achievement and has earned its place there, even if I'm still working out my own feelings about it. Atonement, Juno, and No Country for Old Men - fantastic. The winner has to be No Country for Old Men. TKO in the final round.

So, I guess these were my musings on the nominations, as well as some of my picks for the winners. This is a lot longer than I intended it to be. But what can I say? I'm a passionate gal.

Now, we wait and see if the little kids on the playground can stop fighting long enough to let the nominees have their well-deserved glory.

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