Tuesday, January 22, 2008

There Will Be Oscar Nom Reactions...


Nominated for 8 Academy Awards
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Editing
Best Cinematography
Best Sound Editing
Best Sound Mixing


Nominated for 8 Academy Awards
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actor
Best Editing
Best Cinematography
Best Art Direction
Best Sound Editing


Nominated for 7 Academy Awards
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actor
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Best Original Score


Nominated for 7 Academy Awards
Best Picture
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Best Original Score
Best Cinematography
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design


Nominated for 4 Academy Awards
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Original Screenplay
Best Actress

To steal a line from Larry David, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good. "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country for Old Men" tied for the most nominations, so I really couldn't be much happier right now. Some surprises here and there-- especially "Into the Wild" getting shut out in EVERY major category -- but overall, I can totally live with these nominations.

I've posted reactions below for the categories I actually have something to say about. I don't mean to denegrate the other categories, I just wouldn't want to make a fool out of myself trying to muster up some commentary about sound mixing:

Best Picture
-- "Atonement"
-- "Juno"
-- "Michael Clayton"
-- "No Country for Old Men"
-- "There Will Be Blood"

Yeah, I'm on cloud 9 right now. The two best films of the year actually both got nominated for Best Picture, how crazy is that? I still don't get how anyone could love "Michael Clayton" enough to nominate it, but it's a solid movie and Clooney's involved, so I have no ill will. "Juno" turned out to have enough love going for it to make it, and even if I'm already starting to grow irritated with the positivity on it, I'm happy to see a comedy-- let alone a frothy, well-written one-- make it in. As for "Atonement," okay, yeah, I was wrong. I bought into the de-hype, I thought no Guild love meant no nomination. Although, I wonder if the complete Guild shutout actually helped it in the long run; with all the talk of "Poor 'Atonement'..." I wouldn't be surprised if its mild fans felt bad for it and placed it higher than they might have otherwise

Achievement in Directing
-- Julian Schnabel, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
-- Jason Reitman, "Juno"
-- Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
-- Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
-- Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"

The only real major snub here is Sean Penn, though it makes sense when you see how well "Into the Wild" did across the board (*Spoiler Alert: Not at all!*). The Coens and PTA got their incredibly deserved nominations, while strong work by Schnabel and Gilroy were expected to make it. The real surprise here, showing the strength of the "Juno" love (and perhaps setting the stage for a Best Picture win?), is the undeservedly-ignored-all-season Jason Reitman. Comedy directors always seem to get the short shrift, and it's unfair, especially because Reitman has a clear sense of style, tone, pacing and is two-for-two in my book. Also, I got to interview the guy when he made the press rounds for "Thank You for Smoking" and he seemed like a hell of an affable, confident, nice guy. But I digress...

Actor in a Leading Role
-- George Clooney in "Michael Clayton"
-- Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood"
-- Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd"
-- Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah"
-- Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises"

Well here we are again. The once-a-lock Jones turned out surviving through the awards season (I'm sure his presence in "No Country" didn't hurt) and making it in here for his excellent performance in the otherwise worthless "Elah." I have a feeling the two young whippersnappers, Ryan Gosling and Emile Hirsch, split the vote as the only potential nominees in their twenties, and made way for old coot Jones's sad patriot turn. Clooney and Day-Lewis were deserved locks, and Viggo had strength throughout the season but I still questioned it. Thankfully, he made it in for his wonderfully subtle performance, netting him his first nomination. I also questioned whether "Sweeney" love had waned to such an extent that Depp might get shutout, but it seems he can get nominated for anything (and has, for "Finding Neverland"), so best not to doubt him in the future.

Actress in a Leading Role
-- Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
-- Julie Christie in "Away from Her"
-- Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose"
-- Laura Linney in "The Savages"
-- Ellen Page in "Juno"

I let out an "oh, shit!" when they read out Blanchett's name, because I thought it meant curtains for my dear Linney. Thankfully, Angelina was the one to get the boot for her "Nooooooo!" Oscar bait and against all odds, LL got in for "The Savages." Just goes to show you, even if someone's being ignored all season by every single awards body, never doubt Rob's gut. Even if the role is horribly written and the movie's a messy piece of shit, Blanchett really did a fine job figuring out what the fuck to do in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," so I'm not entirely upset she made it in over Jolie. And lord knows Oscar loves double nominations.

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

This is the same five we've been seeing for months now, and while it's boring, it's totally justified. All five performances are completely stellar, though I'd be lying if I wasn't the most excited about the recognition for Casey Affleck. I really worried enough folks hadn't seen the film, and he'd be sacrificed for a bigger name in a bigger movie, but there he is. And please see the movie A.S.A.P. if you haven't already, folks.

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

I'm happy for all the nominees here, especially Swinton for her first ever nomination, but it's hard to warm up to Oscar's old reliable let's-give-an-obligatory-nom-to-a-veteran policy. Rather than rewarding the terrific Kelly Macdonald for "No Country for Old Men" or Catherine Keener in "Into the Wild," we got a slot for Ruby Dee's under-five-minutes role in "American Gangster." Why? She's old, she's well-liked, she slaps Denzel in one scene. Presto, Oscar nomination. I actually love Ruby Dee and she's fine in the movie, so I'm not actively angry about this nomination, but it reeks of bullshit.

Adapted Screenplay
-- "Atonement," Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
-- "Away from Her," Written by Sarah Polley
-- "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
-- "No Country for Old Men," Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
-- "There Will Be Blood," Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

I expected "Into the Wild" and "Zodiac" to place here instead of "Atonement" and "Away From Her," but it's hard to quibble with the choices made. "Atonement," for all its faults, had a very clever, carefully written screenplay, and Polley's "Away From Her" is one of the most underrated films of last year. I guarantee if it had gotten a November or December release date, it would have been a major contender this awards season. Either way, screenplay recognition for it is nice, deserved, and maybe will bring some new viewers to the film.

Original Screenplay
-- "Juno," Written by Diablo Cody
-- "Lars and the Real Girl," Written by Nancy Oliver
-- "Michael Clayton," Written by Tony Gilroy
-- "Ratatouille," Screenplay by Brad Bird
-- "The Savages," Written by Tamara Jenkins

These were the expected five (at least by me), and I'm not sure I could have picked them any better myself. "The Savages" and "Lars and the Real Girl" have really missed out on any real recognition or box office momentum this season, and I'm happy to see their excellent screenplays given nominations here. As for the win, I won't be upset when Diablo Cody takes the stage, but I'm pushing for a surprise win by Bird's "Ratatouille" screenplay.

Film Editing
-- "The Bourne Ultimatum," Christopher Rouse
-- "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Juliette Welfling
-- "Into the Wild," Jay Cassidy
-- "No Country for Old Men," Roderick Jaynes
-- "There Will Be Blood," Dylan Tichenor

Can't argue with these choices, but what's most interesting for me is that it would seem these nominations are an indicator of "No Country" or "Blood" winning Best Picture, which I'm not quite sure if I can buy just yet. It's extremely rare for a film to win Best Picture without an Editing nomination, and these are the only two films that scored in both categories. Hmm...

-- "La Vie en Rose"
-- "Norbit"
-- "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"

And "Norbit" is now an Oscar nominee, ladies and gentlemen.

Original Score
-- "Atonement," Dario Marianelli
-- "The Kite Runner," Alberto Iglesias
-- "Michael Clayton," James Newton Howard
-- "Ratatouille," Michael Giacchino
-- "3:10 to Yuma," Marco Beltrami

I was informed late last night that Jonny Greenwood's jaw-dropping, destined-to-be-legendary score for "There Will Be Blood" was disqualified for too much unoriginal content at the very last second (as were "Into the Wild" and "Enchanted"). This is complete and utter bullshit, and not only because Greenwood's score was the best of the year. Apparently the roadblock here was that Greenwood wrote a piece called "Popcorn Superhet Receiver" that included some of the same themes from "There Will Be Blood." But the thing is, composers do this ALL the time. To steal a line from a friend, hell, James Horner's discography is practically nothing more than consistent self-theft. But regardless, this is a truly amazing score that leaves such an incredible impact on audiences, and it's a disgrace that it won't be recognized. It's a tough choice among the eventual nominees-- I hated the "Kite Runner" score, and "Clayton's" only stuck out to me in the opening sequence. Ultimately, I'll have to root for Marianelli's masterful work on "Atonement" (the likely winner) or Giacchino's delightful "Ratatouille" score.

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

Um, do I really need to say which one deserves to win? "Falling Slowly" was the most beautiful song of the year, and it deserves every award coming to it. Though three of these nominees may be a joke, I actually am happy "Happy Working Song" got nominated, considering it's the one time I smiled during "Enchanted." What can I say, it's on my iPod.

Art Direction
-- "American Gangster," Arthur Max, Beth A. Rubino
-- "Atonement," Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
-- "The Golden Compass," Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock
-- "Sweeney Todd," Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo
-- "There Will Be Blood," Jack Fisk, Jim Erickson

While I can't say I was particularly impressed with the Art Direction in "American Gangster" or "The Golden Compass," "Atonement's" presence here is justified. Jack Fisk's work on "There Will Be Blood" is simply amazing, and Ferrett's "Sweeney Todd" sets were magnificent to look at. I have to go with Fisk's "Blood" work for the 'will win' and 'deserves to.'

-- "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," Roger Deakins
-- "Atonement," Seamus McGarvey
-- "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," Janusz Kaminski
-- "No Country for Old Men," Roger Deakins
-- "There Will Be Blood," Robert Elswit

The work by all four of these gentlemen were glorious to behold, and I'm have a tough time deciding who I would vote for. Elswit's photography on "Blood" was stunning, and Deakins' work on "No Country" was a masterpiece of careful light and shadows, but I'm going to have to go with the ethereal, dreamlike hues Deakins gave to "Jesse James" in its best moments. Any of these are deserving winners, but in "Jesse James," Deakins was one of the stars.

Costume Design
-- "Across the Universe," Albert Wolsky
-- "Atonement," Jacqueline Durran
-- "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," Alexandra Byrne
-- "La Vie en Rose," Marit Allen
-- "Sweeney Todd," Colleen Atwood

Colleen Atwood deserves the win (and just may get it) for her "Sweeney" costumes, particularly during the "By the Sea" number. As for Alexandra Byrne, her costumes seem to be the only justification for "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" to have even been made, so I wouldn't be surprised if her flashy, non-stop work (I think Cate Blanchett changes costumes 126 times throughout the film) pulls out a win.

Sound Editing
-- "The Bourne Ultimatum"
-- "No Country for Old Men"
-- "Ratatouille"
-- "There Will Be Blood"
-- "Transformers"

Sound Mixing
-- "The Bourne Ultimatum"
-- "No Country for Old Men"
-- "Ratatouille"
-- "3:10 to Yuma"
-- "Transformers"

Visual Effects
-- "The Golden Compass"
-- "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End"
-- "Transformers"

I hated all of these movies, but I have to admit, "Transformers" may have featured the best visual effects I've ever seen, so when that wins here, I won't be grumbling too loud.

Best Animated Feature Film
-- "Persepolis"
-- "Ratatouille"
-- "Surf's Up"

"Ratatouille" and "Persepolis" were, by far, the two best animated films of the year, so I'm tremendously happy that they nailed two of the three placements here. And while yes, "The Simpsons Movie" should have gotten that third slot, "Surf's Up" was an underrated, surprisingly clever little movie that floundered at the box office, so I'm not entirely upset about it getting some recognition.

Documentary Feature
-- "No End in Sight"
-- "Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience"
-- "Sicko"
-- "Taxi to the Dark Side"
-- "War/Dance"

Michael Moore is probably winning another Oscar this year for "Sicko," but I've heard tremendous things about "Taxi to the Darkside," and "No End in Sight" is one of the most important films of the year, and should be required viewing for every American. Given how strong that one is, and the Academy's tendencies to make political statements, I wouldn't be shocked to see it deservedly take the win. Still, this is probably Moore's show.

Documentary Short Subject
-- "Freeheld"
-- "La Corona (The Crown)"
-- "Salim Baba"
-- "Sari's Mother"

Best Foreign Language Film
-- "Beaufort," Israel
-- "The Counterfeiters," Austria
-- "Katyn," Poland
-- "Mongol," Kazakhstan
-- "12," Russia

Since the nominating committee stupidly left the three best foreign films of the year-- "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," "Persepolis" and "The Orphanage"-- off their shortlist, I've seen none of these nominees, and no one seems to have any enthusiasm about any of them. I have a screener of "The Counterfeiters" that I've been putting off watching, but I'll make sure to get to it soon. But as of right now, regretfully, I've nothing to say.

Animated Short Film
-- "I Met the Walrus"
-- "Madame Tutli-Putli"
-- "Même Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)"
-- "My Love (Moya Lyubov)"
-- "Peter & the Wolf"

Live Action Short Film
-- "At Night"
-- "Il Supplente (The Substitute)"
-- "Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)"
-- "Tanghi Argentini"
-- "The Tonto Woman"


Anonymous Ill-Informed Gadfly said...

You ignore one other reason for Ruby Dee's nomination: She's black. Look at the rest of the nominees: That's a whole lotta whitey. While I think Dee's performance was fine, if unspectacular, the Academy is probably better off nominating her than trying to assert that not a single person of color did Oscar-worthy work this year, which we know is untrue. Just for starters, Don Cheadle was his usual brilliant self in "Reign Over Me" and "Talk to Me," and Tang Wei was magnificent in "Lust, Caution."

11:30 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Weird--but I was definitely feeling "Atonement" and "Juno" over "Diving Bell" and especially "Into the Wild." I think the "poor Atonement" pity claim for the best picture nomination is naive and unfounded. Whether you agree (and whether the American guilds agree), "Atonement" is the kind of movie that a core audience will love. I could totally foresee it scoring more number one ballot positions than "Juno" or "Michael Clayton."

eee but how wonderful that Mortensen and Linney were not ignored?!?!?!?! It almost makes up for the dubious "There Will Be Blood" score ineligibility--because it was too "diluted." Certainly didn't stop "Babel" last year...

And to the gadfly--I think the "oh we need to nominate a person of color" justification for Ruby Dee's nomination is groundless bullshit. Methinks it had a bit more to do with her age and her legendary status than voters feeling the need to sneak in a Negro on their ballots just for the sake of being P.C. I'm amused by how many people read into these awards and project value judgments--without acknowledging how arbitrary and groundless such claims actually are.

7:37 PM  

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