Monday, January 28, 2008

You Can't Stop What's Coming...

So, last night we got our second, and possibly last, award show of the season that was actually attended by the nominees. The show was pretty good all around, from the speeches to the winners to the entertainment factor, and if the winners are replicated at the Oscars, I'll be (mostly) happy.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"

While he may overplay the gracious card just a tad (his stating that the performances of his fellow nominees will be well-remembered and regarded till the end of time might have been a bit much), Bardem generally came off as sincere and gave just the right amount of props to the other nominees and his collaborators on the film. His mention of appreciation at being accepted and embraced as the sole non-American was a particularly nice touch and seemed to play well. With his playing his cards right, paired with his all-season-long momentum, Bardem (deservedly) seems unstoppable at this point in the game. And will someone please tell Casey Affleck to at least make an attempt to not appear like a total douche at these awards ceremonies? At both the BFCA awards and this, he couldn't have looked more miserable to be there, this time even popping his gum as the nominees were read off and when Bardem gave his speech.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Ruby Dee, "American Gangster"

Look, we all like Ruby Dee. How could you not? But this was such a complete bullshit win. While there's always been cases of actors getting career-recognition wins, you could at least make some sort of argument for the performance. There's no excuse, with performances like those Cate Blanchett, Amy Ryan, Catherine Keener and Tilda Swinton in the running, for Dee to have taken this. Yes she's old, yes she's beloved, yes she slapped Denzel, but this is ridiculous. You just don't give a purely-career-recognition award when it's up against four great performances; you do it in a year when the only alternative is Eddie Murphy. And matters weren't helped that Dee's scattershot, if sincere, speech seemed to (literally) last longer than her actual screentime in the film. Her and Mickey Rooney together turned this year's SAG awards into a nationally televised "grandpa rambling at dinner" moment

BEST ACTOR: Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"

One of the best performances of all time. If anyone else won this award at any other awards shows, it'd be a travesty, and thankfully, no one else will. The real topic of conversation is his speech, an eloquent, passionate tribute to Heath Ledger. Expanding on what he expressed during his Oprah interview, and specifically discussing Ledger's performances in "Monster's Ball" and "Brokeback Mountain," Day-Lewis didn't once seem self-important or even bother thanking people on his own behalf. It came off as the most memorable, as well as the classiest, speech of the night. If one wanted to cynically look at it, this is exactly the sort of thing that could be seen as self-serving or manipulated to catapult one's awards potential (i.e.: Jamie Foxx's repeated invocation of his grandmother; Hilary Swank continually mentioning her trailer park roots). However, Day-Lewis never came off any less than wholly sincere, and seems to have more of a regard for the loss of Ledger and the state of those close to him than any self-obsessed hunger for awards. Then again, the guy may be the best actor on the planet, so he probably could convince me of anything...

BEST ACTRESS: Julie Christie, "Away From Her"

Finally showing up to an awards ceremony, Christie admitted that a took a lot of pushing by Lionsgate to get her to come, and may have inadvertently crippled her Oscar-winning potential with her speech. Staying mostly formal but classy, and acknowledging her reticence to come to such shindigs, Christie gave a respectable, if unremarkable, speech, until she cracked a joke at the last second, revealing a jarring lack of respect for the film's subject matter and Alzheimer's-consumed character she played. Her quip, “If I have forgotten anybody, it’s just because I am still in character,” came off as in remarkably poor taste, and seemed to offend as many in the audience as it amused. Christie will probably still win the Oscar, but as we know all too well, sometimes these early speeches are "auditions" of sorts for the big shows, and sometimes actors fuck themselves with them (like Eddie Murphy just last year). And please, Oscar people, please, show a Christie clip besides that "I want you to make love to me" one. It's becoming the Sissy Spacek "Everything! *plate smash*" of this year.


I actually got a kick just seeing all three of our leading men finally sharing a stage, considering none of them actually share any screentime together at any exact moment in the film; Even when Brolin and Bardem were both in the same scene, we never glimpsed them both in any shot. But I'm getting sidetracked. Josh Brolin, as usual, was snarky, funny and clever. Loved (a) his mention of Javier's 497 award wins this year, (b) proud announcement of the studio system backfiring awfully this year, and (c) "we did a freaky little movie, whether you like the ending or not!" The Ensemble award doesn't always line up with the Best Picture Oscar winner, but I think this time it just might. There's just too much overwhelming wins to ignore, and there's nothing in "No County" to make the skittish Academy uneasy (e.g.: gay cowboys) and blink at the last minute, and go for a "message" movie instead. Who knows, we could see an absurd win for "Juno" and an out-of-left-fielder for "Michael Clayton" (they like their named-after-title-character movies), but I think this win is just another in a seemingly never-ending heap of unanimous support.


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