Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The 79th Annual Academy Awards Nominations - Our Reaction

The 79th Annual Academy Awards

Oh, happy day! The official nominations for the 79th Annual Academy Awards are in and we were surprisingly pleased at the outcome. For finally, after the celluloid abortions “Moulin Rouge!” and “Chicago” reignited Oscar’s interest in the extinguished Major Motion Picture Musical Genre, the latest chirping buswreck to reap the end of year Awards praise has been deservedly shut out of the top prize! We had been hearing for weeks now, how “Dreamgirls” was the film to beat for Best Motion Picture of the Year – well, guess what kids – IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN! Whoo-hoo! Yes, we’re gloating. For faithful readers will recognize how unbelievably amateurish the finale product seemed to us.

Still, Sheneneh and the sequined heifers picked up eight nominations overall – three of them for Best Original Song to embarrassingly top the list. (A triple feat usually reserved for the bleakest of Original Song years, and not seen since the Disney heyday of “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King”. Ipecac.) Although previously credited co-songwriter and erstwhile actress Beyoncé Knowles is not among them. The Academy rules limit the amount of people that can take credit for composing one song, and guess who they ditched? You just know it is not a happy day at the Knowles compound: "Daddy, I want an Oscar! Bitch, shut up. You lucky to be working."

But more importantly for real movie lovers, the Best Motion Picture category managed to nominate four distinguished and deserving films, and one over praised indy comedy. What a relief! The five nominees were: Babel”, “The Departed”, “Letters from Iwo Jima”, “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Queen”.

What has been extraordinary about this year has been the solid list of performances by actresses. As we noted during last years pre-Oscar buzz, the roles were so slim in 2005 for the gals, a trend that had been growing for years that we were desperately looking for a Best Actress shortlist that wouldn’t tarnish the Oscar name.

Not the case this year which was chock filled with fine performances by the ladies in the lead and supporting categories! And overall, the Academy chose to honor some very fine turns. Plaudits are due to Penélope Cruz for her fabulous performance in Almodóvar's exquisite "Volver". (Would that the Academy saw fit to honor him as well.)

Kate Winslet lands her fifth nomination for her wicked turn as the frustrated suburban mom in "Little Children". And despite the "whole world" wanting her to finally win the little bald gold man, she may have to make due with polishing Sam's Oscar at home.

The other ladies who awoke to flattering news this morning all deserve applause, from Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi, Abigail Breslin to Dames Helen and Judi . . . with two glaring exceptions. One, Sheneneh. (You all know how we feel about her deservedly amateur status.)

And two, Meryl Streep for “The Devil Wears Prada”. What? But, it’s Meryl Streep! Exactly. And she hardly deserves or needs a fourteenth nomination for a SUPPORTING role in a failed sitcom pilot that has her mugging like Glenn Close in “101 Dalmatians”.

We would also like to add that despite Cate Blanchett’s brilliant turn in “Notes on a Scandal”, her performance could hardly be described as “supporting”. Clearly, a studio marketing ploy to bank on nominations for both its talented stars, which obviously succeeded. Congrats to Cate and Dame Judi for receiving the honors for their mega wattage star thespian turns!

It was the Leading Actor race that proved more problematic. For the first time in many a year, they were actually reaching for talented actors who delivered fine performances in well received films. Too bad they only got two of them correct. The critic’s darling this year has been Forest Whitaker for his monstrous and fiery turn as Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland”.

The other clear shoe in was the legendary Peter O’Toole, with seven previous unsuccessful nominations turning in a career capping turn in the lovely “Venus”. Good news is that both are in. The bad news is that Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for the wrong film! His self induced schizophrenic meltdown in Scorsese’s gangster dramedy “The Departed” proved his mettle as an actor. Instead, the Academy decided to nominate Leo for the run of the mill Rambo crapfest “Blood Diamond”. Thud.

Emo-cutie Ryan Gosling may have delivered a fine performance in an incredibly bad independent druggie drama “Half Nelson”, but he should still count himself lucky that the men’s roles this year have been so dismal otherwise he would have woken up to Rachel McAdams bad breath this morning and little else. And finally, Will Smith received the “You’re Famous We’ll Nominate You” nod for “The Pursuit of Happyness”.

For a split second we were hoping the Academy would recognize the birth of a new mega-star and nominate Daniel Craig for his franchise reviving turn as James Bond in “Casino Royale”. Excuse us, are you giggling? Get real. The people that gave Oscars to Sean Connery for “The Untouchables” and Tommy Lee Jones for “The Fugitive” and nominated Leo this year for “Rambo Part IV” should realize that the Oscars are not above honoring action flicks if the actor is talented and famous enough. Daniel Craig deserves the honor far more than Ryan, Will and Leo.

The supporting noms were a step above the leading roles by recognizing veteran scene stealer Alan Arkin with his third nomination and first in twenty eight years for “Little Miss Sunshine”! And while tongues are already wagging that Peter O'Toole is the "sentimental favorite" to upset Forest Whitaker, we would not be surprised in the least if Mr. Arkin were to sneak in under the radar come Oscar night. He has to be more likable than Eddie Murphy, right? We mean among the non-Tranny prostitute voting block.

Joining him was the richly deserving Jackie Earle Haley making a wonderful comeback with his alternately menacing and heartfelt turn as the pedophile in “Little Children”.

We actually think Djimon Hounsou was the best thing in “Rambo Part IV”, and don’t begrudge him his second Oscar nomination – but the remaining two supporting actors, we could do without.

While, yes we did think that Eddie Murphy gave the only credible turn in “Dreamgirls”, it was hardly deserving of a nomination.

And while we would still love for Mark Wahlberg to strip down to his Calvin Klein’s and do his Funky Bunch routine across our living rooms, we think it was a bit of a stretch to choose him from amongst his more talented co-stars in “The Departed”.
We are thrilled to report that the Academy sought fit to honor Clint Eastwood for his superlative work this year in delivering the goods with two very fine war epics, the bookend pieces “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima”. Good for you, you old coot. In particular for “Letters from Iwo Jima”, where Clint displayed a mastery of the medium. Two exceptionally fine movies that dovetailed beautifully to provide one solidly entertaining opus.

And as for the Mexican Auteur Invasion, they can safely claim to have laid waste to their competition as all emerged victorious with substantial nominations. Alejandro González Iñárritu lead his compadres with “Babel” earning seven nominations including Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, two Best Supporting Actress nominations and nods for Film Editing and Original Score – all of them richly deserved. We only wish that Brad Pitt had managed to eke out a second Oscar nom for his very fine turn as the distraught father. We’d gladly toss Eddie Murphy to the curb for Brad.

Guillermo del Toro awoke to wonderful praise for his divinely creepy and magical “El Laberinto del fauno” which earned six nominations for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Makeup and Original Score. Bravo, Guillermo, Bravo!

And finally, the third Mexican genius delivering the goods this year, Alfonso Cuarón received co-nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing for his beautifully imagined “Children of Men”, which also earned a Cinematography nod for the great Emmanuel Lubezki.

We also applaud the Oscar success of “The Queen”, which led Helen Mirren to the front of the Best Actress race seeing as she has been the proud recipient of that title from the following groups this year: Boston Society of Film Critics, Broadcast Film Critics, Chicago Film Critics, Golden Globes, Los Angeles Film Critics, National Board of Review, National Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics and the Venice Film Festival among others. Jesus, bitch. If you lose the Oscar, we have no sympathy. You have enough gold and glass on your mantel to keep you warm at night.

Kudos also to her devilishly talented director Stephen Frears, who earned his second nomination as Best Director. Sixteen years ago, he was nominated for his sturdy helming of the neo-NoirThe Grifters” which was co-produced by Martin Scorsese!

And speaking of no sympathy, Mr. Scorsese has indeed been overlooked by the Academy for his lengthy and justifiably stunning output. Five failed nominations, and here he is – the mighty Italian midget of movie making earned his sixth nomination for his wickedly funny gangster flick, “The Departed”. The magic eightball says that things look damn good for Marty come Oscar night, but we will not be placing any bets on the table in that category. We consider it a wise move, remembering how the Academy chose to honor Kevin Costner as the top director of 1990 over Marty’s “Goodfellas”. (We’ll still cross our pinkies for you, you busy eyebrowed genius you.)

And while we are genuinely pleased that Paul Greengrass received a Best Director nod for his tightly wound and frighteningly intense “United 93”, we wish that the Academy had not wiped their hands on Robert Altman’s casket liner by ignoring his beautifully helmed final masterpiece “A Prairie Home Companion”. We can just picture them now, holed up in their voting den: “Didn’t we finally make it up to Bob and give him an Honorary Oscar? Isn’t that good enough? Let’s go with that stupid road trip comedy with the dead grandpa, that’ll show those youngsters we’re hip!” Assholes.

Still, like the rest of the movie loving community we look forward to the Awards in late February. For no matter what stumbling blocks the Academy may trip over, they remain the most coveted prize in the film kingdom. Oh, we’re keeping our eye on Oscar this month kids, don’t you fear. And we hope that some of you out there have realized how important this year is with its monumental Oscar anniversary. “Huh? Wait, isn’t it the 79th Annual Academy Awards? It’s not the 80th yet.” Oh, no dear readers. That isn’t what we’re talking about. We’ll leave you now with a picture to tease your memory as to what could possibly be up our crafty well draped sleeves. Anybody else out there, remember this lady? She played a very important part in the anniversary we will be celebrating in the coming weeks leading up to the big show. Bless you all!

List of Nominees for the 79th Annual Academy Awards

Best Motion Picture of the Year
“The Departed”
“Letters from Iwo Jima”
“Little Miss Sunshine”
“The Queen”

Performance by and Actress in a Leading Role
Penélope Cruz in “Volver”
Judi Dench in “Notes on a Scandal”
Helen Mirren in “The Queen”
Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”
Kate Winslet in “Little Children”

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Adriana Barraza in “Babel”
Cate Blanchett in “Notes on a Scandal”
Abigail Breslin in “Little Miss Sunshine”
Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls”
Rinko Kikuchi in “Babel”

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Leonardo DiCaprio in “Blood Diamond”
Ryan Gosling in “Half Nelson”
Peter O’Toole in “Venus”
Will Smith in “The Pursuit of Happyness”
Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland”

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Alan Arkin in “Little Miss Sunshine”
Jackie Earle Haley in “Little Children”
Djimon Hounsou in “Blood Diamond”
Eddie Murphy in “Dreamgirls”
Mark Wahlberg in “The Departed”

Achievement in Directing
Alejandro González Iñárritu for “Babel”
Martin Scorsese for “The Departed”
Clint Eastwood for “Letters from Iwo Jima”
Stephen Frears for “The Queen”
Paul Greengrass for “United 93”

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
“After the Wedding” – Denmark
“Indigènes” – Algeria
“The Lives of Others” – Germany
“El Laberinto del fauno” – Mexico
“Water” – Canada

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
“Happy Feet”
“Monster House”

Adapted Screenplay
“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” – Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham & Dan Mazer / Story by Baron Cohen, Baynham, Hines & Todd Phillips
“Children of Men” – Screenplay by Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby
“The Departed” – Screenplay by William Monahan
“Little Children” – Screenplay by Todd Field and Tom Perrotta
“Notes on a Scandal” – Screenplay by Patrick Marber

Original Screenplay
“Babel” – Written by Guillermo Arriaga
“Letters from Iwo Jima” – Screenplay by Iris Yamashita / Story by Iris Yamashita and Paul Haggis
“Little Miss Sunshine” – Written by Michael Arndt
“El Laberinto del fauno” – Written by Guillermo del Toro
“The Queen” – Written by Peter Morgan

Achievement in Film Editing
“Blood Diamond”
“Children of Men”
“The Departed”
“United 93”

Achievement in Cinematography
“The Black Dahlia” – Vilmos Zsigmond
“Children of Men” – Emmanuel Lubezki
“The Illusionist” – Dick Pope
“El Laberinto del fauno” – Guillermo Navarro
“The Prestige” – Wally Pfister

Achievement in Costume Design
“Curse of the Golden Flower”
“The Devil Wears Prada”
“Marie Antoinette”
“The Queen”

Achievement in Makeup
“El Laberinto del fauno”

Achievement in Art Direction
“The Good Shepherd”
“El Laberinto del fauno”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
“The Prestige”

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
“Babel” – Gustavo Santaolalla
“The Good German” – Thomas Newman
“Notes on a Scandal” – Philip Glass
“El Laberinto del fauno” – Javier Navarrete
“The Queen” – Alexandre Desplat

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
“I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”
“Listen” from “Dreamgirls”
“Love You I Do” from “Dreamgirls”
“Our Town” from “Cars”
“Patience” from “Dreamgirls”

Best Documentary Feature
“Deliver Us from Evil”
“An Inconvenient Truth”
“Iraq in Fragments”
“Jesus Camp”
“My Country, My Country”

Best Documentary Short Subject
“The Blood of Yingzhou District”
“Recycled Life”
“Rehearsing a Dream”
“Two Hands”

Best Animated Short Film
“The Danish Poet”
“The Little Matchgirl”
“No Time for Nuts”

Best Live Action Short Film
“Binta and the Great Idea (Binta y la gran idea)”
“Éramos Pocos (One Too Many)”
“Helmer & Son”
“The Saviour”
“West Bank Story”

Achievement in Sound Editing
“Blood Diamond”
“Flags of Our Fathers”
“Letters from Iwo Jima”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”

Achievement in Sound Mixing
“Blood Diamond”
“Flags of Our Fathers”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”

Achievement in Visual Effects
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
“Superman Returns”



Post a Comment

<< Home