Oscar Schmoscar

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Ok, The Academy Awards are silly. There, I said it. You know it, I know it, whatever. But, they’re still fun to watch, and I still wake up early just to find out who got nominated so I can spend all day bitching about them. (All right, so I already get up early for work, but I still make time to read them before I leave in the morning, so it still counts). 2007 was a pretty strong year for film (and also a pretty weak year, I guess it just depends on what movies you wasted your time with). The list of nominees mostly shows that, although the Academy’s love of a few actors (I’ll mention which ones) may have blinded them to a few who shouldn’t have been nominated. As always, there were a slew of movies that were hyped/loved/hated that I should have seen by now but haven’t, so if I haven’t seen the film, I’ll reserve judgment for now. I have a lot of catching up to do in the next month and a half (working full time and going to graduate school really has put a strain on the amount of films I watch). Anyway, enough rambling, let’s look at this year’s group of nominees (at least in the major categories).

BEST PICTURE

Atonement was a shoo-in. It looks and feels (from the previews, I really need to see this) like a Oscar nominee type of film. The fact that Joe Wright, the director, wasn’t nominated will hurt its chances big time. Every year, a small indie film gets a Best Picture nod, this year, we have Juno. I got a big grin on my face when I saw its inclusion on the list. I haven’t even started working on a best of 2007 list (maybe by March I will have seen enough movies to feel comfortable working on it), but No Country for Men would definitely be on there. Nobody was surprised when it was nominated for Best Picture. Michael Clayton was a riveting thriller, and I’m impressed that the Academy remembered it, but still, no chance for Best Picture. There Will Be Blood is a phenomenal film, and I’d like to think it has a chance (but probably not, though nobody thought The Departed would win either, so who knows?)

BEST ACTOR

George Clooney gives what may be his career-best performance in Michael Clayton, so I’m glad he’s here. Daniel Day-Lewis will win for There Will Be Blood, I see no other way of this category going. Bad joke: for Day-Lewis, There Will Be (another) Oscar! Johnny Depp was well-cast in Sweeny Todd, but I can think of a few other actors perhaps more deserving of an Oscar nomination. I haven’t seen In the Valley of Elah, but I hear Tommy Lee Jones is terrific in it. Viggo Mortensen was a key part to the success of Eastern Promises, and this might also be considered as belated recognition for his work in another David Croenberg film, 2005’s A History of Violence.

BEST ACTRESS

Ok, the only nominee here I’ve seen is Ellen Page as Juno, and she definitely deserves to be on this list. Julie Christie was nominated for Away from Her, which I haven’t seen because the Netflix Queue wait list can be a cruel mistress. Laura Linney is supposed to be splendid in The Savages, as is Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose (waiting at home to be watched, give me time!) Cate Blanchett received her second nomination as Queen Elizabeth for the sequel Elizabeth: The Golden Age (this is her first of two nominations this year).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Casey Affleck has been getting the best reviews of his career for his performance in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, so I should see it soon. Javier Bardem will win for No Country for Old Men, though, so count on it. Philiip Seymour Hoffman gave three performances that wowed audiences and critics alike in 2007, and I saw one of them, and he was nominated for that film: Charlie Wilson’s War. He’s good in it, but the movie’s weak and his character I feel sort of deteriorates and becomes less interesting as the film develops, so probably not Oscar-worthy. Hal Holbrook, the veteran character actor, finally scores an Oscar nod for a performance that I’m sure is superb in the movie Into the Wild (I’ll see it someday.) Tom Wilkinson was brilliant in Michael Clayton, if anybody could be the dark horse in this category, it’d be him.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett receives her second Oscar nod this year for her ace portrayal of Bob Dylan in I’m Not There. Ruby Dee just about stole American Gangster from Denzel and Crowe with her amazing performance. Saoirse Ronan is great in Atonement, I’m sure, all I can say about it is that I had to check how to spell her name about five times. Amy Ryan is unbelievable in Gone Baby Gone, watch her on “The Wire” (God, please watch The Wire, it’s the best police show of all time) and then watch her in this movie. It’s hard to believe it’s the same actress. Tilda Swinton was very good in Michael Clayton, and it’s nice to see she finally got an Oscar nod for something!

BEST DIRECTOR

Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood. The Brothers Coen for No Country for Old Men. Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton. Jason Reitman for Juno (this is only his second movie!!!) Julian Schabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (should I even bother mentioning that I haven’t seen this yet?) Though I’m sure Joel and Ethan Coen will win it, don’t count out P.T.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Four of the five films are indies, and the fifth nominee is a cartoon. The screenplay categories have come a long way from “standard fare.” Diablo Cody for Juno, Nancy Oliver for Lars and the Real Girl, Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton, Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco for Ratatouille, and Tamara Jenkins for The Savages. Diablo Cody will win it for Juno.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Christopher Hampton for Atonement. Sarah Polley for Away from Her. Ronald Harwood for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The Brothers Coen for No Country for Old Men. P.T. Anderson for There Will Be Blood. Either Coen Bros. or P.T.

So, those are the main categories for the 80th Academy Awards. It should be a fun show (fingers crossed all is settled by then so they can put on an actual show, unlike the Golden Globes.) Stay tuned.

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