Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Golden Men

Everyone wants one. And why shouldn't they? Those coveted little golden men symbolize the highest achievements in film today.

I was up early for the official announcement of the Oscar nominations this morning and, overall, I'm quite pleased with the results. I've been able to see most of the nominated movies and have my own ideas as to who should win and who has the upper hand. Below is the list of actual nominations along with my personal picks (*) and my predictions (**) for the main categories. Enjoy!

Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
(*,**)Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah" (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.)
(*,**)Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War" (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal)
(*,**)Julie Christie in "Away from Her" (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in "The Savages" (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in "Juno" (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
(**)Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There" (The Weinstein Company)
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster" (Universal)
(*)Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone" (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

Best animated feature film of the year
(*)"Persepolis" (Sony Pictures Classics): Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
(**)"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney): Brad Bird
"Surf's Up" (Sony Pictures Releasing): Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Achievement in directing
(*)"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
"Juno" (Fox Searchlight), Jason Reitman
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Tony Gilroy
(**)"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Paul Thomas Anderson

Best documentary feature
"No End in Sight" (Magnolia Pictures) A Representational Pictures Production: Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience" (The Documentary Group) A Documentary Group Production: Richard E. Robbins
(*, **)"Sicko" (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company) A Dog Eat Dog Films Production: Michael Moore and Meghan O'Hara
"Taxi to the Dark Side" (THINKFilm) An X-Ray Production: Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
"War/Dance" (THINKFilm) A Shine Global and Fine Films Production: Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

Best motion picture of the year
"Atonement" (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
"Juno" (Fox Searchlight) A Dancing Elk Pictures, LLC Production: Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) A Clayton Productions, LLC Production: Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
(**)"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
(*)"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Adapted screenplay
"Atonement" (Focus Features), Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
"Away from Her" (Lionsgate), Written by Sarah Polley
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
(**)"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
(*)"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax), Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original screenplay
(**)"Juno" (Fox Searchlight), Written by Diablo Cody
"Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM), Written by Nancy Oliver
(*)"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.), Written by Tony Gilroy
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
"The Savages" (Fox Searchlight), Written by Tamara Jenkins

Thoughts: "There Will Be Blood" is ah-maz-ing! Daniel Day-Lewis is unbelievably talented and really owns the entire film. But I'm not sure it's an academy favorite. History shows that they tend to play it safe and I fear that Blood may be slightly in the shadow of "No Country For Old Men". Now, don't get me wrong, No Country is great and I totally agree with all the noms but if I had to choose, I would favor Blood.

Most of the acting categories are pretty locked up. Or at least I think so. There could always be a huge upset in any of the categories but it seems somewhat unlikely. I think the Actors categories are the strongest, and my favorites. A lot of really talented actors are nominated this year in both Best and Supporting Actor categories. But unfortunately I don't think they stand much of a chance against the favored stars. Day-Lewis puts on hands down one of the best performances I have EVER seen and Javier Bardiem is the one of the SCARIEST villains in the history of film. Between his creepy hair cut, his emotionless demeanor, the air gun, and his chilling accent and tone, he is hard to beat. I don't think I can see him in any other film and not be freaked out by him. When I see real photos of the poor guy I can hardly even believe it's him.

I wish that 3:10 to Yuma earned some more noms. It was a very impressive film -- and a western to say the least. Russell Crow is fabulous as always and who doesn't love Christian Bale? But there was also a very talented supporting actor by the name of Ben Foster who plays Russell Crows right hand man. He was great! I found myself watching him the most during scenes where he was involved.

Another extremely talented actor (again with the men, they're really something this year) is Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I loved loved loved his performance in "Charlie Wilson's War" and totally agree with his nomination. Although it may not have been everyone's favorite film, just to see him in it is well worth it.

I do wish that Will Smith had earned some recognition for his role in "I Am Legend". I realize that there are only 5 slots per category but Will did a great job as the lonely scientist left alone in NYC for 3 years. He drove most of the movie all by himself! I did read a review that said they would have liked to see more of Will's character unraveling, which I agree, but nevertheless his performance was impressive.

And then there is "Juno". I barely want to talk about this film as the more I discuss it, the more I dislike it. I really think that all the hype is mislead. It was cute, sure, but great? Hardly. The dialog was so unrealistic, there were few memorable scenes, the characters were forced, and we are left feeling somewhat obligated to love a story about a poor little 16 year old girl who decides to have sex, gets pregnant, and opts to give up her baby for adoption. Jamie Lynn Spears just announced her pregnancy and we were outraged. But yet, we'll praise a story about a promiscuous 16 year-old wannabe catch-phraser? Lame! This film is NOT the next "Little Miss Sunshine" so let's stop pretending that it is.

So there it is. Thoughts anyone?

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