Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oscar! Oscar! Oscar!

Maggie says:
The big awards show is in major jeopardy due to the writer's strike, but I'm giddy about these awards nonetheless. Watching live like the movie nerd I am, I bring you this morning's nominations, along with my thoughts/confessions/additions.

Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett (I'm Not There), Ruby Dee (American Gangster), Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone), Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)
This category kills me, because I still haven't seen Michael Clayton or Gone Baby Gone. But everyone who's seen I'm Not There comes away mesmerized by Cate Blanchett, and knows why she's a shoo-in for this one. She's just amazing, always.

Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson's War), Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild), Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)
What a year for supporting actors! Javier Bardem is the scariest villain imaginable in No Country (and, um, yeah). Phillip Seymour Hoffman was just brilliant in Charlie Wilson's War. I haven't seen either of the other three - I hear good things about Affleck (in this and Gone Baby Gone), I hear raves about Holbrook but I'm not into this film, and I've never seen Tom Wilkinson and not thought he was fantastic. There's no way this award isn't going to Javier Bardem. I loved so many supporting actors this year, though... both Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin were fantastic in No Country alongside Bardem. Paul Dano was creepily effective in Blood. Little Marcus Carl Franklin stays with you from I'm Not There, right on par with Cate Blanchett. And my beloved, sweet-dry-funny-understated Michael Cera, was fantastic in Superbad and Juno.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Julie Christie (Away from Her), Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), Laura Linney (The Savages), Ellen Page (Juno)
Yay for Ellen Page's nomination! So exciting for her. I never got around to seeing Elizabeth, but I think Netflix will have it pre-Oscar. She's always amazing. I have Away from Her on the shelf to watch Julie Christie, and we just watched La Vie en Rose. Wow. Marion Cotillard completely loses herself into the role of Edith Piaf, and it's amazing to watch. I can't tell you how remarkable it is to see how Marion Cotillard looks in real life, watch her portray Edith Piaf, and then see pictures and footage of the actual Edith Piaf. It's just unbelievable. As for Laura Linney... she's her brilliant self in The Savages, but I'm not sure I see that role as a clincher. I've gotta watch Away from Her and get back to you all on this one, but right now, I can't deny what Marion Cotillard accomplished with La Vie en Rose.

Best Actor
George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd), Tommy Lee Jones (In the Valley of Elah), Viggo Mortenson (Eastern Promises)
I'm getting increasingly annoyed at myself for not seeing Michael Clayton... I hear Clooney is fantastic, and I love Clooney, so why didn't I get my act together for this one? I have Eastern Promises sitting on the shelf to watch this week, but there's no getting around Daniel Day-Lewis' monster performance in Blood this year. Just a monster in that role. It's him, hands down. One of my favorite acting performances of the year is never going to see an Oscar stage, though - it's Samuel L. Jackson in Black Snake Moan. Oh man.

Best Director
Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Jason Reitman (Juno), Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men), Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
This category is a way to honor Schnabel, who's only in the Screenplay category elsewhere. I love the Coen Brothers, always, but I reallllllly love what Paul Thomas Anderson did with Blood. I remember reading a review that said, "Finally, Paul Thomas Anderson has a theme," and I agree. He does these enormous, strange pieces that float around a bit too much for folks - his films can be as unanchored as those infamous frogs at the end of Magnolia. Yet here we have a tight plot and setting, only a few characters, and some strong themes... and he pulls it off beautifully. So for me, I think it's Anderson this year. (Fantasy pick: the crazily brilliant Craig Brewer, who has a small but intense fan club and floored me with Black Snake Moan this year.) (Vindictive girl moment: Maybe if Sean Penn hadn't done something terrible to Robin Wright Penn - because we know she's not at fault! - his karma would've warranted a nod here? Hmmm....)

Best Original Screenplay
Juno, Lars and the Real Girl, Michael Clayton, Ratatouille, The Savages
I'm loving Juno this year in a big way, and Diablo Cody has the kind of made-for-Oscar story that voters love. I was impressed with The Savages, but it's Juno all the way for me. I'm also imagining what's not here: the poignance of nominating the late Adrienne Shelley for Waitress, and recognizing the comedic brilliance of Superbad and the innovative genius of I'm Not There... but oh well.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Atonement, Away From Her, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood
Strong category... Gotta see Away and Diving, but I think both No Country and Blood were amazing. Eek! I don't know! You know, I actually feel like Charlie Wilson's War got a little bit shafted here, despite my misgivings about its messaging. And my tempered enthusiasm for Atonement precisely mirrors my tempered enthusiasm for the book; I thought many scenes were actually better executed on film than in print, so to me it's a strong adaptation. But it's the year of No Country and Blood for me, what can I say?!

Best Foreign Language Film
Beaufort, The Counterfeiters, Katyn, Mongol, 12
I haven't seen any of these! Bad, bad me. I wish Once was here, though... but was it released too early?

Best Animated Picture
Persepolis, Ratatouille, Surf's Up
I'm dying to see Persepolis, which looks incredibly fresh and original, but hasn't opened here yet. In the meantime, you know I love Ratatouille.

Best Documentary
No End in Sight, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, Sicko, Taxi to the Dark Side, War/Dance
I haven't seen any of these yet, but I have No End in Sight and Sicko lined up in the queue, so I'll get back to you. But, ummm, what about Crazy Love? Guess it didn't make it given the political/war theme we have here. And I thought insane relationships were always in fashion!

Best Picture
Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood
I feel like this year we have five shoo-in films for Best Picture - this is the exact lineup I predicted the other night. And Michael Clayton is truly the one that got away for me this year. I love that Juno was nominated here, and I don't think that voters will be swayed by Atonement the way they were at the Globes. This one, to me, is all about No Country versus Blood. How funny that I love these two films in which women are virtually nonexistent. I think Blood is the bigger, showier picture - more of an Oscar picture. It has the kind of ending that makes for viewer satisfaction. No Country is bleaker, more elusive, more about the negative space than what's shown. They're interesting contrasts for me, and I'm fascinated to see how this plays out. (They were tied with eight nominations each, by the way.)

PS: Check out the full list of nominations - La Vie en Rose has gotta win for makeup given the unbelievable transformation of Marion Cotillard into Edith Piaf, for example - at Oscars.com.

Update: Netflix just reported that Michael Clayton will be ready to ship Feb 19, just in time for the Feb 24 awards ceremony! I'll also be able to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Gone Baby Gone, and The Assassination of Jesse James by then, although I may hold on Jesse. There is Disk 2 of Flight of the Conchords to watch, after all...