Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Zombie Fights Oscars!

At 5:30AM, Pacific time, magic happened.

Having witnessed many an early morning during my brief entrenchment behind the county lines of Los Angeles, I can tell you that the addition of crisp dawn air and a pretty sunrise does nothing to abide the overall feelings of humiliation, creeping dread and quiet desperation that comes from waking up knowing that you're, unquestionably, living in Los Angeles. It chills the soul in much the same way walking through an internment camp will change you forever, but with a lot more fake bronzer. One day a year, however, things in Los Angeles are different. There's hope anew, life springs eternal, and even the smog seems to clear away, giving everyone a couple of hours of breathable air. That day is today, friends... it's Oscar Nomination Day! Bang a gong, get it on!!! Herewith, the noms, with a little bit of Award-Winning Analysis thrown in for funsies:

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole - Venus
Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness
Forrest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland

They nominated DiCaprio for the wrong movie, plain and simple. He wasn't bad in Blood Diamond, but he was soooo good in The Departed. Like, freaky good. It just sucks because that's been the one performance of his that I could get behind, 100%, and they didn't even acknowledge it. Weak sauce. Ryan Gosling is supposedly amazing, so say all my peoples that have seen the movie, and I like him anyway, so I'm glad he's here. Peter O'Toole is the annual Here 'Cause I'm Old nomination. Will Smith was excellent in The Pursuit of Happyness, and in a weaker year he might have won, but it's just not going to happen this go around. Actually, none of the aforementioned are going to win. Because the fifth nominee is Forrest Whitaker, who's won something like 95% of all the lead-up awards and is so heavily favored in this category that people waking up from a 25-year coma are "pretty sure Forrest is the guy." But I'm okay with that, truthfully; Whitaker is one of those actors that's been around forever, is always good (Battlefield Earth excluded), and deserves any and all trophies that people want to huck at him.

Best Actress

Penelope Cruz - Volver
Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren - The Queen
Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet - Little Children

This is another category where four of the nominees really don't matter. Helen Mirren has won, I think, every single lead-up award this year and is, according to my mother who saw the film this weekend, "quite good." So I'll just have to go with that. For the sake of thoroughness: Penelope Cruz: Eh. Judi Dench: Eh. Meryl Streep: Love her, but... c'mon. The Devil Wears Prada? Kate Winslet: Is just disgustingly attractive and is always good, but Little Children wasn't her best work. I'm still holding out hope that one of these days she'll be given a retroactive Oscar for her work in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children
Djimon Hounsou - Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg - The Departed

This is easily the toughest race to call. It's also, oddly enough, the only race in which I've seen all five films that are represented. Go figure. Arkin was hilarious in LMS, but I don't know if he really deserves to win it. Same goes for Mark Wahlberg, who tore up the screen with the little time he had. I think, though, that his is more of a "We Recognize You're Not Marky Mark Anymore" nomination and he'll just have to be happy with that. Djimon Hounsou was excellent in Blood Diamond, but... I don't know... I just can't get that excited about his performance, especially since the movie it's self was lame. For me, it comes down to Eddie Murphy and Jackie Earle Haley. Murphy's the sentimental favorite, and he was very good in Dreamgirls, but I really don't like him as a person. Serious baby-mama drama. That leaves Haley, the former-child-star-makes-good, who was utterly convincing and creepy as a fairly unrepentant child molester in Little Children. I know Murphy's probably going to take this, but, what can I say... I love a long shot. Jackie Earle Haley gets my vote.

Best Supporting Actress

Adriana Barazza - Babel
Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi - Babel

I haven't seen Babel and I've never even heard of the two actresses nominated for it, so I'm just going to have to assume that they cancel each other out and they're both just honored to be here. Cate Blanchett is usually good, though she's never really knocked me out. Abigail Breslin was adorable and damn fearless, but who are we kidding... she's a distant fifth. Besides, if they give it to anyone other than Jennifer Hudson, I'm taking hostages. No matter what you think of Dreamgirls, Hudson's big number is quite simply on another plane of existence. I've never seen an audience absolutely lose their shit like the one I was with did when she hit the last note in "And I Am Telling You," and from what I understand, that wasn't a freak occurrence. Anyone that can inspire that in a movie-going crowd deserves a statue.

Original Screenplay

Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
Pan's Labrynth
The Queen

This is probably Little Miss Sunshine's best shot at an Oscar, even if it did win the Producers Guild Award (a notorious barometer of Best Picture winners; it's picked 11 of the last 17). Nice to see Pan's Labyrinth get a nom here; I'm told the screenplay is fantastic. The other three... meh all around.

Adapted Screenplay

Children of Men
The Departed
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal

As much as it'd be a hoot to see Borat win something, and as much as I loved Children of Men, this award really should go to The Departed. With it's knotty, convoluted storyline and it's multi-layered characters, it very well could have been an unfollowable, unwatchable mess. However, the screenplay was clear-eyed, darkly funny, and provided easily the most flat-out entertaining movie going experience of the year. I don't think it will win Best Picture, but if it wins this, there'll be a little bit of justice in the world. Oh, as for the other two: Little Children's adaptation was fine, but nothing special, and I don't care about Notes on a Scandal.

Best Director

Clint Eastwood - Letters From Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears - The Queen
Paul Greengrass - United 93
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Babel
Martin Scorsese - The Departed

The truth of the matter is this: If Martin Scorsese doesn't win this year for The Departed, the Academy needs to be disbanded and sold off for scrap. The guy's cranked out consistently top shelf work through the years and, while they were smart not to honor him for the mediocre The Aviator or the abysmal Gangs of New York, he's finally created another masterpiece on the level of his unforgivably overlooked Goodfellas. Seriously guys, it's time. Otherwheres, it's nice to see United 93 get a nomination, even though it should have been among the Best Picture candidates. With the exception of The Departed, it's just hands down a better movie than the others on the list. Oh, and enough with the Clint Eastwood. I like him too, but he doesn't need to get nominated every year. Just sayin'.

Best Picture

The Departed
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Of this lot, The Departed is my choice and, trust me, it's an easy one to make. While I'm sure the other nominees are just fine, I find it really hard to believe that they're better than United 93, Children of Men or Pan's Labyrinth and I'm sure history will one day back me up on that. Now, to be absolutely fair, I've only seen The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine. However, I'm comfortable making baseless judgements, so it's all good. The interesting thing here is that Little Miss Sunshine, as I said earlier, won the Producer's Guild Award this year. That changes things; elevating it to a true contender. Really, the only odd man out, so to speak, is The Queen which everyone seems to like, but only because Helen Mirren is awesome. You can never count out a Clint Eastwood film because the Academy's got an everlasting hard-on for his wrinkly butt, and Babel has got "Important Film" stamped all over it, plus it won the Golden Globe. With four films in such a dead heat, this is by the far the most wide-open year I've ever seen at the Oscars. Going to be intersting, that's for sure.


Blogger Respective Minority said...

For a self-confessed "movie-snob" you called a few of these way wrong. Peter O'Toole got nominated because he is one of the best actors of the last 50 years, as never won an Oscar and gave an creepy role some great depth in Venus. I think he should win.

Let go of Eternal Sunshine. Winslet in Little Children gave an unlikable character sympathy and grace. Her facial expressions alone should win an Oscar. That being said, Mirren is a lock.

I gave up reading because your commentary was long and bloated.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Yes, however you're forgetting that I've copped to the fact that I don't know what I'm talking about. Which I feel absolves me of all accuracy.

Also, long and bloated... seriously, I have NOTHING to do at my job. Long and bloated is what gets me through the day (that's what she said!).

3:16 PM  
Anonymous J. said...

I hate award shows in both principle and practice. One of the most harrowing experiences of my life happened when I was stuck at the airport in San Fransisco and every TV all over the airport was showing The Oscars. To make matters worse it was one of those years when Whoopi Goldberg was hosting. It was horrifying and I said some very hurtful things about the friend of mine who was supposed to have picked me up. We eventually reconciled but the scars from that experience are a grim reminder of that terrible night.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

See, I'm the other way... I have shameful, moist love for award shows (I blame my drama geek past). But I certaintly sympathize; my girlfriend hates awards shows with a passion, forcing me to go out into the night to satisfy my lust for celebrities giving other celebrities shiny things while wearing silly dresses.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Midwesterner in NYC said...

I was going to respond to you on Gawker but better chance you will see here. No, I thought it was a solid breakdown considering you were just bored at work. Not sure i am with you on Hudson though, just because Supporting Actress seems to be the biggest crapshoot every year.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Oh, thanks very much. As for Hudson... She just rocked my socks, what can I say. I have been told though that the two actresses from Babel are UH-mazing and really, actually deserve the Oscar. Particularly Rinko Kikuchi.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Mike G said...

Good writing and analyzing. Couple of bad calls, though. Namely: anyone who claims to be a film snob and then says Cate Blanchett has never really knocked him out...well, he needs to be knocked out. She is easily one of the best, best actresses out there and gives me chills consistently. This role wasn't her meatiest, so I don't think she should/will win, but her acting in films previous to this is phenomenal.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Respective Minority said...

I need to get a job like yours if it allows you to write a self-indulgent blog (we all have one) and respond to every comment within 20 minutes of the post. NICE WORK.

Are you "live-blogging" the awards?

(If I dont get a response to this right away, I will understand that you went home for the night, and I will check back tomorrow at 9:00).

6:21 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Mike G... You know, I said that about Cate Blanchett without remembering the movie The Gift (which was awesome) and Veronica Gueirn (sp?), both of which she was great in. The performance of hers that's always left me cold was Elizabeth, but that's clearly just a "me" thing.

Respective Minority... Yeah, it's pretty sweet. If not a little dull, sometimes. Eh, what can you do? As for liveblogging, I really hadn't thought about it, but probably not. I'll probably be watching the Oscars at a friends house (girlfriend hates awards shows) and away from my computer, so it seems unlikely.

8:42 AM  
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3:26 PM  

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