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 ActorLeonardo DiCaprio - Blood DiamondRyan Gosling - Half NelsonPeter O'Toole - VenusWill Smith - The Pursuit of HappynessForrest 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.
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.
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
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.
Children of Men
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.
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'.
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
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.