January 22, 2008

Oscars 2007: And the Nominees Are…

Filed under: Movies,Oscars — DB @ 8:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Complete List of Nominees

And so the final phase of the awards season begins. As I suspected would be the case, there were so many good movies this year that any disappointment is more about what had to be left out than being upset about anything that was included. There were some surprises, though.

This one went pretty much how I thought it would, allowing for the possibility that Into the Wild or Diving Bell and the Butterfly might have edged in there. But I had pegged those as more likely to be nominated for directing while overlooked in the big race. No Country, Blood and Juno were safe bets. Michael Clayton could have gone either way, and Atonement was a question mark only because of omissions from some other key groups. All in all, a strong category.

I was pretty shocked that Sean Penn was left off for Into the Wild. I hadn’t expected that. And I didn’t think that Tony Gilroy would make the cut for Michael Clayton. Of all the DGA nominees, he seemed the most likely to be overlooked by the Academy. And Jason Reitman for Juno? Wow, that sure was a longshot. Picture and Screenplay seemed like givens, but I didn’t think Reitman had a prayer at making the cut. Too bad that Joe Wright wasn’t nominated for Atonement. I look at Juno and Michael Clayton as excellent movies that were certainly well directed, but owed their biggest off-camera debt to particularly strong scripts. Atonement, however, felt like much more a marriage between the two: a terrific script realized by a director who brought a lot of his own vision to it.

On a side note, remember when Ivan Reitman – while never exactly making Oscar-caliber movies – was one of the biggest directors in comedy? Ghostbusters, Stripes, Meatballs, Twins, Dave…and now he’s making crap like My Super Ex-Girlfriend while his 30 year old son has knocked his first two movies out of the park and been showered with rave reviews and awards.

So Tommy Lee Jones made it after all! Well played, Academy. A much deserved nomination for an overlooked movie. And with expected nominations for Clooney and Day-Lewis, that left Depp and Mortensen as the two who looked good, but weren’t sure things. It’s nice to see Mortensen finally get some due. As for Depp, I love the guy and I’ll always be happy to see him nominated, and I eagerly await the day when he finally wins. But good as he was in Sweeney Todd, I’d rather have seen Emile Hirsch take that spot. Into the Wild got the shaft in a big way today, and whatever people think of Hirsch’s character, you’ve gotta give him credit for how he threw himself into that role, body and soul. He put himself through intense physical rigors, but gave just as much to role emotionally; he appears in almost every scene; and he succeeds in creating a character that I believed would be so attractive to all the people he encountered in his travels. His was definitely one of the most impressive performances of the year, and it became one of the Academy’s biggest oversights.

(By the way, check out this reaction quote from Viggo: the guy’s smart, classy, and has good taste: “There were a lot of candidates and a lot of the awards shows or organizations this year have had different mixes of people. It was nice to see Tommy Lee Jones in there. He hadn’t been in so much of the mix and when I saw his name come up and there was only one name left to go, I thought, ‘Naah, well, there’s no way (I’ll be nominated).’ So to be honest, I was quite surprised.”

Julie Christie and Marion Cotillard  were the locks, with Ellen Page (very cool) right behind them. I wasn’t sure Blanchett would get in there, especially since her Supporting nomination was a foregone conclusion. It just goes to show how much the Academy loves her. And she deserves the love; she’s friggin’ awesome. Sorry, Meryl Streep: there’s a new Meryl Streep and her name is Cate Blanchett. I’ve got no objection to Laura Linney’s inclusion, although as one friend of mine pointed out, the role seemed like a diluted version of her character from You Can Count On Me. Still, she’s always good.

I guess the biggest surprise here was Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart being left off. I’m on the fence about it. On one hand, she really disappeared into the role, and while part of that can be chalked up to a physical transformation, it takes more than that to make you forget you’re watching a star who’s constantly in the celebrity spotlight. On the other hand, the movie is less of a character driven piece and more of a docudrama – almost a Law & Order-style procedural about the search for Daniel Pearl. As a result, she doesn’t drive the story as much as you’d think she would from the way the movie was marketed. She’s really good, but maybe in the end it wasn’t seen as enough of a star turn.

Probably the most perfect category of the year. Sure, there are some other people I’d have been happy to see sneak in, but you can’t argue with any one of these five guys. Great choices all around.

Blanchett, Ryan and Swinton all came through, deservedly and as expected. I was glad to see Saoirse Ronan get in, carrying the torch for the Atonement cast. In a different year, Knightley and McAvoy probably would have made the cut, but Ronan’s performance is particularly tricky and effective, especially considering how young she is. Suck it, Dakota Fanning!

I still don’t think Ruby Dee deserved a nomination, but as I had no particularly strong feelings about anyone who was omitted, and as Ruby Dee is a legend and totally cool, I’ll let it slide.

No surprises here, and all good scripts (well, I haven’t seen Lars and the Real Girl yet. This weekend.)

Once again, Into the Wild is glaringly left off. I guess Away From Her took it’s spot, seeing as Diving Bell, No Country, Blood and Atonement were all favorites (the latter despite lack of a WGA nomination). Away From Her was an impressive script, especially considering it was written by a 28 year-old and dealt with an older couple dealing with Alzheimer’s. And Sarah Polley is awesome; I’ll call this amends for not giving her a Best Supporting Actress nomination 10 years ago for The Sweet Hereafter. Still, the absence of Sean Penn here (and in the Director race) stings.

Didn’t see Surf’s Up, and actually heard it was pretty good, but how do you deny The Simpsons Movie? Unforgivable.

I don’t know what happened in the Best Song category. I know that Into The Wild was deemed ineligible for Best Score, but did that somehow extend to the song category? I don’t see how it could have, and yet I can’t accept that any other reason could have led to not a single nomination for Eddie Vedder. Three songs from Enchanted, and not one from Into the Wild? I’m not gonna dump on Enchanted, cause I haven’t seen it and it actually looks like a pretty clever parody of the whole Disney princess genre, so I’m sure the songs follow suit. But c’mon! No Eddie Vedder here is like two spoonfuls of salt on the already gaping Into the Wild wound. The only upside? Hopefully this clears the path for “Falling Slowly” to win. If some of Vedder’s songs had made the cut, I’d have had a hard time choosing between his stuff and this great song from Once, which was used in the movie twice – both times to excellent effect.

To my friends at ILM, congrats on Pirates and Transformers. Disappointing movies, but great effects.

Until we reconvene around February 23 for predictions and final commentary, I close with an expression of shock and sadness over the other big news in moviedom today: the death of Heath Ledger.

RIP, Heath. Your star had barely begun to burn.

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