Tuesday, January 31, 2006

And The Nominees Are...

Sean and I set the alarms a little extra early this morning and got up for a big step in the Oscar Race, the announcement of the nominations. Now there are a couple venues to take it in, but we go with the self-assured, hipness of E! and the geeky enthusiasm of Diane and Charles mixed with the awkward confidence of Gene Shalit on Good Morning, America. Once they start announcing the nominations, it doesn’t really matter, but considering nothing is ever on time, it’s important to decide if you want accurate predictions or awkward bar graphs.

Remember, the Oscars are a little over a month away, giving you that much time to attempt to absorb as many of the nominees as you can. Last year, we ended up seeing about 80% of the nominees for the major awards, and considering we’re stuck in the Golden Bubble of Notre Dame, that’s not too bad. Due to my own idiocy, I didn’t see Walk The Line - just like I missed Ray in theaters last year – and I missed Capote the one night it was on campus. For some reason, those two, Good Night, and Good Luck and A History of Violence don’t come out on DVD until March, after the ceremonies, meaning it’s going to take the combined effort of us, D-PAC and illegal downloading sites to make this happen.

Let’s break this down a bit.

Best Supporting Actress

No big names to speak of here, but a couple of the big movies - Capote and Brokeback - are represented by Catherine Keener and Michelle Williams. Early favorite would have to be Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener, which was otherwise ignored save for this nomination. There isn’t any buzz around Amy Adams in Junebug, and very few people had Frances McDormand even being nominated. If Williams wins this thing, it’s going to be the sign of a big night for Brokeback.

Best Supporting Actor

Or, Paul Giamatti Strikes Back. After consecutive snubs – of nominations, not the award itself – of American Splendor and Sideways, the G-Man gets his first nomination for Cinderella Man, which might take the prize for Least Effective Oscar Film of the Year, garnering only one nomination in the screenplay/picture/acting area. Giamatti is not the favorite, however, as Jake Gyllenhaal’s gay cowboy is getting rave reviews. Plus, he has to deal with Clooney, who has four personal nominations, and Matt Dillon, whose the only actor nominated from Crash, which was getting a lot of love from the industry crowd anytime it was mentioned this morning.

Did William Hurt steal Don Cheadle’s nomination? I’ve yet to see Violence, so it’s tough to judge, but I thought Cheadle was great, so it best be a good show.

Best Actress

It’s a two-horse race between Felicity Huffman and Reese Witherspoon, with Judi Dench, Keira Knightley and Charlize Theron thrown in for kicks. Nobody has seen Transamerica, but it’s apparently a stronger performance that Walk The Line, which had the commercial success. Oscar doesn’t care about commercial success, and would probably rather go against it (unless Titanic is involved), so the best Desperate Housewife is looking like a quality choice here.

(Possible sleepers? Knightley’s nomination bobbed back and forth leading up to today, but there’s a buzz about her holding her own against fellow nominee Dench, who always has the potential to just have a random award thrown her away because she’s Judi Dench. I have no problem with that, I just think it needs stated.)

Best Actor

Because karma comes back around, Russell Crowe’s lack of a nomination for Cinderella Man cements it’s previously mentioned place in the limbo of “Oscar-bait movie that wasn’t commercially successfully or Oscarly successfully”. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the guy to beat here, using this as motivation for his role as Mission Impossible 3’s villain, but Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix have both picked up enough awards to make you think they might make a run at it. As cool as it would be to see Terrence Howard win for Hustle & Flow - could have been double-nominated in supporting for his work in Crash - it’s probably about as likely to happen as David Strathairn winning for Good Night, and Good Luck. Sean is also madly rooting for Hoffman to win, so I’m sort of hoping he doesn’t just to see what sound effect he makes after the loss.

Best Picture

It’s looking like Brokeback wrapped this up the day the producers decided to make a gay cowboy movie with sweeping visuals. Capote doesn’t have a prayer and Munich just isn’t that good, so here’s hoping Good Night, and Good Luck gets enough Clooney Buzz to steal this. Crash was sort of off the Serious Contender Radar until the SAG’s Sunday night, where they took the equivalent of Best Picture. Of course, the SAG’s weren’t so accurate using that award as a prognosticator last year…

Best Director - The same five films are up for Best Director as Best Picture, so this will be another early indicator in the evening. Ang Lee’s been rolling, so again, this could be a big night for Brokeback.

Cinematography - I’m only bringing this up because Batman Begins is nominated. Michael Caine not getting nominated for Best Supporting Actor is a shame, so let’s get some super hero love here, in a legitimate category.

Original Score - Just another notch on the old belt for John Williams…

Sound Editing/Sound Mixing - War of the Worlds is nominated in both of these, the only time it makes it’s Scientology-addled face seen on the list, and I think it should be seriously considered because those sirens are freaking scary. That’s my completely low-brow, unintelligent analysis, of this, and I’m sticking to it.

Adapted Screenplay - The Best Picture contenders get split up here, as Brokeback and Capote fall here. Again, I just don’t think Munich is that good, and I’m excited to see A History of Violence. Gardener maybe has a chance, but again, look for Brokeback.

Original Screenplay - Crash vs. Good Night, and Good Luck, although Woody Allen gets the only love for his film here, as Scarlet Johanson got no love for Supporting Actress and Woody Allen himself didn’t get in for Best Director. The Squid and the Whale was solid, and is gaining some buzz, but this will probably go to one of the Picture contenders.


So overall, not the best year of movies. If Brokeback blows my mind, maybe I’ll be happier with this set of films, but I’m just not feeling it so far. Still a long way to go, as the realistic list for us all looks like this:

Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck
A History of Violence
Walk The Line

Bonus points for seeing

Mrs. Henderson Presents
The Squid and the Whale
The Constant Gardener
North Country
Cinderella Man

We’ve all got a long way to go, and while you and I both know Batman Begins or Wedding Crashers/The 40-Year Old Virgin should be winning Best Picture, let’s just settle down and make an educated decision on what the 3rd best movie of the year is, whether it involves gay cowboys, seeing how terrible the racial situation in America is, Eric Bana having sex, is in black and white or is a one three-named man show.

Click Oscar for a list of all the nominees.


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