Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Taking my temperature for Oscar Fever

You know, I told myself I didn't care as much this year, but I still found myself excited this morning in anticipation of the Academy Award nominations this morning. Two things I realized as the nominees were announced:

1) I miss my laptop. Man, I'd have had this $#!+ up an hour ago, otherwise. Plus, jotting stuff down on a notebook makes me feel like I'm working. I'll scribble for money, dammit. But not while I'm still having my morning coffee.

2) I lamented this last week, but I haven't seen that many of the nominated films this year (only two of the Best Picture candidates, for instance), which bugs me. And here I considered myself a film buff.

So for the second year in a row, even though you may have seen these elsewhere by the time you read this, I took the time to type these out, dammit, so I'm posting 'em!

(Also, once again - I should've just waited until the complete list was posted online. This is almost a carbon copy of the post I wrote last year. Mailin' it in here, people.)

Best supporting actress:
Adriana Barraza - Babel
Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi - Babel

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

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

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

Best Director:
Alejandro González Iñárritu - Babel
Martin Scorsese - The Departed
Clint Eastwood - Letters From Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears - The Queen
Paul Greengrass - United 93

Best Original Screenplay:
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
Pan's Labyrinth
The Queen

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Children of Men
The Departed
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal

[Normally, I'd list the screenwriters for these categories. I'm all about the writers. But a couple of these screenplays had multiple credits. Borat, for instance, has four writers listed. Children of Men has five.]

Best Picture:
The Departed
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Assorted initial thoughts springing to mind?

▪▪ A lot of the TV coverage right now is focusing on Dreamgirls being snubbed for Best Director and Best Picture. But I haven't seen it, so I really have nothing to say on the subject.

However, I do think The Departed got hosed in the acting categories. Leonardo DiCaprio got nominated for the wrong role. I can see leaving Jack Nicholson out because he was "being Jack" for much of the movie. And Matt Damon was really good, too. But they did pick Mark Wahlberg, which is cool. He was relentlessly hilarious in that role.

▪▪ Quick pick for a lock? Alan Arkin for Best Supporting Actor in Little Miss Sunshine.

▪▪ What exactly was the Borat screenplay an adaptation of? Maybe since it takes a character from a TV show, it's considered "adapted"?

▪▪ How much of a roll is Clint Eastwood on? The only reason he didn't get nominated last year is because he didn't make a movie. Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and now Letters From Iwo Jima (which, by the way, was his second film this year)? That is one hell of a streak. Maybe the best filmmaker America has right now.

▪▪ Staying in the Best Director category, the one sit-up-and-clap nominee for me was Paul Greengrass for United 93. (A close second was Abigail Breslin for Little Miss Sunshine.) It was an amazingly powerful film, but seems to have suffered from hitting theaters just a bit too early. Had this been released in the fall, I think it would be receiving a lot more credit and praise. It was one of the best movies of the year.

▪▪ That reminds me - I still need to type up the Fried Rice Favorite Movies of 2006 list. I'll try to get on that later tonight. (That's what she said!)

▪▪ Nothing really jumps out as a "wrong" pick to me, though I'm kind of surprised that Blood Diamond received two acting nominations. But it's not like they're undeserved. Both DiCaprio and Hounson were very good. I thought the movie was a little bit preachy, but it's meant to make you think about what's going on in the world, which isn't a bad thing.

▪▪ So I guess I need to see Babel, eh? Wasn't really planning on that. Iñárritu's previous two films - Amores Perros and 21 Grams - were so utterly bleak and depressing, and I just wasn't up for that.