Thursday, January 22, 2009

Trying to Catch Some Oscar Fever

Continuing a four-year tradition here at Fried Rice Thoughts, we post the Academy Award nominations (which I didn't even realize were being announced today, until I saw something on Twitter) for your perusal, along with some thoughts on the nominees.

You can read the complete list here, but for now, these are the major categories (and as a writer, I always have to include the screenwriters):

Best supporting actress:
Amy Adams - Doubt
Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis - Doubt
Taraji P. Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler

Best supporting actor:
Josh Brolin - Milk
Robert Downey, Jr. - Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon - Revolutionary Road

Best Actress:
Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie - Changeling
Melissa Leo - Frozen River
Meryl Streep - Doubt
Kate Winslet - The Reader

Best Actor:
Richard Jenkins - The Visitor
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn - Milk
Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler

Best Director:
Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry - The Reader
David Fincher - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard - Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant - Milk

Best Original Screenplay:
Courtney Hunt - Frozen River
Mike Leigh - Happy-Go-Lucky
Martin McDonagh - In Bruges
Dustin Lance Black - Milk
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon - WALL-E

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Eric Roth - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
John Patrick Shanley - Doubt
Peter Morgan - Frost/Nixon
David Hare - The Reader
Simon Beaufoy - Slumdog Millionaire

Best Picture:
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Quick thoughts:

▪▪ Okay, let's just get it out of the way: It's a big disappointment not to see The Dark Knight among the Best Picture nominees. I had no delusions that it would actually win the award (Though The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won in 2004, so would it really be that weird?), but I thought Batman would at least get nominated.

Maybe it's the comic book fan in me seeking validation, but this was one of the five best movies of the year. C'mon, Oscar - at least give Christopher Nolan a Best Director nod.

▪▪ Looking at the nominees for Best Supporting Actor, I think Heath Ledger definitely has a shot at a posthumous win.

▪▪ Doubt also got hosed for Best Picture.

So which two movies would I have taken off? Well, I haven't seen The Reader, so that would be an easy choice for me. And though I enjoyed it, and think it's quite a filmmaking achievement for David Fincher, I'd probably kick The Curious Case of Benjamin Button off the list, too.

▪▪ My sit-up-and-clap nominee this year? Richard Jenkins. The Visitor was a fantastic movie, with an ending that I still can't shake, and it's largely because of the arc Jenkins's character follows.

A close second would be Amy Adams, who hasn't been getting nearly enough acclaim for her performance in Doubt. An Oscar nomination takes care of that, I'd say.

▪▪ Robert Downey, Jr. brought me a smile. My love and admiration for the man has not been hidden on this blog, and I'm glad to see him get some recognition for the year he had, but I'd have rather seen him nominated for Iron Man.

However, there's one scene of his in Tropic Thunder that amazes me. If you haven't seen it, I'll try not to spoil it for you, but it involves his disguise as a rice paddy farmer.

▪▪ In place of Downey, I'd have nominated Sam Rockwell for Frost/Nixon or James Franco for Milk.

▪▪ The toughest category is probably Best Actor. You could make a great case for any of the nominees (though maybe I shouldn't comment on Rourke, since I haven't seen The Wrestler yet), but Sean Penn looks like the favorite to me.

▪▪ And I love Clint Eastwood, but I was glad to see he didn't get nominated for basically playing Archie Bunker in Gran Torino.

▪▪ Kate Winslet has to be a lock for Best Actress, right? With the nominations it received, The Reader has to win one award. Here it is. And it's not like she isn't overdue.