Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Here's the Skinny on the Naked Guy...

By which I mean Oscar. Obviously.

So, I correctly predicted 65% of this year's nominees, which my friends tell me is impressive, but everyone who cares about this stuff knows is not all that good. Dang it. But, hey, the nominations are always a great excuse for a champagne brunch (special shout-out to Max's, the restaurant/bar of the Holiday Inn in Ithaca!), so I'm feeling happy.

As for the nominations, here's what I have to say. They are all personal estimations, cause you can get the facts and figures anywhere.

Best Reasons To Be Delighted
  • Kate and Catalina in Best Actress—Whew!
  • Vera Drake having such a good day. Plus, I've been saying all along that Imelda was going to win this, and all of a sudden, that doesn't sound quite as stupid.

More Good News
  • Marc Forster justly ignored for Best Director
  • The Polar Express stiffed for Animated Feature, even with three other nods (even if it means nominating the crappy-looking Shark Tale). Fie on you, Tom Hanks and Bob Zemeckis!
  • John Williams deserves his compulsory Scoring nod much more than he usually does, esp. since it wasn't for The Terminal (fie on you, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg!)
  • Nice job including the Collateral editors
  • Also in the Score category, James Newton Howard deserves his mention for the otherwise dismal The Village...and I'm always happy when voters remember how to isolate distinguished elements from lame vehicles
  • Luis Mandoki, perpetrator of Angel Eyes and When a Man Loves a Woman, denied a Foreign Film nomination for Mexico's Innocent Voices; even if the film is good, as it is rumored to be, this guy isn't done repenting in my book
  • I didn't get suckered into thinking the Alfie songs were going to work out.
  • I don't have to see The Notebook!

Worst Nomination, By Leaps and Bounds
  • Best Cinematography for The Phantom of the Opera, which has the most plodding camera and the fakest, most emptily "aesthetic" setups in recent memory

More Reasons to Kvetch
  • Alan Alda instead of David Carradine, who officially gave the best un-nominated Hollywood performance of the year
  • The Song performances look to be tough going, and where on Earth is Wyclef??
  • The inevitable Neverland nod in Best Picture
  • The inevitable Sea Inside nod for Foreign Film
  • Ray's mysterious entry in the Editing race
  • History may continue to mis-remember Jamie Foxx as a supporting actor in Collateral
  • Giamatti's missing perf wiped the floor with Depp's and DiCaprio's (as did those of fellow un-nominated contenders like Jeff Bridges, Gabriel García Bernal, Liam Neeson, Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, and especially Sean Penn)
  • The Day After Tomorrow deserved a Visual Effects slot
  • Sophie Okonedo's perf is hardly Oscar-worthy, but I doubt anyone she bumped (Winslet in Neverland, Warren, Leachman, Streep, etc.) would have deserved the spot, either
  • This is unfair to complain about, but the mini-surge for Vera Drake makes me wish it had been a major surge (Art Direction and Cinematography at least, if not some of those stellar supporting actors. Who actually were supporting actors, Mr. Foxx.)
  • The nods for The Passion—even though I tolerated the picture more than many, I still think the Cinematography and Score mentions are bogus.

Films that Did Better than Anyone Expected
  • Vera Drake
  • Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Films that Did Worse than Anyone Expected
  • House of Flying Daggers
  • Kinsey

Irritating Trend
  • The Roger Avary Maneuver of pork-barreling story developers onto Screenplay nods, just so the non-essential members of the team can get a nod. Gondry deserved a nomination, but for directing. Kim Krazin deserved one, too, but in 1995, for Before Sunrise.

Most Appealingly Modest Post-Nomination Reaction
  • Virginia Madsen's live phone call on Good Morning, America. When asked who had been the first to phone their congratulations, she said, "Antonio, the father of my son." That's world-renowned hottie Antonio Sabato Jr. to you and me, but no flaunting. And when asked, rather dumbly, if she'd yet contemplated what to wear to the Oscars, she answered, "I've been contemplating what to wear since about 1972." Good luck, VA!

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