Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oscar Nomination Reactions

I didn't even set my alarm clock, woke up only five minutes before the announcements, dashed off the predictions that I abandoned last night, and proceeded to see how terribly I had mind-read the Academy. But this, in large part, was a good thing.

HAPPILY:

* The New World for Best Cinematography! Mark those ballots now, people.

* I love years where they spread the wealth. Brokeback leads with eight, the fewest nods for a front-runner since American Beauty in '99. Also, the categories do not just slavishly mirror one another (even where they usually do, like between Art Direction and Costumes, or Picture and Film Editing).

* Terrence Howard gives me someone to root for solidly in Best Actor, but AMPAS didn't go overboard with a double-nod, as I thought they might (for his Supporting work in Crash)

* Only three nominees for Best Song! AMPAS knows a bum year when it happens, and they didn't even fall for the Mel Brooks stunt of scribbling off a new song... a cheat that worked for Chicago and, much worse, for Phantom.

* A big deal: no Editing nomination for the Best Picture front-runner, Brokeback Mountain, which I think is just as it should be. Way too little connecting material holding the film together as it continues, and in my mind, a Zulema-style smackdown to Ang Lee for switching editors. (The late, brilliant Geraldine Peroni and Dylan Tichenor are hard to argue with, but where's the loyalty? Was Tim Squyres just busy?)

* No Walk the Line for Best Picture! I didn't think this would happen anyway, but I'm still jazzed that it didn't.

* I had predicted the Capote and Munich Best Picture slots for Cinderella Man and The Constant Gardener, and not only do I think the Academy chose much the better films, they're actually my two faves in the lineup. (I'm surprised how pleased I'm feeling for the Munich crowd; that strange film has really lingered well with me.)

* No Shopgirl sneak attacks. (I was worried about Adapted Screenplay.)

* No Cheadle or Hoskins emptily taking up space in Supporting Actor.

* No overestimation of Narnia in the tech categories.

* Howl's Moving Castle over Chicken Little and Madagascar for Animated Film.

* Amy Adams keeps Junebug alive in popular film memory.

* Woody Allen can have his Screenplay nod for Match Point, but the Academy didn't fall for the myth of his resurgent abilities any more than that.

* Tech-group excitement over Geisha did not translate into any above-the-fold nominations. By contrast, Pride & Prejudice worked a little of its magic all over the place, from Actress to Art Direction to Original Score (though, sadly, no Screenplay nod).

TRAVESTIES:

* I'm still not over the exclusion of Grizzly Man, even though it dropped from competition over a month ago.

* Canonization of unremarkable acting: Giamatti, Phoenix, Dench, Gyllenhaal, Hurt

* The North Country gals are better than people who haven't seen the movie are likely to assume, but this still feels like excessive praise

* No New World for Art Direction, Costume Design, or Makeup? Um, okay.

* Indeed, the Makeup derby is absurd. Hayden was looking ragged in Star Wars, Episode III (more than necessary, I mean), Narnia wasn't all that accomplished... and Cinderella Man???

* Crash, a film I respected quite a lot when I saw it, has been souring lately in my memory, and all the nods, even though I predicted them, are for some reason damning it further in my mind. Gonna hafta rent that one again.

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17 Comments:

Blogger Dr. S said...

I do have to say, I was kind of over Crash even before I saw it (which was perhaps unfair to the film), because it felt like a retread of Grand Canyon, which was *the* PROFOUND film of, um, my junior year in high school. If you know what I mean. It was the movie that made me say, "Yeah, man, the modern city is so complex... we've got to get back to nature so that we can appreciate the infinite" and blah blah blah. I know that this is unfair, and part of how I know that is that I haven't seen GC since that first screening so many years ago--like, half my life ago, which is weird to realize. But this one felt like a message picture, rather than a good picture, to me. I'm happy to be disagreed with. I think I was also shaped by Ann's response to the film, as you recorded it after you two saw it--"Baby, what's a racist slur for Asian?"

Anyhow.

I am happy that Junebug and Pride and Prejudice both made it into the noms., and also that I've managed already to see three of the five best picture noms. Maybe Good Night, and Good Luck, which I was meant to see with my somebody a couple of weekends ago, only we went to the wrong theater because I'm a fool, will come closer than Columbus.

9:22 AM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger par3182 said...

'crash' is a carwreck. terrible screenplay that some people rise above (howard, pena) and some don't (fraser). hated it.

9:27 AM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger tim r said...

Yeah, I need to see Crash again too, but my basic feeling is that it's a rotten idea quite well executed, and I'm kind of bothered by how successfully manipulative it is almost more than I would be if it failed.

Saw Walk the Line again this morning to review it, and though my feelings on the movie didn't significantly improve, Phoenix was much better than I remembered. Still the least of the five Actor nominees, but I do think it's a more substantial perf than Witherspoon's, and if she's going to romp home and win, I'm pleased he hasn't been crowded out.

Lubezki is a treat. So's the properly hard-hitting Darwin's Nightmare for Best Doc. But the double score nod for John Williams is extremely annoying — shouldn't this be against the rules? Particularly when there's great work in major films from Alexandre Desplat, Howard Shore and James Newton Howard to choose from this year.

Hurt, for me, is the weirdest major nomination. It's a single-scene stunt cameo, and I think Ed Harris is much better in the same movie. I wonder if he's breaking some sort of record here for least screen time scoring a nomination? It's up there with Beatrice Straight in Network.

Pity no King Kong above the fold — I was kind of holding out for Jackson, maybe against hope — but I guess there's a fair bit here to be pleased about. I'm hoping Lubezki may even win, like Nestor Almendros did 25 years ago for Days of Heaven.

10:31 AM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger findfinishfreedom said...

I'm so happy that your new cable TV hook-up means that you can wake up 5 minutes before the oscar noms. Remember trekking through late january snowdrifts in search of a TV? Or Last year's 8AM stakeout at the local Holiday Inn Restaurant to watch the telecast live? 'Tho I'll miss the z-a-n-y pleasure of sneaking paper bags of bubbly into the bar/dining room to concoct mimosas absent from the menu. Cheers to new takes on my favorite unofficial Nick Holiday!

11:23 AM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

Crash gets MUCH worse on a second viewing. The first time I was like
'oh, OK. you're hitting me over the head with this and please stop...but i'll work with you to see whatcha got.'

the second time I'm like
'SHUT THE FUCK UP [Insert hack epitapths directed @] Paul Haggis and quit ripping off better films'

--I can't believe I didn't notice the extremely annoying wholesale robbery of the "wise up" structural / song / plot pivot of Magnolia cuz if i had been paying enough attention to notice it the first time I certainly wouldn't have given the film a solid but unremarkable pass.

i don't get all the hatin' on Reese. I thought she was great in the movie. Beautiful voice, unforced performance (so many actors try too hard --just so you can see them ACTING), really convincing chemistry with Phoenix, just lovely.

True...not half as challenging (apart from the music) as some other roles this year but better to crown her for a semi-stretch than to reward the umpteenth variation of "i'm a beautiful actress and I'm HIDING it -can you believe my transformation!?! see how I look different than I usually do, now that's called "acting!"

i realize i have an irrational hatred of the stunt itself, and the Transamerica performance does not age poorly in memory but I just can't take another year of thinking inside that box.

tim r -Hurt didn't break the record. He's onscreen I hear between 8-15 minutes (lenghty sequence). Beatrice had 5 minutes. Dench had 8 minutes in Shakespeare in Love.

4:21 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger ANN said...

this asian is rolling around in all the vitriol for crash like a happy little piggy in the mud. but dude, i have to say although walk the line didn't knock me dead (too boring), i'm with tim r. that both joaquin and reese are pretty darn good. but i'm biased, as i do love me some joaquin.

6:03 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger ANN said...

...oh, i guess i'm with tim r. on joaquin and nathaniel r. on reese. sorry, i'm conflating again. GOSH.

6:05 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger tim r said...

@nat: I like Reese in the movie too, but I still don't think this should be an Oscar-winning performance. Stick a silly nose on it and it still wouldn't be. My top pick of those nominees is Huffman, closely followed by Knightley, who's hardly looking like a scrofulous prostitute in her movie. We get too hung up on the synthetic transformations, which I think cause people to underrate performances just as often as overrating them. For me, Charlize in Monster is, no question, the best Best Actress of the past five years, and Witherspoon -- despite doing pretty good work in Walk the Line -- won't change that.

6:23 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

i'm not accusing you or Nick of being 'tricked' by the 'transformation' --you're both too smart for that. I'm just expressing my complete... I don't know --exasperation regarding "transformation" as Oscar crutch. While it may be true that underrating a performance is just as silly as overrating one, i have no option. The Oscars have taken away my ability to deal with this rationally. I swear to you if I hear Michelle Pfeiffer signed on to play a man, a transvestite, a grizzly bear, or someone she looks nothing like that would require heavy unflattering latex... I tell you I would not be excited to see it.

I liked Charlize's performance in Monster well enough (my #6 of that year -just missed my nominees) but I REALLY doubt that it won the Oscar because of Charlize's depth of feeling.
[insert strange sound of Nat's head exploding here]

Plus I just don't like fussy performances and Felicity's put me completely on edge with its constant fidgeting.--please don't tell me that it was suppose to. Movie acting is not supposed to be so visible that I'm constantly taken out of the movie and thinking about the actor planning each scene in her trailer with her acting coach, co-stars, and/or husband.

7:39 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

um... don't mind me. just my typical 'losingmymindbecausei'vebeenathecomputer 24/7duringthisoscarracesoseriously justignoreme.

thanks.

9:07 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger Ali said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:47 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger Ali said...

Love the dig at William H. Macy, Nat. I've seriously had my fill of those two pubicly proclaiming every five minutes how much they love each other and how talented and amazing his or her partner is. Enough already!

9:47 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger the boyfriend said...

seriously nick - you know I normally can't be bothered about this stuff, but Crash? Yikes. Just a terrible, terrible movie. I couldn't decide if it would be more effective to throw myself or the DVD player off the balcony.

Okay, that's all. I'll remove myself to the world of non-moving pictures (where I belong).
Ryan

11:11 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger louisfrie30906881 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:27 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger David Shultz said...

I will forever be baffled at the A History of Violence love on all counts. I just wasn't impressed besides its editing and perhaps its screenplay. I'm not too happy about the William Hurt nod (or any of the supporting actor nods, for that matter), and, like with the Best Actress category, I strongly feel that if AMPAS would get up off their lazy bums and look a bit they could discover five entirely better performances.

Yay for The New World and Amy Adams, though.

11:48 PM, January 31, 2006  
Blogger JavierAG said...

for all i know charlize theron's "monster" performance might as well have been the greatest turn in the history of humankind but i'll never really know. how do you separate all the makeup from the *actual* performance underneath? i just couldn't do that. and perhaps i'm biased but i just don't think theron had that in her.

as for william hurt... what are you all talking about people? he was brilliant, brilliant I say, with a delightfully twisted performance that brought exactly what the film was trying to convey towards the end. or something.

3:08 PM, February 01, 2006  
Anonymous Mark Correy said...

Crash is one of the worst films in recent memory, a position paper waiting for flesh and blood to validate it somehow. Apart from Terrence Howard (who was nominated for the wrong performance as far as I'm concerned: Hustle and Flow was intolerable and made worse by his lazy turn as a pimp-who-wants-mo we've seen a zillion times before) there is nothing, zero, zip, nada to recommend this tripe. A bunch of oldish to outright ancient Academy members who live in sterile splendor feeling good about themselves as "human beings" for nominating a message movie allegedly about race.

Reese is fine but lightweight and what in the world is all this support for Keria f'n Knightley? I am mystified, truly. She is a worse actress even than I-Have-Two-Expressions-And-I-Use-Them-Til-I-Drop Rachel Weisz. But don't even get me started on all the fuss over The Constant Gardener, another position paper waiting for a drama to bite it in the arse.

A History of Violence, which completely falls apart in hour 2, and Syriana, which is smarter and more ambitious than any other American release of the year, are the two most interesting films of the year, in my opinion.

Ah, the Oscars. God love those Academy buggers.

6:02 PM, February 02, 2006  

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