Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Oscar Thoughts (Let Me Have My Thoughts!)

As a commenter on Nathaniel's site noticed at lightning speed, no film save Michael Clayton received more than one acting nomination. Beyond being an Academy first, this is actually astonishing. Coattails just didn't exist this year. I hope it means that the voting actors actually watched lots of movies and weighed all the different performances, even if the truth veers somewhere closer to the notion that the hype of awards season managed to accrue around various performers in lots of different films. Either way, Academy types could have ignored all that hype and jotted down all the names they remembered from the one or two movies they liked, as they often do. But this time they didn't. Applause is due.

Composer James Newton Howard receives his seventh nomination, and has probably got to win at some point (though more famed composers than he have gone to the grave trophyless). He happens to be tapped for Michael Clayton, a movie that the Academy obviously loved and which is unlikely to win anywhere else, which should help; the Score category is often used to bouquet a movie that's shut out everywhere else (see: Il Postino, Babel, etc.). Still, he'll probably lose to Dario Marianelli for going TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP TAP amidst his admittedly nice melodies. Oh, well.

A bigger threat to break a bigger losing streak: sound designer Kevin O'Connell, who, let's remember, has lost 19 times, including in two years when he made up 40% of the nominees in his category. Now, in his 20th go-round, he's up for a loud Michael Bay movie that was an enormous hit. That would give him a significant boost in any year, but unless Oscar suddenly feels more sensitive than usual in this category to dramatic effects (No Country, There Will Be Blood) rather than loud spectacle, O'Connell shouldn't have too much trouble hurdling over Bourne and 3:10 to Yuma, especially with his well-publicized series of losses working as an extra voting hook. Could it be his year?

Also: I have seating ideas. I would like Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman to sit next to each other, and experience the whole ceremony in character as the Savages. I would like Ruby Dee to sit next to an empty seat, to commemorate Ossie Davis; I'm thrilled for Ruby (and for Hal Holbrook, I might add), but it makes me sad that neither Ruby nor Ossie was ever nominated in time for them to share this event together. I would like George Clooney and Viggo Mortensen to attend as each other's dates, as they did to the Globes. (Hush. You don't really know what happened, either.)

I would like Sarah Polley to sit next to Julie Christie. What a feat they pulled off. I would like for Sally Kirkland to sit behind the two of them. Sally (pictured left) has this to say: "I was IN Away from Her! I was demented, in the background!! You must have seen me! You probably forgot me! You probably have Alzheimer's! See you at the ceremony!!!"


Blogger Calum Reed said...

Hey Nick,

I can't believe that it's taken 80 odd years for a sole film to get multiple acting nods, only for it to be Michael Clayton. Lol. It has good acting but of the cast I'd only actually nominate Tilda.

How can you get behind Ruby Dee? She's in the film less than ten minutes and the only thing she does is thump Denzel. Blah :-P

Charlie Wilson in your screenplay picks?! You surprise me. It has to be more than the casting director at fault for how cartoonish it all feels. The pakistani president and his aides? I can appreciate how it's smarter than the pedestrian direction but I wouldn't say top ten, never mind top five. Oh well. You're almost as unpredictable as the Oscars this year. :-)

3:52 PM, January 22, 2008  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

I really do think that a smart, flexible director (or at least smart, flexible direction, since I'm not trying to make a categorical judgment on Mike Nichols) really could have fixed all that. And I'm not even a committed fan of Aaron Sorkin's. Like I said, I really think if you filtered all of the scenes as written through an Altman filter (varying rhythms, scenes of characters reflecting or internally debating between bouts of dialogue, no particular need to love anybody, ubiquitous misunderstanding instead of ubiquitous semi-slapstick), the script would look phenomenal. Not perfect, but pretty great. (And look, I'm surprised myself. I rolled my eyes at that nom when the Globes came out, and then the more I thought about it, the more protective I felt of what that script tried to do and could have been.)

3:59 PM, January 22, 2008  
Blogger John T said...

I honestly think (and I say this having not seen the film, but instead having seen a lot of Oscars) that Ruby Dee could be the surprise win of the night. I mean, Blanchett already has a trophy and nobody had heard of Amy Ryan until this year. Ruby Dee has probably starred with nearly every Academy member, and her looking up and thanking Ossie would be an emotional moment that many Academy members will have trouble refusing. Plus, seeing her name on a ballot will remind voters that they should have given she and Ossie Honorary Oscars years ago.

6:20 PM, January 22, 2008  
Blogger Glenn Dunks said...

tbh, I'd never heard of Ruby Dee until Gangster either. Outside of American I can't imagine that she's that well known and considering how a lot of non-Americans there must be in the Academy these days that all too many have a particular connection to Dee.

9:12 PM, January 22, 2008  
Blogger tim r said...

I mainly remember how good she was in Stephen King's The Stand -- much better than in Gangster, if you ask me...

5:00 AM, January 23, 2008  
Blogger John T said...

With all due respect Glenn, Ruby Dee is kind of a legend in America, and assuredly in Hollywood. A woman who has starred in films such as A Raisin in the Sun and Do the Right Thing, she and her husband Ossie Davis (who has also starred in a number of Spike Lee films and had been in Hollywood films since the 1950s) were Civil Rights activists and good friends of both Dr. King and Malcolm X. Ruby and Ossie have won the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Medal of the Arts, and are both Kennedy Center Honorees.

If the likes of Alan Arkin can get "Career Achievement" awards, so can this much more revered (no offense Al) woman.

5:30 AM, January 23, 2008  
Blogger John T said...

Oh, and it's cool that Hal Holbrook became the oldest man ever nominated for Best Supporting Actor, beating out Ralph Richardson.

5:31 AM, January 23, 2008  

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