Oh what the fuck? Is this Jog - The Movies and Not Comics Blog now? Go to film school, asshole.
A bunch of absurdly overpaid folks taking each other on in contests of skill and strength (not physical in this case) for the title of Who is Best among a highly visible pack of ultra-rich celebrities followed by a horde of lesser-paid lesser-noticed workers, some of whom will have a chance to shine. Quite a few viewers don't agree with the list of competitors going in, and fewer still will like who won, and sometimes the event itself is of little real excitement. Certainly nothing is accomplished to impact my life. But it offers a chance for guesswork and pre-game analysis and parties and community gatherings.
See? Same thing. I just don't have much of a yen for sports, while I am secretly a weekend box-office junkie/compulsive review reader/sorry bastard (or maybe that last part wasn't a secret). I hope you enjoy my blistering comments in italics below each wonderful and carefully-chosen list of nominee selections, especially all the times when I haven't seen any of the films listed and I talk about other things.
*MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Finding Neverland gets to enjoy the 'not a snowflake's chance in Hell' position of not having its director nominated, and I suspect that Ray won't provide much trouble (at least in this category), as one particular element of the film seems to have largely overshadowed the rest of it. That leaves a pretty close race between the remaining three, none of which I've actually seen. I'm tempted to pull the trigger on The Aviator simply because when given a close choice between a handful of films the Academy will usually side with the most 'epic', as silly as that sounds, but then again I trust we all understand that these things are rarely just about quality, at least up here in the 'major' awards. Sideways has a pretty big critical base behind it, and I'm getting no sense of a backlash building at all (as opposed to several prominant critics launching vigorous dissents against Million Dollar Baby, which will likely sink it given this close a race). It'll be a tough one to track though.
*Martin Scorsese - THE AVIATOR
*Clint Eastwood - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
*Taylor Hackford - RAY
*Alexander Payne - SIDEWAYS
*Mike Leigh - VERA DRAKE
Oh dear, Scorsese is going to do it. As cynical as this sounds, Eastwood is a past winner and Payne is frankly not enough of a visible (loud?) director to divert much attention, and the other two have little to no buzz behind their films in this sense (see my comments about Ray above). And voters will be sensitive to the many snubs of the past for this widely admired longtime director. The last he was up, he got confounded by Roman Polanski, a second well-regarded longtime director with several classics under his belt and no trophy. There will be no repeats this year.
*Annette Bening - BEING JULIA
*Catalina Sandino Moreno - MARIA FULL OF GRACE
*Imelda Staunton - VERA DRAKE
*Hilary Swank - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
*Kate Winslet - ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
I liked Kate Winslet a lot in Eternal Sunshine. She has no chance; her performance, while well-liked, does not have enough buzz. There's a little more chat behind Moreno, who I also liked in Maria Full of Grace, although her performance probably won't be flashy enough to attract attention. I'd like an upset to happen wither way. Swank actually has a multi-nominated film behind her, but she's not the most talked-about part of it, plus she's a past winner. For some reason Annette Bening came out of nowhere to become one of the 'presumed' winners here, taking a Golden Globe, but most of the rapture I've been hearing centers around Imelda Staunton. I'm seeing Vera Drake, er, tomorrow actually; it looks like an interesting film, and I've heard nothing less than thrilled about her performance.
*Don Cheadle - HOTEL RWANDA
*Johnny Depp - FINDING NEVERLAND
*Leonardo DiCaprio - THE AVIATOR
*Clint Eastwood - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
*Jamie Foxx - RAY
Yeah, my jaw will hit the floor if Foxx doesn't win. This is the biggest lock of the night. I never got around to seeing Ray; people I've talked to seem kind of mixed on the film as a film...
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
*Cate Blanchett - THE AVIATOR
* Laura Linney - KINSEY
*Virginia Madsen - SIDEWAYS
*Sophie Okonedo - HOTEL RWANDA
*Natalie Portman - CLOSER
For whatever reason, this is the one where upsets are usually likely to occur. Really could be anyone.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
*Alan Alda - THE AVIATOR
*Thomas Haden Church - SIDEWAYS
*Jamie Foxx - COLLATERAL
*Morgan Freeman - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
*Clive Owen - CLOSER
Ditto, although there will be much hesitancy to hand Foxx a second award...
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
*John Logan - THE AVIATOR
*Charlie Kaufman & Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth - ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
*Keir Pearson & Terry George - HOTEL RWANDA
*Brad Bird - THE INCREDIBLES
*Mike Leigh - VERA DRAKE
Wow, I'm really not feeling it for Kaufman and Gondry. It'd be nice, but I think if any of the non-Best Picture films are going to get it it'll be The Incredibles, which I've been hearing a lot about in regards to writing. I haven't been seeing many fireworks surrounding The Aviator's script, for instance. I think Bird has a shot.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
*Richard Linklater &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke; Story By Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan - BEFORE SUNSET
*David Magee - FINDING NEVERLAND
*Paul Haggis - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
*Jose Rivera - THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
*Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor - SIDEWAYS
Sideways is well-regarded enough to take this one pretty easily, although I know there's gonna be support for both Before Sunset and The Motorcycle Diaries, and that one has the added advantage of not popping up in Best Foreign Picture, creating a sense of 'absence'... could be something there.
BEST FOREIGN PICTURE:
*AS IT IS IN HEAVEN
*THE SEA INSIDE
I've been suddenly hearing a lot about Downfall, which I don't think has opened in the US. It's about the final days of the Third Reich from inside Hitler's inner circle; the film was made in Germany, which seems to be drawing a lot of attention. The most visible ones here to US audiences are The Sea Inside and The Chorus (which has been getting some dire reviews along the negative edges of its critical reaction). Maybe a victory of sudden hype will be in order here...
BEST ANIMATED PICTURE:
I suppose there's an outside chance that Shrek... no. The Incredibles has won. The very presence of Shark Tale only confirms the Academy's reluctance to look outside the Big Studio system in choosing feature animated films, in the absence of significant critical hype. But then again, that's largely what these things are about anyway.
*Dante Ferretti (Art Direction); Francesca Lo Schiavo (Set Decoration) - THE AVIATOR
*Gemma Jackson (Art Direction); Trisha Edwards (Set Decoration) - FINDING NEVERLAND
*Rick Heinrichs (Art Direction); Cheryl A. Carasik (Set Decoration) - LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
*Anthony Pratt (Art Direction); Celia Bobak (Set Decoration) - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
*Aline Bonetto - A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT
What the hell? The faux Tim Burton circa-1990 look still attracts voters to stuff like A Series of Unfortunate Events? I'm pretty surprised at the number of nominations this one got; I though the film's design was drab and largely derivative, but hey. I'm betting on The Aviator since it's both a strong Best Picture contender and a period piece, which usually sews it up.
*Robert Richardson - THE AVIATOR
*Zhao Xiaoding - THE HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS
*Caleb Deschanel - THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
*John Mathieson - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
*Bruno Delbonnel - A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT
I really need to see House of Flying Daggers. Folks did seem to like The Passion's cinematography, but the likely pity win is coming later for that. Hmm. Surprises are possible, but it's always a good chance that the Best Picture contender will take this. This also goes to why The Aviator is a likely Best Picture winner, maybe a bit more than its two major foes; lots of flashy techinal nominations, as opposed to the quiet of the other two. Volume counts here.
*Sandy Powell - THE AVIATOR
*Alexandra Byrne - FINDING NEVERLAND
*Colleen Atwood - LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
*Sharen Davis - RAY
*Bob Ringwood - TROY
Um, The Aviator? I guess Finding Neverland or even Ray can do it (lots of period pieces this year), but usually you just side with the likely winner of Best Picture. And there's several likely winners this year, but only one of them is showing up in the technical awards.
*Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski - BORN INTO BROTHELS
*Luigi Falorni and Byambasuren Davaa - THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL
*Morgan Spurlock - SUPER SIZE ME
*Lauren Lazin and Karolyn Ali - TUPAC: RESURRECTION
*Kirby Dick and Eddie Schmidt - TWIST OF FAITH
For the record, That Other Documentary was not submitted for consideration here, focusing totally on Best Picture. It still doesn't explain the distinct lack of Metallica: Some Kind of Monster or Control Room or some of the other high profile docs of the year. I saw Super Size Me, and it was a fun little movie, making its points fast and focusing largely on humor (probably a good idea). But the subject matter might not be considered 'weighty' enough. This'll be a tough one to predict, although Spurlock's film is certainly the highest profile of what's here. Although I noticed that Tupac film selling out a few theaters around where I live...
*Thelma Schoonmaker - THE AVIATOR
*Matt Chesse - FINDING NEVERLAND
*Joel Cox - MILLION DOLLAR BABY
*Paul Hirsch - RAY
*Jim Miller and Paul Rubell - COLLATERAL
Collateral's presence is interesting. It may be a signal toward appreciation of the film's look, although its abscence from the Cinematography category is also telling. Maybe support wasn't strong enough? Well, probably The Aviator again. I predicting big technical wins for this one.
*Valli O'Reilly and Bill Corso - LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
*Keith Vanderlaan and Christien Tinsley - THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
*Jo Allen and Manuel García - THE SEA INSIDE
Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. This is where Let's Beat the Shit Out of Jesus has its moment to shine. Think about it? What have all the commentators been focusing on in regards to The Passion? The visceral power of the film, and how it relates to politics or theology or whatever. I don't agree at all; I thought way too much of the film was kind of silly (like every scene with Satan), and the grue was a tad over-the-top (I'm all for exaggeration for the sake of effect, but once the Three Stooges mugging soldiers pulled out the Massive Whip of Blades I starded to wonder "Shouldn't this be damaging his spine or something?"). But there's no real competition, and it's the perfect chance to give this ultra-popular (box office wise) film something, and it EVEN might provide a rationalization for critique: we agree that the violence was effective, and THAT'S the problem, but we are so kind and giving that credit goes where credit is due. PERFECT.
*John Williams - HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
*Jan A.P. Kaczmarek - FINDING NEVERLAND
*Thomas Newman - LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS
*John Debney - THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
*James Newton Howard - THE VILLAGE
A less perfect shot for The Passion, but the other nominees don't seem to have any big guns among them. Maybe this one too?
*"Accidentally In Love" - SHREK 2
*"Al Otro Lado Del Río" - THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES
*"Believe" - THE POLAR EXPRESS
*"Learn To Be Lonely" - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
*"Look To Your Path (Vois Sur Ton Chemin)" - THE CHORUS
Oh lord not Conting Crows, not Counting Crows, not Counting Crows, oh please please please please...
*Michael Silvers and Randy Thom - THE INCREDIBLES
*Randy Thom and Dennis Leonard - THE POLAR EXPRESS
*Paul N.J. Ottosson - SPIDER-MAN 2
I'm thinking Incredibles, which had some really cool chances to show off sound design, and has the added benefit A 'Major' Nomination, unlike Spidey 2.
*Tom Fleischman and Petur Hliddal - THE AVIATOR
*Randy Thom, Gary A. Rizzo and Doc Kane - THE INCREDIBLES
*Randy Thom, Tom Johnson, Dennis Sands and William B. Kaplan - THE POLAR EXPRESS
*Scott Millan, Greg Orloff, Bob Beemer and Steve Cantamessa - RAY
*Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Joseph Geisinger - SPIDER-MAN 2
Oh I'll be extra cool and predict an Incredible sweep of the sound awards. Haha. That was a pun! I get a star and a free hoagie!
*Roger Guyett, Tim Burke, John Richardson and Bill George - HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
*John Nelson, Andrew R. Jones, Erik Nash and Joe Letteri - I, ROBOT
*John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara and John Frazier - SPIDER-MAN 2
I think Spider-Man is gonna do it. It's liked well enough be people, including critics. So is Harry Potter, of course, but I'm gonna have to hand it to Spidey, if only so I can try to almost steer this disgustingly long post onto an off-ramp toward the township of Comics.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT:
*Gerardine Wurzburg - AUTISM IS A WORLD
*Hanna Polak and Andrzej Celinski - THE CHILDREN OF LENINGRADSKY
*Hubert Davis and Erin Faith Young - HARDWOOD
*Robert Hudson and Bobby Houston - MIGHTY TIMES: THE CHILDREN'S MARCH
*Oren Jacoby and Steve Kalafer - SISTER ROSE'S PASSION
Remember, none of these picks of mine hit toward my individual analysis of a film's quality. So... shut your eyes and point?
SHORT FILM (ANIMATED):
*Sejong Park and Andrew Gregory - BIRTHDAY BOY
*Jeff Fowler and Tim Miller - GOPHER BROKE
*Bill Plympton - GUARD DOG
*Mike Gabriel and Baker Bloodworth - LORENZO
*Chris Landreth - RYAN
I like Bill Plympton. He ought to win. But there's something by Disney here, right? Lorenzo? Is there anything by Pixar?
SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION):
*Gary McKendry - EVERYTHING IN THIS COUNTRY MUST
*Ashvin Kumar - LITTLE TERRORIST
*Nacho Vigalondo - 7:35 IN THE MORNING
*Taika Waititi and Ainsley Gardiner - TWO CARS, ONE NIGHT
*Andrea Arnold - WASP
I have seen all of these films and I know exactly who will win. But I'm not telling.
So it looks like another kicking year of fun and television ratings that does nothing but quietly devalue the notion of film as art by shifting the locus of conversation onto studio finagling and the arbitrary voting habits of a batch of several thousand industry insiders! See you tomorrow where we'll stride back to comics with our heads held high!