Monday, January 22, 2007

Grouching about Oscar

Nominations for the 79th Academy Awards will be announced tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.

As usual, most of the year's best films - in this case, Children of Men, United 93, Apocalypto, Casino Royale - aren't expected to be mentioned when the potential Best Pictures are announced. Instead, much love will probably go to a terribly overrated National Lampoon's Vacation-ripoff and a showy musical that's instantly forgettable beyond two fine performances.

Of course, once Crash won Best Picture last year, it became clear that a movie needn't even be decent to win the big prize. It just had to have a positive message poured neatly into a little spoon - and then that spoon had to be repeatedly stabbed into your eyeballs with the subtlety of a testicle-seeking jackhammer. Which is why Babel will probably be nominated, from what I hear (still haven't seen it, I must admit).

Here are my guesses as to what will be called out tomorrow morning. Please, make no mistake - this is not what I would nominate if it was my decision. This is just my prediction based on knowledge of an Academy which calls A Beautiful Mind and Chicago the "best" of anything.

Best Picture
The Departed
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

I have no problem with The Departed being here - it was one of the year's five best. However, Dreamgirls and Little Miss Sunshine aren't even among the top 20 of 2006. And I get a sneaky feeling that Sunshine is actually going to win. I haven't seen Babel or The Queen yet.

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Some are wondering whether DiCaprio is going to get nominated for The Departed or Blood Diamond (Academy rules state an actor can only be nominated once per category.) Let's see, knowing what you already know about Hollywood, consider that The Departed made well over twice as much as Diamond. Oh, and this race could get much more interesting if Borat's Sacha Baron Cohen replaces Gosling or Smith - and that could very easily happen.

Best Actress
Penelope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes of a Scandal
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet, Little Children

This list seems to have been set in stone for so long. It will be a huge shock if my prediction isn't 5-for-5 here.

Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson, The Departed
Brad Pitt, Babel
Michael Sheen, The Queen

As usual, the Supporting Actor category has the juiciest performances. Mark Wahlberg could sneak in for The Departed and Jackie Earle Haley - known to you and me as Kelly Leak in the original Bad News Bears - could get noticed for Little Children. I'm really hoping that happens, actually.

Best Supporting Actress
Adriana Barraza, Babel
Cate Blanchett, Notes of a Scandal
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Catherine O'Hara, For Your Consideration

It's basically Jennifer Hudson and four women "just happy to get a nomination."

Best Director
Alfonso Cuaron, Children of Men
Clint Eastwood, Letters From Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears, The Queen
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel
Martin Scorsese, The Departed

Only once in the Academy's history has a movie won Best Picture when its director wasn't nominated (1989's Driving Miss Daisy.) I predict it will happen again this year when Little Miss Sunshine wins but co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are overlooked. (Cuaron's inclusion here, by the way, is probably wishful thinking - but I gotta hope the Academy does something right.)

Best Original Screenplay
Little Miss Sunshine
Pan's Labyrinth
The Queen

Best Adapted Screenplay
Children of Men
The Departed
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal

The Devil Wears Prada seems a safer bet than Children of Men, but, again, wishful thinking.

Best Foreign Language Film
Black Book
Days of Glory
The Lives of Others
Pan's Labyrinth

I saw Pan's Labyrinth yesterday - a good film, but not the awe-inspiring, career-defining work I'd heard it was. Check your expectations a bit.

Best Animated Film
Flushed Away
Happy Feet
Monster House
Over the Hedge

Will the Academy consider Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, the "painted" film starring Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder? Well, I've seen it, and I'm not entirely sure it even is one of the five best animated films of the year. The two on this list I've seen - Cars and, especially, Monster House - were much more satisfying.


Stanicek said...

I've got to bite the bullet and side with Matty Tovrog here and say that "Pan's" was a better film than "Children of Men". Both are in my Top 5 of the year but I have to give the edge to "Pan's". It was so original, so different...I suggest everyone go see it.

Pasqua said...

I appreciate Stanicek giving me some props-ies on that comment. Great predicions, but I hope "Pan's" get a little more love than you think it will. It was better than "COM" and deserves more nominations than it will surely get.

Hopefully that captain dude earns one. He was scary...or as the Spanish say, "la scary".

Sarah said...

Waiting to see how Marty S. will get screwed over this time.
I liked Children of Men, but not in that I-gotta-see-this-again way that I liked Departed. Little Miss Sunshine was all about the dance.