Category Archives: oscars

Oscar Preview & Predictions

Another awards season is coming to an end. This year’s ceremony of the 81st Annual Academy Awards, the official culmination of the awards season, will undoubtedly be like nothing we’ve seen at the Oscars in a long time. In a bid to garner ratings, producers of the show have enlisted Wolverine himself – Hugh Jackman – as this year’s emcee, a choice that proves this telecast will be a song-and-dance extravaganza, since Jackman’s already had practice by hosting the Tony Awards three times.

As for the nominated films, this year’s show proves to be a home to both critically and commercially popular films. In recent years the Oscars haven’t been kind to the average movie-going public, favoring smaller independent features. This year, hit films like “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Dark Knight” are up for the most awards (thirteen, ten and eight nominations, respectively), and their popularity will hopefully result in higher ratings.

As in past years, an honorary award will be handed out. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis will be receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for both his career as a movie star in films such as “The Nutty Professor” and for his charitable work for the fight against muscular dystrophy through his annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon since 1966. It will be an unforgettably moving moment when he takes the stage.

Ready or not, the Oscars are here. After an astounding year of cinema, the best of the best are truly being honored. Whether you loved certain nominated flicks or hated them, this is not a night to be missed by any movie fan. No matter who wins, these are all films that deserve to be seen.

Best Actor: The showdown in this category will be between Sean Penn’s transformative performance in “Milk” as gay rights hero Harvey Milk and Mickey Rourke’s heart-wrenching achievement as the washed-up Randy “The Ram” Robinson in “The Wrestler.” Both are at their best, but Penn deserves the statue in terms of professional showmanship and honest conviction. While Rourke was superb in “The Wrestler” and will likely win the hearts of the Academy, the part just seems a little too tailor-made for the actor. As for the other nominees, it would be wonderful to see a surprise win for either Richard Jenkins for his work as a lonely professor in “The Visitor” or for Frank Langella’s Tricky Dick in “Frost/Nixon.” As for Brad Pitt’s ridiculously overrated, CGI-enhanced role in “Benjamin Button,” a win in this category would definitely be considered a huge upset.

Who Should Win: Sean Penn, “Milk”
Who Will Win: Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”
Snubbed: Michael Sheen, “Frost/Nixon”

Best Actress: Probably the hardest category in which to discern a
winner, one can’t help but wish this award could go to all the deserving nominees. Meryl Streep delivered, yet again, an astounding performance as the villainous Sister Aloysius in “Doubt” – earning her fifteenth nomination. However, Kate Winslet is the favored actress to win for her role as a Nazi sympathizer in “The Reader.” This performance hasn’t been considered her best to date (that would be “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), but after six nominations, the consensus is that she’s due for her first win. The other formidable competitors include Angelina Jolie as the forlorn mother in “Changeling,” Melissa Leo as an immigrant smuggler in the indie “Frozen River” and Anne Hathaway in her visionary role as a recovering addict re-connecting with her family in “Rachel Getting Married.” Hathaway hasn’t won any major awards up until the Oscars, and regrettably, it doesn’t look like it’s her year.

Who Should Win: Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Who Will Win: Kate Winslet, “The Reader”
Snubbed: Sally Hawkins, “Happy-Go-Lucky”

Best Supporting Actor: Last July, a little film called “The Dark Knight” was released. The role of Batman’s nemesis, the Joker, was re-imagined wondrously by the late Heath Ledger. He took a role that had always been, well, something of a joke, and turned it into an icon. Ledger truly deserves this. As for the other “just glad to be nominated” Oscar guests, it’s somewhat unfortunate that they may not get the attention deserved in what turned out to be a great year for the character actor. Josh Brolin turned bigotry into tragedy in “Milk,” Philip Seymour Hoffman was brilliant as the disputed priest in “Doubt,” Michael Shannon played crazy in “Revolutionary Road” and Robert Downey Jr. played “a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude” in “Tropic Thunder” (that’s right, Ben Stiller directed an actor to an Oscar-nominated performance). Unfortunately for these supporting stars, come Sunday, they’ll be applauding for their fallen opponent.

Who Should Win: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Who Will Win: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Snubbed: Bill Irwin, “Rachel Getting Married”

Best Supporting Actress: Will it be Penelope Cruz, for her sassy wit in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” her second nomination after 2006’s Spanish dramedy “Volver,” or will Marisa Tomei’s stripper with a heart of gold in “The Wrestler” take home the gold? This race is tight, but it looks like Cruz will be victorious after what has been an awards season sweep for the sexy actress. Other nominees include Taraji P. Henson for her blasé mammy archetype in “Benjamin Button” and the women of “Doubt” – Viola Davis for her harrowing 15-minute role as the piteous mother and the always impressive Amy Adams as the naïve nun who takes on her tyrannical mother superior. Adams is actually the strongest performer of the group, and a win in this category would be a fantastic surprise.

Who Should Win: Amy Adams, “Doubt”
Who Will Win: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Snubbed: Samantha Morton, “Synecdoche, New York”

Best Director: After years of redefining genres with films like “28 Days Later,” “Millions” and “Sunshine,” the Academy has finally discovered the staggering talent of Danny Boyle. With “Slumdog Millionaire,” Boyle magically intertwined his unmistakable expressive style with the grandiosity of Bollywood – a feat that proves he’s one of our most gifted filmmakers. He’s definitely the favorite to win. The other optimistic directors seeking victory include David Fincher for the epic yet flawed “Benjamin Button,” Stephen Daldrey for his Holocaust drama “The Reader,” Ron Howard for the fight of the century in “Frost/Nixon” and Gus Van Sant for his extraordinary story of tolerance, “Milk.” There doesn’t seem to be any real competition for Boyle, who is finally getting some overdue credit.

Who Should Win: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Who Will Win: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Snubbed: Darren Aronofsky, “The Wrestler”

Best Picture: An amazing year for film and five nominated pictures will vie for that much-coveted award. While the most consummate and thoroughly inspirational film is “Milk,” it hasn’t gained a lot of momentum for a surprise win. “The Reader” will be the big winner in the best actress category and “Benjamin Button” will triumph in the make-up and visual effects categories, but neither of them have a shot at best picture. All eyes will be on 2008’s “little movie that could,” the crowd-pleasing and critically triumphant “Slumdog Millionaire.” Danny Boyle’s incredible story is both artistically dazzling and timely. Considering our national malaise during this economic crisis, the classic underdog tale is exactly the best picture we need.

Who Should Win: “Milk”
Who Will Win: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Snubbed: “WALL•E”

The 81st Annual Academy Awards airs Feb. 22 at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.

Originally published in Framingham State College’s The Gatepost



Filed under oscars

The most bizarre Golden Globe nominations ever!

I don’t think I was alone in varying amounts of confusion, terror, and glee with the Golden Globe nominations this morning. The big boys this year seem to be “Frost/Nixon,” “Doubt,” and my most anticipated Oscar bait film – which looks to be a rebirth of the modern “American” film in the vein of “Forrest Gump” – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” I haven’t had a lot of time to see many of these films before these announcements (last year I’d seen almost half of the films already), but this school semester has been … stressful. I have a review of “Happy-Go-Lucky” that needs to go up (I just need to make a few adjustments) and after that I’ll be on my annual Oscar journey to see every single film nominated. As for the Golden Globes, I can only ask of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association – what have you been smoking?

I was in the .0001% of filmgoers who did not appreciate the screen presence of Tom Cruise in this summer’s hilarious-yet-cliched “Tropic Thunder.” But my fellow critics seemed to find his annoying performance something of a genius portrayal. Whatever the case may be, this nod is way out of left field and I hope for all our sake that the Academy laughs this one off. On the other hand I am thrilled that Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for his role in the same film. He was the reason I bought the DVD today, and his inclusion in today’s nominations hopefully help his chances with Oscar.

Although I’m not voting for his win. For now, I am fully supporting a nomination for Heath Ledger’s Joker – he deserves it. Many people are calling this a pity vote. I don’t. Had Ledger not died I would have fully supported any kind of award consideration. He was a revelation. I have yet to see Josh Brolin’s performance in “Milk” (although I did see “W.” yet never wrote on it because I was too busy – it would’ve been nice to see his name on the Best Actor list), which has been plowing through the critics awards in the supporting category. For whatever reason, the HFPA decided that Tom Cruise’s hefty check would outweigh what looks like another model performance by Brolin and didn’t nominate him.

I have to say something. I used to hate James Franco. His “portrayal” of Harry Osborn in the “Spider-man” films was nothing short of garbage. His recent choices have undoubtedly changed my mind. I haven’t seen either of his roles in “Milk” (which he was not nominated for) and “Pineapple Express” (a total surprise nod) but I can’t wait to see both of them.

One question: where’s WALL-E? He only got a best animated nod/automatic win and a song nod, but that film is completely deserving of a best picture nomination against all the competition.

I have yet to see Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” but it seems I’ll have to get the DVD as Penelope Cruz seems to be on her way to her first Oscar.

The biggest problem with these nominations is that it is quite hard to predict the five best picture Oscar noms. “Benjamin Button” is certainly a lock. Otherwise, “Doubt,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Revolutionary Road,” “Milk,” “The Wrestler” and “The Dark Knight” are all serious contenders. Some of those films didn’t get big Globe-nom-love, but they are still hot in the critics awards and … well … this race is getting hot.

One other thing … in terms of television all I’ve been watching is “30 Rock” so I’ll just stick behind that in every category it’s nominated for.

Here’s the nominations:


“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Reader”
“Revolutionary Road”
“Slumdog Millionaire”


“Burn After Reading”
“In Bruges”
“Mamma Mia!”
“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”


“The Baader Meinhof Complex”
“Everlasting Moments”
“I’ve Loved You So Long”
“Waltz With Bashir”


Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Stephen Daldry, “The Reader”
David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
Sam Mendes, “Revolutionary Road”


Leonardo DiCaprio, “Revolutionary Road”
Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
Sean Penn, “Milk”
Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”


Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”
Meryl Streep, “Doubt”
Kristin Scott Thomas, “I’ve Loved You So Long”
Kate Winslet, “Revolutionary Road”


Javier Bardem, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Colin Farrell, “In Bruges”
James Franco, “Pineapple Express”
Brendan Gleeson, “In Bruges”
Dustin Hoffman, “Last Chance Harvey”


Rebecca Hall, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Sally Hawkins, “Happy-Go-Lucky”
Frances McDormand, “Burn After Reading”
Meryl Streep, “Mamma Mia!”
Emma Thompson, “Last Chance Harvey”


Tom Cruise, “Tropic Thunder”
Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”
Ralph Fiennes, “The Duchess”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”


Amy Adams, “Doubt”
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Viola Davis, “Doubt”
Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”
Kate Winslet, “The Reader”


“Kung Fu Panda”


Simon Beaufoy, “Slumdog Millionaire”
David Hare, “The Reader”
Peter Morgan, “Frost/Nixon”
Eric Roth, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
John Patrick Shanley, “Doubt”


Alexandre Desplat, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Clint Eastwood, “Changeling”
James Newton Howard, “Defiance”
Hans Zimmer, “Frost/Nixon”
A.R. Rahman, “Slumdog Millionaire”


“Down to Earth” (performed by Peter Gabriel, written by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman), “Wall-E”
“Gran Torino” (performed by Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens, lyrics by: Kyle Eastwood, Michael Stevens), “Gran Torino”
“I Thought I Lost You” (performed by Miley Cyrus and John Travolta, written by Miley Cyrus and Jeffrey Steele), “Bolt”
“Once in a Lifetime” (performed by Beyoncé, written by Beyoncé Knowles, Amanda Ghost, Scott McFarnon, Ian Dench, James Dring, Jody Street), “Cadillac Records”
“The Wrestler” (performed by Bruce Springsteen, written by Bruce Springsteen), “The Wrestler”



“House M.D.”
“In Treatment”
“Mad Men”
“True Blood”


Gabriel Byrne, “In Treatment”
Michael C. Hall, “Dexter”
Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”
Hugh Laurie, “House M.D.”
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, “The Tudors”


Sally Field, “Brothers & Sisters”
Mariska Hargitay, “Law & Order: SVU”
January Jones, “Mad Men”
Anna Paquin, “True Blood”
Kyra Sedgwick, “The Closer”


“The Office”
“30 Rock”


Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Steve Carell, “The Office”
Kevin Connolly, “Entourage”
David Duchovny, “Californication”
Tony Shalhoub, “Monk”


Christina Applegate, “Samantha Who?”
America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty”
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Debra Messing, “The Starter Wife”
Mary-Louise Parker, “Weeds”


“Bernard & Doris”
“John Adams”
“A Raisin in the Sun”


Judi Dench, “Cranford”
Laura Linney, “John Adams”
Catherine Keener, “An American Crime”
Shirley MacLaine, “Coco Chanel”
Susan Sarandon, “Bernard & Doris”


Ralph Fiennes, “Bernard and Doris”
Paul Giammatti, “John Adams”
Kevin Spacey, “Recount”
Kiefer Sutherland, “24: Redemption”
Tom Wilkinson, “Recount”


Eileen Atkins, “Cranford”
Laura Dern, “Recount”
Melissa George, “In Treatment”
Rachel Griffiths, “Brothers & Sisters”
Dianne Wiest, “In Treatment”


Neil Patrick Harris, “How I Met Your Mother”
Denis Leary, “Recount”
Jeremy Piven, “Entourage”
Blair Underwood, “In Treatment”
Tom Wilkinson, “John Adams”

Steven Spielberg

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Filed under Dark Knight, Golden Globes, Heath Ledger, oscars, Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Tropic Thunder, Wall-E

A.M.P.A.S.: Two Song Noms Per Film!

One of the most ridiculous Academy Award problems has finally been fixed after years of unfair, worthless, go-to-the-bathroom style category that is “Best Song.” The past year is a good example of the cheapness of the category as the Amy Adams film “Enchanted” earned not one but three nominations for best song, shutting out dozens of other worthy film tunes. Last year “Dreamgirls,” a film that was adapted from an already existing longtime musical, dominated with three noms as well. Luckily, the smaller films such as “Once” and “An Inconvenient Truth” picked up the actual awards but the overabundance and cheese of the major musical songs took away what could be the magic of the category.

Well, the Academy has ruled that a film can only have two nominated songs in the “Best Song” category and hopefully this means that more deserving artists will get their names out there and just maybe watching the musical performances will feel a little less childish and out of place. The family romp “Enchanted” dominated the musical section of this year’s ceremony, albeit the no-holds-barred violent art film “No Country For Old Men” took home the best picture award… riiiight. A.M.P.A.S… who is your audience?


Filed under No Country For Old Men, Once, oscars

The 80th Annual Academy Awards

It’s a good night… a good night… The biggest win of the night for me personally was Marion Cotillard’s win for “La Vie En Rose” and I’m very happy that fellow movie nerd Diablo Cody got the gold. “No Country For Old Men” was the biggest winner of the night, not my first choice, but it is a deserving film and I’m glad that it will now get a bigger audience. Tilda Swinton, one of my favorite actresses, was an upset winner for “Michael Clayton” but her speech made up for it. The win for “Once” was also very touching and I hope that film and its soundtrack gets more attention (it’s truly the little film that did this year). A great year for film, a great Oscar ceremony. Bring Jon Stewart back, he’s perfect.

For anyone who watched the pre-show extravaganza, WHY WAS GARY BUSEY THERE? Somebody got out of his harness…

Also, no American acting winners… that makes me strangely happy.

I am a little bugged that the show didn’t bring up all the living acting winners like I had said it would. The show only had two weeks of preparation, so I guess they had a lot of things they had to miss on. Also: the in memoriam list was slightly disappointing… no Brad Renfro or Sonny Bupp.

Well, next year we’ll be giving Heath his posthumous award for “The Dark Knight”… 🙂

Here’s the winners:

Best Picture

* Atonement
* Juno
* Michael Clayton
* No Country for Old Men
* There Will Be Blood

Best Director

* Paul Thomas Anderson – There Will Be Blood
* Joel Coen and Ethan Coen – No Country for Old Men
* Tony Gilroy – Michael Clayton
* Jason Reitman – Juno
* Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Best Actor

* George Clooney – Michael Clayton
* Daniel Day-Lewis – There Will Be Blood
* Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
* Tommy Lee Jones – In the Valley of Elah
* Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises

Best Actress

* Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
* Julie Christie – Away from Her
* Marion Cotillard – La Vie en Rose (La môme)
* Laura Linney – The Savages
* Ellen Page – Juno

Best Supporting Actor

* Casey Affleck – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
* Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men
* Philip Seymour Hoffman – Charlie Wilson’s War
* Hal Holbrook – Into the Wild
* Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton

Best Supporting Actress

* Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There
* Ruby Dee – American Gangster
* Saoirse Ronan – Atonement
* Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone
* Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton

Best Original Screenplay

* Juno – Diablo Cody
* Lars and the Real Girl – Nancy Oliver
* Michael Clayton – Tony Gilroy
* Ratatouille – Brad Bird
* The Savages – Tamara Jenkins

Best Adapted Screenplay

* Atonement – Christopher Hampton, from Atonement, novel by Ian McEwan
* Away from Her – Sarah Polley, from “The Bear Came over the Mountain”, short story by Alice Munro
* The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Ronald Harwood, from Le scaphandre et le papillon, memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby
* No Country for Old Men – Joel and Ethan Coen, from No Country for Old Men, novel by Cormac McCarthy
* There Will Be Blood – Paul Thomas Anderson, from Oil!, novel by Upton Sinclair

Best Animated Feature

* Persepolis
* Ratatouille
* Surf’s Up

Best Animated Short

* I Met the Walrus
* Madame Tutli-Putli
* Even Pigeons Go To Heaven
* My Love
* Peter and the Wolf

Best Art Direction

* Arthur Max and Beth Rubino – American Gangster
* Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer – Atonement
* Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock – The Golden Compass
* Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
* Jack Fisk and Jim Erickson – There Will Be Blood

Best Cinematography

* Roger Deakins – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
* Seamus McGarvey – Atonement
* Janusz Kaminski – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
* Roger Deakins – No Country for Old Men
* Robert Elswit – There Will Be Blood

Best Costume Design

* Albert Wolsky – Across the Universe
* Jacqueline Durran – Atonement
* Alexandra Byrne – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
* Marit Allen – La Vie en Rose
* Colleen Atwood – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Best Documentary Feature

* No End in Sight
* Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
* Sicko
* Taxi to the Dark Side
* War/Dance

Best Documentary Short

* Freeheld
* La Corona
* Salim Baba
* Sari’s Mother

Best Film Editing

* Christopher Rouse – The Bourne Ultimatum
* Juliette Welfling – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
* Jay Cassidy – Into the Wild
* Roderick Jaynes – No Country for Old Men
* Dylan Tichenor – There Will Be Blood

Best Foreign Language Film

* Beaufort (Israel) in Hebrew
* The Counterfeiters (Austria) in German
* Katyń (Poland) in Polish
* Mongol (Kazakhstan) in Mongolian
* 12 (Russia) in Russian

Best Live Action Short

* At Night
* The Substitute
* The Mozart of Pickpockets
* Tanghi Argentini
* The Tonto Woman

Best Makeup

* Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald – La Vie en Rose
* Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji – Norbit
* Ve Neill and Martin Samuel – Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Best Original Score

* Dario Marianelli – Atonement
* Alberto Iglesias – The Kite Runner
* James Newton Howard – Michael Clayton
* Michael Giacchino – Ratatouille
* Marco Beltrami – 3:10 to Yuma

Best Original Song

* Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – “Falling Slowly” from Once
* Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – “Happy Working Song” from Enchanted
* Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – “So Close” from Enchanted
* Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – “That’s How You Know” from Enchanted
* Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas – “Raise It Up” from August Rush

Best Sound Editing

* Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg – The Bourne Ultimatum
* Skip Lievsay – No Country for Old Men
* Randy Thom and Michael Silvers – Ratatouille
* Matthew Wood – There Will Be Blood
* Ethan van Der Ryn and Mike Hopkins – Transformers

Best Sound Mixing

* Scott Millan, David Parker, and Kirk Francis – The Bourne Ultimatum
* Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, and Peter Kurland – No Country for Old Men
* Randy Thom, Michael Semanick, and Doc Kane – Ratatouille
* Paul Massey, David Giammarco, and Jim Steube – 3:10 to Yuma
* Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell, and Peter J. Devlin – Transformers

Kevin O’Connell increased his record number of nominations to 20 in the Best Sound Mixing category. He is still without a win.

Best Visual Effects

* The Golden Compass
* Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
* Transformers

See you next year Jon Stewart… I hope… (if not Zach Galifianakis will be fine).


Filed under Daniel Day-Lewis, Diablo Cody, Javier Bardem, Jon Stewart, Juno, La Vie En Rose, Marion Cotillard, Michael Clayton, No Country For Old Men, Once, oscars, There Will Be Blood, Tilda Swinton

Oscar Preview

Amid months of controversy and an atrocious Golden Globes show – all attributed to the writer’s strike, the validity and the actual chances of an Academy Awards show seemed very hazy. The strike finally ended last Wednesday, and a sigh of relief was heard from movie fans around the country when the Oscar ceremony was officially re-ignited.

This year’s show is guaranteed to be very interesting. Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central is set to host for the second time in his career (his first hosting job was one of the best in recent Oscar history). There are certainly going to be plenty of jokes concerning the strike and its posthumous results, and it’s safe to say that that Stewart will not disappoint. Hopefully he’ll employ his fellow “Daily Show” cohorts and even the great Stephen Colbert for the show.

A big reason to watch the show is the fact that it is in its eightieth year. For every decade that the show has been aired, it is traditional to bring every living acting winner up to the stage in a grand exposition. It’s a very emotionally exciting event and we’ll get a rare chance to see the stars of yesteryear such as Luise Rainer (Oscar’s oldest winning actress) back on that glorious stage. Another honoree of the night will be famed art director Robert F. Boyle, who did the production design for classics like “The Birds” and “North By Northwest.” Boyle will be receiving the Academy Honorary Award.

As for the films up for the gold, there is a plethora of great cinematic achievement. “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men” are leading the nominations with eight each, and with both of the films gaining a huge momentum it is very hard to determine who will own the night. On the other side of that momentum, “Atonement” has been on the decline after a slew of losses and general public disinterest.

Smaller films like “Juno” and “The Savages” also have a few chances to win some statues and it’s good to see the underdogs get their due. No matter what, this year’s Academy Awards broadcast is not a show to be missed by any movie fan.

Best Actor:
Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”) is the standout performer in this group, and there’s no way that he’ll be beaten in this category. Johnny Depp was delightfully evil as the protagonist in “Sweeney Todd” and he deserves a statue but not this year. The other fellow noms including George Clooney for his charming yet flawed title character in “Michael Clayton,” Viggo Mortensen as the sickly cool Russian mob driver in “Eastern Promises,” and Tommy Lee Jones (“In the Valley of Elah”) were at the top of their game this year (although Jones should have been up for “No Country For Old Men” and not “Elah”). There is no question with this category; the Academy will go for the biggest show of the year and it will be Day-Lewis.

Who Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”
Who Will Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, “There Will Be Blood”
Snubbed: Ryan Gosling, “Lars and The Real Girl”

Best Actress:
The Academy loves to award the older nominees in this category and Julie Christie’s performance in the drama “Away From Her” will most likely bring her a second win (her last was in 1965 for “Darling”). Christie’s many wins up until the point have unfortunately overshadowed the tour de force performance by Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in the French epic “La Vie En Rose.” Ellen Page was also adorably terrific and surprisingly mature in “Juno” and Laura Linney was quite affecting in the indie dramedy “The Savages” but this is not their year. As for Cate Blanchett who has become the first actress to be nominated twice for the same role for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”, she has a better chance in the supporting category.

Who Should Win: Marion Cotillard, “La Vie En Rose”
Who Will Win: Julie Christie, “Away From Her”
Snubbed: Keri Russell, “Waitress”

Best Supporting Actor:
No other performance this year has been as chillingly intense as Javier Bardem’s impressive role as the psychotic Anton Chigurh in “No Country For Old Men.” His fellow nominees also delivered strong performances such as the poignant Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”, Casey Affleck’s brooding intensity in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”, and the transcendent achievement of Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton.” Phillip Seymour Hoffman was delightful and showed his range in “Charlie Wilson’s War”, but he was much better in “The Savages.” Nevertheless, Bardem is a shoo-in for this category and he deserves it.

Who Should Win: Javier Bardem, “No Country For Old Men”
Who Will Win: Javier Bardem, “No Country For Old Men”
Snubbed: Ben Foster, “3:10 to Yuma”

Best Supporting Actress:
Will it be the Academy favorite Cate Blanchett, who delivered a subtle yet powerful performance as Jude Quinn a.k.a. Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There” or will it be the stunningly realistic performance from Amy Ryan as the drug addled Boston mom who’s lost her daughter in “Gone Baby Gone?” Blanchett’s got the prestige and she certainly deserves a second statue (she got her first a few years ago for “The Aviator”) but Ryan has won a lot of critics’ awards and could possibly take the prize. However, the other three nominees also have a really good chance of winning. Thirteen-year-old Saorsie Ronan was splendid in “Atonement,” octogenarian Ruby Dee has a big chance after winning the SAG award for “American Gangster,” and Tilda Swinton could possibly pull an upset for her role in “Michael Clayton.” It’s most certainly the tightest race in any Oscar category this year.

Who Should Win: Cate Blanchett, “I’m Not There”
Who Will Win: Amy Ryan, “Gone Baby Gone”
Snubbed: Vera Farmiga, “Joshua”

Best Original Screenplay:
“Juno” has become both a critical and commercial success because of one woman: Diablo Cody. Her script for the indie film connects with people because of its unique dialogue and its genuine warmth. It’s a standout debut and she is completely worthy of any award Hollywood can give out. The other scripts including Nancy Oliver’s “Lars and the Real Girl,” Tony Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton,” Brad Bird’s “Ratatouille,” and Tamara Jenkins “The Savages” were all inspired and justifiably nominated but none were as impressive in their expression as Diablo Cody.

Who Should Win: “Juno” by Diablo Cody
Who Will Win: “Juno” by Diablo Cody
Snubbed: “The Darjeeling Limited” by Wes Anderson

Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Coen Brothers’ return to form came this year with “No Country For Old Men” and it is apparent that this success will lead them to gold. However, the real scribe who deserves the award in this category is Ronald Harwood. He took from both Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir and from interviews with the late French Elle editor’s hospital staff to pen the emotion filled script for “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” Paul Thomas Anderson’s script for “There Will Be Blood” was unmistakably strong, as was Sarah Polley’s “Away From Her” and Christopher Hampton’s “Atonement” but they lacked the power of the heart-wrenching “Diving Bell.”

Who Should Win: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Ronald Harwood
Who Will Win: “No Country for Old Men” by Joel and Ethan Coen
Snubbed: “Gone Baby Gone” by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard

Best Director:
For sheer exhibition of showmanship and vision, this coveted award should go to Paul Thomas Anderson, who brought us the modern day “Citizen Kane” with his epic “There Will Be Blood.” Unfortunately, the Academy loves a comeback and the Coen Brothers could nab a double win for Best Director with their accomplished “No Country For Old Men.” Also, don’t count out artist/director Julian Schnabel for his wondrous portrait of life with “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” or Tony Gilroy for the cool Mamet-style direction of “Michael Clayton.” There could also be a surprise rush of love for Jason Reitman’s “Juno,” a film that wouldn’t have been what it was without his flair for comedy.

Who Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson, “There Will Be Blood”
Who Will Win: Joel and Ethan Coen, “No Country For Old Men”
Snubbed: John Carney, “Once”

Best Picture:
It’s a tight race between the artistically brilliant “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men.” The latter film is more accessible to a wider audience and has been racking up multiple awards, although “Blood” can’t be counted out due to its incredible style and power. “Atonement” could always be the surprise upset win (reminiscent of “Shakespeare in Love” beating “Saving Private Ryan” in 1999) but it’s lost a lot of momentum since the lackluster Golden Globes “ceremony.” “Michael Clayton” was terrific, but it’s just lucky to be nominated. As for the indie darling “Juno”, it was the certainly one of the best films of the year but is it the most deserving of its company in this group?

Who Should Win: “There Will Be Blood”
Who Will Win: “No Country For Old Men”
Snubbed: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

The 80th Annual Academy Awards will air on Sunday Feb. 24 at 8:00 P.M.

Originally published in Framingham State College’s The Gatepost


Filed under Cate Blanchett, Daniel Day-Lewis, Diablo Cody, Javier Bardem, Jon Stewart, Juno, La Vie En Rose, Marion Cotillard, No Country For Old Men, oscars, The Savages, There Will Be Blood, Tilda Swinton

The Strike is Over


Now I can watch a real Academy Awards show.

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Filed under oscars, Writer's Strike

Oscar Nominations…

Here they are, the nominations for the 80th Annual Academy Awards. I gotta say I’m surprised by a lot of the noms… it seems the Academy wanted to represent the films that people never saw. I for one never saw “In The Valley Of Elah” and was quite surprised to see Tommy Lee Jones up for that film. Also: “Into the Wild” will be the hardest to see unless it gets a rerelease as its DVD release is a week after the show. I wish some of the more mainstream foreign films had been nominated, but good for the filmmakers who got nominated. I’m also kinda pissed that “Across the Universe” snuck in like a bad case of herpes.

Anyways, I’m very glad that “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country For Old Men” dominated the show with 8 nominations, and “Juno” is seeing the stars that it deserves. I would have loved to see Paul Dano get a nom for “There Will Be Blood.” That would have skyrocketed his career, but that’s alright. Hopefully we’ll get to see him in more roles like this and not in some Hollywood shlock that Oscar noms/winners tend to find themselves. Cate Blanchett got not one but TWO nominations which is pretty cool. Finally, Jason Reitman got the acknowledgement he deserved and that rocks.

Here they are:

Best Picture
There Will Be Blood
No Country For Old Men
Michael Clayton

Best Director
Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – No Country For Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson – There Will Be Blood
Tony Gilroy – Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman – Juno

Best Actor
Tommy Lee Jones – In The Valley of Elah
Daniel Day Lewis – There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp – Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
George Clooney – Michael Clayton
Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Laura Linney – The Savages
Marion Cotillard – La Vie En Rose
Julie Christie – Away From Her
Ellen Page – Juno

Best Supporting Actor
Tom Wilkinson – Michael Clayton
Hal Holbrook – Into The Wild
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Charlie Wilson’s War
Javier Bardem – No Country for Old Men
Casey Affleck – Assassination of Jesse James…

Best Supporting Actress
Tilda Swinton – Michael Clayton
Saorsie Ronan – Atonement
Ruby Dee – American Gangster
Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There
Amy Ryan – Gone Baby Gone

Best Original Screenplay
Michael Clayton
Lars and the Real Girl
The Savages

Best Adapted Screenplay
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Away From Her

Best Animated Film
Surf’s Up

Best Foreign Film
12 – Russia
Beaufort – Israel
The Counterfeiters – Austria
Mongol – Kazakhstan
Katyn – Poland

Best Cinematography
The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
No Country for Old Men
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
There Will Be Blood

Best Editing
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Into The Wild
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Best Art Direction
American Gangster
The Golden Compass
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
There Will Be Blood

Best Costume Design
Across The Universe
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
La Vie En Rose
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Best Makeup
La Vie En Rose
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Best Original Score
The Kite Runner
Michael Clayton
3:10 to Yuma

Best Original Song
August Rush – “Raise It Up”
Enchanted – “Happy Working Song”
Enchanted – “So Close”
Enchanted – “That’s How You Know”
Once – “Falling Slowly”

Best Sound
The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men
3:10 to Yuma

Best Sound Editing
The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Best Visual Effects
The Golden Compass
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Best Documentary
No End In Sight
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience
Taxi to the Dark Side
War Dance

Best Documentary, Short Subjects
La Corona
Salim Baba
Sari’s Mother

Best Short Film, Animated
Même les pigeons vont au paradis
I Met The Walrus
Madame Tutli-Putli
Moya Iyubov
Peter & the Wolf

Best Short Film, Live Action
At Night
Il Supplente
Le Mozart des Pickpockets
Tanghi argentini
The Tonto Woman

Till the 24th, I’ll be staring at these noms… because I’m a film loser.


Filed under I'm Not There, Johnny Depp, Juno, oscars