January 22, 2009

Professional Commentary on the Oscar Nominations

Best Picture
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button = the lesser of 5 evils?
Frost/Nixon = barf
Milk = yawn
The Reader = purchased by a Weinstein
Slumdog Millionaire = barf

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Richard Jenkins for The Visitor = whatever
Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon = fine
Sean Penn = fine
Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button = curious case
Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler = yay

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Anne Hathaway for Rachel Getting Married = yawn
Angelina Jolie for Changeling = really?
Melissa Leo for Frozen River = fine

Meryl Streep for Doubt = telegraphed
Kate Winslet for The Reader = tolerable

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Josh Brolin for Milk = yay
Robert Downey Jr. for Tropic Thunder = yay

Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt = fine
Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight = yay
Michael Shannon for Revolutionary Road = yay

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams for Doubt = who'm I kidding, I love her
Penélope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona = I'll tell you in another life, when we are both cats
Viola Davis for Doubt = fine
Taraji P. Henson for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button = dubious
Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler = yay

Best Achievement in Directing
Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire = barf
Stephen Daldry for The Reader = whatever
David Fincher for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button = delayed reaction to Zodiac

Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon = barf
Gus Van Sant for Milk = yawn

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Frozen River: Courtney Hunt = LOL
Happy-Go-Lucky: Mike Leigh = yawn
In Bruges: Martin McDonagh = haven't seen, forecasting a yawn
Milk: Dustin Lance Black = absurd
WALL·E: Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Jim Reardon = yay with caveats

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Eric Roth, Robin Swicord = embarrassing
Doubt: John Patrick Shanley = yawn
Frost/Nixon: Peter Morgan = barf
The Reader: David Hare = yawn
Slumdog Millionaire: Simon Beaufoy = barf

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Changeling: Tom Stern = uh, no
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Claudio Miranda = yay-esque
The Dark Knight: Wally Pfister = yay
The Reader: Roger Deakins, Chris Menges = yawn
Slumdog Millionaire: Anthony Dod Mantle = you gotta be fucking kidding me

Best Achievement in Editing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter = it was edited?
The Dark Knight: Lee Smith = yay
Frost/Nixon: Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill = barf
Milk: Elliot Graham = whatever
Slumdog Millionaire: Chris Dickens = barf

Best Achievement in Makeup ("yay" across the board)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Greg Cannom
The Dark Knight: John Caglione Jr., Conor O'Sullivan
Hellboy II: The Golden Army: Mike Elizalde, Thomas Floutz

Best Achievement in Visual Effects (ditto)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton, Craig Barron
The Dark Knight: Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Timothy Webber, Paul J. Franklin
Iron Man: John Nelson, Ben Snow, Daniel Sudick, Shane Mahan

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Bolt: Chris Williams, Byron Howard = fine
Kung Fu Panda: John Stevenson, Mark Osborne = no
WALL·E: Andrew Stanton = yay

Best Documentary, Features (a bizarrely respectable category)
The Betrayal - Nerakhoon: Ellen Kuras, Thavisouk Phrasavath
Encounters at the End of the World: Werner Herzog, Henry Kaiser
The Garden: Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Man on Wire: James Marsh, Simon Chinn
Trouble the Water: Tia Lessin, Carl Deal

Skipped Foreign because only two of those movies have reached my neck, Music because I only remember one of last year's scores (WALL·E), and the rest for either holes in my viewing (the shorts) or blind spots in my movie eye (see: Costumes, Art Direction).


Bill C said...

Let us all count our blessings, by the way, that there were no acting nods for SLUMDOG.

Joe said...

"I don't think we need another film about the Holocaust, do we? It's like, how many have there been? You know? We get it. It was grim. Move on. No, I'm doing it because I've noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust, you're guaranteed an Oscar.... 'Schindler's Bloody List,' 'Pianist' -- Oscars comin' outta their arse."
-- Kate Winslet (as herself, but in character), "Extras"

She said it best. But yet The Reader got made and went on to steal The Dark Knight's spot.

What a sorry-ass bunch of nominations. In my estimation, possibly the worst ever. Nice Vanilla Sky reference, by the way.

Bill C said...

Yeah, it'd be awesome if somebody in the control room substituted that clip from "Extras" during the Best Actress roll call.

Seattle Jeff said...

At least Heath Ledger isn't around to see this travesty.

There's really very little to root for. I think I'll just watch a Simon and Simon rerun while doing laundry instead watching the Oscars this year.

Jason said...

This year feels like there's a bunch of new, exciting stuff going on in genres that the Academy doesn't want to acknowledge (superheroes, animation, horror, etc.), so they went for the safest, most vanilla choices in all the categories they could. Not surprising, just disappointing.

But it's not just the Academy snubbing The Dark Knight for all the major awards that stings. It's also the snubs against guys like Clint Eastwood, Darren Aronofsky, Chris Nolan and Josh Brolin (he's not gonna win Best Supporting against Ledger, and deserved to be in the Best Actor race for W. more than, say, Brad Pitt or Richard Jenkins did) that really hurts.

Haven't watched the Oscar telecast in three years... looks like I'm keeping up that sterling tradition.

Ryan said...

This commentary totally made me LOL... what a horrendous list. The Best Picture noms look like a collection straight out of Tropic Thunder.

Anonymous said...

It's business as usual that many of the nominations are disappointing, but the batch for direction don't even make sense. Benjamin Button, whatever the state of its screenplay, at least displays some remarkable craftsmanship. The rest seem like actorly pictures that are competently but indifferently put together. I'd like to see the Danny Boyle of 28 Days Later or the Gus Van Sant of Elephant on a directors' slate, but not this stuff.

-Dan C.

Kyle said...

I'm in the rare position of defending Milk over here at FFC, which stands (to me) as the lone dog in the BP race; I'll also sacrifice a little dignity and say I enjoyed Frost/Nixon, but also acknowledge that watching it a second time may reveal its weaknesses. I was just happy that a Ron Howard movie didn't put me in a coma.

Anonymous said...

Slumdog is the best of the five pictures nominated; not that any of them deserve to be there. I definitely don't hate it with the visceral passion everyone here does (seriously, it could've been City of God or Babel).

Nominating PSH for Doubt and not Synecdoche is a slap in the face to common sense. Who the fuck is running this thing by the way "Let's snub The Dark Knight so we can be extra sure nobody watches this show!" Did one of the best picture noms crack 100m at the box office?

Berandor said...

I don't get the "cat" comment.

Have you seen the Baader-Meinhof-Komplex? I'd be curious to know what somebody who isn't influenced by national history thinks about that.

Me, I think neither is it a good approximation of what happened, so it fails as a political thriller, nor is it a good movie on its own – though I guess that part is alright, workmanlike.

All of which means I desperately hope Germany will *not* win another feature oscar. The last winner is annoying enough, what with his multiple odes to Tom Cruise's Valkyrie and his general douchebaggery.

Berandor said...

The National Film Board has put its archives online:

So, does anybody have a tip for what I should view?

jer fairall said...

Said The Gramophone already tipped me off to the NFB archive yesterday, and they recommend the Paul Anka documentary Lonely Boy and the haunting experimental short 23 Skidoo. I haven't had time to go through any of the rest of the archives yet, but those two are definitely worth a look.

Anonymous said...

Bill, I'm so glad that I'm not the only one hit in the face by the fact that Slumdog got a nom for Cinematography. I find it one of the ugliest looking movies I've ever seen -- over-processed straight to Hell.

I will say, though, that I loved Milk, so it getting a nom for Best Picture is a-okay for me. But I agree on just about everything else that's been said. I'll be missing the Oscars again for sure.

- David H.

Kyle said...


jacksommersby said...

Think what you will about the film itself, but Josh Brolin's performance in "W." was simply outstanding, which was a big surprise being that I hadn't liked him in a film before. His work was simply superior to Brad Pitt's nominated one.

Bill C said...

@David: Back at ya. Whatever one thinks of SLUMDOG, apart from one or two inexplicably lovely images (like the little girl standing outside the boxcar in the rain), it has to be the most hideous-looking popular movie of the year. That fast-shutter shit, the Dutch angles, the step printing, the geographically incomprehensible camera placements, the banal colour-coding... Oy. Whatever SLUMDOG does, do the opposite.

@Berandor: The "cat" comment's a Penelope Cruz line from VANILLA SKY. For what it's worth, I don't get it, either.

theoldboy said...

Re: Slumdog, I said it on Alex's board and it bears repeating: Danny Boyle is the middlebrow Michael Bay.

Bill C said...

I saw that and fundamentally agree--but what the heck does that make Michael Bay?

Berandor said...

the hitchcock for cinephobes?

Berandor said...

Damn. I just saw Vern liked "Tropic Thunder". You guys didn't do a review of it, so I'll just ask in the hopes you've seen it anyway: am I so out of touch if I think it was barely mediocre? Downey jr was great, of course, but even he had a one-note character, didn't he?

Richard said...

Tropic Thunder taught me that it's now OK to be black in America! Heaven help you if you're gay and/or Asian, though.

Oh, and Tom Cruise in a fat suit was funny for about 10 seconds (and those 10 seconds definitely did not occur over the closing credits).