This year’s Oscar nominations were undoubtedly over-shadowed by the very sad news of Heath Ledger’s death. He was a very fine actor and his death at such a young age, whatever the circumstances, is shocking and saddening. I just hope that this year’s Oscars ceremony does get to go ahead as normal, so that tribute can be paid.
And what of the potential winners? Beware: bar the documentaries and shorts (none of which I’ve seen so have left off the full list of nominees – at the end of the post), I have an opinion on each category! I am somewhat limited in not having seen all the films yet, especially There Will Be Blood (I need to see this! Now!), Juno and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. So my ardent “No Country for everything!” approach may change once I’ve seen more, but here are some initial reactions for now:
#1 No Country for Best Film. I don’t get all this Michael Clayton love. It was decent but hardly spectacular. Likewise with Atonement. I expect to like Juno and There Will Be Blood more than those two, but it’s No Country for now.
#2 Daniel Day-Lewis seems to have Best Actor wrapped up, which I’m fine with based on what I’ve heard and seen of his performance. I will allow a big “yay!” for Viggo though – about time!
#3 Laura Linney is the only one of the Best Actress nominees I’ve seen. Thought she was great in The Savages but the momentum seems to be with either Christie or Cotillard. Everyone loves Juno though!
#4 Best Supporting Actor, always one of the more interesting categories. I think this is Bardem’s to lose and it’s well-deserved. In any other year would like to see Casey Affleck win, if only to give some much needed love to the criminally overlooked “Assassination of Jesse Jam…”, and he did good work in Gone Baby Gone too.
#5 Best Supporting Actress is strong this year. Would love to see Saoirse Ronan win, for reasons of national pride (plus, she was very good). Cate Blanchett was great in I’m Not There though, and she’s unlikely to win the Best Actress so could get the votes here instead.
#6 Nice to see young PTA get his first Best Director nomination. I love the Coens in general, and No Country in particular, enough that I really want them to win this. Also, would finally recognise their joint director role properly. (Poor even-younger Joe Wright drew the short straw in the usual “we’ll only nominate four directors of the five best films” this year; Julian “I’m an artist who directs, not the other way around” Schnabel benefits)
#7 Lots of females nominated in the two screenplay categories, which is nice (but come on ladies, direct already!). Diablo Cody is the current darling methinks, but of the films I’ve seen, I like The Savages for original and No Country for adapted.
#8 Cinematography is always one of my favourite categories, I just love these guys! Such a solid list of nominees, so much so that I’m torn: want Deakins to win but afraid his vote will be split, and also can’t decide if I’d rather he won for No Country or Assassination; Irish pride for Seamus McGarvey, but just don’t think Atonement quite deserves it out of this bunch, bar that incredible tracking shot; then Janusz Kaminski (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood) are another two old hands, though I haven’t seen either of their two from this year.
#9 Bourne deserves at least one, Editing should be it.
#10 Despite my disappointment with the Todd, I’d give it Costume, and Art Direction to Atonement (which, if nothing else, looked great)
#11 Thanks to Best Make-up, Norbit is now officially an “Oscar-nominated” film?! With Pirates 3 also here adding to the shitness, I’d give it to La Vie en Rose by default!
#12 I quite liked what Atonement did with its score. That, or Ratatouille. Can’t really remember the rest.
#13 Come on Sam’s dad’s film! Come on Once! With 3 of the 5 songs nominated being from Enchanted though, it’ll either enjoy some sort of statistical advantage or its votes will be split. Falling Slowly has hit this news this week over eligibility issues, but Hansard and Carney presented evidence to the Academy’s Grand High Commission of Eligibility or Lack Thereof (or AGH! CELT! as it’s affectionately known – they get scared of the Irish quite easily) and its nomination has been confirmed. Not sure if the attention will work for or against it; hopefully for.
#14 Sound and Sound Editing should really go to No Country. Barely any score to speak of, the sound was like an extra character in the film, marvelously bloody effective, created the kind of tension that had your nerves on edge.
#15 Transformers for Visual Effects. Some of the later fight scenes were kind of messy, so you maybe didn’t get to see their full effect, but they were done brilliantly.
#16 Never got to see Persepolis during the French film festival, so my penguin-bias has me rooting for Surf’s Up! I genuinely thought it was great anyway. Ratatouille is pretty much a shoo-in though.
#17 The Counterfeiters is the only one of the foreign language films I’ve seen. I’ll give it my vote by default, but I’m still appalled by the omission of 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, a great film. It didn’t even make the longlist! (Although I can’t seem to find out if it was definitely eligible, as it’s only getting a general US release this month and it needs to be screened for 7 consecutive days in LA before 31st December to qualify – still don’t know if this actually happened)
So here ends my mild Oscar ruminations. Not opinionated enough to outright predict just yet, but that will come no doubt.
Thoughts? Views? Disagreements?