January 23, 2007

Oscars. Nominations.

Oscar Hey, where's Colossal Youth?

Kidding. The nominations. Here, and in a comment below.

And all the usual bitching, PR, prognostication and so on worth noting (and if found) will be filed to this entry over the next seven days.

Updated through 1/27.

"In recent years, the general public's interest in watching the Academy Awards, as reflected in the ratings, has become much more dependent on how familiar they are with the films and actors being nominated. By contrast, the Super Bowl usually draws large audiences year after year, in the neighborhood of 90 million, regardless of which teams are playing." New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott reports on how ABC and the Academy are working together to make "significant changes in the tune-in campaigns this year."

"[N]ever in my wildest dreams could I have predicted such shockers as the Best Picture snub of Dreamgirls - somebody better put uber-fan David Poland on a suicide watch - and the Best Actor honor for Ryan Gosling of the widely praised but little seen Half Nelson," writes Joe Leydon. "This may turn out to be an interesting Oscar race after all."

"If [Jennifer] Hudson goes on to win a best supporting actress Oscar, it will be another landmark moment in the breakdown between our pop culture's major and minor leagues," suggests Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times. Well, she did. "Whether it's Hudson, lonelygirl15 or Jade Goody, the foul-mouthed ex-nurse who, thanks to her antics on Celebrity Big Brother, is just as celebrated in England as Posh Spice, celebrity has been rudely down-marketed and democratized."

Oh, but this is fun: "New York film critic David Edelstein and Hollywood producer Lynda Obst discuss the Oscar nominations by e-mail each year. This year, Daily Intel gets to host their thoughts. Check back throughout the day for updates."

Nathaniel R weighs in with "Ten Talking Points."

That Little Round-Headed Boy has "10 Thoughts," too. #5: "I guess this means I've got to break down and see Babel, huh?"

Scott Lamb introduces a chart at Salon: "We were curious: How well did the nation's critics do in predicting who the nominees would be? There was nearly universal (and as it turns out, wrong) common wisdom when it came to the best-picture and best-director picks."

Anne Thompson at the Risky Biz Blog: "The happy camper this morning - along with the folks behind Babel, The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine and Borat, which nabbed a surprise adapted screenplay nomination, is Clint Eastwood, whose Letters from Iwo Jima pushed Dreamgirls out of the best picture race."

"I have no real answer to Dreamgirls missing Best Picture after being nominated by the PGA, DGA, SAG and others," writes David Poland. "But Clint happens. I have been saying for weeks that I expect the nominees to have 15 percent of support each and that the fight was in the other 25 percent... not unlike presidential politics. And obviously, Dreamgirls lost on that level."

Time's Richard Corliss: "[W]ho knew that audiences would like a hit musical more than the Motion Picture Academy does?"

"But if it's such a crowd-pleaser, where's the box office take to show for it?" counters David Cornelius at Hollywood Bitchslap.

Nikki Finke: "Trust me, the folks at Dreamworks and Paramount who've been pimping this pic are having a nightmare today."

"[T]he Academy, and this is just the Bagger typing in a hotel room, apparently decided that that there was not enough movie in the movie. The Bagger fell for all the stitching between songs, but others did not."

Anthony Kaufman: "I can only suspect that Harvey Weinstein did some backroom dealing to get the mediocre Days of Glory into a spot that should have gone to Volver."

"YAY! for Gosling," shouts Nick Davis before adding, "By my count, the five movies that did squeeze into the top race only racked up 26 nominations among them - an incredibly low number, even lower than last year's 29."

Edward Copeland: "This may well be the first time where four out of the 5 nominees for best actor are the only nominations for their films and no nominee comes from a best picture nominee."

"Ever since nomination voting for the Oscars closed before the Globe awards have been announced, they have often been less of a true bellweather," notes Aaron Dobbs.

"The films that remain in the race generally impress with their mediocrity rather than their merit," write Jürgen Fauth and Marcy Dermansky.

Jeffrey Wells is working on posting at least one entry for each category.

Online viewing tips. At TickleBooth, Ajit Anthony Prem is gathering links to a few of the nominated shorts.

Ryan Wu has a few observations on Paul Greengrass's nomination and more.

"This sudden spike in Oscar fever draws attention to the lack of obvious [Best Picture] candidates showing this year [at Sundance]." Eric Kohn elaborates for the New York Press.

Slate's Dana Stevens presents "an overview of some of the most egregious disses on the list."

Gabriel Shanks: "By choosing one racial minority over another, of course, the Academy protects itself from charges of racism. But don't be fooled... this is about loving Clint Eastwood and hating anything remotely queer (including colorful musicals)."

Updates, 1/24: James Wolcott: "Every year or so critics, audiences, and Academy voters decide to adopt a puppy, and this year the adorable scamp is Little Miss Sunshine, ludicrously nominated for Best Picture. It isn't a terrible fraud of a movie (unlike some previous nominees and winners), but its modest assets have been overblown and oversold, its rickety contrivances mistaken for the raw bones of life."

"Some think that since only Babel and The Departed were nominated in the influential editing category, the race comes down to those two," writes Kim Masters. "Others point out that a contingent of academy voters hates Babel and dreads nothing more than seeing it become this year's Crash. Another group seems inclined to go only so far for Scorsese - and especially for this movie, which seems to have a number of endings."

Also in Slate, Christopher Beam gathers a few bloggers' reactions and Timothy Noah suspects Richard Griffiths's performance in The History Boys was looked over because he's, well, "very fat."

"[T]he Academy wants to be viewed as serious, thoughtful, not too frivolous - the equivalent of a knee-length hemline, a pair of Calvin Klein wire-rimmed spectacles, a fun date, but one who actually read a book once," suggests Stephanie Zacharek in Salon. "[I]n the final analysis, the movies the group doesn't recognize might say more about it than its actual choices do." So, Dreamgirls: "I'd like to think that members of the Academy recognized that the picture is really a headache-inducing mess, cluttered with lousy songs, but I know that's wishful thinking. I believe that Dreamgirls simply doesn't suit the Academy's solemn, beard-stroking mood this year: Can't have any crazy plaids clashing with those modest stripes."

Dennis Cozzalio: "Oscar, a lot of the movies of 2006 are too smart for you. Hell, I'm too smart for you. But you had me in 1969 with 'And the winner is Midnight Cowboy' and you've got me 37 years later, for better and worse, with 'And the Oscar goes to...' You are, at this point, for better and worse, an inextricable, though increasingly unimportant, element of the movies themselves for me."

"Oscar is growing more diverse and international by the year," writes Roger Ebert. "That's perhaps an indication that the Academy voters, who once went mostly for big names, are doing their homework and seeing the pictures."

Jim Emerson tracks the various "front runners" from this summer right on up to the nominations and asks, "Don't you love it when the conventional wisdom is just wrong?"

Michael Guillén is torn up over two categories: Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor.

"For once, the Oscars may really mean something." C Jerry Kutner explains at Bright Lights After Dark.

Update, 1/25: For Deutsche Welle, Ina Rottscheidt asks Lives of Others director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, "What was it like, hearing that you had been nominated for an Oscar?"

Updates, 1/26: Mark Lawson, writing in the Guardian, has a theory as to what the Academy is responding to in The Queen: "They see Elizabeth II as an example of that cherished plotline in American cinema: The Star Who Came Through." Also: Mark Brown profiles Paul Greengrass and an Oscar special edition of Film Weekly.

In the Independent, Nick Hasted: "The fact that Bill Condon's [Dreamgirls] is a travesty, replacing some of the 20th century's finest music with unmemorable showtunes and hack melodrama, only confirms what a string of recent releases suggest: that current cinema cannot cope with the story of rock and soul music, and seems tame and timid by comparison."

Jesus Camp / My Country, My Country / Iraq in Fragments

In the wake of the nominations, AJ Schnack talks with Jesus Camp directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, with My Country, My Country director Laura Poitras and with Iraq in Fragments director James Longley: "I was so rooting for Jesus Camp,' Poitras said. 'It's one of the those movies where you go, damn, now that's a good movie. If you look at Iraq in Fragments, it has production value that studio movies don't have. And in terms of cinema, these are all well-crafted films. They aren't just message films, driven by content. They are really driven by craft.'"

John Nagenda, advisor to the president of Uganda, has a few unique tales to tell about the making of The Last King of Scotland in Prospect.

Matt Wolf profiles Judi Dench for the London Times, where someone, of course, has to celebrate the British nominations in general. The task falls to James Christopher.

And there're more Brits in the Telegraph. Tom Robey: "He's got his Oscar nomination, but, if we might politely ask, how much of a stretch can it really be for Peter O'Toole to play a saucy old lush again?" Well, "He predictably excels in Venus as a charismatic luvvie living off bit parts, but the performance is grand enough to feel like a richly enjoyable career-capper, not just his latest binge." Also, David Gritten talks with Notes on a Scandal director Richard Eyre and Sukhdev Sandhu praises DiCaprio's performance in Blood Diamond.

By the way, the Guardian reports that some diamond industry "insiders are suggesting that its campaign has been so effective that the film has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, creating a PR opportunity that has boosted sales."

Updates, 1/27: So Al Gore will attend the ceremony, and Mick LaSalle offers this angle: "If he's no chubbier than he was in the movie - and especially if he's thinner - Obama and Hillary should start worrying."

WSWS arts editor David Walsh: "The Academy Award nominations announced Tuesday morning confirm a recent trend: a growth in the overall seriousness of international filmmaking, in response to events, combined with significant limitations and confusion.... However, the most profound global realities—including the vast social imbalance, the new colonialism, the criminality of Washington's drive to dominate the world—and their consequences for wide layers of the population have only made their way into film work to a very limited degree so far. One would not want to overestimate any of this year's nominees."

Dave Micevic sifts through the nominees.

Andrew Gumbel in the Independent: "It may be an odd thing to say of an actor who has been gracing our screens, and grabbing his share of the limelight, for the past 15 years, but Leonardo DiCaprio has finally arrived."



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Posted by dwhudson at January 23, 2007 5:59 AM

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NOMINATIONS BY CATEGORY - 79TH AWARDS

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Leonardo DiCaprio - BLOOD DIAMOND
Ryan Gosling - HALF NELSON
Peter O'Toole - VENUS
Will Smith - THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Forest Whitaker - THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND


Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Alan Arkin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jackie Earle Haley - LITTLE CHILDREN
Djimon Hounsou - BLOOD DIAMOND
Eddie Murphy - DREAMGIRLS
Mark Wahlberg - THE DEPARTED


Performance by an actress in a leading role
Penélope Cruz - VOLVER
Judi Dench - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Helen Mirren - THE QUEEN
Meryl Streep - THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Kate Winslet - LITTLE CHILDREN


Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Adriana Barraza - BABEL
Cate Blanchett - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Abigail Breslin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jennifer Hudson - DREAMGIRLS
Rinko Kikuchi - BABEL


Best animated feature film of the year
CARS
HAPPY FEET
MONSTER HOUSE


Achievement in art direction
DREAMGIRLS
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
PAN'S LABYRINTH
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST
THE PRESTIGE


Achievement in cinematography
THE BLACK DAHLIA
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE ILLUSIONIST
PAN'S LABYRINTH
THE PRESTIGE


Achievement in costume design
CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
DREAMGIRLS
MARIE ANTOINETTE
THE QUEEN


Achievement in directing
BABEL
THE DEPARTED
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
THE QUEEN
UNITED 93


Best documentary feature
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS
JESUS CAMP
MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY


Best documentary short subject
THE BLOOD OF YINGZHOU DISTRICT
RECYCLED LIFE
REHEARSING A DREAM
TWO HANDS


Achievement in film editing
BABEL
BLOOD DIAMOND
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE DEPARTED
UNITED 93


Best foreign language film of the year
AFTER THE WEDDING
DAYS OF GLORY (INDIGÈNES)
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
PAN'S LABYRINTH
WATER


Achievement in makeup
APOCALYPTO
CLICK
PAN'S LABYRINTH


Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
BABEL
THE GOOD GERMAN
NOTES ON A SCANDAL
PAN'S LABYRINTH
THE QUEEN


Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"I Need to Wake Up" - AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
"Listen" - DREAMGIRLS
"Love You I Do" - DREAMGIRLS
"Our Town" - CARS
"Patience" - DREAMGIRLS


Best motion picture of the year
BABEL
THE DEPARTED
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
THE QUEEN


Best animated short film
THE DANISH POET
LIFTED
THE LITTLE MATCHGIRL
MAESTRO
NO TIME FOR NUTS


Best live action short film
BINTA AND THE GREAT IDEA (BINTA Y LA GRAN IDEA)
ÉRAMOS POCOS (ONE TOO MANY)
HELMER & SON
THE SAVIOUR
WEST BANK STORY


Achievement in sound editing
APOCALYPTO
BLOOD DIAMOND
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST


Achievement in sound mixing
APOCALYPTO
BLOOD DIAMOND
DREAMGIRLS
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST


Achievement in visual effects
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST
POSEIDON
SUPERMAN RETURNS


Adapted screenplay
BORAT CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
CHILDREN OF MEN
THE DEPARTED
LITTLE CHILDREN
NOTES ON A SCANDAL


Original screenplay
BABEL
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
PAN'S LABYRINTH
THE QUEEN

Posted by: David Hudson at January 23, 2007 6:01 AM

Is it me? Or was it a dull year at the movies?

Posted by: Jerry Lentz at January 23, 2007 6:06 AM

Marty vs. Clint, again!?! The big surprise for me was that "Volver" was not up for Foreign Language film.

Posted by: Peter Nellhaus at January 23, 2007 6:16 AM

Salma Hayek's "Djyesss!" when Penélope Cruz's name was read out was kinda cute, though.

Posted by: David Hudson at January 23, 2007 6:37 AM

Will Smith?!? For what? Being charming Will Smith -- the same thing he does in every film.

Babel, Little Miss Sunshine. Sigh.

Posted by: Filmbrain at January 23, 2007 7:27 AM

Seven for Babel really is way overdoing it. On the brighter side, Pan's Labyrinth with six... Children of Men slips in with three; if only it'd been released a month earlier.

Posted by: David Hudson at January 23, 2007 8:04 AM

Well, go ahead and give "Letters From Iwo Jima" best picture, and while you're at it, let's saint Clint Eastwood. What a guy! I love me some "true-to-life" war movies and he gives me two in a year! Thank goodness I have Spielberg and Eastwood to help connect me to WWII, so that I can personally meditate on and learn from past wars.

But gosh, it's a hard choice, because "Little Miss Sunshine" also deserves a nod for best picture. Family values guys, family values. What a cute kid that is in that movie. I wish I had a kid like that, and that I could help her fulfill her dreams. Boy, let's give her best supporting actress and the dead grandpa best supporting actor. That makes sense.

But enough from the peanut gallery.

Posted by: Tyler Beane at January 23, 2007 8:14 AM

Tyler, dude was that a spoiler from Little Miss Sunshine in your second last line?

Posted by: Brendan at January 23, 2007 8:53 AM

Considering that actors nominate fellow actors, how can Will Smith get a nomination at the expense of Sacha Baron Cohen or Ken Watanabe? It would be interesting to see a poll of the actors branch of the Academy and see just how many of them could say, with a face as straight as the one Cohen maintained throughout Borat, that those weren't great performances.

Posted by: Dennis Cozzalio at January 23, 2007 10:12 AM

"Will Smith?!? For what? Being charming Will Smith -- the same thing he does in every film."

LOL! I said the same exact thing after seeeing the movie. Hey, it's a good week for us black people. First the Superbowl and now the Academy Awards.

Look out world, here we come!!! (Well, us and the Japanese.)

Posted by: John Henry Pitts, III at January 23, 2007 10:35 AM

Venus deserved a best screenplay nom, too, a possibly best director. The slight movies always get slighted because people think good direction always has to be about large casts and special effects. It doesn't.

I hardly saw any of these films, but great news about Pan's Labyrinth. Watch it only win best foreign-language film.

Posted by: Marilyn at January 23, 2007 10:42 AM

I think you guys have pointed to a few questionable nominations - and gosh, wouldn't the world split open if we had a year where we thought there were no questionable picks? - but all in all, I see more good than bad in this year's lot. Maybe I'm just trying to see the glass half full here, but Ryan Gosling, yipee! Forest Whitaker kicked ass. Pan's Labyrinth, yes! Etc. I'm actually not a Little Miss Sunshine hater (enjoyed it though I did find it contrived and it is overrated, but still enjoyed it), but I agree, as cute as she is, Abigail Breslin shouldn't have garnered a nod.

And I agree, Cohen absolutely should have been nominated over Smith, but were you surprised? It's that rare time when a comedic performance is rewarded. And Smith, more often in comedic parts, is rewarded when he's doing something more dramatic.

But whatever, bitchin' and moanin' is often the most fun part of the Oscars, so we shouldn't take that away.

When I have more time to think about it I'll probably pinpoint a few more peeps I thought were neglected, just for fun.

What do people think about the Docs finalists?

CP

Posted by: Craig P at January 23, 2007 11:36 AM

Also, I think the nominations of two fine docs about Iraq - Iraq in Fragments and My Country, My Country - is most excellent news.

Posted by: Craig P at January 23, 2007 11:43 AM

A VERY strong year for docs, and great noms as well. In fact, this is the first year where I've seen all but one of the nominated titles.

Someone above mentioned questionable picks -- and yes, each year there are some, but I think after last year's Crash debacle, it's more than a bit disconcerting that highly mediocre fare like Vacation...er, Little Miss Sunshine -- an indie film for folks who don't go see indie films -- and Babel, which explores its themes with the same level of depth (read: none) as Crash -- get best picture nods. Films that require a bit more effort just don't make the cut anymore.

If Altman had made Nashville last year, I guarantee it wouldn't get a best picture nomination.

Posted by: Filmbrain at January 23, 2007 12:52 PM

Same pathetic train wreck and all of us rubbernecking. Hoping that Scorsese loses Director to Clint's two films, keeps him with Hitch, Tarkovsky, Kubrick, etc. Someone paid tons of cash for "Click" to get a nod.

Posted by: Paul Doherty at January 23, 2007 3:28 PM