I actually like to watch the Oscars. I like the little jokes, I like the dresses, the stupid speeches and the glamour. When I had a TV, I liked to wake up at 3 am Monday morning and watch the live ceremony. It’s useless, it’s frivolous, a lot of the times the winners happen to be the not-all-that-great movies….but it’s fun. So, this year I made it a thing to see all the Oscar nominated movies before the actual ceremony…and of course, I didn’t. But I got to see all the movies I wanted to see (except for two, which I just can’t find yet 😀 ). So, there you go, this is what I made of them 🙂
For best picture there’s Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There will be blood and No country for old men – which is also the clear favorite. About Atonement and Juno I already wrote (here and here) and There will be blood is one of those 2 exceptions I mentioned – there’s just no way of finding a decent copy of the movie anywhere 😦 … that just leaves Michael Clayton and No country… . And I have to say, I agree with the crowd (of critics and moviegoers alike) No country.. is this year’s best. For a while, you’re left staring and thinking…what’s this about? It’s not a classic storyline, not a classic outcome and that’s what makes it brilliant. I’ve read opinions to the contrary but I still think it deserves a little more patience. It’s dark, it’s grim, it’s fate being absurd (as fate is known to be sometimes 😀 ), it might even be useless violence, but it’s still a great movie. And, for best actor in a supporting role, this is Javier Bardem’s year, for sure. Maybe Tom Wilkinson comes close, with this performance in Michael Clayton…close but not there. You see it in Bardem’s eyes, for this movie he is Anton Chigurh. 🙂
As for Michael Clayton …i won’t spend a lot of time on it. I have a lot of respect for George Clooney because he has proven to be way more than a “pretty face” (must-see: Good night and good luck), but Michael Clayton struck me as “just another lawyer movie”, no sparks, almost no surprises. It’s well acted, but, it’s not a Oscar movie (All in all, I’m not entirely sure what this phrase is supposed to mean, but, where I am concerned, I don’t really think any of this year’s nominees are to be future classics…)
Now…for best actor, personally I root for Viggo Mortensen. He’s most famous for portraying LOTR’s Aragorn (and doing in brilliantly 😀 ), but he’s mostly underrated and his performance in Eastern Promises definitely deserved notice. Eastern Promises – a movie about the Russian mob in England (?? can’t remember exactly if the action takes place in England or in the US, but either way, I don’t think it makes any difference), about Nikolai’s (Viggo) rise from a driver to a mob head, and a screaming, hysteric, over-acting Naomi Watts (and the naked wrestling in the sauna, which I am sure all Mr. Mortensen’s fans will thoroughly enjoy 😉 ). The critics’ favorite is Daniel Day Lewis (for There will be blood) and, in my opinion, out of the 5 nominees Tommy Lee Jones’s performance as Hank Deerfield is also to be considered. Yesterday I reluctantly watched “In the valley of Elah“, expecting it to be a propaganda movie about the brave boys in Irak and how tragically they died for freedom. But the movie delivers no lecture and there is no clear good and evil. Hank’s son doesn’t die on the front, and he’s not the embodiment of innocence, but Hank’s resilience to find out exactly what happened and the quiet, understated grief that fills his every wrinkle is very touching. As for Johnny Depp, he’s a great actor, but Sweeney Todd is a joke of a movie and I don’t think it even deserved to be in this list 😀
About Best actress….I can’t really say anything. Of the 5 nominees I’ve only seen Elizabeth and Juno; I couldn’t find “The Savages” (and that’s the second exception) and the other 2 movies (Away from her – Julie Christie and Mome, La – Marion Cotillard…they’re just not at all my thing). So no judgment here, I only hope Laura Linney wins 😉
Best actor in a supporting role – there’s no contest Javier Bardem should win, but, like I said, Tom Wilkinson makes a great role too. I haven’t seen “Into the wild” (again, not my thing)…and I have a bit of a problem with the choices of nominations for Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charile Wilson’s war) and Casey Affleck (The assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford) . If you ask me (and yeah, the Academy failed to do that :)) ) they both had 2 much better roles this year: Hoffman in Before the devil knows you’re dead (and I did write about that here… ) and Affleck in his brother’s directorial debut Gone baby gone. As for “The assassination of Jesse James….”I have only one thing to say: the movie is just as long and boring as the title 😀 . Charlie Wilson’s war is written by Aaron Sorkin, which gives it extra points with me. It’s funny without being mocking, it’s relaxing without being easy, it’s clever without being pretentious. It’s quite good 🙂
And finally, for best actress in a supporting role I see Cate Blanchett as a clear favourite since “I’m not there” was a fascinating movie: brilliant idea, great acting, great music (even if you’re not a Dylan fan 😀 ). Ruby Dee, winner at the SAG awards was good, but then again, the whole cast of American Gangster was good. I have no idea why she was singled out…and the movie, which early on had high Oscar expectations, turned out to be just that: good. Averagely good. I have probably repeated this one too many times, but it doesn’t shine, it doesn’t thrill…it just doesn’t do anything (to me 😉 ). Then there’s Saoirse Ronan (Atonement), Amy Ryan (Gone baby gone) and Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)….in short, no winners there 😉 .
I have the distinct feeling that I produced a slightly incoherent text, to which I would like to add 3 more bets: “Persepolis” for Best Animated feature (just because it’s something different; no more cutesy animals doing human stuff), Diablo Cody (Juno) – Best screenplay written directly for screen and the Coens for Achievement in directing.
We’ll see Sunday just how far off I was 😀
MUCH LATER EDIT: I was going to write about a book today, but I’ve been busy with work 😀 so I want to bragg with the couple of things I got right (No Country…, The Coens, Javier Bardem and Diablo Cody). And I have to say that I’m a very very disappointed that Tilda Swinton won over Cate Blanchett…it just seems so wrong 😦 . Still, looking over the winners’ list, there’s only one thing to say: no surprises. 😀