Yes, folks, it’s that time of the year again 😀
I’m trying to set a tradition now and check out as many of the Oscar noms as I can in advance because, like I said last year, I actually enjoy the occasional award show; in fact, this year I pretty much followed most of the awards – and by followed I actually mean checked out the winners 😀
So, given that the reading in ridiculously slow and my life outside of work is rather uneventful, I might as well write about the movies. The full nominee list you can find on imdb, I’m just going through the major categories 😉
Best movie. Seen ’em all – that is definitely a first for me. I’d been waiting for The curious case of Benjamin Button for over a year – given as how I’m a Fincher enthusiast – and I have to say I was…not entirely disappointed, after all, it’s a good movie, but a little thrown off by it. It’s this year’s ridiculouslly impossible romance, making a short story by F Scott Fitzgerald into a 3 hour-movie well enough to not be too boring. But there are no surprises and no questions in it and I expect its buzz will die down soon enough. This is no Fight Club, Mr Fincher. (And, to be quite honest, I’m dieing for mid90s-style thrills and I really think Mr Fincher is the man for the job. But it seems that after 2000, the really good thrillers have all but disappeared. Or maybe I’ve outgrown them?).
Frost/Nixon, also based on a literary piece (this time a play by Peter Morgan, who also signs the script) is a very well rounded film. Personally I’ve enjoyed it a great deal, as sometimes I’m kind of a sucker for these politically charged environments (like, I’m a huge fan of West Wing). It’s all about the…well, it’s in the title…the series of interviews that David Frost had with Richard Nixon 3 years after his resignation, and how it came about that a British satirist in a career slump would end up doing the most watched interview in history. There are 2 movies on the Oscar list that surprised me positively, and this is the first. Definitely 2 well spent hours.
Moving on to Milk – the onscreen run of Harvery Milk’s rise to the political scene as the first openly gay man to be elected to public office. This is another period piece (San Francisco in the 70s) about a guy who now stands remembrance more as a symbol of a struggle for acceptance and coexistence rather than for actual political achievements. But symbols really do play an important role, don’t they, and his untimely death made sure he’d be remembered. Instructive, entertaining and very well crafted I see this one as a sort of „runner up” for the best movie Oscar.
The Reader – after a book by Bernhard Schilnk. I haven’t read the book, but I expect it’s better because the movie, though engaging, seems a bit drab and, somehow, it left me feeling like it was incomplete. The story is seen through the eyes of Michael Berg, now an accomplished lawyer, whose affair at the age of 15 with Hannah Schimtz, a former concentration camp guard and coincidental presence at her trial (he was there while in law school) have left him emotionally scarred for life. What really is moving about this movie is Hannah’s resilience and decision to confess to crimes against humanity, rather than confess to illiteracy and face ridicule. I’d say this doesn’t really stand a chance, but then again, Harvey Weinstein’s campaigning could really pay off. (And, on a rather sad side note, 2 of the 4 producers for this movie died last year: Anthony Minghella and Sidney Pollack.)
And finally, Slumdog Millionaire, my second big positive surprise. Another adaptation (a novel by Vikas Swarup), a fast paced dive in the slums of India and a life story told in-between “How to be a millionaire?” questions – all very tightly wrapped together. It leaves you in a very…”wow” state (I got this off imdb, but it’s really true). Coming off the Golden Globes win and bringing s a bit of fresh air into an otherwise stuffy and „classic” nominee list, I’d say the slumdog will win 🙂
For the best actor award I’d go with Sean Penn, for the title role in Milk. He’s a very good actor, but a lot of the times his characters have a sort of dark underbelly (21 grams, Mystic River – btw, both really good, must see movies) that seems to fit him naturally. But this time he disappeared so completely under the mask of Harvey Milk, that I think his winning would be more than well deserved. I haven’t seen, however, The Visitor (for which Richard Jenkins is nominated) and The Wrestler (Mickey Rourke’s ticket) but, as Rourke’s getting a lot of support and buzz lately, he actually might pull off a win (I hope not; personally, I haven’t seen his movie for 2 reasons: I don’t know anything about wrestling, and don’t care to and secondly, I can’t stand Mr. Rourke, he seems so…sleazy).
For best actress…I want to say Kate Winslet. This is her 6th nomination and she really was the best thing about The Reader. Meryl Streep’s Doubt performance is good and so is Anne Hathway in Rachel getting married – good but not memorable. As for the other 2 nominees, Melissa Leo for Frozen River and Angelina Jolie for Changeling…well…I’ve only seen 30 mins of Frozen River because, honestly, I simply lost interest and Angelina – I don’t see it. She’s really not such a great actress and I justify her presence on this list with the fact that this was a pretty weak year, movie-wise.
For the best supporting actor, everyone has Heath Ledger as a winning ticket. He was undoubtedly great, but the conservative in me still sees nominating comic book movies as a bit of an oddity. But, in the end, The Dark Knight rose above everything else in his league…so there you go. My second choice would be Philip Seymour Hoffman for Doubt (as much as I’m into Robert Downey jnr, his Tropic Thunder role was not that amazing).
Best supporting actress – I have only one thing to say: NO to Penelope Cruz and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She’s usually good, but this time she was way over the top. And I’m not a Woody Allen fan, but I still like to think I know a good movie when I see it. VCB was sooo not – it was ridiculous from start to finish and, while the acting was fine enough, the dialogue seemed…dead and fake. It got good reviews, but I just don’t get it. Who I’d like to see on the winning stand? Viola Davis, for Doubt – her 15 minute (more or less) appearance was a riveting scene stealer (and stealing a scene from Meryl Streep has got to be hard 😉 ).
For directing, again, I go for Slumdog’s Danny Boyle, for the 2 writing awards (original and adaptation) – Milk and Doubt/Slumdog (I would have said just Doubt, but the WGA announced its winners today 😉 ), for cinematography and makeup 😀 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, for editing – Slumdog, and for animated feature: WALL-E.
So..that’s my list. Feb 22nd, I’ll know how close I was. Until then, maybe I’ll even finish a book 😛
LE: So it was all rather predictable this year – Slumdog, Kate, Danny Boyle, Heath, Penelope, WallE…even the writing awards 😉 But what I’m really happy about is Sean Penn’s win over the ever so insufferable (to me 😉 ) Mr. Rourke.