Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oscar Nominations!!!

Well I was right about one thing, this morning's Oscar nominations brought surprises left and right. The biggest let down was certainly the complete smack down laid on Sean Penn and his great film Into the Wild, which received a paltry 2 nods (I predicted 8...). It's snubbing from the Best Pic race isn't too surprising, but nearly everyone had Penn pegged for at least a Directing bid, not to mention Screenplay, Best Actor, Cinematography etc..

There were of course many acting snubs and surprises like always, which I will get to as I break down each category. Let's do it...

Best motion picture of the year

“Atonement” (Focus Features)
A Working Title Production
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
“Juno” (Fox Searchlight)
A Dancing Elk Pictures, LLC Production
Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.)
A Clayton Productions, LLC Production
Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers
“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production
Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
“There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
A JoAnne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production
JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers

I should have known the Academy didn't have it in them to get too "out there" with their selections, which is why they sadly ignored Into the Wild and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for tamer fare like Atonement and Juno. It's hard to really argue though when you like every film in contention (when was the last time that happened?), but it just goes to show you that Academy, no matter how much they have recently loosened up, are still the Academy, and are prone to select certain types of movies (prestigious, moneymakers) over arguably more substantial work.

Achievement in directing

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn) Julian Schnabel
"Juno" (Fox Searchlight) Jason Reitman
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.) Tony Gilroy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Paul Thomas Anderson

Even with Sean Penn inexplicably missing here, I'm still trying to figure out how Jason Reitman got a nod. No offense to Reitman at all, but Juno is above all else a writer's movie. And in a year with so many auteurish type films (Before the Devil, I'm Not There, Assassination, Zodiac), it seems a little odd that he would get in here. In fact, I can't name anywhere where I saw Reitman as even a potential nominee. I stuck to my guns with Tony Gilroy though, even though most didn't, so that was nice reassurance. I should have stuck to my original hunch however that Julian Schnabel would be the lone director slot. Oh well, he deserves it either way. No matter what happens with Best Picture, I think the Coen Brothers take this easily.

Performance by an actor in a leading role

George Clooney in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
(DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah" (Warner Independent)
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises" (Focus Features)

The biggest individual shock of the day came when Tommy Lee Jones' name was revealed for his great performance in Paul Haggis' underrated In the Valley of Elah. I said in my final predix column that I thought Jones would make an appearance in the supporting race based on the love for No Country, coupled with his overlooked but obviously respected work here. Things apparently worked in an opposite but equally worthy way. The other four I predicted correctly, along with most everyone else who knows anything about this year's race. I am rather sad about Emile Hirsch being left out however.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.)
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson’s War" (Universal)
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment)
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

Like I said yesterday, the smart money was on these 5, which I would have went with if this whole Tommy Lee Jones/In the Valley of Elah thing had revealed itself earlier. This race is over anyways. Just give Bardem the statue and let's move on.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal)
Julie Christie in "Away from Her" (Lionsgate)
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse)
Laura Linney in "The Savages" (Fox Searchlight)
Ellen Page in "Juno" (Fox Searchlight)

I was correct in my reasoning for Laura Linney getting in, although I didn't think it would be at the expense of Angelina Jolie. It kind of baffles me that Blanchett could score for such an overwrought film, but she happens to be in that Meryl Streep/Kate Winslet territory where they seemingly get nominated for everything. This will be one of the tightest races of the year however.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Cate Blanchett in "I’m Not There" (The Weinstein Company)
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster" (Universal)
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement" (Focus Features)
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone" (Miramax)
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)

This was the first category announced, and when Catherine Keener's name wasn't called, it all but sealed the fate of Into the Wild. Ruby Dee more than likely took her spot, and rightfully so I suppose, as she was easily the best thing about the disappointing American Gangster. This is a two woman race between Ryan and Blanchett now, with the latter having the edge despite her lack of precursors for the simple fact that 1) she plays a man (and an iconic one at that), and 2) because she's Cate freakin' Blanchett and she has 2 nominations this year.

Adapted screenplay

"Atonement" (Focus Features)
Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
"Away from Her" (Lionsgate)
Written by Sarah Polley
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn)
Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

I wanted Zodiac to score here so badly that it clouded my judgment I guess. Atonement is a writer's movie, both for and about, but Away from Her was a real surprise. A lot of women are represented in the writing categories this year though, which is a nice change of pace.

Original screenplay

"Juno" (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Diablo Cody
"Lars and the Real Girl" (MGM)
Written by Nancy Oliver
"Michael Clayton" (Warner Bros.)
Written by Tony Gilroy
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney)
Screenplay by Brad Bird
Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
"The Savages" (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Tamara Jenkins

Exactly as expected. Juno should takes this handily, unless Michael Clayton surges.

Best animated feature film of the year

"Persepolis" (Sony Pictures Classics) Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney) Brad Bird
"Surf's Up" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Yes! Thank god that the horrible Simpsons Movie wasn't nominated. Justice is served. Put the series out of it's misery already.

Achievement in art direction

"American Gangster" (Universal)
Art Direction: Arthur Max
Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
"Atonement" (Focus Features)
Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood
Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Art Direction: Dennis Gassner
Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Art Direction: Dante Ferretti
Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Art Direction: Jack Fisk
Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

These are the categories where it is easy to see the across-the-board love for There Will Be Blood.

Achievement in cinematography

"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Warner Bros.) Roger Deakins
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Seamus McGarvey
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn) Janusz Kaminski
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roger Deakins
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Robert Elswit

Fantastic list here. Sadly, Roger Deakins may split his own vote and go home empty handed yet again.

Achievement in costume design

"Across the Universe" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky
"Atonement" (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
"Elizabeth: The Golden Age" (Universal) Alexandra Byrne
"La Vie en Rose" (Picturehouse) Marit Allen
"Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount) Colleen Atwood

I am somewhat surprised that TWbB didn't get in here, but it's it's cool that Across the Universe got a nod somewhere.

Best documentary feature

"No End in Sight" (Magnolia Pictures)
A Representational Pictures Production
Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience" (The Documentary Group)
A Documentary Group Production
Richard E. Robbins
"Sicko" (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company)
A Dog Eat Dog Films Production
Michael Moore and Meghan O’Hara
"Taxi to the Dark Side" (THINKFilm)
An X-Ray Production
Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
"War/Dance" (THINKFilm)
A Shine Global and Fine Films Production
Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

Not surprised to see lots of war/political topics on display here. I'd say Sicko would take it if Michael Moore didn't already have an Oscar, so I'll go with No End in Sight for the time being.

Achievement in film editing

"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal) Christopher Rouse
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn) Juliette Welfling
"Into the Wild" (Paramount Vantage and River Road Entertainment) Jay Cassidy
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax) Dylan Tichenor

As any true Oscar watcher knows, this is the category that can make or break a film's Best Pic chances. By that rational, it looks to be a two film race between No Country and There Will Be Blood, two very un-Academy type films. Very odd that Into the Wild would actually scored here over Michael Clayton.

Best foreign language film of the year

"Beaufort" A Metro Communications, Movie Plus Production
"The Counterfeiters" An Aichholzer Filmproduktion, Magnolia Filmproduktion Production
"Katyń” An Akson Studio Production
“Mongol” A Eurasia Film Production
“12” A Three T Production

Ouch. This entire branch is a mess though, so I wouldn't take too much stock in these choices.

Achievement in makeup

“La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
“Norbit” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount) Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (Walt Disney) Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Good god, Norbit is Academy Award nominee!

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

“Atonement” (Focus Features) Dario Marianelli
“The Kite Runner” (DreamWorks, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Participant Productions, Distributed by Paramount Classics) Alberto Iglesias
“Michael Clayton” (Warner Bros.) James Newton Howard
“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino
“3:10 to Yuma” (Lionsgate) Marco Beltrami

The two best scores of the year aren't represented here, so I really have no preference, but the Academy all but handed the award to Atonement yesterday when they disqualified There Will Be Blood. So for all intents and purposes, TWbB would have garnered the most nods if not for this ridiculous ruling.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

“Falling Slowly” from “Once”
(Fox Searchlight)
Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
“Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted”
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
“Raise It Up” from “August Rush”
(Warner Bros.)
Nominees to be determined
“So Close” from “Enchanted”
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
“That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted”
(Walt Disney)
Music by Alan Menken
Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Someone tell me how 3 (!) songs from Enchanted get nominated and not one from Into the Wild. At the very least, Eddie Vedder's music seemed to be the one thing that everyone could agree on with the film. The Academy must have really despised this movie. I'd take Once for the win though, and rightfully so - beautiful song.

Achievement in sound editing

"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal)
Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Skip Lievsay
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney)
Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
"There Will Be Blood" (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)
Matthew Wood
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Ouch again, but seriously how am I supposed to judge this category?

Achievement in sound mixing

"The Bourne Ultimatum" (Universal)
Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
"No Country for Old Men" (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)
Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
"Ratatouille" (Walt Disney)
Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
"3:10 to Yuma" (Lionsgate)
Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Ahhh, much better.

Achievement in visual effects

"The Golden Compass" (New Line in association with Ingenious Film Partners)
Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" (Walt Disney)
John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro)
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

No 300 love anywhere to be found.

Best documentary short subject

A Lieutenant Films Production
Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
"La Corona (The Crown)"
A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production
Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
"Salim Baba"
A Ropa Vieja Films and Paradox Smoke Production
Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello
"Sari’s Mother" (Cinema Guild)
A Daylight Factory Production
James Longley

Best animated short film

“I Met the Walrus”
A Kids & Explosions Production
Josh Raskin
“Madame Tutli-Putli” (National Film Board of Canada)
A National Film Board of Canada Production
Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
“Même Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)" (Premium Films)
A BUF Compagnie Production
Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
"My Love (Moya Lyubov)" (Channel One Russia)
A Dago-Film Studio, Channel One Russia and Dentsu Tec Production
Alexander Petrov
"Peter & the Wolf" (BreakThru Films)
A BreakThru Films/Se-ma-for Studios Production
Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

Best live action short film

"At Night"
A Zentropa Entertainments 10 Production
Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
"Il Supplente (The Substitute)" (Sky Cinema Italia)
A Frame by Frame Italia Production
Andrea Jublin
"Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)" (Premium Films)
A Karé Production
Philippe Pollet-Villard
"Tanghi Argentini" (Premium Films)
An Another Dimension of an Idea Production
Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
"The Tonto Woman"
A Knucklehead, Little Mo and Rose Hackney Barber Production
Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

There Will Be Blood - 8
No Country for Old Men - 8
Michael Clayton - 7
Atonement - 7
Ratatouille - 5
Juno - 4

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