Oscar Nomination Chatter

I’m a sucker for the Oscars. It’s a form of masochism. The movies I want to win never seem to win, and even the nominations never quite get it right. But I still tune in faithfully every year, even an hour early to watch the stars strut down the carpet. It’s my one capitulation to the American cult of celebrity.

Nominations are out today, and while there are many nominated films I haven’t seen, I won’t let that stop me from nattering. This year, it’s all about _The Return of the King_, both for its intrinsic merits and because _The Lord of the Rings_ has yet to be recognized by the Academy in a meaningful way. I thought that each of the previous films deserved the Oscar for Best Picture, especially _Fellowship_, making the past two Oscar nights particularly painful. This time, finally, hoping for a LOTR win isn’t entirely unreasonable.

On to the categories!

*Actor in a Leading Role*

Johnny Depp — _Pirates of the Caribbean_
Ben Kingsley — _House of Sand and Fog_
Jude Law — _Cold Mountain_
Bill Murray — _Lost in Translation_
Sean Penn — _Mystic River_

I’m only 2 for 5 in this category, and I’d be happy with either Murray or Penn winning. Slight edge to Murray. Baseless prediction: Sean Penn. I do plan to see both _Pirates_ and _Cold Mountain_, so all this may change.

*Actor in a Supporting Role*

Alec Baldwin — _The Cooler_
Benicio Del Toro — _21 Grams_
Djimon Hounsou — _In America_
Tim Robbins — _Mystic River_
Ken Watanabe — _The Last Samurai_

Where the deuce is Sean Astin? Samwise Gamgee is the very definition of a “supporting role.” He deserves the win here and he doesn’t even get nominated. I hereby boycott the category.

*Actress in a Leading Role*

Keisha Castle-Hughes — _Whale Rider_
Diane Keaton — _Something’s Gotta Give_
Samantha Morton — _In America_
Charlize Theron — _Monster_
Naomi Watts — _21 Grams_

Yikes! 0 for 5! I’ll keep my mouth shut, except to say that I know a lot of people who were big fans of _Whale Rider_ and will be delighted that that actress got a nod.

*Actress in a Supporting Role*

Shohreh Aghdashloo — _House of Sand and Fog_
Patricia Clarkson — _Pieces of April_
Marcia Gay Harden — _Mystic River_
Holly Hunter — _Thirteen_
Renee Zellweger — _Cold Mountain_

1 out of 5. Prediction: Renee Zellweger, based on _Cold Mountain_ trailers.


_City of God_
_Cold Mountain_
_Girl with a Pearl Earring_
_Master and Commander_

_Excuse_ me?! Where the heck is _Return of the King_? The cinematography was one of the best things about the film. Another boycott. Humph.


_City of God_
_The Return of the King_
_Lost in Translation_
_Master and Commander_
_Mystic River_

At last, we get to the categories I really care about. It is more important to me that Peter Jackson win this award than that _Return of the King_ win Best Picture — but it’s also less likely to happen. Haven’t seen _City_. _Master_ was fun but has no business in this category. Clint probably has another Oscar-worthy movie in him, but _Mystic_ isn’t quite it. I wouldn’t whine if Sophia won for _Lost in Translation_, though.

*Writing (Adapted Screenplay)*

_American Splendor_
_City of God_
_The Return of the King_
_Mystic River_

Given its “glaring omissions and bad cuts”:http://www.polytropos.org/archives/000222.html, I’m not convinced that _King_ should win this one. I think perhaps I’ll have to watch this _City of God_ flick and find out what the big deal is before deciding/predicting.

*Writing (Original Screenplay)*

_The Barbarian Invasions_
_Dirty Pretty Things_
_Finding Nemo_
_In America_
_Lost in Translation_

Go _Translation_! I’ll stick with that even though I haven’t yet seen three of the others. Nice to see an animated picture get some attention here.

*Best Picture*

_The Return of the King_
_Lost in Translation_
_Master and Commander_
_Mystic River_

Obviously, if _King_ doesn’t win here I’m swearing off the Oscars forever. It’s both my pick and my prediction. The only one in the same league is _Lost in Translation_, which is what I’d probably be gunning for in a Tolkien-less world. What’s most alarming about this category is what’s missing — I thought _Cold Mountain_ was supposed to be all that? _Master_ and _Seabiscuit_ both strike me as “Pick me! Pick me!” movies that don’t really have any business being nominated here.

Updates to follow as I get a chance to see the movies I haven’t seen yet. Then again, in past years I’ve always seen fewer of those than I mean to, and that was pre-parenthood. Time will tell.