Another year gone by now, now with two kids in the clan: even less theatergoing time than before. In previous years I’ve used that as an excuse not to talk about the Oscars, but where’s the fun in that? This year’s game: see if you can pick out which movies I’m talking about but haven’t actually seen!
Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) is an easy win for this category, and reasonably well-deserved. Props to the Academy for giving Ryan Gosling the nod for a brilliant performance in a film that some might have seen as too hot to touch. And it’s delightful to see Leo nominated for his brilliant work in . . . Blood Diamond?! WTF! Give the man credit for his masterful performance in The Departed, where, as my buddy Nate pointed out, he had to show that he was tough enough to fool Jack Nicholson and his thugs while simultaneously channeling to us, the audience, that he is scared utterly shitless, all the time.
Eddie Murphy, nice to see you back in some sort of form, dude, but still: overrated. I am prepared to see The Departed a third time solely in order to watch Mark Wahlberg in it again. But Alan Arkin must ultimately get the nod here for playing the crass, heroin-snorting grandfather and somehow, through this, achieving the sublime.
Can we just give it to Helen Mirren and get on with our lives? I swear, the British could make a movie about bread pudding and as long as their was some dignified elder actor headlining it, we’d still drool. Kate Winslet is the truly deserving one in this lineup, though overall I remain angry that Little Children got made into a film, thereby making it even more awkward for at-home dads at the playground than it already was.
Two fine performances from Babel get the nod here, which is nice, but we can still give this one to Jennifer Hudson for the Famous Film Moment of the Year. We know that moment will get overhyped on Oscar Night; let’s just hope it’s not over-over-hyped.
Animated Feature Film
The man is so long overdue it’s not even funny anymore, people. Quit screwing around and do your duty. If Eastwood gets it for Letters From Iwo Jima it won’t be the end of the world because, hey, he’s freakin’ Clint Eastwood. But if Frears sneaks this one away I am going to punch my TV screen, I swear.
If The Queen wins, see above. So nice, so very nice, to see Little Miss Sunshine make it to the short list, though decades of Oscar tradition dictate that the spunky little film gets nominated but doesn’t actually win. But now I’m torn, because as much as there is to like about The Departed, it is a flawed film. A ten word review might read: “Everybody dying doesn’t make it Shakespeare, dude. And the rat?!” The way out of this dilemma: give Scorcese Director and give Eastwood B.P.
Best Screenplay (Adapted)
Children of Men, no contest. So-so novel becomes an astonishingly good film.
Best Screenplay (Original)
Little Miss Sunshine has a superb ensemble cast and it would be a delight to see it win B.P., but I won’t be torn up if it’s doesn’t win Screenplay. Similarly, Pan’s Labyrinth has some fantastic visuals and had darn better win Best Foreign Film, but doesn’t absolutely need to win here. That leaves The Queen — kidding! I guess it leaves Babel, really, but it’s always side awarding an Oscar via process of elimination. So we’ll leave this one open.