Wednesday, February 21, 2007
(2:53 PM) | Old - Doug Johnson:
Oscar Blogging: Three Six Mafia One ...Picks, Predictions, Comments
Performance by an actor in a leading role
Prediction: Peter O’Toole in Venus (While if it was up to moviegoers generally, Will Smith would run away with it, The Academy goes with awarding someone they should have long ago)
Haven’t Seen: Any of them (chose against seeing Forest Whitaker on Valentine’s Day at the last minute)
Strange that none of the best actor nominees come from best picture nominees. On that note, I kind of favor DiCaprio. If his performance in Blood Diamond is any better than the one he gave in The Departed, he’s earned it.
My Pick: [I’m not picking in categories in which I haven’t seen at least three of the films – other weblog reader’s feel free to fill in the blanks]
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Prediction: Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine (foreshadowing things to come)
Haven’t Seen: Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children (will see this film if I get a chance before Sunday) or Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond
Alan Arkin is an absolute riot. Whalberg outdid himself (see comments on best director). Haley is many-a-critics favorite. Dreamgirls, however, deserves some major Oscar and Eddie Murphy is one of the best actors of our time. It remains to be seen whether he’ll make a complete switch to Oscar favorable movies. (The Academy won’t chose him, however, for some of the same reasons it won’t even nominate Jim Carrey).
My Pick: Eddie Murphy
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Prediction: Helen Miren
Haven’t Seen: Any other performance besides Miren’s.
Supposedly a runaway. I thought the guy who played Blair was equally compelling. I suppose it will take an outstanding film for the best actor of our generation (Streep) to win again. Dench and Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal and Penélope Cruz in Volver are performances I really would like to have seen by this point.
My Pick: [none - see above]
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Prediction: Adrianna Barraza in Babel (almost too close to call)
Haven’t Seen: Blanchett
Blanchett will perhaps someday challenge Streep for most nominations ever but won two years ago and will be passed over. Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine will not be considered seriously because she already has the accolade of youngest nominee of all time. Partisans of Babel may very well cancel each other out with respect to Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi, but I can’t imagine Jennifer Hudson winning for Dreamgirls. It’s not that she doesn’t turn in an amazing performance, but that, like Breslin, the nomination itself seems reward enough for someone who unjustly lost out in Simon Cowell’s clown show. So I think Barraza being slightly more experienced as an actress will win her the award. Both actresses were incredible, but I have a slight preference both for Mexico and for Barraza’s incredible range from über-competent nanny to an utterly disoriented and unhinged victim of the Minutemen’s sandbox.
My Pick: Barraza
Best motion picture of the year
Prediction: Little Miss Sunshine (Oscar voters miss the main political issue, the war on terror, yet again for a delightfully, entertaining ethical sideshow – beauty pageants and the problem of skinny models)
Haven’t Seen: Thanks to catching large chunks of The Queen (a good movie, but the least worthy of the five nominated) while jointly attempting to juggle two kids under four on a plane, I can say that I’ve seen all of them.
Letters from Iwo Jima is far and away the better film with respect to The Departed, and not just because of a definite genre preference for near-minimalistic violence with a cogent political message over against totally depraved realism or, better, gangster fantasy (can one even consider using the word realism when blood splurts forth as cutely as water from some promise-keeper family’s front yard fountain?). The conclusion of The Departed is an utter failure in a way that isn’t true of its Hong Kong source material (Infernal Affairs). Whatever becomes of the letters from the girl? And, worse, why don’t things tie themselves up through such letters rather than through some mole underling who appears out of no where and somehow knows the secret identity of the top bad cop while the Boss’s favorite kid is apparently clueless as to his existence. Eastwood films have had their share of Oscar success, and thus it would have taken a hell of an overwhelmingly superior film to prevent a showdown between Little Miss Sunshine and Babel for best film.
(I was unable to participate in I Cite’s lengthy discussion of Babel, but see my comments here and here). Little Miss Sunshine was the most enjoyable film I saw this year outside of Borat, but Babel is arguably the best of González Iñárritu’s three stunningly brilliant films (and his career may take a precipitous plunge from here on out if his split with screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga remains permanent). Terrific performances. Cinematography at its very finest. A trenchant and provocative take on the war on terror. How do you defeat an Empire? Confuse it by speaking different languages at it. Everyone talks about the peeing scene, but the immediately prior one in which the all-American star of Fight Club can barely manage to knock over a tubby Australian tourist (and still loses out) is even more telling. Imperial overreaction means that a hundred or so police cars arrive to take on two little boys and their nearly toothless father hours before the arrival of an ambulance or helicopter. Bodily abandon in response to radical bodily vulnerability is offered, in each of the disparate yet intersecting stories, as a way to overcome cultural-linguistic gaps. Crash, last year’s winner, borrowed its titular trick from Arriaga (definitely my pick for best original screenplay) and González Iñárritu’s Amores Perroes, and, as one critic puts it, is like a college kid’s term paper on race in comparison to Babel’s masterstroke.
My Pick: Babel
Best foreign language film of the year
Prediction: Pan’s Labyrinth (Mexico)
Haven’t Seen: After the Wedding (Denmark), Days of Glory (Indigènes) (Algeria), The Lives of Others (Germany), Water (Canada)
Definitely should have seen Water by this point. Pan’s Labyrinth is one of the most highly regarded movies of the year and probably would have made a run at Best Film if it had chosen to run in this category. Difficult to watch, but I’m liking it more and more as I think about it without trying to make sense of causality between the fable and more realistic action. Still not sure if I appreciate the combination of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Borges Labyrinth as the major influences.
My Pick: [none – see above]
Achievement in directing
Haven’t Seen: Stephen Frears' United 93 (and don’t really have any desire to)
Martin Scorsese zero. I would be very much tempted to let this joke by John Stewart from last year stand as is. No way The Academy will. It’s an incredible blight that will not be allowed to stand. Eastwood’s direction is certainly better, but then, Scorsese’s direction of The Aviator was unquestionably superior to Eastwood’s in Million Dollar Baby. I’ve seen five Scorsese features and this is my sixth favorite Scorsese film. Certainly one of his next two scheduled films (unless it’s totally flubbed, Silence) will be better. González Iñárritu would definitely be a worthy alternative. But then, this is an award for directing and Marty did somehow manage to coax an Oscar nomination worthy performance out of Marky Wahlberg.
My Pick: Scorsese