Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oscars 2007: In which I am conflicted

It's that time of year again, when Hollywood gets together to celebrate itself. I looked at the Oscar nominees and offered commentary last year, so why not do it again? But first, I wanted to link to my review of Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now #5, which adapted the short story "I, Robot", over at Comics Bulletin. It's kind of a negative review, so if Dara Naraghi reads this, I hope I didn't offend you or anything; I was trying to be as honest as possible about what I thought. Overall, I've found the series interesting, with the adaptation of "Craphound" being the best entry. This one isn't terrible, but I just didn't like it enough as an adaptation of the story. Eh, you can read the review for details.

I also wanted to point out this news story on Newsarama, which reports that David Fincher will be directing a movie adaptation of Charles Burns' Black Hole. That should be pretty awesome, although I don't know how well it will work as a movie, since it's kind of a set of serialized chapters. I'll interested to see how it works out.

Okay, On to:

Oscars 2007:

2007 was a pretty darn good year for movies, so I don't think I'll have as many complaints or objections to the nominees as I did last year. Let's see how it goes, starting with the more "minor" categories first. And I'll leave out the ones in which I have no idea, like Best Short Film.
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): Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood
"Transformers" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins
I'm never sure about these technical categories, but I would go for either No Country for Old Men or There Will Be Blood. They both sounded great. But these categories usually go to loud movies, right? So maybe Transformers will win. Eh, whatever. There's a reason I get these out of the way first.
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
Uh, ditto what I said for the last category. Maybe Ratatouille? I dunno.
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
Ah, now this is one I feel like I'm better able to comment on. I'll say No Country for Old Men should win, since that's one nice, tightly-structured film (and by the way, for anybody who doesn't know, "Roderick Jaynes" is a pseudonym for the Coen brothers). There Will Be Blood could also compete (those two will probably be duking it out in quite a few categories). I didn't see The Bourne Ultimatum yet, but if it was anything like The Bourne Supremacy, I wouldn't want it to win, since all the camera shaking and fast cutting in the latter film made me feel like I was missing all the action. But maybe that's a question of cinematography rather than editing. And here's where I start mentioning the movies I thought should have been nominated (but never would be because they didn't make enough money): Sunshine, which had some incredible stuff, including excellently-edited subliminal imagery. Okay, that's all.
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
Norbit?! Really? Come on, that's ridiculous. There must have been something else worthy of recognition than yet another guy in a fat suit. I saw Mrs. Doubtfire 15 years ago. So it's gotta be one of the others (I can't think of any that should have been nominated). We already saw Bill Nighy with tentacles on his face in the second Pirates movie, so I don't see what would have made the third one any better. So I'll go with La Vie en Rose, even though I haven't seen it yet. Why not?
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
This one will probably go to Transformers, which was cool-looking enough to win, I guess. But maybe Pirates has a chance. My only choice that I can think of to add would be Sunshine. Usually, I can think of a movie that had more subtle effects instead of the big, loud CGI variety, but nothing comes to mind from 2007.
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 seem like pretty good choices. I would think it will come down to Sweeney Todd or Atonement; both those films were beautiful. If I was going to add one (or replace, say, The Golden Compass), I would say The Darjeeling Limited, which had Wes Anderson's usual awesome style. But nobody else seemed to like that one.
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
Man, this is a tough category. I saw all of these except The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (which looked incredible, judging by the previews), and they all looked really good. So any of them could win. I would add Rescue Dawn, Away From Her, Black Book, Across the Universe, and Gone Baby Gone to the list of possible other nominees. And I'll choose The Assassination of Jesse James, since it's not up for much of anything else.
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
Whoa, another good category. I don't have anything much to add, except maybe Black Book. I expect it will go to Sweeney Todd, or maybe La Vie en Rose, unless Atonement is on a roll or something. I don't know, I'll choose Sweeney Todd. I liked Johnny Depp's suits.
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
Atonement should definitely win this one; it had an amazing score that used typewriter noises as percussion in a really cool way. Ratatouille was also nice enough. And I think There Will Be Blood should have been nominated; the way the score would swell to a piercingly-loud crescendo was almost unbearably tension-raising.
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.): Music and Lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas
"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
If Once doesn't win this one, I'll be pissed. The scene where they sang that song was incredible. Also, did Enchanted really need three out of five nominations? There must have been something else that could have gone in the place of at least one of them.
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
I hope this goes to Persepolis, even though I haven't seen it yet. But it looks great. Ratatouille is also pretty good, but it's not one of my favorite Pixar movies. My suggestions: Meet the Robinsons and Paprika. The former might have stood a chance of being nominated, but not the latter; non-Miyazaki anime doesn't usually get any mainstream recognition.
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
I haven't seen any of these, but I bet there could have been some others here, like The Devil and Daniel Johnston (unless that didn't come out in 2007). I don't know if Sicko will win, since Michael Moore is too controversial a figure, and he didn't really make a huge splash with the movie. So maybe it'll go to No End in Sight; liberal "issue" docs usually seem popular. I'll go with that one.
Best foreign language film of the year
"Beaufort" Israel
"The Counterfeiters" Austria
"Katyn" Poland
"Mongol" Kazakhstan
"12" Russia
I didn't see any of these, but they seem like a weak bunch. I would suggest Black Book, and there must be something else. Maybe 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days? I don't know, I'll go with 12.
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
Man, another tough category! I think any of them could win (although I haven't seen The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), since they were all really good. I'll go with Away From Her, since it's one of its only nominations, but any of them would be a good choice.
Original screenplay
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), 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
Ooh, I need to see The Savages. This one will probably go to Juno, since the popular quirky indie of the year often wins this category. Although Michael Clayton might also have a chance. Myself, I would add The Darjeeling Limited, but that's just me.
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.)
I don't think anybody's going to beat Javier Bardem here; he was awesome. Casey Affleck was also really good, but there's no way he's beating Javier. And I can't think of any other possible nominees. That's all.
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)
And nobody's going to beat Daniel Day-Lewis here, although Viggo Mortensen was also really, really good. Any other year, and he would be my pick. Oh, and my other suggestions for nominees would be Christian Bale in Rescue Dawn and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Lookout.
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.)
From what I've seen, both Amy Ryan and Saoirse Ronan were quite good, and I've also heard Cate Blanchett did a good job. I'll go with Ronan. I can't really think of any other possibilities. Maybe Marketa Irglova in Once? Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd? Zoe Bell in Death Proof? I dunno.
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" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production)
Everybody loves Ellen Page these days, but I really hope Julie Christie wins. She was incredible as a women succumbing to Alzheimer's. Why did Cate Blanchett get nominated? I heard that movie was awful. Marion Cotillard might also have a chance, since that movie is supposed to be really good. I would also submit Carice Van Houten in Black Book.

Achievement in directing
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), 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
I think it's another showdown between No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Maybe it's finally the Coen brothers' year. I'll go with them. As for other suggestions, I'll make another pitch for Wes Anderson and The Darjeeling Limited. Oh, and Joe Wright did an awesome job with Atonement.
Best motion picture of the year
"Atonement" (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
"Juno" (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production) A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd 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
Ditto the last entry; it comes down to No Country and Blood. Although Atonement also stands a chance. Michael Clayton doesn't seem likely, although maybe I'll change my mind when I see it. Juno is the "lucky to be included" choice for the year, but it's also quite good. Really, I can't complain about this set of nominees. But if I was going to throw out my own choices, I would include The Darjeeling Limited, Rescue Dawn, and Black Book, which I think are all "best picture" material.
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And that's everything. Anybody else have any picks or guesses? We'll see how close we are are on Sunday, after which I might add some comments or something. See you then, and I should be back with more comics content tomorrow, hopefully.