Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Oscar Nomination Thoughts

Well, it's kind of an interesting Oscar year. While last year was generally a weak movie year, there were some fine movies out.

The biggest Oscar omissions for me were Constant Gardener and History of Violence. Both were strong, fascinating movies, in a genre ("thriller") that I normally don't much like. While I'm happy for Rachel Weisz, Ralph Feinnes gave a brilliant performance in Constant Gardener. I've always had mixed feelings about David Cronenberg as a director, but History of Violence was such a well-constructed movie, I was hoping it would get a little more notice. Both Maria Bello and Viggo Mortensen were incredible. Keira Knightley probably got an Oscar nomination for being a better actress than people expected in Pride and Prejudice, but as far as I'm concerned, she took Maria Bello's spot. William Hurt, who gave a small and over-the-top performance, did get a supporting actor nomination for History of Violence.

I adored four of the "top movies" of last year - Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck and Walk the Line.

This will probably be a "catchup" year - Ang Lee has been owed a directing Oscar for a while and will probably win for the fine Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback is a painful, austere little movie, and Lee has shown himself to be the master of fine photography with repressed characters.

I'd like to see Reese Witherspoon win for actress as she really energized Walk the Line. Amazing to think she didn't believe she could sing and had to be convinced by director James Mangold that she should. I liked Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line, but I do think Philip Seymour Hoffman deserves the award for Capote. Nothing against Heath Ledger, but he seems so laconic in real life that he's really not too far divorced from Ennis.

George Clooney will probably wind up winning for Best Supporting Actor because he got so many other nominations and is very unlikely to win for screenplay or direction. Supporting Actress category is tricky. I liked Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain, but Catherine Keener plays so far against type as Harper Lee in Capote that I'd like to see her win.

The biggest "surprise" nomination for me was for Woody Allen's Match Point script. It was a good script but not a great script; his Crimes and Misdemoners was a much better interpretation of many of the same themes.

1 comment:

Bob Taylor said...

The Oscars are really weird for me this year. For one, normally by this time, I've seen all of the best picture noms. This year, I've only seen two! Whether that's a testament to my lazy movie-going habits in '05 or a sign that only tiny, independent movies, which only played sporadically around here, were nominated is up for debate.

Anyway, I thought "Munich" was pretty great, but not quite Best Picture-worthy. The other nominated film that I've seen, "Brokeback Mountain," is a beautiful-looking movie with some really strong acting, but, honestly, it seems a little lightweight to have collected all the accolades it's amassed.

Yes, I suppose it's somewhat bold (not to mention encouraging) to put a gay love story on a thousand or so screens throughout the country's red states and see it make money. But that doesn't make the movie itself a thematic heavyweight. (Look at it this way. If, Heath Ledger's Ennis is a girl, does it get nominated for Best Picture? Doubtful.)

Still a very good movie, though. And I thought Ledger was indeed fantastic in it. (I've always liked him.)

Wow, I have more to say about this than I thought I would. Maybe I need to blog about the Oscars.