Monday, January 26, 2009

5 Surprises, Delights & Disappointments with the Oscar nominations


1. The rise of The Reader - Once the announcement for Best Supporting Actress excluded the favored to win Kate Winslet, I assumed The Reader would be excluded from the rest of the nominations. I was obviously wrong. It garnered a total of 5 nominations including Best ACTRESS for Kate Winslet, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Cinematography & the biggest shock - Best Picture. I presumed the Best Picture nominees to be The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire with the fifth nominee a toss-up between the beloved Wall-E, The Dark Knight, Doubt or Revolutionary Road. Stephen Daldry's nom for directing is also a bit surprising because he is now 3 for 3 in this category (he was also nominated for his first 2 films Billy Elliot and The Hours) which has never been accomplished before. I suspect the only win for the film will be for Winslet. This is the 6th (!!) nomination for the 33 year old actress. If she keeps going at this rate, she will surely beat Meryl Streep's 15 nominations.

2. Michael Shannon - Revolutionary Road was shut-out of every major category except Best Supporting Actor? His performance was superb, but i didn't expect it to be nominated.

3. Doubt scores four Acting nods, but no Best Picture? - I just saw this film 2 days ago (a post about the film will arrive shortly..) and I am genuinely surprised it was overlooked. It will definitely be added to my 10 favorite films of 2008 (replacing Quantum of Solace). I suspect the films only win will be for Viola Davis in the Best Supporting Actress category although I think Amy Adams is more deserving.

4. The Dark Knight receives a Best Editing nod - Considering that the only flaw I found with this film was that it needed to have about 40 minutes edited OUT of the's a bit ironic right?

5. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button leads the pack with 13 nominations - Considering it hasn't actually won any major award, despite being nominated for several- I thought the Academy would overlook it. My guess is that in the end it will be 1 for 13 and that will be in the Best Makeup category.


1. The inclusion of Melissa Leo - She was robbed of an Oscar nomination in 2003 for her work in 21 Grams, then again in 2005 for The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. She is one of the busiest working actresses around(check out her IMDB profile - she has 10 movies listed as completed or in-production for this year alone). I haven't seen Frozen River yet, but I am delighted that she is finally being recognized for her incredible talent.

2. RDJ's comedic role now an Academy Award nominated role - Critic's and Film Experts have been talking about a possible nomination for Robert Downey Jr.'s turn as method actor Kirk Lazarus since the film opened this past summer, but I didn't believe it would actually happen. What really surprised me is that RDJ has only been nominated once before (for Chaplin in 1993). While most people consider 2008 as his "comeback", he never really went away. Recently he has been in some of my favorite films such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A Scanner Darkly, Zodiac and A Guide to Recognizing your Saints (in which he also Produced). I'm happy to see his success with this role and the Iron Man films, but stop calling it a "comeback".

3. Milk scores 8 nominations - Obviously from my previous posts, this is one of my favorite films of the year, but I began to get nervous when it was practically shut-out at the Golden Globes. I know Slumdog Millionaire is favored to win the big award, but I am hopeful that Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black win for Best Actor & Best Original Screenplay respectively.

4. The Changeling nominated for Art Direction & Cinematography - I didn't really enjoy this film, but I have to admit it was beautifully crafted although some credit should have been given to Mr. Eastwood for Directing it.

5. There are no clear winners! The show might get interesting... - Usually the film with the most nominations is the favorite to win, but with Benjamin Button it doesn't look so good. It's pretty clear that Slumdog Millionaire is favored in the Best Picture category, but it has no nominated performances, while the film nominated in the most acting categories (Doubt) isn't nominated for Best Picture. I think it's a tough call in all categories except Ledger for Best Supporting Actor for his brilliant performance in The Dark Knight. He is the only "lock" in my opinion which makes for an exciting show.


1. Josh Brolin nominated for Milk instead of W. - He was terrific as Dan White in Milk, but his turn as George W. Bush in W. was truly sublime. Plus the Best Supporting Actor Category has Heath Ledger as the clear winner already, if he was in Best Actor category he might have a chance at the trophy.

2. Colin Farrell's Golden Globe win for In Bruges didn't translate to an Oscar nomination - Like I said - Heath Ledger owns the Best Supporting Actor category. But there were several performances that should have been nominated - Farrell being one of them. (The other's being - Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Stop-Loss and Emile Hirsch in Milk).

3. The exclusion of Sam Mendes & Christopher Nolan in Directing categories - Revolutionary Road & The Dark Knight are both incredibly beautiful, well-crafted, superbly acted films which is a direct reflection of their creators.

4. Wanted was robbed! - O.k - I know a film like Wanted isn't exactly Oscar material, but it was visually stunning. It's only nominations were for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. It should have been nominated for Cinematography, Art Direction, Editing, and at least for VISUAL EFFECTS! (only 3 films were nominated in this category - The curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight and Iron Man - which means there is plenty of room for Wanted and maybe even Cloverfield?).

5. So was Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist - Again - not "Oscar material". However, it received mostly positive reviews and Ari Graynor gained a great deal of attention for her performance. It would have been lovely if Ari received a nod for Best Supporting Actress and if Lorene Scafaria was nominated for adapting the novel into a such a touching and entertaining film.

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