The nominations for this years' Academy Awards have been announced. Here're my thoughts:
Performance by an actor in a leading role:
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood"
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah"
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises"
Geez. I'm going to have to go with Daniel Day-Lewis on this one. His crazed oil baron was, admittedly, mesmerizing. Johnny Depp will be passed over again, I'm afraid. Good as he is, actors in musicals are notoriously passed over. George, Tommy and Viggo: This just ain't your year, guys. Sorry.
Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men"
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War"
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild"
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton"
This one is extremely tough, since there are two performances here which, I feel, deserve the statuette. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was an absolute god in "Charlie Wilson's War", delivering one of the most dead on hilarious performances in recent film history. He did, however, recently win for "Capote". That, coupled with the fact that Javier Bardem gave the performance of the decade in "No Country For Old Men" as a true incarnation of evil leads me to believe that Javier Bardem will steal away that statuette. Everyone else in that category, please stay home.
Performance by an actress in a leading role:
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie in "Away from Her"
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose"
Laura Linney in "The Savages"
Ellen Page in "Juno"
A tough one. Let's get Ellen Page out of the way right now. She simply doesn't deserve it for "Juno". The movie itself was average at best and her performance was standard. She basically did what Thora Birch already did, and did better, but is now too old to do. If Thora didn't deserve an Oscar for "Ghost World" (and she did), then Ellen Page doesn't deserve one for "Juno". Cate Blanchett is tempting, but I don't know if anyone wants to reward yet another actress for playing Elizabeth and she's nominated in another, more likely, category. Julie Christie? Maybe, but it seems the Academy is getting a little hardened on rewarding senior actors for their present work. I know nothing about Marion Cotillard, so I'll say Laura Linney will take the statuette for "The Savages". She's a great, deserving actress and, well, she held her own against the genius of Phillip Seymour Hoffman. 'Nuff said.
Performance by an actress in a supporting role:
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement"
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton"
I'm going with Cate Blanchett, here. There's a thing within the Academy where they seem to love actors that perform in biopics about pop culture icons. Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan? A shoe in.
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.): Nominees to be determined
"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
Three songs from a Disney movie will probably cancel each other out. That's pure overkill. "August Rush"? Not familiar with it and they don't know who to attribute the song to? Hmmmm. I'm going with "Falling Slowly" from "Once". The song is gorgeous and it deserves every accolade it gets. It's also the sole reason I hope the Awards are televised this year. I'm dying to see Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova perform it live.
Achievement in directing
"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Miramax/Pathé Renn), Julian Schnabel
"Juno" (Fox Searchlight), 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
Fie on the Academy for nominating "Juno". It's not a good film. Sorry. It's not. Are we paying penance for not nominating "Napoleon Dynamite", academy? "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" has not a shot in hell. "Michael Clayton" may be a great film, but it's going to be soooooo overshadowed by the the showdown of the towering monsters that are "No Country For Old Man" and "There Will Be Blood". It's tempting to pick "There Will Be Blood" just to see the Son Of Ghoulardi win an Oscar, but I don't think that's going to happen. This is Joel and Ethan Cohen's Year. "No Country For Old Men" is going to take it and take it all.
Best motion picture of the year:
"Atonement" (Focus Features) A Working Title Production: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers
"Juno" (Fox Searchlight) A Dancing Elk Pictures, LLC 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
"Atonement", "Juno" and "Michael Clayton" can leave now. "There Will Be Blood", you did us proud. Don't forget the gift bag on the way out. Congratulations, "No Country For Old Men". This is the film of the year, hands down. Anything less is a travesty.
So, there are my pics for the Big 7. I'll update my picks after the Oscar ceremonies.